Windows 7 Beta 1

Like with Vista, I’m beta testing again. This time, I’m using something a little more powerful, my laptop. Since it came with Vista, some direct comparisons can be done. The first thing to note is Windows 7 Beta 1 is just that, a beta. Though I have yet to have something on it crash, there are some visual bugs that need to be worked out. In certain circumstances I am getting visual corruption in Aero. One thing that was improved right off the bat was wireless networking support. Vista was much better than XP, likewise Windows 7 is much better than Vista in this regard.

Booting does not seem much faster than with Vista, but I am using a slightly slower hard drive, and all my ready boost stuff is disabled at the moment. The sound driver that was installed did not work for the built in speakers on my laptop, but installing a Vista driver for it resolved the issue. Like Vista, the automatic installation of drivers is improved greatly over XP. Unlike Vista, in Windows 7 more information about the devise, and process the installer is following is available. Most devices are just plug-n-play with Windows 7, even more so than with Vista.

The window peaking, and new taskbar are two things I’d throw onto the improvement list. On the taskbar you can move around the currently active applications in a manner that reminds me of Avant Window Navigator (OS X is probably like that too). The mouse gestures will take a little bit to get used to and fully learn, so I won’t comment fully on them at this time.

There are still quite a few problems, but hey, it’s a beta so it’s my job to let Microsoft know about them. The first issues is FTP support, it sucks. Vista FTP support wasn’t much better than XP, they both have issues if you double click on an file (they both try to open the files in Internet Explorer). In Windows 7 Beta 1 I can not even log into my FTP folder, all authenticated FTP accesses fail with the error “The handle is invalid.”

Printer drivers for older USB devices do not exist. My HP Officejet v40 (which is built better than most new printers) had drivers built in to Windows since XP. In Vista the included drivers were slow and made printing painfull, in Windows 7 the drivers are not there. HP does not even distribute Vista drivers for the Officejet v40, so unless you have Vista and rip the drivers out of it, or are resourceful with Google, you are SOL.

There are some screen corruption issues, where Aero flakes out, or the font does not render properly. The font issue is reproducible, go add a printer, and scroll quickly through the driver listing (not using the scroll wheel but instead the scroll bar). It is a flaw in the rendering of the letter ‘e’, and specifically the horizontal line is too thick (two to three times the thickness it should be). The fact that a screen capture using the Print Screen button captures this points to a rendering issue caused by windows rather than a driver issue. Using the ClearType configuration utility (a quick, six step, which text chunk looks best ‘test’ ) seems to resolve this issue.

The Aero corruption issue may be a graphics driver issue. So far I have not found a method that reliably reproduces the issue. It will some times affect the taskbar, when opening and closing windows, or minimizing and maximizing them. Sometimes it will affect the titlebar of an application.

Overall Windows 7 is shaping up to be a good replacement for Vista and XP. Sure the Beta has some bugs, but then again it’s a beta.

-John Havlik

2 thoughts on “Windows 7 Beta 1

  1. Nice writeup of your Windows 7 impressions. Surprising that printscreen captures the visual defect.

    Yesterday I installed Windows 7 on a Dell X300 notebook (1.4GHz 640MB RAM) and it was surprisingly nice. Vista would have crawled. XP runs nicely. Windows 7 runs nicely.

    As mentioned here before, I completely skipped Vista as a production OS. From what I’ve seen so far, and if things continue along this positive track, I will eventually switch to Windows 7 as my primary desktop/notebook OS.

    It is nice to see that MS can learn from its mistakes. :-)

    • Fixed the typo for you. Yeah, print screen capturing it means that the driver itself is getting the wrong data in the frame buffer, thus an actual windows problem. Though, I was able to fix it with the ClearType tool. After placing the Vista drive back in the laptop I can say that Windows 7 does boot quicker, it just isn’t as fast as I’d like for booting.

      The thing with Vista is that even with the stock, 1.4Ghz C2D in my laptop, I really did not have a speed issue for browsing the Internet and such, heck I even was playing Sim City 4 on it and only ran into a problem when my city started to get quite large. Naturally, the x9000 makes things much faster, and for compiling stuff it makes life nice.

      -John Havlik

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