I normally wouldn’t say this about a Windows-based operating system, but I’m actually enjoying using Windows 7. There’s something very pleasant about the operating system overall that both OS X and KDE have. It’s a calm blend that happens whenever you leave your computer alone and take a close look at it…
I enjoyed Windows 7 so much, I installed the 64-bit version over the 32-bit. While I can’t take much advantage of the advanced memory management of a 64-bit OS provides (4GB required minimum), I still feel it’s very stable, ultra fast, and low-maintenance. In fact, the stupid delay when pressing the logo key is gone entirely!
The main thing you notice on a fresh install, is the initial theme. I didn’t think anyone could do it better than Apple, but Windows 7 utilizes the aero transparency and a perfect background to give you a great feel the second you boot up. Initially you get just the Trash Bin icon and the Send Feedback icon, the taskbar contains only Explorer, Internet Explorer, and Media Player “task” icons, which is very navigable. The tray icons are pleasant, simplistic and neutral, much like you find on Ubuntu and OS X. I can’t express how much I love the “hide-a-way” for extra icons in the tray, and you can actually turn off system indicator icons you don’t want!
I read ahead a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of 64-bit, and drivers happened to be one of the downfalls. When I opened up the device manager, I was missing two Unknown drivers. I wasn’t about to panic, as they were non-critical, I had sound, display, both network connections, seemed fine to me. I’m quite sure Windows updates caught the both of them.
Hilariously enough, my wi-fi LED doesn’t work in Windows 7, and the switch does absolutely nothing, not a big deal, but would annoy the crap out of a customer. The main point I’m trying to relay here, is that Windows 7 has the makings of an incredible competent OS like Windows XP. Obviously, the more you use an OS, the more you get used to the quirks, and frankly this doesn’t have many for me because I was used to Vista. The application switching is more natural to me, and I like it infinitely more because of my limited screen space, I really need to be efficient with windows management.
Of course, 64-bit can run 32-bit software, so a few applications (Opera, Pidgin) run without slowdown or any problems at all. I’m currently using the 64-bit only Mozilla Minefield and it seems about as fast at launch as Opera, if not slightly slower. According to a few sources, without 4GB of RAM, you can’t see the real advantages of 64-bit. The primary advantages are easily seen in math heavy applications, or video encoding. After reading that though, and seeing as RAM is dirt cheap, I may be upgrading in the very near future to see the mind-blowing speed of 64-bit power.
Apparently, 64-bit has been around since the 1960’s, which was used in super-computing. I guess since it’s technically more expensive and it’s difficult to rewrite 32-bit stuff for 64-bit, 32-bit went mainstream. However, Windows 7 and manufacturers will be making a great strides toward the movement into 64-bit only computing. We should have done it forever ago.