Windows 7 Beta ReviewJan 24th, 2009 | By D. Granoff, Technology Editor | Category: Technology
Those of us who switched from Windows XP to Vista were surprised, sometimes not in a good way, by the changes that were made to our beloved Windows. It would appear that Microsoft listened and Windows 7 allegedly addresses some of our main concerns. According to early beta testers, Windows 7 is more “used friendly”, although that term is relative. Some of the issues addressed are as follows.
New Devices Start up Much Faster
If you plug in a USB “plug and play” device, you will notice that Windows 7 recognizes it much faster than Vista.
Controlling the User Account
User account control, introduced in Vista, keeps unwanted programs and other things from running on your computer without your permission. While it did improve security, it can be very annoying, because too often Vista stops and asks you for permission to proceed with actions that are obviously safe.
In Windows 7, this feature can be easily handled by a simple toggle switch that lets you control how you are notified of programs trying to run on your computer. You only have to set this feature one time, and it will all but eliminate that dreaded pop-up window asking your permission to run a program. There are intermediate levels of security in Windows 7, so it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Arranging Windows On Your Monitor
In Vista, getting two windows to line up side by side is a complicated multi-step process. Windows 7 makes this process much simpler by allowing you to drag the individual windows to either side of the screen and lock them in place.
The Defragmentation Tool
Vista’s defragmentation tool is minimalistic and doesn’t give you a lot of information. While it does give you amusing little colored bars to keep you occupied while your machine is being defragmented, it does little else to give you good information.
Windows 7 does not give you the pretty little colors. Instead, it gives you a lot of useful information about your defragmentation process, including when you last defragmented your disk drive, and it’s easy to adjust your settings for automatic defragmenting.
The Shutdown Button
Vista makes shutting down your computer way too complicated. There are actually 9 options, 7 menu listings, and 2 icons. Imagine if someone made a car that was this hard to shut off — I’m sure everyone would be making fun of it.
Windows 7 makes turning off your computer much easier. There’s simply text and no icons! You can even customize the shut-down screen to set your favorite option, such as hibernate, log off, etc. as the default. How simple is that!
The Preview Pane
In Vista, Microsoft’s designers tried to improve on Windows XP by allowing you to preview the contents of a folder before opening it; a good idea in theory, but not in execution. You literally have to go through three mouse clicks and a huge cascading window to get to it.
In Windows 7 there’s a Show/Hide Preview button on the command bar. All you have to do is click on it to get to the preview pane – an obvious improvement over Vista!
Vista tried to improve the back-up program that was sorely lacking in Windows XP, bless them for that. However you can only select what categories to back up and not the specific file or folder you want to back-up.
In Windows 7 you can either let the program choose what is backed-up or you have the option to choose what folders you want to back-up. While most people will let Windows 7 choose what is backed-up, it’s your computer and it’s nice to be in control.
Test Drive Windows 7 Free at Your Own Risk
Yes, you can download a beta version of Windows 7 until February 10, 2009 and take it for a test drive. Read and heed all the directions, including minimum system requirements and the warning to back up everything before you start. I really don’t recommend that you do this on a computer that you use for anything important, because beta means that there are bugs that haven’t yet been ironed out. Consider the beta software something that you will test drive and will need to replace/upgrade.
Even when Microsoft decides that a version of Windows is ready to sell, there is always an initial set of bugs that aren’t discovered until the public has been using it for a while, so unless you are one of those people that has to be the first on your block to have anything new, resist temptation and let others be Microsoft’s test subjects.