Friday, 24 July 2009

First steps with Windows 7

For a variety of reasons, I operate as a business, and for a variety of other reasons, my business is a member of the Microsoft Partner programme. That shouldn't really surprise anyone, despite my frequent criticisms of Microsoft and its products over the years. The fact is that I, like most people involved in hi-tech, continue to use Microsoft products every day, as do the overwhelming majority of my business clients.

One of the advantages of being a Microsoft Partner, is early access to forthcoming products, which is why I have a copy of Windows 7 before its general release. This blog article follows my first steps with Windows 7.

Microsoft: "download now"
What I did: quite late in the evening, I followed the steps to install the download manager, and then started the download and went off to watch TV. 4 hours and 2.5GB later, I had the Windows 7 Release Candidate .iso file. (The download steps do include getting a product key.) Next day, I burnt the .iso to a DVD.

Microsoft: "use a dedicated test PC"
What I did: found an 80GB hard drive I didn't need, and installed it in my PC. I set the disk up with Win XP. Then I loaded the Windows 7 DVD.

The installation took about 30 minutes, during which the machine rebooted itself 3 or 4 times. There is an option to set up Windows 7 as a dual boot, but I didn't choose this, I created a completely new clean install.

First impressions:
The visual appearance is very much like Vista, with a rather odd background graphic with a strange blue fish. I wonder who chose that?

First problem:
Windows 7 didn't automatically recognise my wireless networking PCI card. I installed the drivers for the card from the original CD. I still found the Networking dialog a bit confusing, and I still couldn't use it to connect. However I did connect using the wireless card's own software utility, and happily found my way to the Internet. Hurrah! But the Windows 7 Networking dialog still didn't recognise that I was connected.

When I installed the wireless card software I was prompted to approve the action, Vista-style. I wonder how often this is going to happen.

I have now gone back to my Win XP PC to get work done today, and I'll continue my experiments with Windows 7 over the weekend.