Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Windows 7 - three months on

From ComputerBites

When writing about all the problems you encounter in a school environment what comes across can be a bit negative. What I'd like to do is just quickly go through why Windows 7 is a very good OS.

Speed - Vista wasn't all bad. That's right, I said it. I had it on two computers and, all be it after a lot of tweeking on my main PC, it ran okay. But in a school environment it was slow and we stayed with XP. Windows 7 seems faster right out of the box, no tweeking superfetch, system restore, UAC, readyboost and so on needed. Well that is how it appears. A bit of looking around the web seems to confirm this. I have not done these tests myself but here are the results of some early speed tests:
From ComputerBites

From ComputerBites

Aero Peek - What could have been just a little gimmick to make Windows 7 look pretty has actually turned ot to be pretty useful. Being able to hover over thumbnails of your open documents, websites and programs brings them into full size view without moving what you are working on into the background. Useful for writing when you need to refer back to data, emails or the web.

Maximise half screen - Another thing that could just have benn eye-candy. Being able to drag a document to the side and Windows will automatically make it half your screen size. So you can have two documents side by side without them interfering with each other or trying to line them up.

Jump Lists - I have the remote desktop icon pinned to the taskbar, then in the jump list I have the fourteen servers that I remote to most regularly. It's like recent documents for programs. Another useful addition to save time.

Drivers - When we had XP on all our client machines we had to have a different system image for every chipset and often every motherboard. In a school where there are different machines bought every year at the cheapest possible price that can lead to a lot of time installing and capturing images for a lot of different systems that all together total over 600. Now we deploy all our client OS's using one .WIM file and best of all most of the drivers are included or picked up automatically. You can also deploy drivers to your Windows 7 clients with WDS (windows Deployment Services) if you need to.

64 bit - 32 bit and 64 bit copies of the Operating System in one box! Great news for home users.

Blu-Ray - Read and write high definition.

Attach and create Virtual Hard Disks - Not a feature I have played with yet (been using Vmware for years) but being able to attach and create VHDs is a great feature. Right-click computer > manage > storage > disk management, then the option is under the 'action' tab. Use a virtual machine for testing, trying a new OS or software, security or backups and more.

Libraries - Being a very organised person I am not a big fan but I can certainly see why people will find it useful. Pulling in the file types that my be scattered across your hard drives so you are less likely to lose that video/picture/document/music that you cannot remember where you saved.

Installing - When you have a whole school to reinstall it is helpful when it is fast. It takes us much less time to image a room of Windows 7 computers and automatically joins them to the domain. When it comes to joining domains, it is only a little thing, but if you are a domain admin you don't have to keep providing your password when changing the PC name.

Reliability - So far the only problems I have had is when I used some memory that my motherboard did not like. More stable than Vista. So important on a large network with staff cuts.

Desktop search - If that is the name for it. Loved it in Vista, Love it in 7. Press the Windows key and start typing. Another great time saver and no longer a need to organise your start menu. Quickly find that setting, program, email etc.

Backup and restore - Improved in 7 and so easy. Also includes the ability to create system repair discs. Great for home user who doesn't have access to imaging software or network attached storage. No excuse for losing your valuable data.

Action Center - So much better than being nagged by popups and balloons all the time. A little flag that will take you to areas of concern like out of dat antivirus or a skipped backup. Best of all you can customise it so it only gives you the alerts you want.

Group policy - Better control over your network and clients.

I realise this is getting abit long so without going on for pages and pages some quick mentions to: better Paint (still install paint.net though), Media Center in all main versions, DVD maker included, IE8 (still not as good as Firefox but accelerators quite handy), better firewall, recognising the make/model of USB drives (handy if you have lots of devices connected), better User Account Control and better gadgets no longer confined to the sidebar.

I know people may say that linux or macs could do most or all of these things but the fact of the matter is the powers that be would never allow us to get rid of Windows in school, so I say thank you Microsoft for making things a little easier and little more fun.

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