Sabtu, 07 November 2009

The Great Windows 7

The Great Windows 7 Review

Microsoft finally gets it right! Discover why we're welcoming Windows 7 with open arms, and why it's going to be your next OS

Windows Vista never made many friends. In truth, it wasn’t a cataclysmically bad operating system – just one that was already failing to live up to its hype before anyone got their hands on it. The big planned features – notably the WinFS database filesystem described by Gates as “the Holy Grail” – never materialised. The UAC security proved nothing short of a disaster, making the Office paperclip’s prompting seem restrained in comparison to its constant nagging. And then there was That Slogan, which was quite possibly the worst, most annoying aspect of the whole over-hyped build-up. “The Wow Starts Now.” Oh, please...

Lower expectations, better software

Windows 7 is a different story. For the last year, the build-up has been slow, thoughtful and much more reasonable. Where Vista ended up being a classic case of style over precious little substance, Windows 7 is a much more careful release. Its elements have been polished up, and many of Vista’s residual annoyances have been removed. Unfortunately, however, there’s little in the way of brand-new features. It’s also disappointing that some of the features that are new – such as the ability to run XP in a virtual machine – are reserved for only the higher-end editions. Elsewhere, several features have actually been removed and their functions completely passed across to the free Windows Live suite and other downloads.

Is Windows 7 a life-changing update? No. Will it completely revolutionise the way you use your computer? Again, not really. Like all operating systems, Windows 7 is at its best when it’s invisible – staying out of your way. As a result, while there are definitely excellent additions – like the new definitely-not-borrowed-from-Apple taskbar (also known as the Not-Dock) – what really stands out is how all the little details feel like they’ve been designed for us rather than for engineers or marketing people. It’s the small stuff that has the most impact, like giving us control over what icons appear in the notification bar instead of letting any old Tom, Dick or Adobe decide what we need to know about.

From the moment you boot it up, Windows 7 exudes a mature kind of class, standing up without the need for glitzy gimmicks or yapping demands for your attention. It’s by far Microsoft’s most confident operating system. It’s also the most publicly tested – Windows 7 has been on many of our PCs for the last year, and anyone could download it in beta. No Windows OS to date has had a more public gestation period.

There will of course be technical problems over the next few months. Driver issues, old programs not liking their new home, the inevitable parade of bugs, niggles and exploits – it’s unrealistic to expect otherwise. But that’s OK. These issues can and will be fixed over time. The important part – for us, at least – is that after using Windows 7 for some time, we’ve never been even slightly tempted to go back to Vista or XP.

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