I decided to download the Windows 7 Beta and I’ve gotten it installed on my laptop. I don’t have a lot of time into it but so far some of the things I’ve seen are big improvements to the disaster that is Vista. Along the way I’ve also unearthed some very obvious Apple envy, most of which is poorly implemented or thought out at this point.
One of my biggest gripes about Vista was the way you interacted with the networking hardware, specifically joining a wireless network. It seems like such a small thing but on a laptop it is something a person deals with on a nearly daily basis. Under Vista the process was overly complicated, convoluted even. The process required far more clicks than should be necessary to join a wireless network. Windows 7 actually copies OS X and provides a simple button near the click that when clicked, reveals a list of available wireless networks.
Windows 7 also sports a controversial new task bar. The new task bar strongly mimics the Dock from OS X in that it houses both running and non-running applications at the same time. Windows deviates from the OS X formula by intermixing application shortcuts with folder and document short cuts. I really haven’t spent enough time with the new task bar to really decide if I like it or not. I can say however that I like being able to hover over an icon and see all open windows complete with screen shot. This is actually a pretty nice feature.
So really, that about sums up what I really like so far. There are however a few things that don’t seem fully thought out.
One new feature is the ability to see through any open windows so you can see what is on the desktop. This is fine and all but typically a person doesn’t just want to see what is on the desktop, but probably wants to use something from the desktop as well. They also force you to place the shortcut in the lower right, or where ever you have your task bar positioned.
Another odd choice in Windows 7 is the decision to not include some very basic functionality by today’s standards. Windows 7 doesn’t provide, out of the box, any email or instant messaging clients. Even more bizarre is that Windows 7 doesn’t include Windows Movie Maker, but it does include Windows DVD Maker. Email, IM and Windows Movie Maker (among others) are available as part of an “essentials” package. If they’re so essential why not include them. As some might point out, Microsoft has gotten into some anti-trust trouble in the past for including these functions. Despite that, not including such basic functionality in today’s world seems inexcusable. Obviously OEM’s will most likely provide these functions for end users.
Despite my critical take on Windows 7 thus far, I actually like it much better than Vista. As I spend more time with it I’ll get a feel for some of the others things I didn’t like in Vista like Windows Explorer and UAC.