I haven’t written a windows 7 review in a longwhile, due to releases of minor builds which, apart from constantly shrinking, did not contain many fixes. It would of been quite pointless writing reviews which consume time and space, only containing a few sentences of “well, the install image shrank more, and performance is awesome…”
For once, we are very close to the RC release — in fact, some have sighted that build 7077 will be the RC build which those in public will receive. Microsoft is now moving into the RTM (release to Manufacturing) branch codebase, though they will maintain the RC branch with various fixes (but not new features and options!)
What does build 7077 have to offer?
I am not going to test accessibility-related software with this build just yet, as we are through the major fixes and additions to the Operating System — all that is being done now is fixes and tweaks. From this point, it is up to the various companies to heed my warnings and concerns, hopefully using them appropriately in the future. And it is up to you, users, to contact them and let them know on how Windows 7 functioned with their product and try to work together in perfecting their product more. Now, many of them will say, “oh, we don’t support windows 7”. But this shows a company which isn’t fully dedicated to it’s customers.
The word support has 2 types of meanings: 1. they don’t work with Windows 7, and thus the products function “unknown” with the OS. and 2. The company does not generally give technical support assistance if you run Windows 7.
These 2 are fundamentally different concepts — and keep that in mind. If a corporation wants the best and greatest developments for its customers, it should already be testing Windows 7 and working with Microsoft (Yes, MS does have a program for software companies) in making 7 function exceptionally well with products. And by allowing users to test ongoing beta software, that company can further ensure windows 7 compatibility. That’s all I have to say about the blind or even sighted markets…
Windows 7 install: The progress!
The installation of build 7077 has changed slightly, in that you now can see statistics of how your setup process is going. Not only this, the process to upgrade has also changed.
I performed both an upgrade and a custom install.
The install .wim image for 7077 is only 2.06 GB, while the DVD averages around 2.35 GB in size.
During your upgrade process, setup now collects your settings and files, rather than just restarting after copying files from the DVD. I assume that this consolidation of files and programs ensures a smoother upgrade process. The setup program now has a status line at the bottom of the screen, stating such information as “Identifying system files and settings to be gathered…” and “Expanding Windows installation files (90 of 2252 MB expanded)” .
As you can see, you now get an exact progress of your installation. This is quite a neat feature as (for developers) you can debug and see where setup went wrong (which stage more specifically), and for a regular user, you can tell how fast your setup process is going.
A custom installation took around 20 minutes to complete, so it in deed has decreased slightly in time.
Help: now completed
The what’s new section in help and support is now finished and details in depth 14 new key features of Windows 7. You may recall a what’s new document in build 6956 and 7000 of windows 7, but this was less detailed. The sections include:
- Faster, more responsive performance
- Improved taskbar and full-screen previews
- Better on laptops
- Jump Lists
- Find more things faster with improved search
- Easier ways to work with windows
- Internet Explorer
- Better device management
- Windows HomeGroup
- Theme packages reflect your style
- Take control of problems
- Share music and videos
- Introducing Windows Touch
- Better Tablet PC support
For anyone new to 7, there is a nice list of new features there. Although build 7068 (which I didn’t review) also included the what’s new help file, I noticed that it contained spelling errors. These have now been fixed for 7077.
Performance: How fast, how fast can you boot?
Windows 7 boots up here with under 25 seconds of time, if not 20. Startup is spectacular, and could even beat Windows XP’s start. Shutdown also takes under 15 seconds at most, and with a cluttered taskbar, around 30.
When the system is not in use, the ram usage is around 505 MB (out of 1 GB max ram) . Keep in mind that this is with Aim, Skype, and JAWS running — I’d say for a bare Windows 7 start you can still have around 600 megs of ram free. So windows 7 only consumes around 400 megs. I assume a person with 512 MB of ram (which is quite rare now a days, but some are still using older systems no doubt), you’d be able to squash 7 pretty well. Remember that my graphics card supports Aero and those 3D graphics, so I assume that too takes up a hundred or so MB of memory.
Uninstalling the bones: Remove them all!
In Windows 7, years of EU regulation has finally taught Microsoft something! Ever since build 7048 (which I have reviewed but this was not mentioned – sorry!), you can uninstall certain Windows features. These include Windows Search, Tablet PC features, and even Windows Internet Explorer. This move was a giant one from Microsoft (and I applaud for it too), as persons who do not like Internet Explorer or the windows search features can live without them being installed on their hard-drive.
Removing Desktop Search also takes away your start menu search rights, so keep in mind…
Windows 7 is at a stage where I can fully incorporate it as my every day Operating System. This means doing my radio show with 7, using Skype, AIM, and other chatting clients, as well as playing blind-related games and products. For those who have been dissatisfied from Windows Vista’s performance and use, I think 7 will bring you a nice turn with how you use your computers.
And for people who are running build 7000 (beta) and various pre-RC releases, you can upgrade to build 7077, though this is not recommended and is painfully time-consuming (an hour at least to upgrade to 7077 from 7068 here). Upgrading may also result in more bugs as certain settings are kept and restored from your previous install which (such as registry values) might contain flaws and errors. Upgrade at your own risk!