Windows 7 Release Candidate – Smooth!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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It was way too cold to go waterfall hunting today — Hamilton is supposed to have over a hundred. So, I decided to bite the bullet and do some overdue computer maintenance.

I don’t often write computer geeky posts, because I have to work with the stupid stuff every day. I’m sure it bores you as much as it does me. My main job is as an IT Manager. I’m sick of it. You lookin’ for work – in a tropical paradise? Email me. You can have my job, but you have to find your own house. I’m not giving mine up.

However, when Microsoft comes through with a new version of Windows, the world holds its breath. Okay, okay, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but it is  a big deal.  The big question is, are they going to mess up big time again? Their flop history is the stuff of urban legend. Windows ME was a cruel joke. Vista is (please excuse the indelicacy) a painted whore.

I’ve been using Windows 7 since the first public beta version. For a beta, it has been extremely satisfying, despite a few user interface puzzles. I have never had a single program crash or Blue Screen of Death.

Today I downloaded the 64 bit version of the Release Candidate (that’s essentially the same software that will be sold to the public, or so the plan says) and installed it on my old Toshiba Satellite A-215. I had to back everything up so I could start from a blank hard disk drive, but the Easy Transfer facility in Vista made that fairly painless. I then burned the ISO file to a DVD, slapped it into the slot, rebooted, and held my breath.

In a surprisingly short time, without a single glitch, I now have this:

Windows 7 RC running on my old Toshiba

An old Toshiba that runs much faster than it ever dreamed it could. I won’t bore you with technical details. You could look up the model number if you wanted to. The desktop background is one of the shots that I got yesterday at Niagara Falls. The bottle is Mill Street Brewery’s Original Organic Lager, not a bad sip, if a little on the light side for my taste.

Not a bad day’s work, eh?


Previewing Windows 7

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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I seldom write about computer stuff. Frankly, after about thirty-five years of wrestling with the beasts, I’m sick of them. I want to use my computer like a hammer. If you handed a hammer, some nails, and a couple of boards to someone who was born in a cave and suckled by bears and told him to attach the two boards together, I’d bet he could figure out how to drive a nail in seconds. From then on, it’s just repetition.

So, with minor trepidation, I installed the Beta 1 version (Build 7000, if you care) on a test machine in my office today. I have to say that it was the most painless installation of Windows that I’ve ever experienced. It took far less time than Vista and there was not a single glitch. All hardware was discovered and installed correctly.

I’d hooked an Ethernet cable up to the machine before I started and W7 found our router and had the internet running on the first pass. It warned me, of course, that it was defenceless, so I installed anti-virus software immediately. Norton Internet Security 2009 refused to install, complaining that it didn’t like the Windows version. AVG Free, however, installed and updated itself without a murmur.

Here’s the test rig:

The Windows 7 test rig

Windows immediately began pulling in updates from Microsoft and installing them. Within a half-hour of finishing the installation, I had a fully patched and protected machine. It even warned me that I should let Windows Defender scan the machine.

After only a couple of hours of fooling around, I can say without hesitation that I like it much better than Vista. It seems to me what Vista should have been. I looked for numerous items that bug me about Vista to see if they’ve been fixed. Nearly all are, but sometimes not the way I expected. However, I’ve found nothing yet that I don’t like.

By the way, it’s noticeably faster than Vista and we have to remember that it’s a Beta version, so it will probably perform even better on release.

Here’s the nifty new Theme Selector:

Windows 7 Theme Selector

I installed Windows 7 as being in the Australia region, so it gave me the choice of an “Australian” theme.

Here’s the desktop with the “Landscapes” theme and the Start menu showing:

Windows 7 desktop with "Landscape" theme and start menu showing

I could say a lot more about the prettiness of W7, but I’ll use my fancy new photo gear to show you some more screenshots instead:

Notice in the screenshot that shows User Accounts that I was entered as an Administrator without even specifying so. I don’t know whether this will be the same for the release version, but I like it. I despise the limitations that are inflicted on my by Vista when I use the default account settings.

You can easily sign up for the Beta 1 version of W7. You’ll get a 2.44GB ISO file that you need to burn on a DVD. I understand that it does not expire until August 2009.

When you sign up, you get a product key to install it. There is no registration or “activation” required.

If you try it, please feel free to leave comments on this post so that others can share your experience.