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Windows 7 (RTM) First Thoughts

Windows 7 RTM was released to the MSDN network on Thursday, August 6th 2009. Being the curious tester that I am, I downloaded it and had a go with it on Friday. So far, my initial thoughts are that it is a definite improvement over Vista 64, which I have been using for the past year or so.

My initial nightmare was backing up the crap that I wanted to carry over to the new installation, since I always opt to re-install rather than upgrade (ya know, to clean out the gremlins that crop up from when you forget to test new things in a VM). Using the Easy Migration wizard was quite painless, and got 99% of what I needed. They apparently have done a very good job with this tool, although I think it was updated for Vista and unchanged for Win 7. Regardless, it works very well. I found a few things which needed to be manually moved over, specifically, my registry entries for PuTTY. I wish PuTTY would store its saved sessions in an .ini file or something instead; May I digress. OpenVPN backed up properly, however it was easier to just copy the files I needed for that instead of trying to restore specific items out of the migration.

Thunderbird was easy to restore, however the migration wizard did not do this properly for me. The migration wizard makes an effort not to overwrite files, so the thunderbird profiles were not loaded as the profile.ini that controls them was not written. I had to go rename the profiles(1).ini to profiles.ini and all was well here.

The UAC seems to be MUCH less abusive to my habits, as it does not seem to incessantly bug the crap out of me about authorizing certain actions. This is good, considering it was probably one of my LEAST favorite Vista-isms.

Installation was fairly quick, it seems that Microsoft has finally abandoned the old expanding cabs installation from the XP and earlier days, as now portable media seems to have enough space for all the installation files. This is convenient for repair operations. The repair mode console from the installation disc also contains a fair number of tools that seem to work pretty well, although the startup repair does not fix the Master Boot Record, you must do this manually, however easy enough once you have instructions.

There is a couple bells and whistles which most users should find convenient, however I found them irritating. One of them is the automatic reboot and reboot reminders after updates. This existed in Vista also, however I just got around to finding out how to change its behavior. I will write about this later.

Another is called Aero Snap. It automatically maximizes or half-maximizes windows when you drag them to the edge of the screen, which for most people, is probably great. For me, I often want things half on the screen, or just view a corner of an app, so for me it was very aggrevating. Again, I will go into further detail on this at another time.

Lastly, I was very disappointed that my BitDefender did not install properly. I am at this time uncertain if it is an issue with Vista, or with the upgrade to BD Total Security 2009. Regardless, my 2008 key did not activate my 2009 product, and BitDefender simply told me that Windows 7 is beta and they cannot help at this time. It exhibits some odd behaviors, as well as not reporting to the security center that it is up to date properly. Security center indicates that it is being notified in an old format, so I am assuming BitDefender has not updated their code to be Windows 7 compatible. Im a little disappointed in this since several other vendors are already Windows 7 compatable and listed on the Microsoft anti-virus vendors page (which I think is new, a welcome feature as it is linked from the security center to help new users find an anti-virus application).


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