July 4th, 2010

bob the ghost

Windows 7: preliminary opinions

So I've been using Windows 7 at work for about two months now. (It was supposed to have been a bit longer than that, but it turned out a lot of stuff had to be got ready for my new work computer - Geo Media has a bit of a history of not playing nice with anything, so I'm not really surprised - and the computer only actually got replaced some time in April. Add to that the fortnight's leave I took in May, and that makes about two months, all up). As I'm still using XP at home I've got the opportunity to compare how the two systems work (and I'm hoping for my next operating system after XP to be Ubuntu, and as I've now got one of those live installation CD thingys all I need now is to find a computer to put it on: my idea at the moment is to find a not too junky but still second hand laptop I can install it onto and see how it works, which will also give me a back up computer for the times this one's in the shop getting fixed).

The verdict so far... well, it sort of works.

Is 7 better than XP? That's an easy answer. No.

Is 7 worse than XP? That's not so easy an answer. Hmmm... I don't think it's noticeably worse. It's more different than worse. I'm sure I'll get used to its most obnoxious new "features" eventually.

What does 7 do better than XP? Handling different files with the same name. One of the big pains in the neck about Windows XP is that, when you're trying to dump all the files from an old archive directory into one big pot of a directory so that you're not endlessly looking through subdirectories for something old you've suddenly decided you might want, whenever one file has the same name as another it either asks you whether you want to overwrite the existing file (never a good idea) or just falls over completely (which is rather obnoxious of it). 7 gives you the option of renaming one of the files, and will do it automatically for you if you find the right thing to click. That's handy.

What does XP do better than 7? The task bar is the big one. At work, a lot of the programs I use - TRIM, GEAC Pathways, Terra View, etc. - are on my desktop but are shortcut redirect type thingys to the main program running thingy on the main server. In XP I was able to add these to the quick launch part of my task bar. There doesn't seem to be any way to do this in 7 - it will let you add programs you actually have on your machine to the quick launch, but won't let you add a shortcut to the quick launch. That is not handy.

Another issue I've just noticed is with one of my cigarette lighters. I just got myself a couple of cheap 2 GB cigarette lighters last week, and found out that they Don't Play Nice with Windows 7. This might just be that they haven't been optimised for 7 (their packaging just says "Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS 9.0 or Higher" which makes me think they're older than 7 - which also explains why they were cheap in the first place). They work OK with XP, but on 7, I tried clicking on a file, right clicking on the cigarette lighter directory on 7, which caused Explorer to go and hang terminally. Tried other cigarette lighter sockets and the same problem. Tried double left clicking on it and it opened up (and opened up the files on it) no problem. Eventually I figured out a work around - copy the file to somewhere else on my C drive, highlight it and drag it onto its directory in Explorer. As long as I don't touch the right click button it seems to work OK.

Computers. Can't live with them, and it's bloody expensive to throw them out the window.