|Posted on October 28, 2009 at 5:59 PM|
Well, the time has come to upgrade! I recieved my copy of Windows 7 Home Premium the other day from Amazon.com, and I wasted no time in getting the thing installed. Here is my experience with upgrading to the much-praised Microsoft Windows 7.
First, some details: The computer I'm using is an Acer Aspire desktop with an AMD Athlon 64 x2 3600+ 2Ghz, so it's not exactly a powerhouse. It has 4GB of DDR2 RAM. The main hard drive is a 250GB Hitachi SATA drive and is partitioned into the C: drive (113GB) and the E: drive (112GB). Video is handled by a GeForce 7300 GT card. I use a wired (ethernet) Internet connection with 8Mbps cable Internet from Comcast.
Now on to the fun stuff: I chose to do a clean install and went with the 64-bit version of Win7. Since I was running Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit previously, I could have done the in-place upgrade with the 32-bit installation DVD that was included. Instead, I chose to do a clean install with the 64-bit DVD so I could get a feel for how it works as a fresh setup, and dive into the whole 64-bit experience as well.
The actual installation steps were pretty straightforward. Choose your time zone, name the computer, wait, wait a little bit more, then wait again. It actually didn't take very long when compared to installing Windows Vista. I started the install process at 6PM, and my desktop was up and usable at 6:34PM. Windows 7 then downloaded 14 updates for itself, which took another six minutes. I was now free to give it a try.
So far, so good! No crashes, very fast response times for pretty much every system operation, and that new taskbar is so much better than previous incarnations! I spent the next hour reinstalling my programs and trying out the new features like Desktop Peek, slideshow wallpaper and all the little tricks you can do with the taskbar icons.
After an hour break, I continued installing all my software, and by 9pm, I was pretty much done with that part of it. There are still a few little settings to change in some programs, but the system is effectively set up the way I want it now. I have noticed a slight speed increase with most of the programs I installed, but it's the sytem tasks like Windows Explorer and system settings menus that really show the most improvement.
Now that all the programs are installed, when I press the power button to turn the computer on, it takes 60 seconds for the desktop to show up, and about 37 seconds beyond that before the system is reasonably usable. This is maybe 10 or 15 seconds faster than I experienced with Vista. Shutting the computer down, though, is much faster. After telling it start shutting down, it only takes about 15 seconds before the power is completely off. With Vista, the shut-down process took about a minute or so.
Just for fun, I started every program on my computer at the same time and then tried using it to perform normal operations to see how well it ran. In case you can't read the CPU meter on the picture below, it's at a 53% load while the RAM is at 73%. Things ran a little jerkily at that point, but it was still as usable as ever. Not bad, Win7, not bad at all!
Glitches and Issues
Of course, changing to a new operating system, and going from 32-bit to 64 is bound to cause some problems. My printer drivers weren't 64-bit-compatible, as was true of a number of other programs. Except for my 8-year-old webcam, this was all solved by going to the manufacturer's websites and downloading the x64 versions of their drivers and software. Most of my old software works just fine in x86 mode, though I'm definitely going to be using the x64 versions of those as soon as they become available.
The main glitch affects Windows Media Player, which has always been my default media player. The one that came with Win7, WMP12, appears to be broken. Although I've pointed it to my music folders, it seems to be unable to load the library and display all my songs. I do have a playlist with all my music in it and this works fine, and my video library loaded correctly, but no music is showing in the music library. Of course, this same issue affects the new Media Center too. I'm sure some future update will solve this, but for now I will keep searching for a fix or an alternative.
*Update, 11/15/09 All of a sudden today, my Windows Media Player library contains all my music. I guess that update finally came along and did the trick!
Overall, I'm quite happy with the process of upgrading and the improvements made by the Microsoft team in this new version of Windows. It's faster than Vista by a noticeable amount. It's more user-friendly and attractive than Vista and definitely holds a huge advantage over XP in this regard. Windows 7 appears to me to be much more 'public-ready' than Vista was at its launch, which really helps to restore Microsoft's credibility to a large degree. Although I was never a Vista-hater, its shortcomings were readily apparent.
If you're thinking about taking the plunge with Windows 7, there are a lot of factors to consider, but you shouldn't be disappointed if you decide to go through with it.