Friday, October 23, 2009


Windows 7 Upgrade

Also posted on my personal blog, Waking Life.

As I mentioned in one of my posts earlier, I recently upgraded to Windows 7 Professional. Unlike the installation of Windows Vista which warned me that several of my software are not going to be compatible with it (most importantly, my anti-virus at that time), Windows 7 did not come up with anything of that sort. By setting device installation settings to Automatic, Windows 7 was able to locate the drivers for all plug-n-play devices (my camera, wireless mouse and most importantly, my legacy HP deskjet 3653 printer). It was a pain to get that same printer to work on Vista and I had to install drivers manually for the wireless mouse and keyboard.

As far as UI is concerned, the look-and-feel of the OS is pretty much like Vista except for the taskbar where you can now "pin down" your most frequently used programs. And by hovering the mouse over any open programs that are pinned to the taskbar, you can see a live thumbnail of the window courtesy of a functionality called AeroPeek. Another cool feature connected to the taskbar are Jump Lists, which allow you to access commonly-used features in a program by right-clicking on its icon in the taskbar. They are essentially a replacement of context menus for the taskbar and make your life a lot easier. For example, I can right-click on Windows Live Messenger on the taskbar and change my status. You can drag-and-drop other items on a program's jump list depending on what you access the most.

Besides being noticeably faster (in terms of general use, booting, shutting down and hibernating), one of the things I'm really glad they got rid of are those annoying UAC pop-ups that popped up every second asking your permission to run one thing or the other. Windows 7 also conserves more battery power for your laptop. It dims the display after 2mins of idle time. If you specifically increase the brightness of your display when running on battery, Windows 7 remembers that every time you disconnect the power chord (Vista didn't).

In other changes, Wordpad, Paint, and Calculator look completely different with ribbon bars and WordPad has the added functionality of opening .docx files now, so need to install Office 2007 compatibility packs for opening Word documents anymore. Several more usability features have been added in Windows 7 that allow you to snap windows to size instantly or clear the desktop of all windows by a quick back and forth motion by grabbing the top of a window. See these awesome ads for a demo of these features and more.

There's an automatic desktop wallpaper changer built-in allowing you to set your chosen desktop backgrounds at specified time intervals (default is 30 minutes). You can also finally change the background of your logon screen. Last but certainly not the least are libraries for arranging documents, pictures, videos etc. No longer are you restricted to put all your stuff in specific folders on the C drive. Libraries are the aggregation of your chosen files from all across the storage media in use. Gone is the hassle of remembering file and folder locations since you can access them at anytime through the libraries. The libraries also appear on Open/Save dialogs of all programs which makes file-management a piece of cake!

Ok thats all I could think of for now. In short, Windows 7 refines a lot of the things we saw in Vista while improving on its basic functionality. Boot times, resuming from hibernation etc. are noticeably quicker and everything works just fine. There's no reason NOT to like it. I'm certainly loving it!