First look: Windows 7

29 Jan 2009

After playing with the beta release of Windows 7 for only a few hours, Vista already feels like a bad dream that I’ve managed to shake off. Goodbye tortoise, hello hare!

If you’re wondering what to expect from Windows 7, think somewhere along the lines of the Extreme Makeover series. One sluggish, dumpy and depressed operating system (OS) is taken by the hand and led away for weeks of intensive tweaking, liposuctioning, reconstructive surgery, a spartan diet and some intense training.

It emerges from the other side, and while it looks and acts completely differently than it used to, you can still recognise it. This is the person that Vista always wanted to be. Thank you Extreme OS Makeover!

And, much like Extreme Makeover, the transformation is a fast-forward version of reality – it only takes 15 minutes to install and get yourself set up on Windows 7 beta.

The first thing you will notice on start-up is that real estate is bountiful. There is a hell of a lot of space on your desktop, and it’s easy to keep windows tidy.

Applications can be dragged into the bottom left or right corner of the screen, and automatically stack up neatly on either side.

Double clicking on a window brings it to full-screen and another double click brings it back to the original. Windows 7 is all about dusting out the cobwebs and keeping everything tidy, but at your fingertips.

Accessing your open applications can now be done through the new ‘ribbon’ menu, where large and shiny application icons appear and can be re-arranged in order.

If you’re a Vista user, you will be used to the annoying barrage of pop-ups or nags every time you want to download a file or open a new application.

‘Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, really sure, because, ya’ know, it mightn’t be safe. Maybe you want to have a rethink while the swirly icon swirls around more and wastes your time.’

This is gone and its absence really improves the user experience, but one factor that changes the Windows OS experience is how much faster it now seems to be when loading applications, even booting up seems a lot faster.

Added to this, shutting down has also been simplified: just one button and it’s done. Dare I make comparisons, but it seems as quick to power down as the Mac OS X.

It is most likely the case that some tweaks will be made in between this beta build and the final release, which should come on the market any time between late 2009 and early 2010, but for now, at any rate, Windows 7 is looking good.

By Marie Boran