And so the new testing cycle begins.
From the good old city of Baltimore, Maryland, I wish good morning, afternoon, or evening, to everyone reading this note or review, as well as to those who are listening to this through the phone system ; my new Eurpod by phone system.
Although this review or article may seem long, it is here to discuss the future, because if you think of it, we are not too far from the future. 2010, for example, is not too far ahead. Only a slip in time. But as I began with my windows Vista testing phase in 2005, it is best to reflect on the past, for the future and past rely on each other many times.
It was late 2004 when Microsoft dropped their plan to re-build Windows Vista, or then
Longhorn, from scratch. They observed that the Operating System which they were building it upon, then Windows XP, was too unstable to use ; instead, they had to switch to the then released Windows Home server, which was more robust and reliable. This of course meant a total rebuild of everything ; it meant countless delays, and in deed the public, or more like the private beta team, did not see a Longhorn release until 2005, which was build 5048. I was one of the fortunate ones to test build 5048, and write a review of it ; the remnence of which still exists around the net and in various places. That build itself was very sluggish, and I was quite upset that we’ve been delayed for years and still have no results.
So jump 2 years ahad from that disasterous May of 2005, and you arrive in May 2007. Windows Vista, at the time, had seen a release and launch, which was called WOW. Well, the consumers weren’t so much at a wow than at a boo after launch. Even the final build had major crash issues, performance lags, lock ups, error reports ; all the things you’d see from a company which made a mistake and tried hurrying up on releasing an operating system rather too late. Of course, slowly and assuringly, Microsoft was able to fix those performance and error report issues via Windows Update. By the time 2008 rolled around the corner, Windows Vista was rather bug free, with performance majorly improved.
In April of that year, Service pack 1 of Vista came out, delivering more drivers, and less bugs, which is true. Until Service Pack 1, Vista was not worth the money, or time, of most consumers.
But behind the scenes, Windows 7 was also developing quietly. The idea behind it was roughly revealed in 2002, when it was under a different codename ; which in 2005 or so was changed to Vienna. Microsoft finally decided on changing Vienna to 7 in 2007 ; The naming might confuse people, as it won’t be released in 2007, nor hopefully 2017. Windows Vista today is known technically as windows 6.0, and with service pack 1, it was bumped up to 6.01. This is why, if previous Microsoft version numberings are applied, the next version should be 7. (update: It’s 6.1.) But will it be that big of a change?
Everyone reading must remember, that I am not here to write reviews because I enjoy bragging rights in testing Windows 7, but rather because I want everyone to be aware, especially those who have the ability to not see (The VI community), of what is to come. With Windows Vista, we all have seen a major crash in Assistive Technology companies. It took for Example, at least 3 months for Freedom Scientific to deliver an update to JAWS which gave Windows Vista support. Can we avoid this in the future? Certainly! But this is not just a one-person effort, all of us have to be part of letting companies and people around the globe to know what is to come, and what to be ready for. Microsoft is known to let everyone be aware of this information around 6 months before release, usually when the RC1 (release candidate) builds come out. But for some of us, 6 months is not enough ; more for consumers, who require a longer time to adapt to changes which happen everywhere. So yes, if you detest my illegal testing of Vienna, which I will still certainly do this.
So, on to Windows 7. What do we know?
From various sources, I have been able to find out several things about this operating system of greatness.
Let’s first look at the consumer side of things ; that is, how will it change the people’s lives?
- 1. Multi-touch/sense capabilities:
- 2. Take your data anywhere with Windows live!
Everything today is going touch-screen. You see the iPhone, and various other smartphone models, which use hand gestures and tapping sequences to give commands. In deed, this is more flexible for many, and I understand that. With windows 7, everyone will receive a better handwriting and probably, more motion-sensing capabilities.
Let’s just face it. The internet is everywhere now a days. In shops, in the airport, and in some cases on the airplane. You can always get online. And with Windows live integrated totally into Windows 7, you will be able to take your own personalized settings on the go. This simply means signing into your account and your homepage, desktop schemes, and other settings would be the same on any computers on which you can access your live account.
This is a very nice feature, as any consumer can virtually have the same familiar home experience and feel anywhere.
Under the hood, paint and other applications are being remade. Calculator, for example, includes a statistics mode. Paint has also been re-designed, including more 3d graphics.
My main concern with windows 7 comes in with the new desktop / start menu and the accessibility which we, as blind people, will be given to this environment. The truth be told, the desktop now has various 3d visualazations, and also the ability for a person to display both recently opened items as well as the desktop. A user can hover over the desktop and see the items which are in each folder.
And deeper below the surface, hopefully we’ll see a shrink in the size of Windows 7’s DVD.
The Vista dvd currently is around 2.8 GB in size. That is gigantic for a Windows release! Previous windows versions could fit on a CD ; but not Vista. This is mainly due to the fact that components and files from all previous windows versions are kept and integrated into the Windows Vista image to maintain compatibility. Windows Vista can still moderatly run programs from Windows 95. That is nice, but also space consuming.
This is meant to go away in windows 7. Although the drawback will be less compatibility with earlier made programs, you will also see a decrease in memory and hard-drive usage.
Microsoft is building a new kernel system design, called Min Win, which is a shrunk and basic version of the current windows kernel and system. Min win only takes up around 100 MB of space, rather than consuming gigs of storage. Windows Vista server is supposed to utilize this new technology as well. Various sources tell me, however, that the idea of WinMin will not be implemented into Windows 7: We will continue on with the same old kernel with the same old size, which will dramatically increase after all these nice visual effects are designed and in the field. However, applications like Windows Movie Maker will no longer be included in the DVD, and one must download these through Windows Live. This, again, stresses Microsoft’s new integration scheme described above.
In conclusion, I think testing Windows 7 will be a project which could lead to many new changes both for myself and the AT community. My goals are the same: To help the visually impaired and sighted in understanding how 7 functions, from more of a down-to-earth point. I will also be contacting Freedom Scientific and AT companies. This time, we must get the warnings out, if in deed 7 proposes such a visual change for all of us. Please remember that if you are a tech enthusiast, you can get a copy of 7 — but I don’t think you will be running it for long. I recommend 7 if you do not mind losing access to things like your desktop or certain apps, because your screen reader cannot handle the image changes and new layouts. I would suggest waiting for Beta 1 — but if you are willing to give some of your computer rights up, go ahead, get the PDC build and install it. I believe you can always duel boot it with Vista or XP, so that is always an advantage.