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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  • nubie - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    I have the W7 Beta, and it wouldn't install off of a SATA Optical Drive onto a PATA HDD.

    Weirdest problem I have ever seen, couldn't even see the Optical drive once 'windows' the (pre-installation environment) had loaded.

    I guess I needed to load RAID drivers? Seems annoying to let it boot the install without drivers, and then hang when attempting the install off media it just booted from.

    It isn't "Terrible", but it ain't quick neither. I hope it gets better, but it still doesn't have the lean and mean feel of a good fresh 2000 SP4 install, or even XP SP2/3. (dual core 2.4Ghz 2GB DDR2-800 8600GTS)

    Maybe I need an SSD?
    Reply
  • nowayout99 - Thursday, May 7, 2009 - link

    Random question from an XP user. ;)

    I mostly like RC1. I was able to customize the UI enough to be mostly satisfied with it, except for one setting.

    In XP, when you navigate the Start menu folders, the different folders cascade from left to right. Example: Start > Programs > System Tools > Backup. You know the drill.

    In RC1, each folder overlaps the previous, and you have to use forward/back buttons to backtrack. I find this annoying actually. I prefer XP's workflow. Is there a setting where I can make the folders function like XP?
    Reply
  • Morgifier - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the excellent article guys, covered practically everything I wanted to know about the RC before taking the plunge myself and formatting my hard drive for the install.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • heavyglow - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    "Multiple GDI applications can now issue commands to it at the same time, and this is all pushed off to the video card to be its problem."

    I'm pretty sure this means that alt-tabing from a game to desktop will be quicker. :)
    Reply
  • sample626 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    It's all good, but Windows XP x64 is not an XP. It is based on Win 2003 Server core and share's the same updates (so there is no Win XP x64 SP3)
    It doesn't reflect the real XP performance and it's not that good from compatibility view. The most common OS switch would probably be Win XP x32 -> Vista x32/64 ?-> Win7 646432/64
    Reply
  • JimmyJimmington - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Anyone know how to get hardware accelerated video decoding in windows 7. I've gone through a couple guides with no luck so far. Reply
  • brian26 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    Seriously, fuck off with the apple loving bullshit. Mac os isnt competing against Microsoft, if they did they would have their asses handed to them by the mass public complaining nothing works. They build their os for a specific set of hardware.. thats like making a fucking Operating system for a console. Until they have the balls to step out and compete against Microsoft in the OS department and drop their over priced proprietary bullshit then they can fucking burn down for all I care. So stop putting them on the table like they even matter. Its been 5 minutes you better go fucking check to see if steve jobs is in the hospital again hadnt you bitch ? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    You're late - the people claiming Anandtech has a MS bias got in on the first few pages of comments. Reply
  • Lexington02 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    He is not late, he is claiming otherwise to the other people who think that Anandtech is MS loving while this dude is claiming to be Apple loving. I wonder, which is true... Apple lovers or Microsoft lovers... Reply
  • Lexington02 - Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - link

    He is not late, he is claiming otherwise to the other people who think that Anandtech is MS loving while this dude is claiming to be Apple loving. I wonder, which is true... Apple lovers or Microsoft lovers... Reply

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