I've been running Windows 7 beta for the last few weeks. I'm running it in a VM (Virtual Machine) on openSUSE 11.1 with VirtualBox and natively on a HP 7360n. This PC is powered by a hyper-threaded 2.8 GHz Pentium D 920 dual-core processor, 4 MB of L2 cache, an 800 MHz front-side bus, and 2GBs of DDR (double-data-rate) RAM.
People who know my work well will recognize that HP 7460N as the same machine on which I found out just how truly awful Vista was. In fact, one of the reasons why I put Windows 7 on it was that even after all this time Vista still was fouling with hardware. In its latest foul-up, I ran straight into an ancient network bug with multiple NICs (network interface cards) and video transmission that still hasn't been fixed.
So, it was good-bye Vista and hello Windows 7 beta.
Honestly, I didn't expect much. But, for once, Microsoft pleasantly surprised me.
Windows 7 actually works. No, really!
It's not, however, in any way, shape, or form a new version of Windows. It's just Vista with most, but not all, of the crap ripped out. It really is Vista Light or, thinking back to the days of Windows 98, it's Vista Second Edition.
The only real new 'feature' I see in Windows 7 is the use of a ribbon interface. I hate the ribbon interface. Change for the sake of change is stupid. It doesn't matter whether the design comes from an open-source provider or a proprietary company, recreating an interface without adding a user-benefit is dumb.
In the ribbon's case, Windows tools, programs, drives, etc., are all hidden in the ribbon. And, I need to hunt for everything I need in the ribbon because ... Let me know if you have a good answer because I sure don't have one.
On the plus side, so far, Windows 7 has worked with all my hardware and all my software. That's more than Vista SP1 was doing. It's also faster than Vista SP1. Of course, that's not saying much.
For today, Windows XP SP3 is the best version of Windows. If Microsoft continues to refine Windows 7, however, Windows 7 might finally get users to move away from XP.
One thing Microsoft could do, should do, is to offer to replace Vista with Windows 7. After all, improvements and all, Windows 7 really is just warmed over Vista.