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Windows 7: The Top 5 Things I like

I have been running Windows 7 as my primary and only OS on my desktop and laptop for several months. I have no plans of going back to XP. This OS is rock-solid stable and fast. Great hardware support and new features and enhancements on old features make it by far the most attractive OS on the horizon, as far as I am concerned. I am, without a doubt, planning to purchase Windows 7 Ultimate when it releases, too bad it is not available for half off preorder. Here are my own top 5 reasons why Windows 7 is awesome.

No5. The Task Bar

Everyone and their dog have written about how nice and neat the new task bar is. I am thoroughly pleased with the changes that Microsoft has made to the task bar. I like the large hit area for launching and switching applications, the color changing behind the icon, the live Aero Peek thumbnail and tabbed Aero Peek support, the download or status background, the tabs it uses to show multiple applications. Launching and switching applications is so easy because of the large hit areas and the applications are easier than ever to distinguish with their extra large icons. The color change behind the icons when you mouse over is a nice aesthetic touch, if nothing else, and brings a level of depth to the buttons. I like the live thumbnail preview provided by Aero Peel and the previews are quite a bit larger than before and are click able. You can use them to close specific instances of an application or, of course, bring up a certain program. While I do genuinely like the new task bar, it has some shortcomings, but that is another post.

No4. Resource Monitor

Any power user will undoubtedly see the potential in Resource Monitor. It is a cross between Sysinternal's Process Explorer, TCPView and Filemon. Not sure what is tanking your CPU? Open up Task manager and see, but if you need any more information than that, you want Resource Monitor. Want to know where your Network Bandwidth is going? Again, Resource Monitor is there for you. Curious about your Disk I/O or what is writing to the disk, again Resource Monitor. The more I use it the more useful I find it. You can drill down on applications and find out about the threads and each handle and service associated with it. Oh, also, thank you Windows Vista for this feature.

No3. The Hardware Support

Many critics claim that Windows Vista has very poor hardware support. In my experience, I have found that to be somewhat true. For the most part, it is not Microsoft's fault, but they do take most of the flack for it. I was working retail computer sales when Windows Vista hit shelves. I remember quite a few people coming to the store only a few weeks after Vista's release complaining that X, Y and Z did not work on their new computer.  At first, I thought it would be a simple issue of directing the customer to the Manufacture's website to download the latest drivers, but I soon found this was not going to work. Many, many manufactures seemed to relish the opportunity to force customers to upgrade to the Windows Vista version of their product.

I have found that hardware support is superb with Windows 7. After the initial install of Windows 7 Windows Update automatically detected every single piece of hardware in the computer, except one, downloaded and installed the proper driver. It detected my Nvidia graphics card, my Dlink Wireless card, my motherboard chipset. Everyone I know that has installed Windows 7 has had the exact same results. The ONLY piece of hardware it did not install drivers for was my Creative sound card. I found the driver on Creative's website. While it did detect the driver, the graphics card driver was not up to date, no problem I just installed the Windows Vista x64 driver. Two years after the release of Vista it seems every component made supports Vista x86 and Vista X64 and those drivers, in my own experience, work just fine with Windows 7.

No2. The Speed

Windows 7 is FAST. In comparison to Windows Vista, well actually I cannot make that comparison. I have never run 7 and Vista on the same hardware. I built a new system and the only OS that has been on it is 7 beta and 7 RC. At first, I thought it was the new box, but then I installed 7 on my laptop. My laptop is 3 years old now, a core duo 1.66GHz with 2 GB of ram. Windows 7 is faster than XP as far as boot and shut down are concerned. Applications seem to launch faster, but I must admit, this is ALL subjective. I never timed anything before or after I installed Windows 7. To further complicate the issues a fresh install over will always seem faster than a bloated install, my XP install I blew away was by no definition of the word lean.  It could be a complete case of confirmation bias, or worse yet, all in my head, but it really does feel faster. After reading quite a few articles online, I feel somewhat vindicated in my belief that the OS is, in fact, faster than Vista and potentially faster than XP.

No1. It's not Vista

Macintosh has successfully demonized Vista so well with their "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials, more power to them, that no one will touch it with a ten-foot pole. I am not going to go into the shortcomings of Vista beyond the atrociously poor PR. Vista's biggest down fall has the potential to be Windows 7's greatest achievement -- it is not Windows Vista! Competition breeds excellence and the heat Mac has put on Microsoft lately has really put Microsoft in the mood to play hardball and it shows in Windows 7. Let us just hope people understand Windows 7 is not just a rehash of Windows Vista with all the same, "problems."

Of course, like always, if you have any feedback or comments I welcome them.