Thursday, June 10, 2010

Windows 7 upgrade from XP or Vista: Yes or No looking from a user perspective

Windows 7 is commercial avaliable since 22 October. A lot is already  written about Windows 7. In this blog I will share my personal experiences about Windows 7. I have used a lot of different operating systems in the past on my laptop. Windows NT 4 workstation, Windows 95, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Photo credit: Oskay

During my upgrade to Windows Vista is was the first time that I had a negative experience in the upgrade of my laptop. Of course some things improved but I also lost some things which works perfectly in Windows XP. I will give my 4 biggest disappointments:
  1. Power usage. Impossible to configure brightness difference of my screen between plugged in and running on batteries. I'm always looking to the optimal power management configuration when running on batteries. It gives me a lot of flexibility. The longer I can run on batteries the better is my user experience. Overall I experience 20 percent less time running on batteries.
  2. Wireless network connectivity. I work a lot at home and in the office. Both have their own wireless network. To travel between home and the office I uses the sleep or hybernate function to close my laptop.  In 60 percent of the situations reconnecting to the internet works fine however in 40 % I need to turn of my wireless card or reboot my machine. As you can imagine this is a bad user experience especially because rebooting takes a lot of time to do.
  3. Hibernate does not work in combination with Sleep. My laptop is configured to sleep when I close the lid. At the end of the working day I hibernate my laptop with the power button. If I close the lid to early, my laptop switch to sleep. At home, I open my laptop which wakes up from sleep and continues the hybernation process. On XP the hybernation process is not interupted by the sleep process.
  4. Availabilty of drivers. For instance for printers and camera's
Because of my negative experiences with the upgrade from Windows XP to Vista, I decided to wait a few weeks with upgrading my laptop to Windows 7. I wanted to hear the experiences of other people. After hearing mostly good stories from a lot of people I upgrade my laptop to the 64 bits version of Windows 7. Unfortunaltly, I need to do a reinstall because an upgrade from Vista 32 bits to Windows 7 64 bits is not supported. The new install of Windows 7 was amazing fast. Within 15 minutes I was connected to the internet. However the rest of the day I was busy with reinstalling the rest of my applications, including service packs and security updates. For instance:  MS Office, Live Meeting, Communicator, Antivirus Software, Visual Basic, SQL Server 2008 including Reporting Server and Analysis Server etc..

Are my 4 biggest disappointments solved with the upgrade to Windows 7 ?
  1. Power usage is not solved. Power usage is the same as on Windows Vista.
  2. Wireless network connectivity is solved. I do not experience reconnections problems anymore between different wireless networks.
  3. Hibernate does not work in combination with Sleep. This is not solved.
  4. Availability of drivers. This is solved. I decided to upgrade to the 64 bits version of Windows 7. Without any problems I could find all 64 bits drivers I needed.
Should you upgrade to Windows 7? The answer is Yes but it depends.
  • Are you running on Windows Vista? Yes upgrade to Windows 7 without any doubt. It will improve you overall user experience.
  • Are you running on Windows XP, my advice is to upgrade to Windows 7 when you planned to replace the hardware.
  • Buying new hardware: Vista or Windows 7. Buy Windows 7. In case you have more the 3 GB of memory, select the 64 bits version. This will avoid manually memory configurations to use all memory.

I realize that a lot of users can't make the choice them selves to upgrade. There are more factors to consider, like application compatibility. For what I have seen, if your application runs on Vista it will also run on Windows 7.  Within my company we did not make any changes to our application Globe to get certified for Windows 7. We only add some typical Windows 7 features to it like the jumplist.

What do I like the most of Windows 7?

The answer is simple: Live taskbar previews. Look to this movie if you do not know what live taskbar previews are.

A dutch version of this blog post is available on the computable site.
Enjoy using Windows 7.

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