After hearing many good things about Windows 7 I went ahead and downloaded the publicly available release candidate (Build 7100) from Microsoft. To do this you first go to the Windows 7 product page and download a 2+ GB ISO file, burn a DVD, and then make a decision to upgrade (Windows Vista only) or do a clean install (format and start fresh). I just wanted to try it out so I upgraded my Dell XPS M1710 laptop from Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate. You’ll lose your access to Windows Vista Ultimate Extras in 7, but there wasn’t that much great stuff in there anyways. It also told me I had to uninstall Daemon Tools, which I use for mounting CD images. It uses a virtual hardware driver to function so I think there will need to be an updated Windows 7 driver before that works. No issues were encountered during the upgrade, and it even fixed a problem with my audio popping and clicking that I was having with my external Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit USB sound card under Vista (worked fine in XP).
Anyways here is my take on it so far after using it for one day.
The interface has a few changes from Vista, the taskbar has been updated with an unmarked “Show/Hide Desktop” button after the time in the lower right corner, and each program just shows as a large icon now instead of a small icon and title. This can be changed back if desired. The quick launch has been replaced by a program pinning feature, when you open a pinned program the icon then functions as the taskbar button to switch to/minimize the program.
The media player is updated as well, though i don’t know what features have been added.
The personalization screen has new “theme” options, and i’ve found that simply changing a background requires a little more work than before because you now have the option of choosing multiple backgrounds and having Windows automatically flip between them every 30 minutes or whatever you specify.
As expected with any OS upgrade I did have a couple programs that didn’t cooperate fully. ClamWin AV runs fine, but Windows 7 doesn’t recognize it as a anti-virus program and sends up a flag that I don’t have anti-virus protection. After suppressing that message and the one about the firewall being disabled Windows 7 doesn’t report any issues. Also the Dell Quickset utility that pops up a volume control when you press the laptop’s built-in volume up/down buttons doesn’t work anymore. The Dell Quickset utility opens and functions fine, and the volume buttons work fine, but it just doesn’t show you what volume level you are at when pressing the buttons. These are minor issues and I’m sure their developers are working on issues just like this.
So in general I am pleased with Windows 7 and plan on upgrading to it when it goes gold.