I've been using XP since almost the beginning, and decided to skip Vista due to the plethora of problems and DRM in it. Apparently Vista should be ok now, except it still requires quite a bit of hardware to run properly.
Now, I don't beta test software. I'd rather enjoy a fully working software, rather than do something for a for-profit company which I should get paid for. It's clear that geeks hate money, as they are willing to create free operating systems, and even support them for free. But I digress.
I did some research on Win7 RC, and it was promised to be a solid, rugged package - far beyond beta. To get it, one needs to give a working email address to MS - shockingly Mailinator was not blocked. Download was snap snappy, and after I procured a blank DVD - people still use removable media? -, burned it, and backed all my shit up, I was ready to go.
Installation was the smoothest I've experienced. The system didn't ask many stupid questions and recognized my hardware without a problem. Even my Creative Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty POS soundcard started working without any extra downloads, which was a shocker.
The UI is smooth. I think it's still called Aero, and it looks nice. You can drag a window to the top to maximize it, which is surprisingly useful. Dragging it to the side maximizes it to use half the screen, which is great for two Explorer windows for moving stuff around. The problem is that you have to use right-click context menu to open a second Explorer window, but that's a minor quibble.
After getting acquainted with the UI, it was time to start heavy lifting. I minimized everything - which is easily achieved by clicking on the bottom right corner - and started drawing rectangles on the background. I was immediately impressed by the soothing, light blue color of the rectangles. Not only that, the rectangles were translucent - not to be confused with XP's transparent rectangles. This means the rectangle actually gives a blue color cast to whatever your background is! Mine is a picture of Hilary Duff, and I could make all kinds of exciting compositions with the blue-hued rectangles.
I'm sure many of you are worried about the rectangle drawing performance, especially those with aging machines. I can assure you this will not be an issue. My Athlon 2000 - or is it 3000, never could remember - with nVidia GeFarce 6600GT is perfectly capable of smooth, unjerky rectangle drawing! In fact, I think the rectangle drawing performance was slightly better than in XP SP2, despite the impressive translucidity. And as is clear, it's more satisfying due to the color!
But drawing rectangles on the background is only entertaining for a while, so off to more serious stuff. I opened IE to download Firefox - the only thing IE is good for. The stupid program has some nag screen, which shows up every time you open it, unless you go through its questions. Die MS. I noticed the latest version of IE has tabbed browsing as well, so it might actually be good.
While I was waiting for FF to download, I continued drawing rectangles on the background. I was elated to see that the translucent - here's that word again! - edges of IE's program window worked with the rectangles. It's hard to explain, but you can actually see through the edges of the window to your background image while the rectangle is also visible! I was so excited about this, I didn't even notice FF had finished downloading - so engrossed in drawing rectangles on the background was I
After this euphoric moment, it was back to the grind. I opened two Exploder windows so I could migrate my backups back to my main HDD. Dragging one to the left edge, the other to the right, gave me a nice half-assed view of my computer. I went to my backup drive, and ctrl-A selected the 78 gigs of big-titty asian porn which I need constant access to. CTRL-C to copy, CTRL-V to paste to my main drive. Easy as Paris Hilton.
While the titties were being copied, I went looking for other shit I need to move - and to see if Win7 could multitask as well as people claim. Instead of using the keyboard this time, I thought I'd try with the mouse. I was again happy to notice that drawing rectangles works just as smoothly and colorfully inside Explorer! In no time I was drawing pro-grade rectangles, choosing files like there was no tomorrow! I could do it in each window while Windows was doing a lot of stuff, namely copying the porn. And there was not a glitch, not a delay - the rectangles appeared just as smoothly as if I wasn't multitasking!
After my computer was back to normal, and I had verified all systems are operational, I thought I'd check the customization options further. Right-clicking the background brings up the usual context-menu, and there's an item for "Personalize." And yes, you can draw rectangles with your right click - thank you Microsoft!!! There you can choose different themes. I went for Nature, which has a pleasant rose color theme. I chose SETI@Homo as my screensaver, which I had downloaded earlier with FF.
After personalizing, I needed to see how the new theme would impact drawing rectangles. I was rather dismayed to see that despite the Nature theme being rose-colored, the rectangles drawn were still blue! That's a serious oversight from MS software engineers. I'm inclined to think this glaring coding error is due to the Release Candidate nature of the program, and I trust they will fix this before "going gold.| I'm sure I wouldn't be the only who would forgo Win7 altogether if it wasn't fully rectangle drawing compliant! I mean, rose and blue don't even go together!
Well, that was all the time I've had with Win7 thus far. So to recap this in-depth review: rectangle drawing performance is impressive, and the visual aspect has been entirely overhauled. The rectangles are pleasantly used in other applications, namely Explorer. There was one serious flaw, which I trust will be fixed. To make sure, I filed a detailed bug report, wrote a forum post on three different Windows 7 forums - one of them official MS -, and discussed this bug with a very friendly and understanding customer care representative from sunny Mumbai, named Jonathan. While he couldn't promise me anything - it's company policy not to comment on unfinished product -, he assured me he would pass on the information to the "product development department." I would like to urge everyone reading this to do the same - this would be a deal-breaker, and surely we don't want Microsoft to go through another Vista debacle!
VERDICT: MMM. Windows 7 is a big step-up from Windows XP, installs quickly and painlessly, and it works well even on older hardware. Its improvements are mainly cosmetic and minor, but it seems to be more stable and modern. Don't expect any ground-breaking new features, though. But here's hoping we'll get polygon-drawing in Windows 8!