With Windows 7 scheduled to hit retailers mid-to-late 2009, Microsoft has been working in a frenzy to prepare for its launch. It bumped up the development schedule for Windows Vista's second service pack, airing its beta early this month. Windows 7 itself has been on a tough schedule itself, dropping milestone releases that have been creating a great deal of public buzz.
Some have questioned whether Microsoft can accomplish the sharp turnaround in several key areas like overhead and compatibility, which it has promised for Windows 7, in the shorter development cycle. Others have been impressed by the early promising signs of the milestone releases.
Microsoft made news yesterday when the very-significant first beta of Windows 7 leaked to torrents as an ISO file. The beta won't be released to testers until next month, but those eager to try it out can catch it on torrent for now.
How does it look? Well, early impressions show some minor differences from previous builds, but an experience remarkably similar to that presented to developers at the PDC conference and critiqued by reviewers in the form of milestone releases.
Windows 7 beta 1 (specifically, the build 6.1.7000.0.081212-1400 which hit torrents) is remarkably similar to Windows 7 M3, discussed here at DailyTech. One key difference is that in the milestone release special features had to be enabled using Rafael Rivera's "Blue Badge" tool, while they come automatically equipped in the beta.
Overall, Microsoft has gone the OS X route for its Windows 7 development, thus far, delivering a smoother user interface, prettier graphics, improved security, and a major drive to improve compatibility. The result is an OS that will please many.
The new beta, like the milestone, offers an improved installation process as one perk. Gone are the annoying post-install performance tests of Windows Vista. The install takes around 25 minutes, much faster than the average install for Windows Vista or Windows XP. As just one example, Windows 7 cuts Windows Vista's eight information screens down to five.
One major point of criticism that is echoed by virtually all reviewers is the new OS X-like taskbar. Reviewers fault not concept, but the implementation of it, which sees Microsoft allow program shortcuts to lump together with running tasks to create a hard to decipher mess. Paul Thurrott, a strong Microsoft supporter describes, "For all the niceties of the new taskbar, this comingling of different functions is a whopper of a mistake, and one that will actively harm most Windows users."
One interesting new feature, again not new to the beta is the "Aero Peek" feature, which allows you to see the desktop without minimizing windows, useful when running multiple applications. Jump lists are another great new feature. When entering the start menu, you now have the option of launching programs with a specific task, i.e. going to a specific website in internet explorer or opening with a load file dialog in Microsoft Word. This feature saves users a bit of time.
A few new features and changes do crop up in the beta versus the M3 release. The beta eliminates the M3 releases' two-button shut-down and replaces it with a single button, with a popout menu for extra options. The beta also ditches the lighthouse icon for the action center, which contains solutions to the computer's problems. It replaces it with a flag icon that's easier to see.
The beta also adds themes, which are decorative skins that allow you to create customized profiles containing desktop backgrounds, window colors, sounds, and a screensaver. The feature is nice, albeit eye-candy.
Overall, again Windows 7 beta while possibly changing by the time of its official release, remains remarkably similar to the Windows 7 M3 release.
quote: Actually, I've gotten many products from Microsoft either for free or at a discounted price..
quote: The more microsoft earns money the more they own and manipulate you, heteros, LOL!!!
quote: Vista Ultimate people I believe deserve a free upgrade to Windows 7 because Ultimate was supposed to have some exclusive updates but really hasn't delivered on that premium.
quote: I am running Windows 7 32 bit right now while only using a little bit over 300megs of RAM with 4 IE windows open.
quote: Even linux requires at least 2GB of RAM to run smoothly in 64bit.
quote: That's what we need?
quote: The *only* thing that seems to be valuable to me over XP is a widespread adoption of 64-bit to leverage larger amounts of RAM. 64-bit XP was ignored...Vista kind of took off, let's hope W7 gets the job done.
quote: That is not Vista's or Microsoft's fault, the blame should be put on the computer/laptop manufacturers (Dell, HP/Compaq, Acer, & etc.). Because they are the ones who chose to install Vista on machines that did not have the correct hardware & amount of memory, to meet the requirements to run Vista fully with Aero ON.
quote: People need to clear their heads of all the BS about Vista and give it a chance. Sure its different than XP. It took me about a week to get used to the layout and now feel very at home.
quote: Overall, Microsoft has gone the OS X route for its Windows 7 development, thus far, delivering a smoother user interface, prettier graphics, improved security, and a major drive to improve compatibility.
quote: For all the niceties of the new taskbar, this comingling of different functions is a whopper of a mistake, and one that will actively harm most Windows users.
quote: This is still the first generation of computers
quote: They are not open source
quote: You do realize one of the things that makes windows such a success is that anyone can develop applications for it?
quote: Porting software to multiple, closed fixed systems won't be a problem. Writing code for one open system with variable, unknown hardware is still much harder than writing code for multiple, closed systems with fixed hardware.
quote: I said they were open systems, meaning anyone can develop software for them.
quote: This is still the first generation of computers. They're complete garbage.
quote: ...there is no difference between my Windows machine and your Apple machine.
quote: I have yet to meet an IT worker who wasn't immensely stressed out. You guys praise Microsoft all day but you don't even realize that most of your stress is caused by Microsoft's poor software designers.
quote: I would say one of the biggest flaws an OS could have is to restrict developers.
quote: Microsoft is not stupid, and will obviously fix any loopholes to the activation when it's released.
quote: My experience has shown there to be literally an exponential corelation in the amount of lines of code required vs. the amount one has to dumb it down. (the more user friendly it becomes exponentially increases the amount of code required to accomodate it). More lines of code = more possibilities to test = greater chance of errors occurring = more delays......
quote: Sorry for being so offensive.
quote: As for speech recognition, I agree that Vista's SR just plain sucks.
quote: Microsoft made news yesterday when the very-significant first beta of Windows 7 leaked to torrents as an ISO file. The beta won't be released to testers until next month, but those eager to try it out can catch it on torrent for now