Windows 7 Party

I was invited to attend a Microsoft Windows 7 party in Phoenix. The purpose of this all-day meeting was to introduce Information Technology professionals to their newest operating system Windows 7 as well as to introduce us to the latest versions of Exchange Server and their server product.

While I do have a few Windows machines, my preference is clearly to Apple’s OS X operating system. I wanted to go into this meeting with an open mind to give this new operating system an opportunity to show whether it was an appropriate replacement to Windows XP and Windows Vista.

I will be the first to admit that I am an early adopter and I usually will upgrade to the latest version of either an operating system or an application as soon as it comes out. Part of this is due to my insatiable curiosity and partly it is because I know that friends and family are going to upgrade and therefore I need to know what kinds of issues they may have since they are going to call me to troubleshoot their problems.

The event was held at an AMC movie theater. Microsoft had rented out four theaters and had set up a presenter’s podium in front of the screen. The movie screen was configured to show the contents of the presenter’s computer.

The venue actually worked which somewhat surprised me. Granted it was strange having to dodge movie goers looking for the appropriate theaters and the registration tables were adjacent to the snack bar making for a traffic disaster but we seemed to survive.

The breakout sessions I went to included understanding new features of Windows 7, delving into the security aspects of Windows 7, incorporating Windows 7 into a cloud computing model, and creating a deployment strategy for implementing Windows 7 into an enterprise.

As I sat through these presentations I came away with an appreciation of how Microsoft had learned from the challenges they faced trying to roll out Vista. Clearly the troubles of Vista did not fall on deaf ears in Redmond. Many of the enhancements within Windows 7 build on the successes of Windows XP while carrying forth the vision that was unrealized in Vista.

I made a few observations about this new operating system and the features it is bringing to the table.

  • Jump Lists – Windows 7 will group windows under an application on the task bar and provide you with previews of the windows. This is a much better paradigm than seeing just the titles. The titles will appear if you have too many windows open in an application to make previews unmanageable.
  • Snap – You can make a window take half the screen by dragging it to the left margin of the screen or the right margin. This makes it easy to compare windows side by side and is a welcome improvement to the user interface.
  • Search – You can now save searches from various search sources and have them available in the Windows explorer eliminating the user from having to remember which search engines they used to get the results they needed.
  • Hide Windows – Now you can click in the task bar in the far right corner to hide all the windows and see the icons and files that are on the desktop without having to manually minimize each window. It works much better than the show desktop options in either Vista or XP.
  • Printer Set-up – You can now set up a default printer per network meaning if you are at work the system will set your default printer to your work printer but when you attach your computer to your home network the OS will set your default printer to your home printer. It will take away a lot of the headaches associated with forgetting to change printers.
  • Faster Start-up and Shutdown – Windows 7 only loads the files it needs to boot rather than loading everything making start-up much faster than Vista or XP. Shutdown will not wait 12 seconds for an application to shutdown then give the user a dialog box to terminate the application and shutdown. This is a lot faster than previous versions of Windows.
  • Better Memory Management – Windows 7 has been optimized to make better use of computer memory meaning you will be able to have more things open without running out of memory.

These are just a few of the new features that users will see with Windows 7. While I hesitated recommending Vista to family and friends, I do not think I will have that same reservation with Windows 7. The initial observations left me impressed with the features that Windows 7 brings to the table.

Does this mean I would trade in my Macintosh and OS X? Not hardly but it does mean that for those times where I do have to boot into Windows I am going to be happier doing so in Windows 7 than I was in either Vista or XP.


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