By Ian Urie
Vista hasn't been a runaway success for Microsoft.
After the success and domination of XP, Vista appeared with many
improvements to the existing interface.
Unfortunately, the number of versions provided plus the hardware update required to run all its features
did nothing to endear it to the userbase.
Tales of long bootup times and even longer shut-downs proved embarrassing for Redmond.
Microsoft grudgingly agreed to extend the life of XP, all the while trumpeting
how well Vista was being taken up.
Now we have the new candidate which will surely spell the early demise of Vista.
Microsoft have released a beta which is freely downloadable, with a license key.
The beta will run until end of August (this may change).
I've been running this beta for a few weeks now.
I'll show the installation for the beta in grabs shortly, but I'll mention a few things first.
Windows 7 doesn't look all that different to Vista.
It boots up and shuts down faster, though.
Vista drivers work on Windows 7.
In short, Windows 7 appears to be what Vista ought to have been!
Is it a winner for Microsoft?
I fully expect most Vista users to ditch Vista whenever the final version of this is released!
This is smoother, easier to navigate and faster.
It boots in less time than my XP system on another partition.
The only problem I've had is with hardware that isn't supported under Vista.
I have managed to blue screen it a couple of times for the reason mentioned above, trying to get it to accept older drivers.
Anyway, on to the install.
The beta comes as an ISO file.
You burn this to DVD, then boot from the DVD.
In order to get grabs of the install, I installed it on the laptop using VitualPC from Microsoft.
So, here we go.
The grab beneath the title is the first screen when you boot the DVD.
It boots with a neat little animation of the four balls of colour swirling in from the background and forming the logo.
As they always said,
"If you can't make it good, make it look good"
This does, in spades!
I started a new virtual machine, and called it Windows 7, well, what else do you think I would call it?
Right, DVD booted up, and after the windows starting picture, we get presented with the initial install screen.
Similar to most Linux install disks, it gives the option repairing an installation.
However, I just clicked install now.
I then told it to do a custom install.
That virtual disk seems just made for the install, so I used it!
Now it's just a matter of waiting for the disk to load files and the installer to decompress and use them.
You'll see I didn't bother altering many of the properties for the virtual machine. The laptop has 2GB of ram and with Vista running,
the virtual machine protested when I tried it at 1Gb of ram.
The install on the main computer (which is running Windows 7 normally), took about 40 minutes in total.
On the virtual machine, it took hours.
This maybe be down to the fact that it is using so little ram for its memory.
At long last, the machine is moving onwards.
I would say, nearly there, but there's quite a bit to go yet.
By far, the longest part is expanding the files.
Once the machine reboots, it is all downhill as Windows completes the install.
Woohoo, its comin', its comin' !
We're off to see the wizard.......the wonderful wizard of Windows.
Now, its just the customary screens you get at first setup.
Note that this is the Ultimate version.
This has all the features that will come with Windows 7, such as bit locker etc.
The virtual machine will register the install once it finishes the setup.
Microsoft issued some general keys for the beta and these will expire with the beta.
Of course, I chose the default "use recommended" like a good boy.
Pick your time zone.
The networking has changed slightly.
I chose Home Network here.
Windows automatically applies the settings you've chosen.
Windows 7 now has this homegroup feature to easily allow you to share media between computers, media players etc. on your network.
You might think we're done now.........
Is this it?
Now, as in all the other versions of windows, it goes through setting up the desktop, media player, background.
So that should be it.
However, here's the nice part.
The install is finished, so why do we have important messages?
By the way, that's the action center that is flagging up the message.
This is another new feature of Windows 7.
Windows tells you it hasn't found a virus checker and will try and find one for you.
In my case, I installed Avast, which works just fine on my installation.
It's nice that Windows does this for you now, even though it will let you turn off the warning.
Ok, I'll move the grabs back to the install running on the main computer now.
The install on virtualPC was just to show it could be done and to get grabs of the install.
Here's the main window with the folder view showing drives it can see.
You'll notice it doesn't see any of the Linux partitions (I haven't installed a driver to allow that).
You'll also notice that it can see my Data partition for storing files, but not the XP partition.
There are ways around this, but I won't bother with them this time.
The little flag on the right is the action center mentioned above.
First off , let's have a look in the control panel.
You can have a browse around the new features. I'd recommend it.
While 7 looks similar to Vista, it most definitely isn't.
One of the things people hated about Vista was the UAC feature.
Although I don't think it's a good idea, Microsoft obviously listened to complaints about UAC
and has changed it in 7 to allow users more control over the function.
If you don't know about this feature, it intrudes whenever you attempt to launch a program, and asks if you definitely want to start it.
I find it reassuring, but an awful lot of Windows users hate it.
Yeah, you can even switch it off!!
I'd recommend you don't do this.
Back to the control panel.
As you saw, this is the Ultimate version, so some of these options will not be in other versions.
Bitlocker, just for a start.
There are free alternatives to bitlocker , so it won't be a showstopper if you buy a version without this option, and still want to protect data by encryption.
An article about data encryption should make it into the next issue of this magazine.
I mentioned that the networking had changed.
The networking setup has changed to groups now.
This reflects that people are now using home networks with more devices able to access it and use as a media streamer.
It makes sense to share the media around on your network, and this makes it a lot easier.
The firewall has been updated as well.
This is very good, since ZoneAlarm wouldn't install.
This, of course, will change in the coming weeks/months.
The uninstall option remains the same as in Vista.
The performance page has stayed much the same as well.
Back up and recovery has changed, although since I'm running Vista Premium, it might be that's the reason.
Since I don't know about this, I'll click the help.
Now this appears to be nice, if you've made a complete mess of your system.
The new version will allow you to tweak settings to maximize your performance.
Generally, all the options in Vista are included , or simply adapted for 7.
Groupings are changed to make it easier to navigate and find options.
I found it easier to do things in 7 compared with Vista and prefer it already.
The file manager in one of the grabs is a good example as are the previews of opened windows by hovering over their icon to aid speedy navigation.
The taskbar is now called a superbar and can handle jumplists of files.
Gadgets are much the same and aren't relegated to the sidebar.
The menu looks similar but is easier to add files and allows swift pinning to menus or superbar.
I noticed once it was installed that the backdrop changed.
Oops, its one of the options.
One of my friends pointed out that you can do this in Vista, but I don't think it's as easy.
Microsoft is out to impress with 7 to make up for the bad press.
7 oozes smooth operation and easy navigation with improved wizards for everything.
They try and ensure any problems are dealt with.
Crash this or have a slower shutdown and it will try to find out why.
I know Vista does this, but this seems easier.
Again , its grouped together to make it easier to find.
I'm struggling to show all the changes since a lot are cosmetic on the surface.
Download this before Microsoft withdraws it (if it isn't too late),
install it on a partition (it will make one for you).
I guarantee you will find you use it more than your other version you currently run.
Of course that's assuming your hardware can take it.
This computer is nowhere near new, and you'll be surprised how little it takes to run this.
Minimum's are supposed to be:
1GHZ processor, 1GB ram, 128MB graphics, 16Gb hard drive space.
As you can see from the VirtualPC install, the ram can be lowered.
I suspect if you play with display options, you'll get away with less of a graphics card as well.
This is less of a resource hog than Vista, and flies!
Get hold of it, and play.
Microsoft appear to have a winner after Vista.
I haven't even touched on the Media player and Internet Explorer being updated and
being able to play videos the Vista version sneezed at.
I'm actually looking forward to this being officially released and can't think when I would have imagined
ever saying this before.
Vista's dead, long live 7 !
|© RIYAN Productions|