First Impressions

As far as first impressions are concerned, the view around the AnandTech office has been positive for Windows 7. Gary is ready to replace Vista with Windows 7 on all of his systems if he had the time (and money), meanwhile Ryan's impressed but not convinced that Windows 7 will be worth the upgrade cost considering that it's a much smaller change than was Vista. Thus far anyone using it as a drop-in replacement for Vista has had no trouble adapting.

Hardware compatibility has been a bit hit-and-miss however, and this is something that ideally will improve before Windows 7 goes gold. Windows 7 has taken a strong disliking to a JMicron JMB363 controller on a P35 board we have, hanging on initializing the controller when it's in AHCI mode (JMicron's own drivers solve the issue). Another box, an Athlon 64/K8T800 system pulling HTPC duty, has not fared so well with Windows 7. It's corrupting recordings, something that Vista does not do. Everything else has not been an issue, with newer video drivers usually being the only thing necessary after installing Windows 7.

Briefly, Microsoft has mentioned that they expect Windows 7 to be more power efficient on laptops than Vista, but so far this hasn't been something we've been able to corroborate. We suspect that better drivers will be necessary to extract any power efficiency gains out of Windows 7, so this is something that will require revisiting once Windows 7 ships.

Compared to previous first-edition release candidates such as Vista RC1 and XP RC1, Windows 7 is in a class of its own. While XP's RC1 was okay and Vista's was problematic, as best as we can tell Windows 7 RC1 actually lives up to the name of "release candidate." We haven't found any immediate bugs and the performance is great. If Microsoft were to resolve our hardware compatibility issues, they could probably get Windows 7 out the door right now with most people none-the-wiser that it's the same build Microsoft is calling the first release candidate.

The one thing we're waiting to hear back on at this point is how it's received by the XP diehards. Obviously a significant goal of these public releases is to finally convince the owners of modern computers to get off of XP and switch to a 6.xx release of Windows by giving them a chance to try Windows 7. Windows 7 resolves some of the complaints XP diehards had about Vista, but not all of them. The question is if it's going to be enough.

Ultimately, with Microsoft throwing Windows 7 RC1 out to the masses, we can't think of a good reason not to try it. Based on what we've seen thus far, it's looking like Microsoft will hit all of their technological goals with Windows 7. As for their marketing goals, with the high quality of RC1 they'll likely hit all of those too.

Looking forward, the assumed timetable for Windows 7 means that it won't just be competing against previous Windows versions, but other operating systems too. Apple's Snow Leopard is still scheduled to ship this year, likely towards Christmas along with Windows 7. Apple has been extremely secretive on Snow Leopard, although we do know that it's going to have a much greater focus on under the hood improvements rather than straight up features, which could make for an interesting battle between the two. Meanwhile the various Linux distributions are always coming out with new editions, so the likely competition for Windows 7 will be Ubuntu 9.10 and its ilk.

General Performance
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  • Jman13 - Friday, May 8, 2009 - link

    I installed the x64 version of RC1 last night. Painless install, and VERY fast. Much faster than my XP install. I'm talking about actual usage of the computer, not the install (though that was fast too). I skipped Vista, but Win7 really looks to be a very good OS. Some of the usability features in Win7 are really nice (half screen docking to the side, for instance. I'm now using RC1 as my main OS, and likely will stay that way until the actual release, where I will finally upgrade from XP.

    I'm very pleased.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Friday, May 8, 2009 - link

    Mine also went completely as planned last night. I loaded it onto my Dell XPS420 on a spare 160GB HD I had in there.

    Painless, flawless, and runs like a dream (as does Vista, so that was to be expected).

    Loaded the 185 drivers from nVidia for my 8800GT 512MB, installed Left 4 Dead (and Steam), and played for an hour without any issues at all.

    Lovin' the new UI. Hopefully it gets even cooler when the retail release comes out, but I doubt they'll make any drastic changes by then as there would be lots of RC users taken aback.

    Great work so far, M$. Keep it up.

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • Grandpa - Friday, May 8, 2009 - link

    I absolutely hate the menu in Win 7. 3 to 4 clicks to open a program that would only take 1 click in XP or Vista. Also, in Control Panel, there is no option for the Classic look there. I don't see any performance boost over Vista whatsoever. There just isn't a good reason to pay good money for this. Linux is a much better value. Reply
  • Jman13 - Friday, May 8, 2009 - link

    There's an option for the classic look. Just change the view to large or small icons in the upper right corner. Reply
  • Grandpa - Monday, May 11, 2009 - link

    It isn't just the look. When you hover over the folder you want to open, it doesn't open unless you click ( even though the option for that to happen is checked ).

    PS: I have used Linux. It's just a little difficult to play the games I like playing with it.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, May 8, 2009 - link

    Oh look a linux fanboy bashing Win7. Like your've even fucking tried it. Reply
  • HellcatM - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    I thought Vista was ok, I liked the start menu and it just bets better with Windows 7. I find things just as easy as well, if not easier because I can just type in the search.

    I think setting up a network, wireless and a printer is much easier too. I haven't tested home network because I don't have two computers computers to test it on. I like the idea though.

    The UI I like, the launch bar is good. I'm just wondering if Microsoft is going to do a UI change for the gold release. My thought is they know that since they did an open beta they way they did where anyone can use it, that people at Apple are going to be looking at it really closely and they'll make changes to Mac OS. With a UI change it'll give a curveball to Apple. Maybe MS has a major jaw dropping UI change. I just don't think their going to take a chance that Apple is going to test Win 7 and not make changes to their own. I know if I were Apple I would.

    I think Windows 7 is ready now. Its a strong OS and I haven't had any major problems. Its quick, has some nice features, and it looks nice.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    Loved it. I have downloaded both the x64 and x86 versions and will be installing them tonight.

    My one comment on OS brands (I use all of them for one thing or another at work and at home):

    When Apple has a serious market share in the personal computing world and can truly develop an operating system for use on hardware from thousands (millions?) of different manufacturers, THEN (and only then) Microsoft will have a problem. Until then, Microsoft will continue to rule the planet, complainers and whiners be damned.

    Apple has no serious market share in the home or business.
    Linux is for computer professionals and tinkerers.
    Microsoft is for the other 97% of the world.

    :D

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • DrRap - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    windows has left the building guys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...
    Reply
  • Techno Pride - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    I don't get it. It's just an OS, a tool. Does it really matter what brand of hammer you use?

    Shouldn't it matter more whether any tangible results are produced using whatever tools are available?
    Reply

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