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Lou Vega a thump to the brain

For those who don't want to go through the long post that follows, here's the short attention span summary.

<Short Attention Span Summary>

Windows 7 is a pretty neat. Installs quick, seems to have lots of neat features and I'm looking forward to watching this progress to RTM. Only thing I don't like is the loss of the "classic" start menu option.

</Short Attention Span Summary>

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So just like so many other MSDN subscribers yesterday, I raced over to download the Windows 7 Beta that was released. After downloading it I went to set it up on VPC to get an idea of what I was in for before deciding which physical machine I wanted to install it on for testing.

A little about the VPC/Host setup. I have a fairly decent laptop as my primary machine so I ran the VPC image off it. I was able to allocate 2GB of RAM to the VPC image and a 65GB VHD. Things seem to run pretty nice using these settings.

Installation itself was very painless. I started the process and 18 minutes later I was done and logging in for the first time. Not bad at all. I've been installing one version or another of Windows since the Windows 3.11 for Workgroups days and this was by far the best installation experience.

Windows7Installation1

The image above shows what you get upon booting up with the DVD. After clicking next you're presented with the option to begin the installation but something caught my eye with the Help button and I clicked on it. See below for that image.

Windows7HelpShowsVista

Seems in it's half-baked beta state help hasn't been updated (not blaming them, I'd save it for later too) and it still references Windows Vista. I tried to keep an eye out throughout the rest of my experience with Windows 7 and didn't see other Vista references, but there may still be some in there. Just an interesting curiosity that I found.

One thing to note with this beta installation is that it will time-bomb. Currently set date is August 1, 2009. My MSDN subscription is currently good until July 1st and I'm hoping I can continue it beyond that to see what interesting bits come as this progresses. Here's a screen shot of the EULA with the time-bomb info.

Windows7EULA-Expiration

Since this was a VPC installation I opted for a Custom install. I do have a number of VPCs I maintain for development so eventually I will test upgrades to Windows 7 from Vista, XP, and I think I even have a Windows 98 VPC out there still...though I doubt any physical machine still running Windows 98 would be able to handle Windows 7. Here's a look at the installation options screen.

Windows7InstallNewOrUpgrade

I had mentioned earlier that I created a 65GB VHD for this install. One thing Windows 7 did to my VHD was automatically create a 200MB Systems Partition as shown below.

Windows7DiskPartition

The installation part was much more streamlined without so many of those options questions being asked aside from basically time zone info.

Windows7Installing

As mentioned earlier, after a short sweet install I was presented with the screen to choose my username and name my PC. Since this was a VPC I didn't get creative as some of my fellow geeks did in naming their Windows 7 boxes. I gotta remember to do a Twitter search later to see what other names people ended up calling theirs, but I saw a few interesting ones.

Windows7ChooseName

After choosing a name you're prompted to enter a password. I have a few gripes here that are mostly personal rants but bear with me...I know this is beta software so maybe these haven't been put in yet, but if it's not planned, then "Hey Microsoft! Why not consider these two ideas of mine? I'll even give you the assembly I wrote to accomplish one of them!"

Windows7ChoosePassword

In this day and age with so much emphasis still on passwords I think they could have helped out a little by offering 2 more items here on this password screen.

1) They should include a "password strength" meter. They do it online, so many others do it online. Why not do it here too? If not, why not?

2) They should include an option to autogen a random and pronounceable password. I'll post a blog entry later with my program that does just that so you can see what I mean. It was something I originally created years ago (in Javascript no less) for a DoD website I maintained after users complained of the DoD password policies. I've since made it into a .NET assembly and use it for password purposes in other apps.

OK, my mini rant is over. Thank you for flying off the handle with me, and I do hope you'll choose this airline again.

Windows7ProtectOptions

Windows 7 continues it's way through installation/initial setup by asking about auto-protection.  One thing I did like that Microsoft did is with Windows 7 it detects that you don't have Anti-Virus installed and suggests that you do so as shown in the screen below.

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Nice touch because as crazy as it sounds to most people reading this blog, I'm sure there are folks out there who *still* do not run anti-virus on their machines.

Getting back to my installation/setup experience, one thing that threw me for a loop at first was the mention of "Homegroup" for networking. As a longtime networking person who's been used to seeing Workgroups and domains, I couldn't understand why they had changed the name. Once I read this blog entry, it made more sense in today's market. It still sounds where to say it though.

Windows7NetworkSetup

Finally I was presented with my Windows 7 "Fish" Desktop. A nice looking fish, eh?

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Here's a shot of the VPC configuration in Windows 7 Ultimate.

Windows7Ultimate

With the installation over and done with (and trust me, it's taken me far longer to write this than the installation took!) I was free to explore around with Windows 7 to see what it gives me.

A couple of notes - I ran a disk defrag program (JK Defrag) on there with no problems, but another older program (Windows XP Virtual CD Driver) didn't work, even with compatibility mode turned on like I had to for Vista (as explained in my blog here). With this being my VPC, I haven't really put it through testing a lot of software I use on a daily basis. That testing will come later as I put it on a physical machine.

One neat feature was the option to provide feedback at nearly every screen and feature. It requires your Windows Live account to process the info and I didn't set that up on my VPC (optionally you can link Online accounts to your Windows user account), but may do that later.

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One thing I didn't particularly care for was the auto "phone home" that you can't uncheck in Windows Media player. Maybe that's because this is still beta and it will be allowed in the RTM version...otherwise why would they show it on screen but just gray it out so you can't do anything about it.

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How about a nice game of chess? I liked that they included some casual games in Windows 7 with the option of saving game stats (I guess kinda like Xbox but with no achievement unlocks, eh?). Here's some shots of the casual games included.

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The games options panel includes game ratings as well as recommended machine ratings. See the next two screens for that info.

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It captures stats (you can opt out of this if you want) on the games you play. Kinda neat I think but then again I'm a gamer and have been for years. I'm looking forward to testing this out on a real machine with some other games installed.

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One thing that caught my eye in the games was Purble Place. I had no idea what that was about but it seems to be a neat little game for little kids. I'll have to run this by my 3 year old to get his review after I put it on a machine this weekend.

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That's the end of my first look into Windows 7. Thanks for reading along. I never did jump in and embrace Vista so I'm hopeful this will be a nice change.

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Posted on Friday, January 9, 2009 6:00 AM Software Reviews , Windows 7 | Back to top


Comments on this post: Windows 7 - my first impressions

# re: Windows 7 - my first impressions
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Good insights, Lou. Wish I had an MSDN sub to try it out.
Left by Theo on Jan 09, 2009 9:10 AM

# re: Windows 7 - my first impressions
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I think it will be available to the general public for beta next month.

I've installed it on one of my machines. So far it's run well. Going to do an informal usability test this weekend; giving my parents a computer with 7 installed (but giving them no instructions) and giving the install to my younger sister to upgrade her machine.
Left by Joel Johnson on Jan 09, 2009 9:23 AM

# re: Windows 7 - my first impressions
Requesting Gravatar...
Wow, what a great post Lou. Looks like maybe MS is trying to redeem itself after the Vista debacle. Maybe it just means that we should skip every other windows release. Windows 98 (fair)--Windows ME (AWFUL)--Windows XP (good) -- Windows Vista (AWFUL) etc... :)
Left by Maryanne Sweat on Jan 09, 2009 9:25 AM

# re: Windows 7 - my first impressions
Requesting Gravatar...
Less relevant, but Purble Place was out with Vista as well. I know at least it comes with Vista Ultimate.

Thanks for the look, I was trying to figure out where I should install the beta, but for now it looks like the answer is in a VPC.
Left by Stacy Vicknair on Jan 09, 2009 10:23 AM

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