11 Nov 2009

Windows 7 – the good and the bad

The European price for Windows 7 Professional (upgrade) for students is £30. The regular retail price  is roughly £150. The price for the American version is $30 (US) or £15.

Europeans have been paying higher prices for software since before I came to live here, I’m sure. It’s certainly been that way since I have been here. We pay more for less, because Microsoft is removing the Windows Media Player and the Internet Explorer from its OS specially for the European market, having lost a massive legal battle and receiving a record fine some time ago.

Still, I have bought my copy of Windows 7 Pro, but not yet installed it. Why?

Well, being a poor student makes me unable to afford all the hardware increase/upgrade that Windows 7 require. It’s a vicious cycle, one I have mentioned before. The software becomes upgraded, forcing hardware upgrades to run the software upgrades.

My scanner and some software never worked under Vista which is why I happily went back to Windows XP (which I have no problems with, by the way). I do have a dual boot Windows/Linux machine though.

Windows 7 may be different. I discovered something called Windows XP Mode which is present in Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise and Professional. This allows older hardware and software to run under a Windows XP service pack 3 environment. Sorry, Home Premium users, you’re outa luck, as Microsoft screws you once again.

The downside? Your PC must be able to support virtualisation (hardware wise) which you can check using this tool. The Windows XP Mode software is a 500 MB download, so dial-up users, beware.

Another disadvantage at the moment is that, while it has a big driver database, Windows 7 does not have ALL drivers, and some people may find some of their hardware being left behind. An example:

I installed Windows 7 for my neighbour, but his new HP 3-in-1 printer is not working. HP claims they have a Windows 7 driver on its website but alas, the driver is not installing and HP has acknowledged that it is prone to errors.

On the other hand, Windows 7 flies and has to be one of the fastest OS I’ve tinkered with. Last night I installed a 64 bit version for a friend, and before I could make myself a cup of tea, it was finished installing. Office 2K7 took considerably less time to install on Win 7 than it would in Win XP using the same hardware.

And the Internet speed picked up considerably, even though the bandwidth is the same (mine) that I use with my XP machine.

At the moment, Windows 7 is not for me, but I highly recommend it to those who want to use it. Just be aware of the things I mentioned.