Special Reports

Windows 7: Already Here

Microsoft's new OS made its debut today, but MCPmag.com readers have had it installed and tested. Here's what they think.

Microsoft launched Windows 7 today, amid fanfare at an event in New York (covered by Jeffrey Schwartz, editor for Redmond Developer News and ADTmag.com). The launch came a bit earlier for the folks in the U. K., apparently pushed up by a postal strike. But it's already been in the hands of millions of testers, some who've already moved up to the new OS.

MCPmag.com solicited newsletter subscribers for thoughts on the new OS and in a tribute to Windows 7, here's what readers told us, good (mostly) and bad (bolding and red font is my emphasis, not the submitters):

I have been using Windows 7 since the beta and using the RTM since August 7th, and I think it’s great. The company I work for, with offices in 9 countries will start testing Professional on 10/16. We have quite a few in-house apps that we will need to test as we did with Vista. We are using Vista now so my pretest thoughts are that Windows 7 will also work. But only testing will tell.

We will be upgrading from Vista Business and the reason is more for the features that link with Server 2008 R2, such as DirectAccess.

I am also using Office 2010 Technical Preview. Though it’s not much different than Office 2007, which I like, its minor changes are still nice enough for me to upgrade when it’s released.
-- Alfred N.

Quicker response and better security handling is what would make the move for me. The outrageous cost to get it would be a detriment.
-- Chad H.

Already upgraded from Windows XP SP3 with Signature Edition received from my House Party kit. Why am I upgrading? Better Processor Handling and system resource utilization. Faster boot times. Ease of use, and to keep up with the Jones's for my work (I'm an IT Pro, We've chosen to skip Vista and go straight to Win7).
-- Michael S.

Our reasons for upgrading are probably typical. Vista reminded me too much of Windows ME. The combination of UAC, driver issues, and the new look and feel was too much change too quickly for most of us. The reports of high memory usage, lower performance on current hardware (read 2 to 3 years old) and blue screens, scared us away. Over time, the proof was in the pudding, as not many people adopted Vista at a corporate level. Knowing that Microsoft realized they had a loser on their hands, we knew that Windows 7 would be everything people liked about Vista, with none of the bad stuff. All of the betas and RCs looked promising.

We started testing it early, and have been very happy with the performance and features. It seems rock solid, the UAC is much better, and it’s fast and has enough wiz-bang look/feel stuff to attract us moth’s to the flame. Time will tell if we get burned, but right now I think we might have the modern version of XP on our hands.
-- Mel A.

We are upgrading as a matter of fact since we have an EA agreement with Microsoft we have had Windows 7 Enterprise for about two months now and it has proved to be a better, faster and more stable product than Vista. We are upgrading from Windows XP. We have been doing fresh installs on new PCs and have been using the file and transfer wizard to bring the end users profiles over to Windows 7.

So far it is working well. I have created a custom image (Windows 7 and apps) utilizing SCCM however it is unsupported until the release of SCCM SP2 not due until 90 days after WIndows 7 release. There have been a few challenges with it and still one item to work out in that process, the deployed OS requires to run the repair or boot from Winpe and run BCDedit as the Boot configuration ends up not knowing where to boot from. Simple fix to resolve but why it happens I'm not sure yet.

Another feature we have found very useful and it has it's quirks too is the WinXP mode that enables us to use applications/programs that just won't run on Windows 7. The quirks are we have not found a way to automatically use this virtual machine for all users who log into the workstation. So for now it is only available to the primary user and if needed for additional user we manually configure it. It does lend itself for us to move forward. This migration also keeps us up to date with our Software Assurance part of our EA agreement.
-- Frank K.

I've upgraded a netbook I have already. It's nothing special, an Asus EeePC 10.1" 1000HE I got in March. It came, like most of them do, with Windows XP Home running on a 1.6 GHz Atom processor. The first thing I did, upon getting it, was to upgrade the RAM to 2 GB, at a cost of $24. That one upgrade helped WinXP run better.

About a month ago, once Windows 7 RTM had been released, I downloaded it from Microsoft and upgraded the netbook to Win7 Pro. I first imaged the 160 GB drive that contained XP to an external USB hard drive. Then, I removed the 160 and replaced it with a 500 GB hard drive. I restored the image of the original drive to this new one, so I now had a netbook with space to dual-boot WinXP and Win7. I had used Bart PE with a program called SelfImage to create the original drive image; I highly recommend this software.

I had bought an external DVD burner, powered by its USB connection, to load the Win7 OS. I booted from that, told the installer to use all remaining disk space, and did the install. The whole process took probably 45 minutes. When it was done, I had a netbook that dual-booted both WinXP and Win7.

Since that initial installation, I've had to download a couple of drivers from the Asus support web site to restore some minor functionality to the touchpad (for multi-touch support) and to completely support ACPI and special keys. Other than that, Win7 had everything that was needed, or went automatically to the Microsoft download site for what it needed. I've installed Office 2007, as well as other pieces of software, and Win7 is now my default operating system.

It runs as well as WinXP does, battery life is almost identical under either OS, and Aero Glass, plus all the additional polishing that Win7 incorporates, works just fine. In essence, it was a painless upgrade.

When I have the time, I plan on upgrading some other home machines to Win7. These include PCs with WinXP and Vista. At work, I'll have to wait until new PCs are acquired. We use CAD applications, as well as a host of other engineering programs, and compatibility is an absolute demand. There are also device drivers that might have issues, particularly for large-format printers that we use. So, upgrades at the office will be slipstreamed in on an as-needed basis.

The main motivators for moving to Win7 for me are its enhanced security, its reduced resource footprint compared to Vista, and the Win7 desktop. Support for WinXP has an end-date that I can see approaching; Win7 extends much further than that into the future. I see Win7 as forward looking, and sticking with WinXP as nostalgia.
-- Dennis B.

I have been running 7 in a VM since the first generally available beta. Unfortunately, my employer (large multi-national manufacturer) will probably upgrade to 7 when Windows 8 is released. I agree with not being on the bleeding edge, but the benefits suggest that we should at least look at upgrading after SP1.

Windows 7 are compelling enough to make the move. -- I started 7 in a VM because that is what I had at the time, but that showed me at least 1 benefit; it is very fast in a VM. Faster than XP (in a VM). I have been quite impressed, and just waiting to get the release so it can become my primary home OS.
-- Joe J.

I’m an MCT, MCSE and MCITP independent contractor and have worked with the Microsoft product line since NT 3.51 days so have experienced the best and the worst Redmond has to offer. I have already upgraded my working laptop to Windows 7 (a painless experience, unlike some of the previous upgrade paths) and absolutely love the new OS. It is sleeker, smoother and far more responsive than Vista, an OS that took awhile to adjust to after XP but which I eventually came to prefer over XP. Windows 7 has minimized some of the glaring annoyances of Vista and improved the overall utilization of the hardware, being far less of a resource hog than Vista was.

I particularly like the overhaul of the task bar which allows for snapshot views of the open yet minimized windows as well as the way the desktop will automatically display the minimized window when you hover the cursor over top of the snapshot. The other prime factor in upgrading, other than being expected to deliver the Windows 7 courseware here in Ottawa shortly after the release date, is XP mode which I have been working with since the beta release. The only negative on VPC 7 is that it is difficult to support older VHD files with the new software, which is a particular problem for MC’s that need to run older courseware and LabLauncher over Virtual Server.

Other than that, I think Microsoft has done a fabulous job with this new OS.
-- John P.

Yes, we are planning on moving our development platform to Windows 7 as our systems get replace starting 12/2009.

XP Pro. Stability, better performance, memory optimization.
-- Lance W.

I've had Win7 pre-ordered since the pre-orders opened up. Windows Vista Ultimate

I'm one of those people that had no issues with Windows Vista. I paid attention to upgrade and system requirements, did a fresh installation and had my drivers in place before I migrated my system. What I find compelling, after beta and RC, is how much less overhead the system uses. I have a dual-core 64bit box with 8GB of RAM (no slouch in Vista) and the system is just plain faster. As an aside I like the smaller footprint as well.

That's it, no life changing declarations....just an appreciation of a cleaner, more responsive new OS.
-- Richard C.

I’m planning to upgrade both home and business computers that are using Visa and XP Pro SP3. Changes in UAC, security enhancements, Direct Access, reliability
-- Rhonda M.

As a home user, there is absolutely no reason to pay for an upgrade in my humble opinion. What does it really offer other than “better” performance over XP or Vista? You can already install IE8, the latest Media Player, Windows Defender, and firewall without Windows 7 and most home software doesn’t require Windows XP Mode. Also, I don’t buy a new OS because of the included games nor for the subtle Aero enhancements. But then again, it is just my opinion.

On the other side, from an IT Pro / Enterprise point of view, it does make good sense to upgrade.

Still, I plan to upgrade from Vista for several reasons: 64-bit performance improvements, Location Aware Printing, Windows XP Mode, Power Management, and the Networking enhancements.
-- Ricky S.

I already have upgraded from Vista Home Premium x86. With the new icon way it's a lot easier if you're running a lot of applications at the same time. Which is especially handy when I'm programming. And improved touch support. Those two are the most important reasons that I upgraded. That, and I can't resist a new toy to tinker with.
-- Simon V.

Already upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate X64 from Windows XP Pro SP3. Big reasons for upgrade are that this is the first really appealing x64 OS, so I have upgraded my PC from 4GB to 8GB, allowing more virtual PCs to run. Great interface. I can manage applications better by only having icons on taskbar instead of app names Startmenu search, just start typing for app to appear. Previously I used the Executor program for word based application launch but the new start menu is much better.
-- James R.

Upgrading for the following reasons: Stability of the OS; Security; Tighter integration with Windows Server 2008. I plan to upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium and I like how Win7 and WinSer2008 share the same core. Will make my job as the one-man IT shop for a non-profit easier.
-- Mike W.

I was using the Windows 7 Beta on my laptop for about a month before the hard drive was replaced by Dell. Now I cant wait to upgrade from vista to the Windows 7 final release. I'm not going to be one of those guys standing in line at midnight but soon after its in stores I'm going to buy it. Some of the features I like best other than the speed improvement over the dell pre-install of vista is the Desktop UI changes. When I use my Ubuntu desktop I find myself dragging windows to the side to tile them like in Windows 7 and am disappointed when I have to play the make two windows half of the screen game.
-- Derek A.

I have always been a “wait for SP1” person, and I certainly never tried to upgrade old equipment before, but always bought new. So, I had never run a beta operating system, or even the standard release of a new Microsoft product. Then I bought a Fujitsu U810 with Vista Business, which got me excited about natural computing and tablet PCs. The only problem was performance, which was sadly a bit slow on my tiny UMPC with 1 gig of RAM. I kept thinking that my PC would be perfect if only it were a little faster.

When Microsoft announced the beta of Windows 7, I decided that I would take a chance and test it. I thought it might be even slower, and it certainly wouldn’t have my drivers, and maybe I wouldn’t like the changes to the interface, and for sure it would not be worth buying until after SP1…. Wow, was I wrong! I can’t believe how well 7 runs on my tiny machine, or how fast it is, or that everything works (even the little headlights for the keyboard). The release candidate is just spectacular, and now my beloved Fujitsu is finally perfect.

Based on the experience so far, I have ordered a Microsoft operating system in advance (first time ever!). I’m not the least bit nervous about it -- and that’s saying something. I’m in information security, so everything makes me nervous, but not Windows 7:).
-- April D.

I’m not only planning on it, I’ve already done it! I’ve been testing it at home since Beta 2 and like the speed and stability of it. I have since upgraded to it at work with our SA agreement. Some of the features I love are the RSAT tools, the sneak peek of the tool bar as well as the look and feel.

I love Windows 7. I still really like Windows Vista. I cringe every time I have to work on an XP machine.
-- Andy E.

I work in IT now and already upgraded my laptop to Win7 64 bit, but will not be upgrading any of the users unless necessary for testing due to company policy. I upgrade from Vista 32bit.

I upgraded more for testing than anything else. I need to find a 64-bit OS that will work well with 32-bit and 64-bit software for some software developers to test with. The only way to give it to them is if I learn it well first. I have been running it for two months now and couldn’t be happier. Every 32-bit app so far has run fine with the exception of one (securecopy) and that is only because we have an older version of it. in my testing it is at least 25-40 percent faster on intensive tasks than Vista was, although I am not comparing apples to apples since the Vista I was running was 32-bit.
-- Scott C.

Today, I successfully upgraded my computer from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7. The taskbar is the main feature. you can see, manage programs are running more easily than before in Windows Vista. The internet explore and other programs preview feature is superb. this is what we are waiting for in Windows 7.
-- Muhammad K.

NOT YET! We will not be rolling windows 7 out to the masses any time soon. IT and other people who are able to adapt and learn will get Windows 7.
-- Bill S.

I definitely plan to upgrade (at home). I'm looking forward to an improvement to the Vista experience (which I didn't mind so much), trying out 64bit, better performance (???) and getting all 3 systems on the same OS. I'm especially anxious to make the move because Vista SP2 broke my system, forcing me to do a System Restore. I was confused by the fact that SP2 didn't show up as an Automatic Update (for my system) until mid-September as I've applied many other updates along the way... Anyhow, I've decided not to let it try again and wait for my House Party license for my system, and my 50% off pre-order upgrades for the other machines! I was ticked that I couldn't get my Vista Ultimate upgraded to 7 Ultimate, but being selected for a house party helped me forget my frustrations!

At work, I would upgrade from XP, but we still depend on IPX to communicate with old NetWare servers - so Vista & 7 are a no-no... I might be able to experiment with using the virtual XP for some network functions, but budgets are icky...
-- Chris M.

We'll upgrade in 2010. Compelling reasons: Fewer hardware resources and compatibility with Server 2008.
-- Robert N.

I am a consultant for many different locations. I will try Windows 7 on 2-3 that have multiple resources and peripherals to see how well it works with other Software and older hardware. Reason: Promises of stability.
-- Stan J.

Upgrading from XP. Reasons: Jump list, aero snaps and improvement in hardware performance.
-- Mauricio L.

Upgrading from Vista. Reasons: Enhanced security and control.
-- Nelson D.

What I like about Windows 7: Taming of the UAC shrew; I call it "Windows Vista done right." I have grown to appreciate the library file storage approach from my months of using Win 7 RC . LOVE the graphics. LOVE the fact that it will run well on older hardware. Trust (within reason) the security improvements and want to capitalize on the efforts Microsoft has put into this. Pre-order price break. Windows 7 is more in tune with IE8. I like the new taskbar pinning functionality

What I don't like: The "explore" option has been removed from the right-click menu on "(My) Computer." But this is probably related to the library file storage approach.
-- Tom A.

We plan to upgrade core IT staff and developers running Vista 64-bit; hoping for better boot, response times. better resource usage.
-- William W.

We are planning on upgrading to Windows 7 during the summer session. A few of us in IT have been running the RC version and now running the Enterprise Desktop version. We will be upgrading from mostly Windows XP SP3. As new hardware arrives for workstation replacement, we will image with Windows 7 and roll out to the campus. Windows 7 has numerous benefits compared to previous versions of Windows. Examples would be the Media Center for our learning centers, more ease of use to the end users and speed. We are also interested in the remote user features but have not tested them yet.
-- Louis L.

We're upgrading because of the new GPO options, and to keep up with the OS that users will be getting on PC’s soon.
-- Kent M.

I’m looking for more stability from W7, and I’m liking the feature that doesn’t allow incompatible programs to run on it.
-- Charles W.

Stability, stability, stability. This is what Vista should have been...
-- Owen L.

I am planning to upgrade to Windows 7 because I need to get a new home computer and right now all I can get is Vista. I will use the “voucher” to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it’s available.

My home computer is 7 years old, running Windows XP with all three service packs installed, it’s getting old and slow, I have to get a new computer. I have used Vista at school and don’t like it. Vista and, eventually, Windows 7 is all that will be available on new computers, so there are no features that I am looking for, I just don’t have any choice. If I could, I would stay with XP.
-- Paul R.

Reason for upgrade: the lack of an OEM requirement for cablecard support.
-- D. P.

Reasons to upgrade:

  • The enhanced 64-bit support (all of the members of out IT group have 64-bit PCs and laptops)
  • Better Power Management for users’ laptops
  • The enhanced, easier to use wireless networking (Again this is focused on or users)
  • The Snap feature is great for having multiple windows open and resizing them
  • The much improved Windows search

Last, but not least, the Windows XP mode will be huge in our organization mainly due to the legacy programs we need to run for case management.
-- Tom P.

Windows 7 offers improved compatibility, speed, and has an overall crispness to it, kind of like driving a sports car.
-- Bob E.

We are planning to upgrade to Windows 7 definitely within ten months, probably within 5 months at least a portion of our computers. We are currently running XP on all of our 850+ computers. Some of our computers labs may be the first to upgrade to Windows 7. We are looking forward to using features such as Bit-Locker, AppLocker, and PowerShell 2.0.
-- Tyler J.

I want to upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, today I have the certification Enterprise Support Technician, and wish to upgrade to Windows 7 because it is a great system, very fast and versatile, the microsoft did a great operating system, which makes our work much more fun efficient.
-- Alexandre E.

Biggest reasons for me are staying up to date with the latest and greatest, app locker, and the new interface. Yeah I know not the best reasons, but hey, I'm going for it!
-- Seth F.

I found that in running the Windows 7 RC that it booted faster and seemed to be more stable with some of my older applications and hardware. Every device and program I have Installed correctly.
-- Mel W.

The stability of Windows 7 is the most impressive feature, the fact that it requires less resources than Vista to run is also good. Touch features are great.
-- Iwan D.B.

Some sysadmins like me would upgrade to Win 7 (mostly from XP), but HQ says "not yet; it's too heavy for most locations...let us wait...and wait... and wait." It's terrible!
-- Ralf B.

No plans to upgrade. If we do, it may well be to Mac.
-- Loren F.

If I would have been presented with this question at the first of the year, I would have definitely said yes. At that time I had not had my new laptop very long I was so used to XP and trying to learn Vista out I was seriously considering back track and buy a copy of XP. Would that have been a mistake! With my experience with Vista after a long learning curve I have finally managed to configure it to my liking, OS 7 may be a better OS but for me I have made peace with Vista and learned how to make it work for me with no compromise! The biggest reason it works for me is my computer it has the backbone to run it and still do other things so I give it to Alienware for such an Awesome machine!!
-- Thurmond W.

We are planning on upgrading all of our clients to Windows 7 as soon as reasonably possible. So far we only have 1 customer completely on Vista. The majority of the rest are sticking to XP because of all the fears the media has been scaring people with. 40 percent of my supported seats use software that is only supported on Windows 2000 and Windows XP, although a new version is scheduled for release next year. I have gotten the software to work in Vista and am working on explaining to the customer we really should upgrade when putting in new hardware.

Why ditch XP when it works so well? Ease of use. I have an accounting firm that was all XP even on new hardware – I explained we were downgrading the new PCs to XP and the owner motioned how nice her new home computer looked - Got a Vista machine on her desk with Office 2007 and an Exchange Server and now she is falling all over herself upgrading . She says the machines are so much nicer and easier to use and look pretty and they work so much better TOGETHER. That is the big key. When I put Office 2007 and a Vista machine with the customer’s newer software (Act! 2010, Peachtree 09, QuickBooks 08 and higher), etc the customer has a truly integrated visual experience.

It also helps that so many drivers are installed in Vista so that a good portion of customer printers just work or download a driver from the Internet.

Needless to say if I feel that Windows Vista works well for my customers that I think 7 will be awesome. I intentionally did not use RC or beta versions. I downloaded the RTM the day it came out to Technet users and installed it on my Vista notebook to test the new user experience. The rest of my office quickly followed.

I think Windows 7 on new hardware is going to provide my customers the most integrated experience.

I am ready to make the move now because almost every Windows Vista program and driver just works in 7. It installs so fast and runs so well that I believe I can cut user migration and system build times for additional margin.

Windows Vista has been so hard to sell because of the media badmouthing it. When installed and maintained by competent consultants Vista can work well.

The media has been saying how great Windows 7 is compared to the “broken” Vista and how “new” it is. Windows 7 is more like Vista R2 for me but at least the media is working for me this time.

And yes, XP mode is going to be the thing that allows me to sell 7 and overcome customer fears.
-- Matthew A.

There are enough features in Windows 7 to make the move. Vista Ultimate bluescreens a lot and is too slow. I need better performance and also like the ability of easily putting 2 documents side by side, being able to shake the desktop clear etc. All functions look much much easier and quicker.
-- Steffie S.V.

Better compatibility with older software and the drivers needed are available now. Most of my clients are home users or small business users and the bad Vista press just stopped any upgrade, but now 7 seems very good and is getting great word of mouth reviews from everyone I talk to. I currently have it running on several test platforms and my gamer friends just rave about it for the multiplayer games. I just finished the free OEM training for Microsoft Partners and the features seem to be stable and worthwhile.
-- Stephen S.

Yes, slowly upgrading most of my home PCs to Windows 7 after trying the beta version and then working with the RTM product. The laptop is next on the list which will be a welcome change from my Vista OEM install.

My most successful upgrade has been my Windows MCE 2005 home theater box which started to post "restricted content" messages when playing back recorded television shows. I did the usual research and tried the patches with no luck so I gave Windows 7 Pro a trial on my Intel box with 2 gigs of RAM and an Nvidia 7000 series card. The install went very smoothly with most devices recognized and updated drivers from Nvidia installed. The ATI Wonder TV card; however, did not have drivers for Windows 7 available from the Web site. Luckily, I had the original disk with WDM drivers that Win7 accepted.

Media Center on Win7 is great and the box runs better than ever!
-- Jack D.

We'll be upgrading fro XP, but not until next fiscal year (no earlier than July 2010) because we removed Software Assurance from all of our client licenses since we were not moving from XP to Vista.

Reasons: Increased security, better user experience, better hardware compatibility and easier deployment.
-- Mark W.

I have been using Windows 7 since beta, upgrading from Vista (office) and XP (home). The most compelling reason for me to upgrade to Windows 7 is better performance. Upgrading to a leaner operating system on an already upgraded hardware(for Vista) should give us a lot of leverage. Also, many of the new features in Window 7 like bit locker, direct access will be useful for us. The only drawback with bit locker is that the drive becomes read only when connected to Windows XP. I usually use bit locker in my office and when I try to connect it back into my home system, I cannot make changes to it. Also direct access will help me a lot. VPN setup and connecting usually is complicated but with direct access, I hope most of the issues should be solved.

One more feature which I have started to use is the Problem step recorder...this is really nice. Previously we used the snip tool but going forward this tool will be a boon for helpdesk technicians.
-- Prasanth P.

The performance is way better than Vista was. I like the new taskbar features. The ease of setup is nice. The backup features are great. Networking is good, multi-display and presentation are good, etc. etc. etc. All in all, it's a great OS and I'm glad to be running it now!
-- Andrew C.

Windows 7 is a great OS which isn't a resource hog like Vista. We're upgrading from XP and Vista for the Resource utilization, graphics, drivers and security.
-- Bryan T.

(Side note: Congratulations to Stan J. and Matthew A.; their submissions were picked randomly and they will each receive one Microsoft exam voucher, good toward any MCP exam. William W., Mauricio L. and Michael S. were almost as lucky; they will each get an MCPmag.com baseball cap by mail. And thanks to all the participants who submitted their thoughts.)

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