Windows 7 - Worth The Effort?

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Tetge asks a critical question – What has Windows done for me lately? His take on it is worth reading.


My usual disclaimer about being long winded is here at the start.  Old old folks with degrees in History ramble on and I have learned not to fight it.

Since you were my inspiration to install Ubuntu as a Windows program, I thought you might be interested to know that today I installed the public beta of Win-7 on my XP machine with Ubuntu installed in XP.  I made a Ghost backup prior to the Win-7 install so I let Win-7 do its thing. It stated that it would put all the existing XP files in a special folder but that I would not be able to boot to XP.

I was surprised therefore to find a boot choice after the Win-7 install – the exact wording of the boot choice is “earlier version of Windows”, but it is in fact Ubuntu. Tricky these Linux folks. I am not knowledgeable enough to figure out what Ubuntu is actually doing, but the HD still only has a single primary NTFS file system on it.  So Ubuntu is magic with its persistence since it is not installed in Win-7.

After I played with Win-7 for a while I tried the previous version of Windows boot option and lo and behold it took me directly to Ubuntu, which functioned perfectly (no choice offered for XP). This is a bit perplexing since presumably Ubuntu (I see its folder on my C: drive) was moved to the special folder where the previous Windows moved to, so it should not have been found, IMHO.  But, nonetheless, that is what happened. I find that I get sort of emotional about Windows vs Linux as I have to admit I am sort of attached to Windows after all these years. But then, I think:

What Has Windows Done For Me Lately?

I have been using Windows since just before 3.0 was released.  I always have made the desktops look about the same as far as the few icons I use and the background color, etc. Since Windows 95 they have all been fundamentally the same. As an example, I always have created a task bar shortcut to the Windows Explorer and it always opens the Explorer full screen at the root of C: (%WinDir%Explorer.Exe /n,/e,C: as the target).  I have become very accustomed to the directory tree with the file view which I use frequently, and I mention this because when I ran the beta of Vista, I hated the new file management arrangement and I wished for a classic view instead.

Win-7 has the same file management. I do not wish to see thumbs of pics – I want to see their file name and extension. So, my old comfortable way of handling things has been changed.  The added security when dealing with files can also annoy and it can also cause some technical difficulties with backups, as Vista and Win-7 have some differences from earlier versions in how they handle ownership and permissions.

I did fool around last night with Win-7 – I made the desktop look like my regular old desktop and I can turn off all the sounds and all that, so I could live with it if I had to.  I imagine that if I researched and spent a lot of time and effort I could hammer Win-7 down into a more friendly (for me) environment.  But, it would be considerable work and I also would bet that a lot of my old rusty software will not work on 64 bit Win-7, so it would cost me some money to convert over.

On my main, “production” computer with the nice 24″ Samsung monitor, etc, my video card is a  8800GTX with a big Zalman heatsink on it, but, I do not play games.  They were closing the 8800 GTX’s out and it has 768 MB of RAM, etc, so I grabbed one.  So DirectX is not a consideration for me. Stability, function, and feel is important.  My only really intensive tasks  are fooling with images and videos that  I and others snap, and with editing and working with rather large wave files that I create on my digital keyboard. Even my old obsolete 4600+ equipped
computer handles that just fine.

To date Ubuntu has been a hobby.  I did go take the free IBM lesson on hardening the security of Linux (it was neat since they used Ubuntu as their model and the link is HERE if you have not seen it already.

I am not up to speed on configuring anything in Ubuntu but my desktop looks almost like my Windows desktops and it seems to chug right along.  It is on a different computer with a 7800 GS AGP video card (Win-7 rated the computer as a “5”) with the lowest score being the 4200+ AMD CPU.  I got the stuff really cheap in a bundle from NewEgg a while ago and it works very well.  Ubuntu had no difficulty seeing all the hardware including the DVD burner, etc,  so my old days of struggling with Linux to partition HD’s and configure hardware seem to be behind me.

Since I have three computers all networked, the fact that Ubuntu can now see the other computers also is a plus over the old days. Still, the Windows computers and the Linux computer do not really communicate smoothly at this point, so I would have to work that out if I went to a combination of both in my network.  I have not looked to see what is available for Ubuntu that would correspond to a program like Adobe Audition, so I do not know if I could fool with music files efficiently using Ubuntu. There are many things that I have not tried because I am fundamentally lazy so I use the main XP Pro computer for all the real processing tasks since it is configured and comfortable.  I do use Ubuntu to upload music files to a friend’s web site, but I move the files to the Ubuntu desktop using a USB stick.  Ubuntu sees the USB stick automatically so this is easier than figuring out how to get XP to allow Ubuntu access.Ubuntu sees the USB stick automatically so this is easier than figuring out how to get XP to allow Ubuntu access.

And this leads to my final conclusion in this rambling diatribe:

I am seriously considering switching to Ubuntu when I am churned out of XP Pro.  I feel that I would have to invest in new software to run Win-7 anyway and that Win-7 would require a lot of tweaking before it would have behavior that pleased me.  I do not wish to have to use the search feature on the start button to find add-remove programs as I did so that I could see if Ubuntu was listed there. I do not like the web view that Win-7 uses – call me old fashioned.

I have had a 1987 Moto Guzzi LeMans SE since it was new and I always drive Mustangs.  I like Mustangs (my current one is a 2003 SVT Cobra that ran 11.42 @ 120 on 17″  MT DR’s) because Mustangs are traditional.  Some call them crude but they are technically relatively simple compared to a lot of the newer vehicles, so I can work on them and they are comfortable for me. I do not want traction control and drive by wire and an auto trans and rain sensing wipers, etc.

If Microsoft had left a totally classic-view-and-feel-switch in Win-7, it might have soothed  me enough to keep on with it.  But if I am going to have to exert a lot of effort to configure Win-7 and if I am going to have to spend a bunch of money to replace perfectly functional software with new versions that work on Win-7, I seriously wonder if it would not be better to spend that effort configuring and perfecting a nice Ubuntu system?

Win-7 may be the ultimate motivation to migrate away from Microsoft since I may be lazy but I am efficient too.  I did not speak of XP much since I installed it – after they churned me out of my beloved W2K and now XP Pro SP3 is working fine on all my machines.  I have been resisting building a new system even though all three of my computers are obsolete because I am an AMD fan and AMD is not on top right now, and also because they are still changing the technology at a frenetic pace, and because I would have to totally configure the new system from scratch.  My old junk sure works a lot better than my DX33 did many years ago and I could live it and with XP Pro for the rest of my days as far as I can see.

I neither wish, nor want, all the bells and whistles that the average user seems to so enjoy. Auto-run is off. Cute little sounds are off.  Wizards don’t pop up.  Everything is off. If I want to use something, I start it up. I tweaked and hammered and hacked away at XP Pro for a long time to get it more or less the way I felt it should be. It is annoying that I will be churned into purchasing yet another OS build from Microsoft when the one I have works pretty darned well. And, naturally, I would have to have the Ultimate version, and that is really expensive ($267.49 at NewEgg + tax, free shipping for Vista Ultimate Sp1).

Who knows how long I will play with Win-7? The fact that it left Ubuntu as a dual boot turned out to be a real plus since I can boot into Ubuntu on that computer and have a functional second computer still.  But, I will no doubt restore my Ghost image of XP/Ubuntu in a few days since I am not thrilled with Win-7, as on the surface as it seems to be the same as Vista for all practical purposes.

Until I am churned out of XP Pro, I am not making any changes. There will be additional builds of Ubuntu which I think will be even better before Microsoft and all the hardware vendors effectively pull the plug on XP, so, waiting can’t hurt since more and more hardware folks are starting to support Ubuntu as time passes and Ubuntu continues to become more refined and user friendly.  I am hopeful that I will be able to dump Windows for Linux when the day comes.



Ed Note: If you have not seen the news, Windows 7 Beta is now available for anyone to download. It may take a number of tries as the server may be overwhelmed, but it’s worth doing, especially if you have a spare drive. I think this is a great marketing move by Microsoft.


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