I was one of the early adopters who purchased Vista. I bought Vista Ultimate, took it home and installed it on my custom-built PC, and everything seemed to work fine… until I ran Windows update and my machine would not boot. I reinstalled Vista several times, all with the same result. I shelved the OS, reinstalled XP, and waited for six months until the updates, drivers, and compatibility issues were ironed out. After that, Vista ran with minor issues, but nothing that wasn’t workable, and it’s improved ever since. I use it now, relatively problem-free.
So when Microsoft promised that Windows 7 would essentially be the apology for Vista, I was pretty excited. I downloaded the RC when it was released and installed it on my laptop at home and desktop at work. I was pleasantly surprised. It ran as good, and in some ways better, than my Vista installation — and it wasn’t even the final “bits”. When the MSDN RTM release dropped, I wiped my machines and installed that as well. Other than a minor speed difference (the RTM actually seemed a tad slower), I have used it steadily with minor issues.
On thing I did notice today is that if I restart my laptop while connected via RDP and then reconnect when it has finished rebooting, I gain an extra “Unidentified Network” in my network settings that shares the same network adapter as my pre-configured home Ethernet connection. Wireless seemed fine, but I could not browse to the internet until I restarted my machine again, removing the network cable before Windows started, then plugging it back in once Windows finished booting. I did this several times, all with the same results. I don’t know if it’s a bug with RDP (it doesn’t happen if I am working directly on my laptop), but it’s a mild inconvenience that I can live with.
Another issue is compatibility. I own Adobe Creative Suite CS3, and out-of-the-box, Acrobat Pro has issues with all 64-bit versions of Windows. This is the first time I am leveraging Windows 64-bit technology, and I am actually pleasantly surprised that I have had little friction finding drivers and running my favorite software. I’ve had to jump through a few hoops with network printers, but nothing that manual driver installations couldn’t solve. Even the Acrobat Pro problem had been addressed with the 64-bit version of Vista, and some minor updates corrected that problem. Other Microsoft software, such as Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2005/2008 seem to run flawlessly once updates are applied.
Other than that, Windows 7 has been smooth sailing. I thought I would hate the new taskbar, but I actually like it a lot. Cosmetically, that’s really the only significant difference between Windows 7 and Vista — but it is significant. Anything that saves me time and helps organize my workspace is a plus. A lot of people will probably like the more reserved security prompt system (you don’t have to hit the “Ok” button a hundred times to do something), but it never really bothered me in Vista too much so I’m not acutely aware of the change in Windows 7 when I use it.
I haven’t taken the leap with my desktop at home, mostly because I loathe the thought of reinstalling all my software and reconfiguring all my settings. It will inevitably happen though. I think Windows 7 will be a much safer step for current XP users, and a sigh of relief for the Vista faithful. If Vista was the new ME, I think it’s safe to say that Windows 7 is the new 2000. It’s stable, secure, and actually looks kind of sexy. In that Billy G kind of way.