My Windows 7 Beta 1 Experience

As mentioned in a recent post about My Windows 7 Theme Pack, I’ve been running Beta 1 (build 7000) for awhile now, and I love it!

Windows 7 feels nimble, it doesn’t get in my way, and it lets me access and organize my work using some very natural conventions. In earlier versions, I’ve always known that I can right-click on the taskbar and select Tile Vertically to arrange my applications. But guess what? I very rarely did it. However, in Windows 7, a simple drag of the window to the right or left edge of the screen performs this task much more naturally. And once I learned that I can use Windows + Right/Left Arrow as a keyboard shortcut, well…I find myself using this all the time.

Most of the improvements—for me—are along the same lines. It’s as if Windows 7 gets out of my way while at the same time exposing the tasks that I need to perform in fresh and friendly ways. I right-clicked an ISO file the other day to see if I had my DVD burning software installed only to find that Windows 7 has a “Burn disc image” option built-in. How cool is that?

I’ve also found myself using the taskbar full-screen preview feature to “glance” at other windows without actually switching to them. How often are you in an application like Microsoft Word when you need to refer to some data on a web page or in an Excel spreadsheet? Normally, I’d have to switch to the application, look at the data, then switch back. In Windows 7, I simply hover over the thumbnail on the taskbar, see a full-screen preview of the window, and when I move the mouse away from the thumbnail, I’m back in Word. Effortless.

It’s all of these little flourishes that make the overall experience so much better. For a more comprehensive review of Windows 7, check out Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite.

I’m running Windows 7 on my desktop machine at home, my desktop at work, and my primary laptop. Across all three of these machines, I’ve had a chance to install and use lot of software. While I haven’t exhaustively tested all of the applications, I have been using them with no significant issues. I thought I’d pass along the list for those who are curious (I linked to the lesser-known applications for reference):

  • Adobe Illustrator CS3 & CS4 (32- and 64-bit)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2
  • Adobe Photoshop CS3 & CS4
  • Adobe Reader 8 & 9
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • CuteFTP Home 8
  • DxO Optics Pro 5.3.2
  • Expression Blend 2
  • Expression Web 2
  • Far Cry 2
  • Focus Magic 3.02
  • HP Photosmart Pro B9180
  • Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000
  • Nero 8 (I mostly use Nero Burning ROM and Nero Vision)
  • Nikon Scan 4.0.2
  • Noise Ninja 2.3.2

The only real issues I’ve had relate to the two scanners at home:

  • Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 5000 ED – A great negative and slide scanner, but this older product doesn’t have a 64-bit driver. This is the only reason I’m not currently running 64-bit Windows 7 at home. Fortunately, the 32-bit driver works perfectly.
  • Epson Perfection V700 Photo – The scanner works fine when using a USB 2.0 connection, but it will not work when using IEEE 1394 (FireWire). The IEEE 1394 connection works fine with Windows Vista, and this is the only thing I’ve found that is compatible with Vista but not with Windows 7. I’ve notified the Windows team so they can investigate.

Overall, Windows 7 is a joy to use. If you want to give it a spin, you have until Feburary 10th to download the beta.