Windows 7 is less than two weeks away from general availability. Is it worth getting? If you run Windows, of course it is. To run older operating systems is foolish because they are no longer supported and new development does not target them. Lessons Microsoft learns through programs like Windows Error Reporting and the Customer Experience Improvement Program go a long way toward not only improving Windows but improving it in areas that impact users.
Already with Windows Vista, Microsoft made improvements based on feedback from those programs. Have you noticed that it no longer hangs when you clear temporary files in Internet Explorer? That is one improvement made as a result of feedback made through those programs. Have you had a program crash a few times in Windows 7 and it starts to work shortly after? That is a reliability improvement Microsoft made in Windows 7 where it can detect certain software flaws and correct for them.
I tested Windows 7 during the beta and release candidate timeframes. Being a student, I have access to Windows 7 through the MSDN Academic Alliance. Windows 7 impacts me in ways that will make me move more completely to it once I have more copies available.
- Windows will sleep correctly when booted from a JMicron JMB363 RAID controller. Windows Vista would not sleep correctly in this situation. (Note that this may be a corrected driver and not actually a Windows improvement).
- Windows 7 supports more of my hardware from the start with the help of Windows Update. I only need drivers for the JMicron controller because JMicron won’t let Microsoft bundle their driver for some stupid and likely only political reason. If I have the Intel Quiet System Technology enabled, I need the driver for the Host Embedded Controller Interface as well.
- The media center in Windows 7 bundles the OEM-only TV Pack enabling my television tuner to work without the crap software from the manufacturer.
- Internet Explorer 8 is loosely coupled allowing a browser tab or window to crash without affecting the rest of the application. This can be a lifesaver when you are using poorly written plugins.
- Data Execution Prevention protections can be enabled while allowing Java plugins to execute. Previously, if DEP was enabled in Internet Explorer, it would crash when a Java plugin loaded.
It isn’t a selling point for me, but if the UAC prompting kept you away from Windows Vista, the prompting model has changed by default relieving that annoyance in addition to reducing repeated prompting. This does come at a price of lessened security, but the full prompting of Windows Vista didn’t help if people just turned off the feature.
By the way, that prompting is the same thing Linux and Macintosh systems do. The difference is that software in those systems was written for a longer time with different privileges in mind so the incorrect assumptions that Windows programmers still make happen less frequently.