Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Truth Behind Windows 7

It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve been playing with Windows 7 so I figured it’s about time to speak out. To the delight of the folks in Redmond, I’m not the only one talking about the new Windows.

There are currently two versions of the new Windows.  The first one was given to developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference to get us excited. The 2nd is what the developers were shown at the conference. Most of the images you’ll see online are from the 2nd version available to internal Microsoft developers.

Western Digital Hard Drive With Windows 7
Developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference were all given a Western Digital USB hard drive with the alpha version of Windows 7.

I’m happy with the version of Windows 7 I’m running. It’s stable and so far has been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it.  This is the diversion that Microsoft had hoped for.  Redmond desperately needs the buzz to prevent a mass exodus from Windows Vista toward Apple.

A recent survey by ChangeWave predicts that 33% of laptop sales during the next three months will be from Apple. I’ve seen this coming but my prediction would be closer to 15–20%.

Looking under the hood of Windows 7
Looking under the hood of my Windows 7, what I found looks like Windows Vista, smells like Windows Vista and feels like Windows Vista. I did find some memory optimization related to accessing the registry but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad yet. It seemed to speed up WinPatrol’s real-time detection but could slow frequent scans with the free version. I’ll be waiting for an official beta before doing serious benchmark testing.

So far the main difference seems to be new applications, configuration applets and some tweaking to the window manager that provides just a little performance gain. Most of the changes that I learned about during the conference are yet to be included.

Jump Lists in Windows 7
“Ignore that man behind the curtain”

In one of the sessions at Microsoft PDC I learned how to integrate WinPatrol with new Windows 7 “Jump Lists” available off the cool new Task Bar.  Unfortunately, I have to wait for a spring beta build before I can actually start programming for this feature. Jump Lists aren’t supported in my version of Windows 7 and the documentation still calls them “Destinations”.

Now, there is a little secret.  The PDC version of Windows has a secret user flag that can make it appear like the 2nd.  It works if you trick Windows 7 into thinking you’re on a specific Microsoft domain. If you’re one of the folks with access to the officially released version of Window you can find the instructions at

Here's how WinPatrol looks on the taskbar if you're running the internal Microsoft version of Windows 7
WinPatrol on the Windows 7 task bar

Final Thought
If Microsoft allows Windows 7 to be technology driven I think we’ll be happy with the results.  The Microsoft developers I met at PDC are highly motivated, and sincere. They did get me excited.  If however, it’s market driven to meet holiday PC sales in 2009 it could be a disaster.


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Anonymous Ryan Lane said...

I'm eagerly awaiting all the cool features they showed us. So far so good though. It's been surprisingly stable.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Brownie said...

You can enable the superbar and jumplist in the PDC build

it works just fine for me!

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill: Sounds like an interesting operating system but I have one concern with says it all for me.

Will my Dell Dimension 2400 Intel Pentium 4 2.6Ghz 766 Ram handle it without being a snail? I can increase the RAM to 2.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it ain't broke, why fix it? is all about money and greed. I hated Vista and if W7 is anything similar to Vista, I'll continue to use XP.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Ian Griffiths said...

I hated vista i hated all the anouing pop ups asking do you want to do this then are you sure you want to this it got on T*ts.
But for some reason i seem to be getting a warm fuzzy feeling about windows 7. At the moment i am sticking with XP and probly will until windows release a SP1/2 as i did for XP.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the memory and system resource requirements for W7 are anything close to vista then forget about it. i'll keep using xp until the end of service in 2013 or 2014 or whatever. forget microsoft and their greed.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My biggest concern is whether Microsoft will still allow us to use Outlook Express, maybe as an optional free download. Along with thousands of other people I use HTML, VBScript and JavaScript to make stationery for Outlook Express. It's a very popular hobby. If that is taken away from us we might as well buy Mac computers. It's the only reason I stick with Windows.

12:31 AM  
Blogger mmmikezd said...

STOP trying to run Vista X64 on an older computer and your problems will go away.

I have been running Vista X64 since it came out and have not had even 1 problem.

Intel core 2 quad.
8 Gig og high speed of Ram.
2 Terabytes of raided hard drive space.
EVGA 8800 GTS super overclocked from the factory with 640 on board video card to play directx 10 games.

Microsoft rates my computer at 5.3 and I can run ANY program with no problems at all.

Stop trying to play a game like Crysis on a computer that is rated at only 3.0.

3:49 AM  
Blogger manic marc said...

I am really looking forward to Windows 7. If you haven't already, check out Microsoft's Channel 9 videos on how the task scheduler has been changed in Windows 7.

Battery life is improved by synchronising timers and sleeping CPU cores in the mean time.

The new Task Bar looks great. Finally we can get rid of the system tray (it's out of sight at least), which has been abused by developers for the past 10 years. QuickTime, Norton, Real Player,AOL et all to try and get their brand on the desktop.

Finally we get rid of them. Now if only Microsoft would break the current startup locations, (HKLM, HKCU, Start Menu) to stop such crap loading all the time, and introduce a new API that prompts the user and can easily be disabled by the user.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Radiorara said...

I cant stand Microsoft and its business practices. I hope they lose alot of market share and profitability for their greed, bad support and coding of their software and generally for how they have treated their loyal customers. Vista has turned out to be a mistake because it is too resource intensive, drivers has been a nightmare for developers and in the end the customer loses out because so much hardware isn't compatible with the operating system. Microsoft's biggest blunder to add insult to injury was the horrible release of XP service pack 3 which should garner a class action lawsuit in itself. Leave it to Microsoft to screw up the best thing they ever made. I cant stand any of it. Computers were supposed to improve our lives and productivity and operating systems are supposed to be transparent. We have turned the focus on them ever since Windows 95 instead of focusing on work. Its a joke and I hope Apple turns Microsoft into a rotting prune. Fix your products Microsoft and LISTEN to your customers and what they want!!!

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a former Apple Mac Power User. I abandoned the Mac out of frustration with arrogant, offensive customer service, and continually factory deffective hardware in a majority of the systems I bought from them. The vaunted Mac customer service advantage has *definitely* **NOT** been my experience.

Having said this, one has to counterbalance that, with my experience as a fairly advanced Windows user . . . I assembled my second computer using the only motherboard (ASUS' A8N32-SLI Deluxe) incompatible with XP SP3. It is simply outrageous that neither MS or ASUS will assumer responsibility, and condemn thousands of paying users to either SP2, or a clean reinstall of a different OS version (Vista, x64, whatever!). The way I was treated by both those companies certainly rivals the horrible way that Apple treated me.

So then: Who do you go with? Bottom line is that Apple charges much more for their products. With Windows, you get what you pay for --- i.e. cheaper means ruder and more problems. But when you pay a premium to Apple's snooty corporate machine, you expect to have a superior quality and CS experience. My verdict, if I'm gonna have to accept crap, I might as well pay a lower price for it!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only concern about the new operating system is the same as I had with Vista. Will I be able to run all the programs that I can use with XP? Salespeople said no about Vista ~ will it be the same with the new Windows? Many websites specify that they will not work with Vista .. so why bother?

10:01 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

my nephew runs the IT section at the UNI and advised me NOT to upgrade to Vista (he has no choice as all Uni computers use Vista)
His advice IF I'd like a chance: Linux and it's free too!

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting tired of Microsoft's OS deficiencies, BSODs and virus attacks. I'm ready to switch to MAC, I hate to say that. I always drove American cars but quality has taken me to the import market. Is the demise of Microsoft on the horizon. They need to learn about the K.I.S.S. factor, Keep It Simple Stupid.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Service pack 3 turned off my spooler that works with my hp printer. When I finally found out what the problem was, I did a system restore to a time before the update, then my printer worked fine. Thanks, Bill for all your help.

10:25 AM  
Blogger manic marc said...

I get tired of so called "IT Experts" recommending against Vista. They obviously don't have a clue.

Yes if you are trying to upgrade 500+ PCs then it's probably not worth it. If you have a mountain of hardware that's 4years + old then it's not going to work.

However if you're buying a new PC, or your current PC has a decent spec, then I would whole heartedly recommend you get Vista. It is inherently more secure.

For laptop users the hibernation and standby is much more reliable. You now have presentation mode (hides alerts, keeps laptop on), high performance mode and a special mode for when you're sharing files. Vista no longer lets programs stop your system from shutting down or sleeping. YOU are in control.

Startup programs, yes that crapware like Real Player are executed on startup on a low priority thread. Result? Your desktop gets to a usable state quicker.

Wirless networks are no longer emulated. No more randomly disappearing Access Points that dogged XP.
You can have different security settings for Home, Work and Public networks. That means you can share all your files/printers at home, but when you go to a coffee shop Vista will lock down the firewall.

Drivers are so much easier to installed. I lost the disc to my TV Tuner card the other week. I plugged it in, and Vista went off and downloaded the drivers within the wizard. I didn't have to fuss about on manufactures web sites - it just worked!

Overall Vista is miles better. When it first came out, yes there were problems with drivers. I know. I was there! Now though it's fine. In fact I recently installed it on my work PC, which is a development machine. No problems except for Delphi 7 (which is like 7 years old so to be expected)

3:11 PM  
Blogger Private said...

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Windows looks more like a sieve than a boat. Weekly emergencies should not be the norm. My next one is still a Mac.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Microsoft panders to commerce. In essence, the way they have designed windows lets everyone except the user take control of the OS. This has turned out to be a giant costly irritating security headache. In Vista, the MS solution was to increase the irritation and leave the security holes unfixed. Who thinks of this stuff?

5:53 AM  
Blogger sdesalvo said...

If Apple can take a Unix flavor and turn it into a usable OS, and with the advances made by Ubuntu, there is one, and only one, thing stopping a Linux distro from bankrupting MS.

Ubuntu running Windows XP games and apps in a close-to-hardware emulation.

Ubuntu is FREE, and they are getting damned close to comparable to the commercial OS'es. It is still clunky but profit motive is what allows companies to move things along.

I would love to see a Linux distro get its act together and then businesses and users everywhere could leave Windows behind.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have built and fixed microsofts junk for 15 yrs now and I am done. I will never own another pc with any microsoft products on them....EVER and I have 3 currently and vista is the most god awful product microsoft put out....its a joke

5:22 PM  

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