Windows 7 Release Candidate: The Technologizer FAQ

Sixteen questions (and answers!) on the new, almost-finished version of Microsoft's next OS.

By  |  Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 2:49 am

9. Can you give me some more advice on who should and shouldn’t try the W7 Release Candidate?

Well, I can try:

Should try Windows 7 RC:

Vista users who think that Vista is short on substance

Vista users who think that Vista is sluggish

Happy Vista users who are intrigued by Windows 7 and willing to experiment

Happy XP users who intentionally skipped Vista, but aren’t opposed to trying something new

Probably shouldn’t bother with Windows 7 RC:

Vista and XP users who have everything working and who can’t risk OS-related incompatibilties

XP users who are happy and simply disinterested in trying something new, even if it’s better

XP users with creaky old PCS–especially ones that are short on RAM

10. How about the strategy of waiting until Windows 7 ships? After all, if it were good to go, Microsoft would be releasing it now. Right?

Right. And there’s no shame in waiting. Actually, if you do wait you should consider waiting until Windows 7 SP1 ships, presumably some time in 2010. Operating-system bugs can be divided into two types: Those that get squashed before release, and those that aren’t caught until afterward. If you bide your time long enough you can avoid both types.

11. Which version of Windows 7 is the release candidate?

It’s Ultimate–the whole shebang. But Microsoft is saying that most Windows 7 users will end up with either the Home Premium or the Professional version.

12. Are Windows 7’s touch features anything to get excited about?

Well, you probably aren’t going to get to try them out anytime soon, unless you have an HP TouchSmart or a Dell multi-touch tablet. I remain a skeptic about the chances touch has of revolutionizing user interfaces for traditional PCs, but Windows 7 is the first OS to incorporate thinking about touch-driven interfaces into its basic design. Without Windows 7, touch wouldn’t have gone much of anywhere; with it, it at least has a fighting chance. We’ll see.

13. How about XP Mode?

I wouldn’t devote many brain cells to thinking about it if I were you–it isn’t available with all versions of Windows 7 and is a download when it is–and it won’t work on all PCs. Basically, it’s a security blanket for big companies.

14. Is Windows 7 going to meaningfully change the answer to the never-ending question “PC or Mac?”

Possibly. If the final version is as pleasing as the Release Candidate, it’ll help narrow the gap between Windows and OS X in terms of general usability, reliability, and aesthetics–in other words, in terms of overall pleasantness. It could certainly meaningfully increase the percentage of the time that I recommend Windows PCs over Macs rather than vice versa.

Which is not to say that the gap’s going to go away–Apple’s OS X is still a simpler, more elegant piece of software than Windows 7, and the need for Windows users to fret about security will continue to add aggravation overhead that OS X users mostly sidestep (for now, at least). I’m also really, really nervous that Windows PC manufacturers will muck up the copies of Windows 7 they put on their machines by cluttering them up with demoware, adware, pointless utilities, and other items that could ruin a pretty pleasing OS.

15. Should I read anything else about the Release Candidate?


What to Expect From Windows 7 (Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report)

Windows 7 Release Candidate Review (Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows)

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 Impressions, Insights, and Expectations (Engadget)

16. Are you done answering questions about Windows 7?

For now. But I do want to ask one–what do you think of it? if you try the Release Candidate, I’d be much obliged if you’d come back here and share what you liked, what you disliked, and your overall take.



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16 Comments For This Post

  1. Aktariel Says:

    “Apple’s OS X is still a simpler, more elegant piece of software than Windows 7.”

    Let me put it out up front: I am a Mac guy. I used to be a PC guy, but switched a few years ago, and I can’t imagine going back. Blah blah blah, I’m a heretic, etc. Just so you know my background, so you can hopefully understand that I’m not talking out of my a**.

    I installed Windows 7 RC1 tonight on my MacBookPro. 32Bit edition – it popped up with some known driver incompatibilities when I loaded up the BootCamp installer, but all of the drivers except the Nvidia 8600 video driver installed fine. I used a laptopvideo2go driver, “specially for Windows 7” and it worked fine.

    All of my applications, with the exception of MacDrive, installed fine. HFS Explorer works, for those of you that might need to access HFS+ filesystems, but it’s not perfect – it will give you an error about a dll missing on startup, though it works fine anyway. Honestly, this was my biggest hassle – most of my media is on an HFS+ filesystem, on various disks.

    And then i used it more and more… and while this is a preliminary report, I cannot give it any more damning praise than, “It’s still Windows.” Yes, it’s better than Vista. Yes, it’s arguably better than XP. But it still has a registry which is susceptible to corruption, rather than flat preference files like a Unix OS; it still does things slightly wrong or not as well as it could for no apparent reason; and the interface, while polished, is still not as user friendly, well designed, or usable as a Mac.

    It’s not bad, but it didn’t convince me to switch back to Windows, and I’m going to keep using XP for what I need until Win7 SP1 or so comes out, and the essential applications that I need are in place.

  2. Matt Peckham Says:

    Only complaint I have about Windows 7 so far: The default fish background on first launch. You’d think the fluff squad would vote in something classier, like one of the stunning new landscapes. Or the lovely nature shots. Or the geometrically edgy architecture panels.

    But a fish?

    What’s the symbolism… Gotcha! (Hook, line, sinker…)

  3. Cyberpyr8 Says:

    Matt, it is a Beta fish. That’s why the fish background (Someone at MS has a sense of humor). I have been using the beta since it came out and I really like what I have seen so far. Like all new MS OS’s they have moved a few things around and changed some things, but the performance has been great and only a few applications have not run at all for me. The compatibility mode has worked very well for me also. I was running Vista on my Dell laptop and installed W7 on a new disk. It worked great right from the start and I have never looked back. It is indeed faster than Vista was on the same hardware. Overall, I can’t wait for the final release.

  4. Andrew Mager Says:

    Listened to you on TwiT. Very good commentary. You made me want to download Windows 7.

  5. Ric Says:

    So in essence for me as a big windows fan that has been brought back to earth by them again and again … Keep XP going until minimally, the first SP of Win 7 makes the newest bloat OS usuable. Great (cringe)I dont want to like MAC .., Maybe linux will take me.

  6. Brad Says:

    Same experience as Aktariel with Win7 RC1 and MacDrive 7.2.6 on a macbook pro. It installs after editing the LaunchControl variable in the install file, but the driver fails to load. worked fine in Win 7 beta (though you had to manually mount your drive each time).

  7. jonesy Says:

    Good article, thanks.

    Running Ubuntu 9.04 and Win7RC in VirtualBox on Vista Home Premium – all 64-bit. (Have an old quad-core sys w/8GB RAM) Gave each vm a gig of RAM and 60GB disk space.

    Win7 is pretty nice; cleaner, faster, less aggravating than Vista, more stable (with everything I've tried so far) than Vista or XP. Only thing I can't test is video card performance given no pass-through to hardware.

    From what I've seen so far, I moving to Win7 when it goes RTM.

    [That said, if I can ever get Civ4 and SilentHunter4 running on Linux then it will become the host OS.]

  8. scorpivs Says:

    After sinking a hundred bucks into a 1GB AGP card for Windo7s Beta, only
    for that installation not to boot, I installed Windo7s RC, only to find
    not all that is Vista-compatible can be enjoyed with Windo7s RC, either.

    That a “new” OS is all that stands between a physical technology, rated
    amongst the higher echelon of 3D graphics, and realizing the end-purpose
    of the industry as a whole, well…

    Maybe it should be called, “Mohr-or-Less’ Law.”

    And that is nothing “new.”

  9. Dave Says:

    Download and install went very smoothly on Motion LS 800 tablet pc with 1.2 Ghz processor a 1 GB of RAM. Only compatibility issue so far seems to be getting an HP Laserjet 1018 printer to work. But still exploring that one, and my current antivirus AVG 8.5 uses an older method of reporting, but is functioning.

    General impression is this the RC runs faster than the Beta, but will see what happens as the updates are downloaded.

  10. wray Says:

    It’s OK

    installed pretty quick easy had to install the video driver
    finally windows dosen’t need the manufacture driver for every piece of hardware in the system.

    seemed pretty snappy,

    still lacks customization and freedom that I get with my FOSS tho.

  11. John Says:

    OK running a bit behind after article published but am loving Win7 RC. I only have 2 gb ram and am using 64bit and it is working flawlessly, with zero issues, except installing driver for Brother DCP 585CW wireless printer, but instead of trying to tweek or change anything I let Win7 choose compatibility mode and then everything installed and full functionality was available. Also all my other software has installed without a glitch.
    I believe the reasons is not trying to go all techy on it straight away and let it load and update first after clean install and then changed everything to the way I liked it. All in all very impressed and will get RTM version when out.

  12. David Lee Says:

    I have been running the beta version of Windows7 with a few hickups. But in general I had no problem with it that was not fixable with patience.
    I was offered the RC vesion which I duly downloaded and instaled, both the 32 and 64bit version. I am extreemly pleased with both versions and have had no problems with eather. I have played Television programs on Windows 7 and the display (graphics) and audio are excellent. It appears to be as good as high definition. I would not hesitate to recommend windows7 as the future O/S.

  13. StarCraft 2 News Says:

    Great post, it really me understand Win7 better.

    But one concern, Windows98 was a GOOD operating system? You must be joking, the only version that was more unstable was ME. Although, I will agree on Win2000. In the 3-4 years that I used it, it blue screened less than five times.

    I’m still on XP, as I think its the best OS MS has ever produced. And I can game on it, which is why I haven’t moved to Ubuntu (9.04 is brilliant) or Mac OSX (too expensive in South Africa though)

  14. Windows 7 Says:

    it’z very usefull information. but i expect more details..

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  16. Kennesawga Garage Door Says:

    Here is the 2nd time ive come across your blog within the last few few weeks. Appears like I should be aware of it.

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