Windows 7 Review – 2nd day after install

Well this is not a professional review, just some thoughts based on my recent upgrade from Windows Vista 64 on to Windows 7 Professional 64. Now for the background, I’ve been running Vista on my main workstation (Core 2 Duo / 8gb ram) since early 2009. I only had a few issues until the end of 2009 when the windows start menu stopped working. I followed so many forums and ‘finally got it working’ posts that didn’t work for me. I realized that I needed to re-install Vista to fix the problem, but why do that? Why not throw more money to M$ and pray for the best.

So I ordered Windows 7 and gave up the cash. Having just installed Ubuntu 9.10 (for free) on my laptop, and installing Snow Lepoard (for $30) on my mac mini, dropping some coin for M$ is a bit difficult. Once it got to my house, I started making backups of all things on my C: drive. I copied the entire C:\Users folder to my D: drive and I did this with all applications closed, and not using the computer until the copy was complete. I also copied various other folders that I keep on my C: drive because its fast (a WD raptor).

The Windows 7 install is quite fast. It makes me think they trimmed things down. I always choose to do a fresh install rather than an upgrade, and this is why I copied data from the C drive on to my D drive. If you only have one drive in your computer, stop what you are doing right now and buy a second drive, thank me later. When the install completed, I noticed that my D drive was not available, and that is because it is a RAID setup and the driver was not installed on Windows. So first things first, let Windows update itself.

After the update, the RAID D drive was visible, and now I can start installing applications that I saved to this backup drive. There were several applications that I was concerned about in terms of compatibility issues, such as VMWare Server 2.0, Cubase 5, and the MOTO 828mk3 drivers. To my surprise these apps initially worked. VMWare Server crapped out on me after additional Windows updates and software installs but I will get into this later. Next I installed Java 6, Eclipse, Office 2007, and did at least 5 reboots, then my system was back to where I was with Vista – except now the start menu worked. The startup time is about the same, and the overall feel is about the same (as Vista) so no dramatic changes

Obviously there are some differences between Windows 7 and Vista, and furthermore, Windows XP. The taskbar is the most significant change, where application icons on the bar are compacted as related items with a nice popup to pick the window you want to bring to the front. So for example if Firefox opens up 3 windows, they all appear as one item on the taskbar. When you move the mouse pointer to the FireFox taskbar item, a popoup appears with three mini windows representing each of the three FireFox windows. Click on the window you want to bring to the top focus. This is a nice improvement, however if you want to see something cool, the expose feature in Linux / Mac is the shit. Come on Microsoft, you steal things, why not this?

The next item I noticed was the change of the control panel where items are organized in different order. It took me a while to locate a number of standard familiar items that I normally would interact with. For example, the services manager was not quick to find, and same with the system properties where you enter environment variables. But then I realized VMware server 2.0 had stopped working. This led me to become more familiar with the control panel changes (unfortunately). VMWare Server 2.0 suddenly broke while I was opening up a management client window for a VM. I was no longer able to connect to virtual machines, and so I restarted to see if the ‘windows fix all’ would help. Nope, same problem, and in the Windows Event Log, there were errors for attempting to connect to the VMs that I installed. Next step was to uninstall VMWare, and after doing so, re-install the application. Once this was complete, I had a different problem. Now the VMware Web Access service failed to start. This basically runs Tomcat server which allows access to manage the VMWare server API. After google research and trial and failure, I decided to copy EVERY .bat file from another tomcat installation that I had on my computer to the C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Server\tomcat\bin folder. I opened a command line and ran startup.bat. Viola! Tomcat started, and I was able to update from the web console, but this is a shitty hack!~

Fortunalty, this was the only software issue I encountered so far. Cubase 5 and the MOTU driver worked very well and just as it did under Windows Vista. Same with Office 2007, and various other software apps.

The media library is another new concept where under the Windows Media Player, you add folders to the program for Audio, Video and image files. Once this is done in the media player, it remembers these paths in the windows file explorer as the quick links on the right. Initially I noticed that the folder I added to the video library did nothing, and that was because it had no media files, just folders that contained media files. Why can’t the program crawl the folders and subfolders to find media files? Why do I have to add each folder individually? I’m also realizing that it does not follow shortcuts. WTF?

That’s all I can spew for a day two review, check back later for more details.

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