So, I just spent the afternoon installing Windows 7, and then most of the evening restoring my programs.
The installation was painless and alarmingly swift (30 minutes at most), and despite claiming to be a Clean Install, what it actually did was dump all the Windows Vista settings, User data and installed programs into a folder called Windows.old. Handy, except of course I had already spent some time copying that stuff to another drive – so in actual fact I was overprepared.
I opted for the 64 bit version, which is proving a little bit trickier than the 32 bit would have been. Only a couple of apps I use don’t yet run in 64 bit Windows, although a great deal more only run 32 bit versions. For some reason Windows has a seperate program files folder for those 86x programs, which is kind of clunky, but a fair trade off. This is really year 0 for 64 bit Windows though – seeing as this is the first version of Windows to ship with both 32 and 64 bits in the same box – so it’ll take a while before everything migrates. I’m happy to be an early adopter on this one because I’ll be upgrading to 4GB of RAM next year.
As for Windows 7 itself, I am impressed. The interface is streamlined, it runs really quickly, lots of neat little features (automatically alternating wallpapers are awesome), and much better security and file management options (the new UAC, scaled back one notch, is much better than Vista’s). If there’s one thing I’m still getting my head around, it’s the taskbar. I ran double height in Vista, so the height doesn’t bother me, but the large icons did, so I’m using the lower ones. I also missed having the text on the buttons so I can tell which window is which switching to a preview, so having enabled the labels, it now works pretty much like it always did, but with quicklaunch icons of inactive programs pinned between active programs. I’ll have to fiddle for a while to reach a happy medium. It’s kind of annoying that you can’t have the labels but still stack multiple windows onto one taskbar item – but the way it joins one program’s taskbar items together is definitely a nice touch.
What’s really intoxicating (yeah, that’s totally not the right word) about it though, is how you can go into a folder, and Windows doesn’t stall every two directory levels as if it wasn’t expecting you to go that deep. You can click right down to the deepest folder, without having to wait for Windows to get of it’s lazy arse and respond.
So, I guess it’s just a matter of me getting used to using the taskbar/startmenu search combo and I’ll be settled right in. Oh, and a 64 bit driver here, a 64 bit program there over the next six months or so.