Reflections on a 7th Window

Or, if Vista is the new Windows ME, does that make Windows 7 the new XP?

Well, “Vista ha been very very good to me.” I ain’t complainin’, plus it was free. But I had the 32 bit version on my pc and decided I needed to try something in 64 bit that was maybe a little newer. After all, Vista 32 could only see 3 of my 4 gigs of RAM, and my dual core processor could easily handle a 64 bit os.

So I tried the “release candidate”: on an older machine first. That went all right, but I guess the machine was really old because I had trouble finding a lot of the drivers (32 bit version of Win7). Then I mistakenly put a “theme” on it, not realizing how sluggish that would make it, finally gave up and put XP back on the machine. The peanut gallery which actually uses that computer was getting very restless and I thought I heard a couple of threats. Put that mess back in the closet.

Fast forward to my Dell Poweredge with a 3.0 ghz cpu and 4 gigs of RAM. Let’s see if the results are any better on a newer machine. I should mention that changing a Windows OS has become increasingly easier. It’s gotten almost as easy as my ubuntu machine, where I just copy my home directory to a networked drive, wipe the hard drive and slap on the new os. In this case, I’ve been using “Acronis”: to back up my documents folders. And since I moved my domain email over to “Google Apps”:, there’s no fussing around with trying to recover all my Outlook Express contacts and past emails. Everything is stored on a free gmail account. And the way I’m filling it up, I imagine I will be dead about 30 years before I run out of space. So for the new install you just stick your backed up folders on a network drive, stick the new Windows on, and copy it all back. Of course, reinstalling certain applications which assume from the get-go that we’re all pirates, can always be a little chancy, but I was willing to take the risk. Besides, occasionally getting to scream over the phone at someone from Adobe can be somewhat entertaining, if you happen to be a little weird.

Anyway, the Release Candidate of Windows 7 lasts until next Spring/Summer, plenty of time for me to evaluate it. The install went very well. This time, with this version, you can actually leave it to do its own thing. When it installed itself and rebooted for the last time, I found that it was asking me if I wanted to join a Homegroup or Workgroup. Since I have all kinds of different operating systems running on my LAN, Workgroup is the correct choice. (Homegroup is easy, but the only computers that it recognizes are Windows 7 machines). Anyway, I normally configure my network settings manually, but this time I didn’t have to do anything. It quickly found all my machines, including the one running Linux and all its shares. Amazingly, Windows7 found 64 bit drivers for every piece of hardware on the machine except for my old Canon scanner. I clicked around the Canon site and couldn’t find 64 bit drivers for that particular machine, but within 20 minutes I received notice that Windows had finally found them. All my hardware set itself up, even the print servers on the LAN.

Anyway, the bestest thing I like about Windows 7 so far? Its networking, by far. No configurin’, no losing shares and having to reconnect, everything is just there, all the time. And it’s quicker. I have a gigabit LAN, but I’m guessing the 64 bit drivers made a difference on the network adapter. The whole machine is running pretty fast, or maybe it’s getting to see all 4 gigs of RAM, or maybe it’s just that I don’t have a lotta crap loaded on it. Another bonus, it’s finally got Windows Explorer set up logically where I can find things. It’s hard to explain, but everything is very intuitive. Trying to help other people in the office find things in folders on XP has always been frustrating. I’m thinking if I give them all Windows 7 (we never did migrate to Vista), it will be a lot easier.