Welcome to the Future – Windows 7 Professional x64 RTM

Yesterday I managed to get my hands on a copy of Windows 7 Professional through the MSDN Academic Alliance Progamme at Uni.

To avoid messing around with my current Vista install I decided to remove my old 160GB IDE Hard Disk from my old computer and install it into my new system (which isn’t that new anymore), being just out of warrenty I was safe to open the box and put in the hard disk.

First problem, whoever designed the motherboard and case layout in my new system never designed it for people to add stuff into. The IDE socket on the motherboard was located directly below the hard disk install location in the case, so the cable had to twist super tightly to get out from under the hard disk and then plug on a 90 degree angle into it. The second problem was the heat sync on my processor is so large I couldn’t get the drive into the drive bay without having to losen it a little and then reset it. The third problem was cables, the system had all the cables nicely cable tied down, however they had been placed into position so well that you couldn’t get to the spare power cables, once I had cut away some of the cable ties the mess of cables the required a number of unpluggings and rewirings so I could get enough slack on all the cables to get everything plugged in. Because of all this a ten minute job turned into a hour and a half of frustration.

Once this was completed I booted back into Vista and partitioned the newly installed 160GB drive into a 120GB partition for Windows 7 and a 40GB partition for installing Ubuntu 9.10 later this month. Once this was set in went the Windows 7 DVD. The installation of Windows 7 took less than 30 minutes and was incredabily straight forward. Easily the simplest installation of Windows I have ever done.

On a whole Windows 7 can be summed up in one word. Smooth. It is what Vista should have been. There are only minor differences in UI between the two operating systems, but those differents make a big difference in user experience. Gone is the quick launch bar, instead you can have programs always in the task bar, even if they are not running. The names of programs have vanished replaced with large icons. The sidebar is gone, you can now put gadgets anywhere on your screen. Windows Media Centre also has support for Freeview, which is great, no messing about with codecs and Media Portal. Windows Aero and animations are incredabily fast and crisp. So far I am very impressed.

The chart below shows my system rating on Windows 7. The values have increased slighty from Vista. (Vista scores in brackets).

Component Details Subscore Base score
Processor AMD Phenom(tm) 9600 Quad-Core Processor 6.9 (5.9)
Determined by lowest subscore
Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB 5.9 (5.9)
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 3400 Series 3.5 (3.5)
Gaming graphics 1919 MB Total available graphics memory 5.1 (3.9)
Primary hard disk 87GB Free (112GB Total) 5.3 (5.9)
Windows 7 Professional

The key things to note regarding the different scores are:

Processor – Vista is only 32 bit, Windows 7 is 64

Memory – Vista is only 32 bit therefore only has access to 3GB of RAM, Windows 7 has access to the full 4GB

Graphics – Aero doesn’t seem to take advantage of crossfire, so my system is always limited here. It is not a big feature anyway so I typically ignore this.

Gaming Graphics – This is the score that matters much more. For some reason on Windows 7 the score is a lot higher than Vista. The first reason for this is Windows 7 is giving crossfire 512mb more memory than Vista. I can only guess the second reason is newer graphic card drivers in Windows 7.

Primary hard disk – The decrease in score here is caused by using a older IDE drive compared to my primary Vista hard disk being SATA.