The official release candidate (that’s what RC stands for) for Windows 7 was made available by Microsoft a couple of days ago, and it’s free for everyone to download and use. Just go to the download page to get it (available in 5 languages and both 32 and 64-bit).
Much as been said about how much better than Windows Vista this new version is, and as the computer-curious guy I am, I just had to check it out. The fact that my experience with Vista so far hasn’t been very good also helped.
So, after downloading the 2.3GB .iso file, burning it into a DVD and moving important files to another partition, I embarked on the “adventure” of installing Windows 7, in the hopes I wouldn’t have any problems with the Wireless drivers (which I had with both Vista and XP on this machine). And to sum it all up it was the easiest installation of an operating system I ever did. It took just over 30 minutes from booting up the install DVD to opening a browser and checking my Gmail account. The amount of required user input was minimum, and I would say that I spent less than 1 minute on that. Everything else was automatic, and guess what, I didn’t need to install a single device driver and everything is working fine. That certainly beats having to use another computer to get the Wireless drivers to then be able to download all the other drivers that Vista couldn’t figure out.
As far as UI is concerned, the new Mac OS X-ish taskbar feels unfamiliar, but I’m liking the way the different windows for the same program get stacked together and expand when hovering over the icons. And that’s as far as I can go right now, because I still haven’t had the time to explore all changes that have certainly been done.
It’s also a bit early to talk about stability and speed. It does feel a bit snappier than Vista, but that might be influenced by the fact that my Vista machine at work has been painfully slow for the last few days. And it’s also a clean install, so it’s quite normal that it’s moving fast.
Only time will tell if the change was worth the pain of installing and configuring all the software again, but the experience so far and the reviews around teh Internets have been good. Anyway, the geek in me really had to do it…
If you do decide to go ahead and try Windows 7 RC, just keep in mind the following “small” detail:
Watch the calendar. The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010. You’ll also need to install the programs and data that you want to use.
Yes, that’s right. Three months before the license expires, Windows will shut down your computer every two hours! Seems like a really bad way of signalling the software is about to expire, doesn’t it? Oh well, I guess we’ll all have the final versions by then anyway…