Windows 7 – An interesting install!

I am now blogging this from Firefox 3.5 on my Windows 7 install on my MacBook, and the install was interesting, and the problems that occured, none of them were Microsoft’s fault!

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First of all, I entered the wonderful world of Apple’s Boot Camp software. Boot Camp 3.0, which “supports” (more on that later) Windows 7 in both 32 and 64 bit form, enables your Intel based Mac to have Windows as a dual boot partition. I ran the Apple Boot Camp Asisstant, and asked it to make a 70GB partition (out of my 140GB remaining) in which to install Windows 7. This is where my first stumble occured.

Apple has historically boasted that you don’t need to defragment the hard drive when you are using it. Apparently this is not the case. Boot Camp told me that it could not move my files on my hard drive (even though I was asking it to use a total of a third of my drive for Windows). This surprised me. After much fretting and confusion, it seemed the way to solve this, would be to back up my Mac (as Apple offer no free defragmentation utility) to an external drive, then restore it, to make my files contiguous.

I of course, being the type of computer user that would expect a machine to do what I asked of it, refused to do such a thing. Realising I had a large number of larger files on my computer that could simply live on my external drive due to a lack of access (do I really need to keep the installation files for downloaded pay programs on my machine) I went to task. With 40GB cleared later, and a smaller 50GB partition settled on, Boot Camp was finally able to shuffle enough of my Mac install around to place a 50GB partition onto my computer for the new OS. After it requested installation, I placed my 64 bit Windows 7 disc in, and began the install.

Impressed? Yes, I was. Straight away the install was fast, and simple. Only asking of me the questions it needed to get started at its most basic, Windows was on my computer and ready to use (including a basic wifi driver) in around 30 minutes, very impressive.

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So now, to put my Snow Leopard DVD in to run Boot Camp 3.0’s Windows software. A simple problem, but a problem that could scare some computer users bore its way into my life. The eject button wouldn’t work within Windows. Simply using the right click context menu (after connecting my external mouse) I was able to remove my Windows disc and place Snow Leopard’s install DVD into the drive. Of course, when running the Boot Camp installer, I was told that I wasn’t using a compatible version of Windows! Brilliant Apple, just brilliant. Another step for the less technical minded to have to overcome. Using compatibility mode, I was able to install the Boot Camp software, including the 64 bit drivers onto Windows. The circle was complete. Snow Leopard and Windows 7 living side by side on my Macbook.

So, what do I actually think of Windows 7?
I’m impressed actually. Windows Vista has evolved into a much more stable and usable piece of software than Windows Vista ever was. Not a single crash has occured, though only 4 hours into using it, I’m not counting on anything yet.

The freeing of Gadgets across the desktop, the new Aero tools, such as Peek, as well as the changes to the Taskbar such as icons for programs, and mouse over previews of your windows are very welcome to me as a Windows at work, Mac at home user. Of course, there are little annoyances. Closing a program’s windows in Mac OS X leaves the program running in the background till you explicitally close the session. It doesn’t in Windows, and the similarities to the Dock in the new Task Bar are going to annoy me for a little while, as closing all the windows on a Windows machine also closes the program entirely. I’ll learn eventually!

Is Windows 7 a great piece of software? Yes, I’d say so. Microsoft have taken everything they got right in Vista, and pushed it further, and fixed everything they got wrong. This is clearly the Vista that they should of shipped 33 months ago. Well, I say that but I really mean that Vista should never have been shipped. It was badly put together, and rushed out the door, meaning all of the innovations that it did bring got unfairly scorned. That was Microsoft’s and the hardware vendors fault.

If I hadn’t pre-ordered it, would I have purchased it? Possibly, yes, as I need to keep up with tech trends to progress in my job. Would I recommend others had purchased it as an upgrade? Probably not. The potential hassle of upgrading means, that for most general users I’d never recommend it (unless you have friends and family in IT that can help). I do feel however that the jump between Vista and Windows 7 is closer to the jump between XP and XP Service Pack 2, than the changes from Windows 98 to Windows XP (lets forget Windows ME). XP also originally had many, many detractors, and didn’t get its rock solid reputation until Service Pack 2 was released.

I suppose I’m saying that 2009’s big Operating System releases (I won’t mention Linux, as Linux evolves continually, not in 24 – 36 months leaps in retail markets) both being so close together in release, are also close together in their mission. These aren’t huge leaps and changes, they are refinements and corrections to make the things that they got right last time to make them even better this time. There aren’t too many visual jumps, but there are plenty from both Apple and Microsoft under the hood, and the concentration of both companies on making evolutions, not revolutions has given the world 2 very stable platforms to work on (mostly, I’m looking at you Apple!). With the right, high quality hardware underneath your computer, both Operating Systems shine, and Microsoft in particular this time has done a fantastic job. I highly recommend that next time you purchase a new Windows PC, that you don’t stay with Windows XP anymore. Microsoft has come out of the gates swinging.

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About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

One Response to Windows 7 – An interesting install!

  1. Pingback: Windows 7 – An interesting install! « Chicago Mac/PC Support

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