Yes, I like many others downloaded the Windows 7 Beta. For me this is a first. No, not the first time I loaded a beta of an operating system, but the first time I waited until the public beta.
Over the years at one time or another I have had a subscription to MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network), and this subscription would get me copies of the Windows OS in very early beta stages. I tested Vista long before it was a public beta.
For the first time in a very long time I do not have an active subscription to MSDN at the time a beta of the latest Windows is available. Mostly it doesn’t matter. Although I am a programmer, I have not done much with my MSDN subscription except play with it in recent years. My company is still running Windows XP and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon.
Times are tough, so my company let all the developer subscriptions laps. Darn, although I only played with it myself. My previous AVP believed that it was worth the cost for programmers to have it even if just to play. He felt, as I do, that having access to this and playing with all the new “toys” was worth it to keep programmers interested in new technology and have them looking for way to get that into regular work. I can’t agree more. If you are a developer you should convince your boss that this is something you need. Maybe you can get your company to spring for a copy that is shared amoung a few developers to help justify the cost.
Enough about MSDN, this is about Windows 7. I like it. I have not done any timed tests, but it does seem to boot faster. Maybe that will slow down once I load a bunch of software. I am running Windows 7 in a dual boot fashion. I do not use Microsoft’s boot manager. This is the menu that would appear when you first start your computer asking which version of Windows to run. I could do that, but I prefer a safer approach.
I have two hard drives in my computer, C: & D:. I go into the BIOS of the computer and set the second drive (D) to be the first drive to boot. This basically switched the drives and C: becomes D: and vice-versa. At this point I boot with the Windows 7 DVD in the drive and the OS starts installing. When I am done “playing” I reboot, get into the BIOS and switch the order of the drives. Instantly I am back to Windows Vista with much less chance of something going wrong.
Overall I like Windows 7. It is cleaner and a little more intuitive. Then again, it does some things different from Vista, so intuitive is a relative term. I like the task bar, but it takes getting use to. I have not loaded any application, but within using Explorer and Media Player and such it has been a very pleasant experience.
The main reason for installing Windows 7 is to see how well it works with the XBox 360 as a media extender. Vista’s Media Center won’t recognize MP4 files. I heard Windows 7′s Media Center was going to support any files that Media Player supported. Sure enough, I was able to play movie I ripped to MP4 format. This format is support by both my Zune 80 and my sons’ iPods. I am looking for maximum playability with the least number of formats. With Windows Vista Media Center I am forced to rip movies to WMV and MP4. MP4 for the Zune and iPods, and WMV for the XBox.
If you want to play MP4 files over your XBox 360 I suggest you look into TVersity instead of Media Center. It works well and supports MP4, AVI & WMV. It may do more, those are the three in my library and all work very well with TVersity and XBox.
I have not connected the Media Center in Windows 7 to the XBox yet, but it does work better than Vista stand alone. I was able to configure my TV Tuner card more easily than with Vista. Vista requires me to turn off my firewall to get updates to the TV guide. This is weird because Vista’s Media Center can reach out to the internet to offer me the choice of cable providers based on my zip code, but fails to update the guide. W7′s Media Center grabbed the guide with no trouble.
Media Player was very amazing on first launch. I used it to look at an AVI file and was pleasantly surprised at the super clean interface. Basically you get your video playing in a thin framed window. The player controls are superimposed over the video. Move the mouse away, or just don’t more it for a while, and the control go away leaving you with a completely uncluttered look to your video. It just doesn’t get any better than this. I will reserve final judgment until I see how it works with music, a library, playlists, etc. But first impressions are a good thing and I am impressed so far.
I will report more later after I get my stop watch out and time some operations and look for more things to like or dislike.