Windows 7 – the OS for getting things done!

Screenshot of Ultramon toolbar in Windows 7 Build 7100
Screenshot of the Ultramon toolbar spanning two monitors in Windows 7 RC (Build 7100).

This evening — while I should have been cycling around the back roads of the East Neuk of Fife or repeatedly lifting moulded discs of iron — I instead sat in front of my main desktop PC, booted into the Windows 7 partition and began to familiarize myself with it a little more.

To be fair, I was trying to fend off a chest infection.

For the last few weeks we’ve been running the laptop on Windows 7 exclusively. But on my main PC the primary partition is still running XP and I’ve only booted into it every now and then, when time has offorded me that luxury.

Pre-ordered

This week, however, I pre-ordered a copy of Windows 7 Home E for our trusty Lenovo 3000 C100 laptop, and a copy of Windows 7 Professional E for my desktop PC. And both for less than the regular price of Windows 7 Home E!

Microsoft are clearly encouraging folks to upgrade to the new operating system as soon as possible. And I don’t blame them, from what I’ve seen of Windows 7 so far it’s well worth even the full price.

With October only three months away I reckoned that it was about time that I begin to make sure that all of my vital software works okay in Windows 7.

Installing

Installing Windows 7 on the Lenovo laptop was a breeze. I had already upgraded the RAM to 2GB (from 512MB) and stuck in a larger 160GB hard drive (from 40GB) so it was simply a case of running the installation DVD and seeing what it would make of my not-exactly-cutting-edge hardware.

The bulk of the installation was finished within about 20 minutes.

Windows 7 found drivers for almost all my hardware, prompted me for the WEP key to connect to the WiFi and discovered my Windows XP network workgroup. It was an almost faultless experience.

Moreover when Windows 7 couldn’t find any newer drivers for the integrated soundcard and trackpad it happily accepted the Windows XP drivers. Astounding!

It means that the installation process should be a pretty straightforward and effortless affair for even the most inexperienced PC user, since Microsoft aren’t offering an upgrade option in Europe and so anyone wanting Windows 7 will need to backup their PC, wipe it clean and install Windows 7 afresh … which is not a bad way to go, in my opinion.

Gotchas … so far

Adobe Acrobat 7

The first installation casualty was Adobe Acrobat 7. I simply can’t get it to work within Windows 7 so have resorted to the freeware PDF Creator from SourceForge.

UltraMon

The second was UltraMon … that is until this week. UltraMon is one of my must-have applications for working with multiple-monitor setups.

UltraMon manages wallpaper, desktop icons, stretches the taskbar across all your monitors and adds really handy ‘send to other monitor’ and ‘stretch across all monitors’ buttons next to the minimize, maximize and close buttons in the top right-hand corner of each window.

Until now the XP/Vista edition hasn’t worked with Windows 7, but version 3.0.6 brings with it Windows 7 support. And I’m relieved to report that I’m impressed.

The evaluation continues, but I can’t immediately see anything that I’ll be terribly disappointed with (except perhaps the absence of an ‘Up’ button on the Explorer toolbar!) As I tweeted a few minutes ago: “Windows 7 feels like the kind of OS where you can simply focus on getting things done.”

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