Friday, January 09, 2009

First Look at Windows 7 Beta

Last night I downloaded the ISO of the Windows 7 Beta installation disc from MSDN.  This morning I installed it on a fairly generic Intel PC with a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 3 GB of RAM, a 160 GB hard disk, DVD burner, with an Intel DQ965 chipset.

Installation was a snap on this hardware, taking about 20 minutes.  Compared with Vista, the most noticeable differences upon first logging in are (a) the gadget bar on the right of the screen is absent, and (b) a new task bar.  Gadgets can be setup on the desktop but the gadget bar isn't loaded by default.  The new task bar merits some comment.

I've seen in various articles online how the new task bar is similar to the OS X Dock.  It does bear some resemblance.  E.g., you can drag an application icon to the Task Bar to create a launcher.  When you click on it, the app opens.  When you minimize the app, it does so to the icon, which is then surrounded by a box.  If you have more than one instance of an app open, the icon appears as a stack.  If you hover the cursor over the icon stack, you'll get a popup with previews of each window.


So far it runs faster on my hardware than Vista does.  User Access Control seems a bit less obnoxious, and it's less bloated.  For example, Windows Live Mail and Messenger are no longer part of the installation, but you can download them through Control Panel.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta is the stock browser and it runs very quickly.

Like Vista, if you press Windows Key-Tab, you can see all of your open apps.

There is still no built in SSH client, and the telnet client needs to be enabled through Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off, which is just dumb.

Oh, the default desktop background is a painting of a Siamese Fighting Fish, AKA a Beta Fish.  Cute.

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