My love for electronics has familiarized me with a lot of gadgets and accessories, including computer hardware and software. So, when an avalanche of enthusiasts flooded the Internet with the view of investigating what the latest Microsoft Windows has in stock, I couldn’t resist the urge to look. I have never been a fan any sort of beta software (past or present). And I may never be. The simple reason for this is that I have always loved my software to be a ‘completely’ finished product. Not just Beta 1, 2, or 3!
My adventures with Windows 7 Beta and Release Candidate were merely out of curiosity. Nothing serious! Tired of hearing friends and family members showering all kinds of accolades on it, I decided (rather belatedly) to see things for my self. And, I was not disappointed. Though, I must also admit that I didn’t jump over the moon.
First and foremost, my several days of scrutiny have shown me that Microsoft Windows 7 (Beta and Release Candidate) is a good operating system. Not at all fantastic; but very good! I uploaded and tested all three versions: Ultimate, Professional, and Home Premium. But since this is only a beta version, Microsoft can still make whatever alterations it likes, before bundling them out on October 22. By the way, that date is indeed my own birthday; so, I would want it to be a good day not just for me—but also, for everybody—including Microsoft.
Like the Windows Vista before it, the Ultimate version of this new Windows 7 is the full monty! It contains every feature of the operating system. It also seems to include all the drivers that I needed during the period I spent testing it. I noted that it loads quickly and runs both clean and fast. But before going into the details of my findings, let me quickly mention that the overview of my hardware specification is given at the end of this summary—together with Microsoft’s own stipulated minimum system requirements.
Using a bunch of multi-tasking software (designed for Vista and for Windows Server 2008), I did my best to push the limits of Windows 7, but it seemed to withstand the shots pretty well. I was impressed by this—given the fact that the software is still an initial/beta release. Remarkably, both the Ultimate and the Professional versions of Windows 7 could run older software, if the user switches the compatibility mode to Windows XP mode. I tested this feature satisfactorily; and my only complain is that this useful feature is lacking in the Home Premium edition of the O/S. This means that some of your older software and peripherals, which ran smoothly on both Windows XP and Vista, might be rejected by the Home edition of this new Windows 7.
Another important feature that I used in the Ultimate and Pro versions, but which are also missing in the Home edition is the Backup utility. This offered me a complete PC backup: by cloning my system’s hard disk. Everything was fine—even with my external drives. All the booting times were short. The only problem I noticed here was that this backup utility does not work with any hard drive, which is formatted using the FAT system.
Also, the Graphical User Interface seems to breathe new life into monitors. Everything was as clear as crystal—just like I was using a glossy high definition monitor. And, there are several image and menu adjustment options in this arena. Again, the issue of disc burning has gotten advanced, but smoother. It is much easier now. The same applies to the intuitive Device Troubleshooting feature, which Microsoft painstakingly crafted into din.
From network connectivity to media center entertainment, and down to both security and accessibility options, the improvements in Windows 7 are really plausible. The Windows BitLocker and Drive Encryption options are a beauty to behold. However, I will not praise the O/S too much at this time, because all the things that I used to test it are the software and peripherals designed for either Vista or XP. I do not have any one specifically made for Windows 7 yet. And, only when they become available and are satisfactorily tested; would I conclude that this O/S does not hog-down system resources. Moreover, I am pleased given the fact that Microsoft is on schedule with this particular release, and it performs creditably even at its pre-release beta state.
Finally, if the signs I saw are anything to go by, then, I would say that this Windows 7 is a good O/S. But intending buyers of the Home edition should note that some useful options available in both the Professional and the Ultimate editions are missing from it. Pay attention to the version you choose, if backups are high in your agenda. Do as well, if you wish to run some of your older peripherals and software on this brand new O/S.
Before wrapping-up, the following is an overview of the specifications of the PC I used in my tests. Note that I used 1TB (i.e. 1024GB) Seagate External Drives as well. For any application, variations in hardware may produce significant variations in software performance.
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 Processor (4 x 3.00GHz)
8GB (i.e. 8192MB) 1333MHz DDR3 RAM/Memory
1.5TB (i.e. 1536GB) SATA II Seagate Ultra Hard Disk/Drive
Two NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT 1024MB PCI Express Graphics Cards (2048MB SLI)
Samsung SyncMaster T240 24” TFT Monitor
7.1 Surround Harman/Kardon Loudspeakers
Meanwhile, Microsoft recommended these minimum specifications:
1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Meanwhile, bear in mind that running software on those machines, which only meet the minimum specifications may hamper certain functionalities; and thus, not yield optimum results. Both Microsoft and all other software manufacturers are aware of this.
What did you think of this review?