Engaging in Windows 7

So I have managed to move over to Windows 7 across three systems at home and I will use the next couple of months to start sharing my experiences with the OS on a daily basis.

Please ignore my CRT’s they are working just fine – thank you!

I am also running Windows Server 2008 R2 (aka Windows Server 7) on the computer to the left and I am in the process of preparing a preview. Only one of my systems is running the 64 bit client and that’s the Acer notebook on the right. Some disappointments are already found, none of the device drivers for my nVidia Geforce 6200 512 MB AGP card on the middle desktop are WDDM 1.1 compatible, which means I am mainly in the ghastly Aero Basic for now. (Yes, I have used both drivers from Windows Update and nVidia Driver Downloads). I do get Aero Glass though on the generic desktop (left), but its quite buggy, the Taskbar does not render properly and I have resorted to Aero Basic on it too (nVidia Geforce FX 5200 128 MB AGP). nVidia needs to get there act together. The Acer notebook is probably the best in terms of UI right now, I get full Aero, its running Windows 7 64 bit dual booting with Windows Vista 64 bit. Its quite buggy too at the moment, I notice when I try to launch setup.exe from a network share I get a CHKDSK error warning of inconsistency with the file system. I did run a CHKDSK with the switch /F but it didn’t fix anything. When I try doing it from Windows Vista it fails informing of lack of disk space to complete.

Home Groups, I am not getting work either, I keep getting an error message regardless which computers HomeGroup password I type in. I can still access network resources the traditional method, but HomeGroups is just one of them right now (will keep trying).

As for the Specs, lets take a look.

Desktop 1 (left) – I built this system back in February of 2006 to test Windows Vista and focus more on the 64 bit platform even more starting build 5308. It runs Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit surprisingly well considering the specs:

  • AMD Sempron 1.6 GHz (with 64-bit)
  • 512 MBs of RAM
  • nVidia Geforce FX 5200 128 MB AGP (Aero Glass but buggy)
  • WEI Rating – 2.0

Desktop 2 (middle) – My beloved and trusty old Dell Dimension 8300, purchased back in March of 2004. It has served me well and ran Windows Vista perfectly from day one. Out of the box I had Aero Glass which was surprising. The system came with 512 MBs of RAM factory installed, but as the beta builds of Vista became more performance savvy, I knew it was gonna need a upgrade. Around March of 2006, I upgraded the installed RAM to 2 GBs totaling 2.6 GBs. There are some issues with the system to date, the optical drives are not working (NEC and Samsung). How got Windows 7 on the system? Network install, by launching Windows 7 setup from a shared drive on Desktop 1, its something I did do in Vista’s beta testing, so nothing to worry about. Although any advanced optical testing will have be done on Desktop 1 or 3.

  • Intel Pentium 3.2 GHz HT (32-bit only)
  • 2.6 GBs of RAM
  • nVidia Geforce 6200 512 MB AGP (No Aero Glass)
  • WEI Rating – Unfortunately, it cannot report a figure because of a driver issue which I suspect relates to the nVidia driver.

Desktop 3 (right) – a very nice notebook that I have been running Vista Ultimate 64-bit on since December 2006. Very powerful and has been doing a great job since then. Unfortunately, I wish it had Tablet capabilities, although I could invest in a Wacom to test those capabilities. Installing 7 on this system was a breeze. The majority of devices were detected, and although I did not get AERO Glass initially, I simply installed the Vista 64-bit RTM drivers for the ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 256 MB GPU and voila I had Glass working very well. As I noted earlier, there are some file system issues right now with 7 64 bit on its partition. I don’t know if its a bad install or some corrupted application that’s causing this, but I notice I have a problem running setup from Network shares. When I tried to install Office 2007 it indicated an an error with file system, Yahoo! Messenger also did this. Its installed on a 50 GB partition. (Just remembered, I should have ran a SFC /SCANNOW. Will update you if it fixes anything.

  • AMD Turion 2.0 GHz X2 (64-bit)
  • 2 GBs of RAM
  • ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 (Aero Glass)
  • WEI Rating – 4.6 (down from 4.8 in Vista Ultimate)

So there you have it. Yes, I must remember Windows 7 is pre-beta and although I am running it semi-production I have not forgotten that there is possibility of things going wrong and my thoughts so far reflect that. But I believe to really discover the problems and deliver good feedback to Microsoft and the third party IHVs and ISVs is to actually use the OS, find out the quirks, the issues the detrimental problems. Its one of the reasons why I am glad Microsoft is making BETA 1 of Windows 7 possibly a public release. To engage users in making this release for the users by the users. I will still go back to Vista from time to time. But right now, I really just want to start communicating my thoughts about making Windows 7 a core part of computing experiences going straight to RTM and beyond. Regardless 7 6801 is not using the new UI improvements which were shown at PDC 2008, this build does have some nifty productive features like the improved Explorer shell, faster performance even on the Sempron, improved Start menu search, cleaner interface and when combined with Windows Live 3 makes me feel right at home. Plus I have everything backed up. 🙂

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