Sunday, August 9, 2009

Windows 7: First Impressions

As a software developer I have access to new Microsoft products before the general public. This has allowed me to install the release version of Windows 7 this weekend. This install comes with the full release license (no time limit that the release candidate has). Prior to installing the release version I had the RC on my desktop and notebook, and thus far I've been very impressed with it. The new taskbar is probably the biggest change from Vista, and I think it is a fantastic upgrade. I'm a very visual person, so being able to see the icons for my most used programs at all times will really help to keep my train of thought when moving from one program to another to accomplish a task. The OS also feels very snappy, which was one of the major complaints against Windows Vista (I stayed with XP until now for this reason). Skipping Vista also meant that I missed out on the user interface upgrades it provided, so things like better thumbnail support that have been around for a while also help with the wow factor for me.
Installing a new OS also means that I need to reinstall the other software I use on a near daily basis. Here are the apps that I put on any computer I use (I have not noticed any issues with running these on Windows 7 yet):

  1. Mozilla Firefox - for all my surfing needs

  2. Google Chrome - for all my wife's surfing needs

  3. Media Monkey - Best program I've found to organize and play my MP3's

  4. Paint.Net - Image editor

  5. OpenOffice - Similar to Microsoft Office, and can create/edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files

  6. VLC - plays just about any piece of video or audio file you throw at it

  7. PDF Exchange - open's pdf files faster than Adobe Reader and also allows for slight editing of the files

  8. Pidgin - Chat client compatible with many protocols. If I only chatted with friends using google chat I'd use google talk instead, but at work we chat via Windows Live Messenger, and I despise the Live Messenger UI.

Note that all of these programs are free and I highly recommend you give them a try. One complaint that I do have is that when using tabs in IE8 the taskbar preview shows all tabs, however the preview for Firefox only shows the active window. However I assume that this a change the Firefox needs to make to support this capability. Either Picasa or Windows Live Photo will be added soon to manage photographs.