Monday, August 10, 2009

Windows 7: Not Terribly Impressed

Windows Vista was never as bad as its reputation; and Windows 7 is not as good as everyone claims. It's not bad, but it still needs some work. And I dislike some of the design decisions.

Here are a few snippets from my own experience:

  • Something is wrong with the graphics drivers or graphics subsystem. Applications that worked fine under Vista keep "flickering" in Windows 7. And my Chrome browser keeps displaying a weird sort of static when it opens a new page, sometimes just for a quarter-second, sometimes permanently. Perhaps this is just a case of a bad video driver (I'm running an NVIDA GeForce 8800 GT), but I've installed the latest Windows 7-optimized driver, and it's still happening.
  • I've had two different blue-screens in my 48 hours of running Windows 7 RTM. Not a reassuring way to start a new relationship.

The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was: 0x0000001a (0x00001236, 0x878be008, 0x878be08c, 0x00070054). A dump was saved in: C:\Windows\MEMORY.DMP. Report Id: 081009-37970-01.

The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was: 0x0000008e (0xc0000005, 0x8c28b885, 0xb062b750, 0x00000000). A dump was saved in: C:\Windows\MEMORY.DMP. Report Id: 081009-30061-01.

  • If you turn off UAC (you pretty much have to, unless you're the sort of person who shops here), the UI gives you the impression that it's taken effect right away – and some parts of it have. But you have to restart your machine to actually be able to launch everything as an Administrator. This is no different from Vista, except that the UI is more honest in Vista, and tells you that you need to reboot.
  • I dislike the new metaphor for "pinning" applications to the taskbar. Among other things, it means that if I have multiple instances of an application open, I have to click twice to switch to the right one, rather than just once. It's also much more difficult and confusing to tell at a glance if something is open. I don't get why MS thought that clicking twice is better than clicking once. Luckily, you can turn this behavior off; but it's still an odd default.
  • I don't get the new file manager. It lists very prominently a whole bunch of shortcuts that I've never found useful, and hides the thing I actually do want to use, a direct tree view into my file system. On top of that, it doesn't synchronize the tree view with where I've navigated to in the file system. So the tree view can be sitting at C:\, long after I've navigated to, say, C:\source\slidelinc\branches\98a_SlideLincClient_ken. This last is a behavior that you can change if you know where to look, but it's a rather weird and unpleasant default.

Again, none of these things are killers, and maybe some people will like the new UI and its associated defaults. On the whole, Windows 7 is OK, though not terribly impressive. It feels to me like a not-very-ambitious bug-fix to Vista. I'll run it. But I continue to wish that MS could be more successful at their core operating system business.

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