Windows 7. A Compelling Upgrade From Vista?

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My preference for Vista is mostly for superfluous reasons, but when totaled, they still leave me looking for a reason to switch. The biggest drawback for me is the lack of a sidebar in Windows 7. While MS kept the gadgets, they did away with the sidebar in the newest iteration of Windows.

I use a wide screen monitor on my primary desktop, and the extra width is typically wasted with my computing style. I use most of my applications full screened and switch between them using the task bar. I use the sidebar to relay useful (and useless) information which helps my productivity, and keeps me entertained. When the gadgets are constantly visible, information can be conveyed at a glance when applications are maximized.

With reference to appearance, I think Vista is the better looking operating system. I much prefer the 3D effect Vista uses for the taskbar as opposed to the flat glass of Windows 7. Also, Windows 7’s use of the taskbar as a dock-like tool a la OSX is perhaps useful to some, but not me. Using the taskbar in its default configuration adds keystrokes to the task of opening multiple windows of the same application which slows down the general work flow. Instead of clicking on the relevant tab, you now have to hover over the icon and pick the correct popup. It’s easy enough to change, but I find it lacking and not the big feature MS considers it to be.

Performance wise, Windows 7 and Vista are just about equal. Although Windows 7 has the appearance of greater speed and reduction of used resources, Microsoft seems to have accomplished a lot of this with some parlor tricks.

They reduced RAM usage at the expense of having less data cached, and they sped up the opening animation for application windows. MS did the same thing with Vista for SP1. Speeding up the window animations made it feel faster without actually being faster. Honestly, I preferred the pre-SP1 animations. I just don’t work so fast that a fraction of a second waiting for a window to open makes that much of a difference, and the slower windows looked nicer.

Much has been made of using Windows 7 on the latest computer trend – netbooks. Windows 7 certainly works well on this platform, but then so does Vista. Vista had an unfair stigma of having a greater than typical resource usage, especially when compared to the old standby, XP. People were leery of running Vista on a netbook, so very few even tried. Those few that did try Vista on netbooks were pleasantly surprised at how well it ran, even beating out XP in performance. Boot times are a little slower and it is a hog with hard drive space, but once inside the O/S, Vista is quite responsive.

Is Windows 7 worth the purchase? That depends:

  • If one is still using XP, it most certainly is. Windows 7 is faster, more reliable, has better security, and is arguably better looking.
  • If you’re using Vista, I don’t see the need to upgrade. It may be worth it to some just to have the latest tech.

That’s the category I find myself in, but Windows 7 has brought a few changes I just don’t care for and a couple lateral changes that don’t matter either way. I have a shiny new copy of Windows 7 Professional in my O/S folder, but I doubt I’ll ever install it. I’m going wait for Windows 8, and if MS keeps to their release schedule, Windows 8 should be a game changing release.

This commentary was brought to you by Open Office and Ubuntu ;^)

Johnz

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