Astro-Drummer

Archive for May, 2009

Windows 7 preview, and 64 bit

by on May.26, 2009, under Personal

Windows 7 is promising to redeem Windows Vista in offering a stable, secure and fast operating system. On my end, I have had little issue with Vista, but the promise of a faster OS is something I will always welcome. I downloaded Windows 7 RC to give it a good run-through and I must say that Microsoft is holding true to its word of a better "Vista."

Firstly, I would like to introduce the 64 bit version of the Microsoft OS. The problem with the Vista (or XP for that matter) we all use on a day to day basis is the 32 bit version. What does that mean? For us users it really means nothing other than it limits how much RAM we can use. Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista (all versions) will only recognize and use 3 GB or RAM. Vista SP1 will tell you how much RAM is installed – for example, I have 8GB of RAM so the computer properties will display 8GB of RAM. However, it will only use 3 GB of it. To break this barrier, you must switch to the 64 bit version of the OS.

Microsoft introduced the 64 bit OS with Windows XP. Microsoft offers the 64 bit version of Vista in its Home Premium, Business and Ultimate versions (but I could be wrong). I recently switched to Vista Ultimate 64 bit and I love it. It sees and uses all of my 8 GB or RAM and is noticeably faster as a result. The only problem is you must find the 64 bit versions of all the drivers on your computer. I bought a Dell Precision M6300 Mobile Workstation and Dell is nice enough to have online access to 64 bit drivers. In fact, any new Dell purchased will have 64 bit versions of their drivers on their web site.

As for software, I had to get a 64 bit version of Dragon Dictate, but just about all of my software installed and run just fine. 16 bit software (old MS-DOS for example) will not even be allowed to install. I highly recommend upgrading your machine to 64 bit. Since my computer was under warrantee, Dell sent me the 64 bit OS install disk for free!

Now, back to Windows 7. I don’t care what anyone might say, or report or advertise, Windows 7 is not a major upgrade. I would call it a service release on steroids. It still uses the Aero theme, expanding on it a bit by offering a few themes to choose from. There are refinements within the computer browser and UAC (user access control) has been very much improved. What will make this release a must have is the fact that it will actually make things run faster. I took a few screen grabs of the more prominent features.

 

At first blush, the computer browser looks the same, but notice the addition of "Libraries." No matter where audio, video and documents are stored, they will be listed here. I think this is a great idea that should have been implemented a long time ago.

This is especially helpful if multiple users have some songs you want to access. No searching needed – just open the desired folder.

Windows Update offers a few more options. Of course if you set yours for automatic install, you will have little ned to visit this screen.

UAC has a much need fixing. No longer is it either on or off, there are now levels of protection you can choose. My evaluation of UAC shows that it does indeed work and it is far less annoying. Thank you Microsoft!

I apologize for the small image. The task bar has been changed a bit as well. The quick launch area and open tasks area are somewhat blended together. An open program displays the program icon instead of text. This makes things look less cluttered. As for aesthetics, the preview window on the task bar now fades between programs and display what the program is doing in real-time.

There is nothing dramatic added to the star menu other than the shutdown button. I really didn’t like the Vista version which put the machine to sleep.

 

A feature I really like is the taskbar "safely remove" icon. Windows 7 makes the choice of removing a drive much clearer than listing the drive letter only.

The right-click menu has more system choices. There is no more sidebar; instead there are gadgets. These can be placed anywhere on the desktop and can be on top of all windows or below them.

Screen resolution is a bit more user friendly as well. I never had a problem with the old version, but this is nice anyway.

Going back to Areo, personalization offers themes, both visible and audio.

Going "under the hood," There are tools to help with program compatibility.

As well as a beefed-up alert center to help you troubleshoot.

Solutions are easily searchable with its own browser.

And access to system properties are listed in just about all of the personalization windows.

One interesting thing about Windows 7 is that during the installation, a second hidden partition was created.

Only visible in the disk properties, this partition is system accessible only and serves as the recovery partition

As for performance, the Windows Experience value has gone up to 7.9 for all of those newer, faster machines.

The values are the same, meaning that if your score was a 5.0, the new score will also be a 5.0. This would be the case here but there is one key point: Windows 7 is faster than Vista and it shows on my score. In Vista, I am a 5.0 while in Windows 7 I am a 5.3. I like it.

So what is the bottom lime? Well, I’ll knock out the key points as I see them

  • Not a major Windows release
  • Areo has been upgraded to include new themes
  • Computer browsing now has a Library feature to easily access documents, music and videos
  • Personalization is more accessible
  • Taskbar is cleaner
  • Overall system performance is improved.

One thing I did find to be a blessing is the Magnifier. OS X’s access ability features a full screen zoom. Windows has the really lam two inch bar on top that served as the zoom. A work-around was the zoom program I mentioned in an earlier post. Windows 7 now has a full screen zoom with no limitations and that is a good thing.

So, will I buy it – yes! Do I recommend it – yes! And be sure to go 64 bit, it’s worth the effort.

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