Back in August, Windows 7 (which I refer to as Windows Fabulous) came out on MSDN for BizSpark customers. Since I’m head of engineering at our company, I figured I should download it and install it, to, um, evaluate it. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I should try it out and make sure our product would work on it, yeah, and make sure everything would be fine. Absolutely. I didn’t install it just because I thought it would be really cool. No, sirree. (Okay, maybe a little.) (Okay, okay, maybe more than a little. I’m a geek; what do you want?)
Since I work on my computers, I bought new hard drives for both of them, just in case I had any problems and needed to revert. (A little paranoia never hurts. Plus, hard drives are cheap.) For my laptop, I bought the awesome Seagate Momentus 7200.4 drive, a 500GB 7200RPM SATA drive. In fact, I bought a second one and an enclosure, and made my own pocket drive too. (Every single packaged pocket drive on the market is 5400 rpm. As Nero Wolfe would say, “Pfui.”)
Then I installed Windows Fabulous, plus all of the rest of my software (more on that later). (Thank God I keep a list, complete with serial numbers). It took about 20 minutes to install Windows Fabulous, and 2 days to install everything else.
So I’ve been running Windows 7 for about two months now (since it came out on MSDN for BizSpark customers, of which my company is one), and I have to say, it’s the best thing since sliced pickle chips. There are plenty of articles showing what people like about it, and I’d have to say my favorite feature is the glass.
Let’s say you have 4 Visual Studio instances open. If you hover over Visual studio in the task bar, it shows thumbnails of the instances. If you hover over one of the thumbnails, it turns everything else to glass, and shows that one window on the screen. If you click on the thumbnail, it makes that window active and brings it up in front, without closing the rest of the windows.
This has made it a lot easier than Alt-Tab ever did to find the window I’m looking at. This also means I can hover over the Outlook icon in my taskbar and see if I have any new e-mail I need to address, and if not, just go back to what I was doing, without ever changing focus to Outlook. As someone who always has a lot of instances of VS and IE open, among other things, it’s hugely helpful.
I’m finding the jumplists helpful too, but I had to figure out how to re-enable the Recents folder on the start menu. Jumplists are great, but if I open a PPT file, and only open it once, it doesn’t show up in the frequently-used programs list and show a jumplist.
If you don’t have Windows 7, run out and get it. You’ll love it. I’ll blog about installing development software and order of precedence next. And then I’ll talk about incompatible software that doesn’t support Windows 7, and how NOT to treat your customers.