I am pretty much a Linux guy when it comes to the PCs around here. Mind you, most of them are older pieces of hardware where Linux runs very well. One machine is fairly new but I didn’t want to be bothered paying for its operating system, or getting involved with licensing hassles. I just installed Linux from the start.
Up until recently I had just one Windows machine in the stable – and that was my Windows XP based Dell Optiplex GX620 desktop from 2005. I still use Windows for a few essential applications, and I expect to continue to do so. Windows XP is getting pretty antiquated, and security support will end in a few years. At that point I would have to abandon Windows completely and go strictly Linux, or move on to some sort of Windows successor O/S.
My experiences with Windows Vista did not inspire a lot of confidence, however. The first Vista machine I saw was one of those “Vista capable” fiascos which had barely enough memory to run the O/S itself, let alone any useful apps. It was slower than an underpowered XP machine it replaced and was only made tolerable by adding another 2 GB of RAM. When I tried configuring wireless routers on other Vista machines I soon became frustrated by all the sidebars, gadgets, popups, UAC interventions and general noise that Vista threw in my face. Not to mention the angst of finding the controls for a simple wireless client configuration. I soon learned to tell any neighbor who asked for help “Sorry I don’t do Vista.”
That’s all changed with the purchase of this Windows 7 equipped Dell Inspiron notebook I’m using right now. Mind you, it’s got plenty of hardware muscle – quad core processor, discrete graphics, scads of RAM, big hard drive. However, Windows 7 is tuning out to be a pleasure to use.
First of all, it is rather minimalist in comparison to Vista. The sidebar is gone, and gadgets are completely optional. The taskbar at the bottom of the screen handles launch icons and minimized Windows buttons with ease.
Second, it is very quiet. Information popups are kept to a minimum and you only see the User Account Control when you are making a major change to the system like installing a program. Security suites like McAfee run unobtrusively and don’t have much effect on performance as far as I can determine.
Third, the Aero interface is very attractive and has some nice features without being too glitzy.
Finally Windows 7 comes with some nice Windows Live! applications like Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Writer (for blogging.) I am still not that crazy about Internet Explorer or Windows Media player but there are good alternatives available like Firefox, Google Chrome and Songbird that work very well.
To sum up, Windows 7 is A-OK with me. It is a worthy successor (finally) to the aging XP, and far nicer to work with than the bloated and annoying Vista. I’ll have no problems if some day I have to replace my Dell Optiplex XP desktop with a Windows 7 machine. And what would happen to that old desktop? I can see Linux in its future.