A Windows 7 Experiment [Part 2]

posted by on 9th June 2009, at 7:04pm

As you may remember in part 1 of this experiment I outlined the general purpose and my expectations. With that said if you’ve not read it please go back and do so. This part will cover the post-experiment review and also compare Windows 7 to Leopard.

Using Windows 7 full time was hard, at first. This is most likely because I haven’t used Windows since February 2007 full time. With this being said it’s important to note I did not migrate all of my files over to Windows 7 for the experiment. The goal of the experiment was to provide a comparison for the general user. What this of course means is no development tools that I’d traditionally use. It should be noted that Windows can be used for development purposes as both a web server, development environment, and Photoshop can be installed on it.

After two days I had resurrected my Windows workflow. It is something that is quite easy to change if you are persistent and willing. Besides obvious differences such as taskbar/menubar location and keyboard shortcuts once these changes are taken into account both operating systems allow the same tasks to be achieved in a common way. In essence most Windows software performs the same as the Mac counterparts but with a slightly different user interface. The point on the forefront here is that moving from Mac to Windows or vice-versa is fairly simple in terms of habits, it’s just the features of the OS that makes it easy or hard.

With the conclusion that the difficulty of moving to a different operating system depends on the features of the operating system, not the habits one may form. Windows 7 is the aftermath of Microsoft’s learning experience that was Vista. As a result of this we are left with a mature operating system. The maturity comes in a number of ways ranging from stability and security to the most important, performance. It is this maturity that makes Windows 7 a viable consumer operating system that makes it worth looking at Windows again if you’ve moved away to Mac or Linux. Granted that most users only get a new version of Windows when they buy a new computer, it is likely that we will continue to see the trend in which most boxed versions of Windows are sold to enthusiasts.

While Windows 7 is definitely an improvement over Vista there are some negatives. These are ways in which Windows 7 falls down compared to Leopard.

It is evident in the recent months that Microsoft views Apple as competition which is evident in the “It’s a PC” ads. Windows still can not compete with Leopard’s stock software. The Microsoft alternatives do not have the amount of features as their Leopard counterparts (iLife and other built in software). Microsoft has slowly been improving in this area but not quick enough.

The new Windows 7 taskbar is brilliant. It works just as well as the Mac OS dock with a few caveats. The new taskbar does not provide a place for individual documents or folders to reside. The way to get around this is to create a custom toolbar with the documents in it, this is not as elegant as just dropping a document in but it still works. Another caveat of the taskbar is that it does not provide a way to bring all Windows of a specific application into focus. A key example here is if Messenger is running you can use Aero peek to view individual windows but there is no way to bring all messenger windows into focus with the taskbar.

Windows Media Player (WMP) still falls short. I know many people who do not use WMP for various reasons. WMP and the Zune application should be intertwined into one. This would provide marketing for Microsoft’s Zune and provide another degree of integration for Windows. In the end it is safe to say that most users will either use iTunes if they have an iPod or Songbird or WinAmp if they are not bound by an iPod. Of course this integration is the integration that is present in OS X with iTunes and other system components.

Upon a system reboot the system darkens the screen stating which software is waiting to close. Software can take a long time to close depending on how many file handles are open and unfinished tasks of the application. This can all be accomplished silently upon a reboot request rather than asking the user if they want to force the application to close.

Finally there is a lag period for application developers adjusting to Windows 7 the new software motif. In essence most applications are not aware of new Windows 7 features. The key example being jump lists in the task bar and start menu. Granted we still are in the release candidate but Windows 7 has been available to developers since October last year, 8 months ago.

In a direct comparison to Leopard, Windows 7 has some definite strong points. As stated previously the main reason I was drawn back to Leopard was so I could resume action with my file structure that was already set up. I would have no problem using Windows 7 if I did not have the need for a Unix environment. With this being said the Unix environment is something that is really compelling about OS X for me. Every piece of software I use except for my recording setup for RSBANDBUpdate! has a Windows alternative. With this there are a few piece of software that I would miss: Coda, iLife (iMovie mainly), iShowU, Quicksilver, and TextMate. It should also be noted that Snow Leopard is coming out in September and will be the same thing that Windows 7 is. That is a new operating system to tweak and perfect the previous generation.

In closing Windows 7 is definitely a viable operating system to use if you are using Windows. It might even help Microsoft start winning against Apple if they were to take a look at the actual software that accompanies Windows 7. If you haven’t already take a look at Paul’s articles on the beta and Release Candidate. Then maybe if you’re feeling adventurous try installing the release candidate. As always if you have any questions about this article or suggestions for future content don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message on the forums.

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One Comment

  • Bryan Says:
    12th June 2009, at 6:02pm

    That was good. I enjoyed reading the experiments and your opinions on W7.
    Good job, hope you do more soon.