Windows 7 Up Close and Personal

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When Windows Vista first hit the scene, it was quite a departure from Windows XP. It had been a while since a major desktop operating system release from Microsoft, and consumers along with many businesses, were slow to adopt the new OS, if at all. Add to that the new and sometimes cumbersome security features and reports that Vista was slower as a gaming platform, and you had an equation for slow initial uptake.  Even as service pack 1 was released adoption was still less than stellar, prompting Microsoft to launch creative marketing campaigns in an attempt to sway public opinion.

As news about Windows 7 leaked to the public, many wondered what type of improvements it would offer over Vista or legacy Windows XP installations. That curiosity changed to a fervor when Microsoft announced the first public beta of Windows 7 was to be released. The scheduled release date was surrounded by such anticipation that when it was time to deliver, Microsoft could not handle the download demand for the their latest version of Windows. Finally, after a small delay, the public now has access to the first beta of Windows 7. We here at HotHardware have been experimenting and testing it and have compiled a first look, replete with plenty of screen shots and benchmark comparisons between Windows 7 and Vista as installed on the same hardware platform.

The Installation Process: 

The Windows 7 installation was relatively painless because most of the necessary drivers for our test system were included on the DVD. We were installing on an new Centrino 2-based Lenovo notebook, so Vista-based drivers downloaded from Lenovo's site, where needed, rounded out the install. Once booted and ready to go, it was time to take a peek at the new features we had heard so much about. As this was a base operating system install, the desktop looked sparse with only Recycle Bin and Send feedback icons present. Looking at the system window we saw that the laptop had been given a Windows Experience Index of 2.0 based on the lowest score which happened to be Disk Data Transfer Rate.  This had to be a mistake as in previous testing the Hitachi drive in this system had given healthier benchmark numbers. After a bit of searching we realized this was a common issue and the fix was to disable write caching on the hard disk as follows:

  1. Go to Control Panel > hardware & sound > device manager
  2. Locate disk drives, expand and find your main drive
  3. Right click it and select properties
  4. Click the policies tab, uncheck "enable write caching on this device", click ok
  5. Run the Windows Experience Index again

Now we have a 3.5 WEI with a Disk Data Transfer Rate score of 5.3 up from 2.0.




 Windows Experience Index before fix
Windows Experience Index after fix


Let's poke around this new OS from Microsoft and explore some of its new features, next.

Article Index:

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>> Optimizing DRM....uh that is not something done with an OS, that is something done to files in which a program will then have to use special algorhythms to decrypt/encrypt or use keys or whatever to play the file depending on what kind of DRM is being used.

Au contraire mon frere: MS integrated DRM into the OS starting with Vista so that programs could restrict the resolution (i.e. go into low-rez mode if your monitor doesn't support HDCP so that you won't be able to get a high-quality output), and force the audio output path (to stop you from ripping the tracks from the audio card).

Do a quick search on "Windows Vista DRM" and here's the first link you'll find: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/02/drm_in_windows_1.html. It's interesting reading.

And they're going to cling to DRM, even as others abandon it: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/245859/qa-microsoft-defends-return-to-drm.html

It doesn't stop any pirates, and it just forces you to buy the same thing over and over for every device you use.  That's why I use Linux and don't buy any DRM'd materials.

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Drago:

oh and what good is media playback when your computer tries to open a file and blanks everything out and asks you if you really want to open this file, then it BSOD's just cause you took to long to click ok and were ignoring it.  Optimizing DRM....uh that is not something done with an OS, that is something done to files in which a program will then have to use special algorhythms to decrypt/encrypt or use keys or whatever to play the file depending on what kind of DRM  is being used.  Sounds to me like they just got a patch for a media play back software not the actual OS on that one, that or someone is talking about crap they dont understand or know fully about.

Painted crap is still crap, just a diff color.

Actually in 7 you can turn off that annoying prompt for permission with the user account control settings I wrote about. Check the image on the second page.

 

 

MShaw
A+, CCNP, MCSA, MCSE, Net+
BA - Accounting - FSU 1988
BS - Economics - Tulane 1996

:)

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Nice write up. I have Windows 7 on my main computer and my Girlfriends and those are the only PCs running Windows right now.

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>> you can turn off that annoying prompt

It looks like you have to turn it off completely, for everything you run? Why didn't they set it up like the firewall so that you can turn it off for that one annoying program from that vendor who won't update their code? Uh.... that idea now patent-pending. :)

I think Microsoft should have stuck to their guns on this one. Too many people will still turn it off for minor apps they run, completely negating the benefit.

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The user account control is not easily accessible for the novice user so this may somewhat discourage them. You really need to be looking for it and understand what it does to want to change it.

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I am on it at the moment and it seems nice. Much faster than Vista, but its also a clean install on its own HD. So its really hard to tell the speed diffrence...

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As far as I'm concerned here is my pro/con list.

 

Pros

  1. Wordpad opens office 2007 .docx files natively and rather than munging the files if you change them it saves as RTF.
  2. divx/xvid and h.264 video opens up in Windows Media Player, you may have to associate .mov files with WMP but they do open.
  3. New taskbar improvements are subtle but nice.
  4. new calculator, well its similar to the Calculator Plus that MS has as a free download for XP.
  5. Problem steps recorder revolutionizes how help requests are sent.

Cons

  1. still has too many background processes running like Vista does.
  2. mp3 corruption issue patch if you haven't
  3. Windows installer issues. it seems like its too easy to break it.
  4. software compatibility is better than in Vista but there are still lots of 3rd party apps that need updating.

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Calculator Plus looks like it was created with MS Paint and VisualCobol.

Anyone that wants a really good calculator should try SpeedCrunch (http://speedcrunch.org/en_US/index.html), which is freely available for all OS's and is the default calculator in Kubuntu 9.04.

SpeedCrunch Image

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