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So, if you’ve read my previous post on Windows 7, you should have it up and running, ready to see what’s different.

First off, hear this. Most things are the same. Whether you were using XP or Vista, you’ll generally find things in the same places, and find that they work in a similar way”¦ Generally.

And while some things are thoroughly different under the hood, I’m concentrating on everyday functionality here. Sending emails, or writing blog posts.

What’s Changed?

The XP and Vista Task Bars 6 Tools for Elegant Taskbar Tweaking and 1 to Repair 6 Tools for Elegant Taskbar Tweaking and 1 to Repair Read More were pretty similar to each other.

win7-xptask-small2

System tray on the right, active applications in the middle, and perhaps a toolbar or two on the left.

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Windows 7 has a TaskBar too, but this one is a completely different beast.

w7-systemtrayThe System Tray, on the right, works much the same as the old one, though it’s visually quite different”¦

“¦but there is no longer a simple distinction on the left between shortcut icons for applications you might want to run, and those for applications already running. The two sets are mixed together, but are differentiated visually.

w7-taskBarIcons with borders around them (such as the Firefox one above) are running. The others are just shortcuts for now.

One thing that caught me out for a while was that you can’t run the same thing multiple times the same way as you did in earlier versions of Windows. It’s logical enough though. Hold the shift key down when you click on the icon, and it will start another copy of the program for you.

w7-taskmultiFor instance, in this case there are multiple copies of Windows Explorer running, one each of Firefox and Outlook, and the others are not running at all. It’s different, but it’s good.

The menus have had a design makeover as well, but the functionality is largely the same.

w7-menu

Windows Explorer have additional functionality, but work much the way you might expect.

Windows 7 uses the concept of Libraries to group together multiple sets of folders in handy ways, but you don’t need to understand that to get going.

w7-library-crop

What did I install on top?

You know, there are some things I just can’t manage without, and even though some of them might not be necessary in Windows 7, I just couldn’t help myself. Among the freeware candidates:

w7-firefoxI have it on good authority that IE8 is a wonderful product, and I’m sure I’ll be using it at work, but I have too much time and familiarity invested in the combination of Firefox Firefox - The Recommended Web Browser Firefox - The Recommended Web Browser Read More and Greasemonkey Greasemonkey Makes Firefox Unbeatable Greasemonkey Makes Firefox Unbeatable Read More to leave them behind just yet.

w7-digsbyI used to be a big Trillian fan, but Digsby Why I'm Digging Digsby Why I'm Digging Digsby Read More stole my heart. I’m keeping it.

I mentioned this in my previous post, but take care installing Digsby, or you’ll get more than you bargained for.

w7-itunesYou need music for blog posts.

Trust me.

And iTunes The iTunes Guide [PDF Guide] The iTunes Guide [PDF Guide] Read More works well for me.

w7-phraseexpressI love this. Phrase Express Type Faster & Autocomplete Text with PhraseExpress Type Faster & Autocomplete Text with PhraseExpress Read More saves me a LOT of time.

What’s no longer needed?

Taskbar Shuffle 6 Tools for Elegant Taskbar Tweaking and 1 to Repair 6 Tools for Elegant Taskbar Tweaking and 1 to Repair Read More is great in XP and Vista, but Windows 7 simply doesn’t need it. You can drag icons around all by yourself. I’m undecided about whether I need IrfanView IrfanView Blows Windows Viewer Out of the Water IrfanView Blows Windows Viewer Out of the Water Read More and Copernic Desktop Search Top 4 Desktop Search Tools To Find That Elusive File Top 4 Desktop Search Tools To Find That Elusive File Read More . Ask me in a few more weeks.

What’s broken?

Well, basically”¦ nothing.

I’m not kidding. My requirements aren’t extreme, and I don’t play games, but for my day, it all just works.

I did have an issue with the VMWare player How To Protect your PC while Running Suspicious Programs How To Protect your PC while Running Suspicious Programs Read More in that it refused to resume an XP VM, but it turns out that I was stupid enough not to shut it down before I shifted to Windows 7. (It’s easily fixed. Delete the .lck files)

I’ve had a recurring issue with my NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT. Every few days, the driver crashes for a moment, and then recovers. That’s much better than the behaviour I have with my laptop running Vista, so I’m not complaining.

More to come?

Could be. I haven’t played with the Virtual XP functionality yet, haven’t hammered IE8, and haven’t done anything to really stress the graphics card other than photo processing. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, Did you take the leap? If so, how did it go? If not, is there anything else you need to know? Fill me in via the comments.

  1. jake
    June 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    i've been using it for about a month now and i love it completely. have only 1 object that there is no driver for and i can't figure out what this thing does. i've had no problems other than the nvidia driver crashing problem mentioned above. bsplayer doesn't seem to work correctly, sometimes not at all, which is sad because i enjoyed using my windows media remote control with it. all in all i'm satisfied.

    • Jim Henderson
      June 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      Hmmm... Here I was hoping that the GeForce issue might just be me. Oh well... As for bsplayer, I've never used it. Anyone else have any experience with this?

  2. Fred Huber
    June 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

    After trying to upgrade from Vista which did nearly work, means after backing up and installing Win7 nearly complete it turned around and said it was not going to run so it gave me Vista back. So I did a complete install on a new partition and see it ran perfect. Work with Win7 is not very different to Vista so far. I still need to play around a bit over the next weeks before I decide which OS to keep.

    • Jim Henderson
      June 5, 2009 at 5:09 pm

      Yeah, well sorry to hear about the issues installing, but the outcome is pretty common. 'Oh, it's just like it was before.' Not quite, but close enough to get by. It's certainly not a steep curve.

  3. Dave Ours
    June 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Biggest problem I had was that once the install was complete, I was missing a big crucial aspect to the start menu. When you click on All Programs, it is empty. Not a single program icon transferred over. In fact, it won't let me drag and drop icons in that area, although that does work for the main start menu area.I end up using Windows explorer and digging down to find the program I need to run. I am hoping the full install of W7 in October will address this.

    • Jim Henderson
      June 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      That's pretty bizarre. Tell me, was it a fresh install, or did you upgrade from Vista?

      • Dave Ours
        June 5, 2009 at 11:10 pm

        It was an upgrade from Vista, followed the guide to the letter...

        • Jim Henderson
          June 6, 2009 at 12:38 am

          That sucks. I regret that I can't think of a way to help further. Keep your eyes and ears open though, and I'll respond again if I hear of anything similar.

  4. juan
    June 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Better than all that things an awaits, change to Mac, it is always at the end of the Windows objetive.

    • Jim Henderson
      June 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

      I knew there would be at least one. :-)

      • Roy
        June 5, 2009 at 6:05 pm

        And surprisingly that one was the least coherent remark posted. I can't figure that out...

  5. mpfree
    June 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Took the plunge to go Win7 full time. My XP was taking a long time to boot and it was time to reinstall so I figured why not. Was not a big fan of Vista and so stuck with XP but not regretting Win7 AT ALL! Boots fast, runs everything I've installed including the beta drivers for my audio and video card. It just works.

    Other thoughts: I don't think you can do an upgrade from XP and so I backed everything up. But I did not wipe my OS partition clean when I installed Win7. What ended up happening, which was surprising, was that the Win7 installer recognized that XP was installed and backed up the My Documents folder as well as my program folders (though the installer tells you the program files won't work under Win7). It then puts them in a folder called "Windows.old". When Win7 came up, sure enough, there were all my documents, pictures, music, etc. I would still back up but if you can't for whatever reason and you need to reinstall, Win7 may save you.

    • mpfree
      June 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm

      Ok, just read that Vista did the same thing with the "Windows.old" folder. Sorry. Like I said, I didn't "upgrade" to Vista full time. I tried it out but on an old hard drive I had laying around that was clean to begin with.

      • Jim Henderson
        June 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm

        I was going to say that sounded familiar, so there's the reason. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a LOT of folk skipping Vista altogether.

  6. blankhead
    June 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Win7 rocks. Had to use the XP mode to workaround the fact that Shockwave isn't supported in Win7. My wife needed to access a CD and the media is available in XP mode. Perhaps a little choppy but it is a VM after all. Win7 boots faster, comes back from hibernation and sleep faster. Everything works. It give the user more control over their environment by default. Super easy install over the top of Vista. I like it so much I'm thinking of putting it on my box at work. :|

    • Jim Henderson
      June 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      I wasn't aware of the shockwave issue. Must look into that. Let me know what happens at work!

  7. jsmith
    June 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I to have leaped to windows 7. So far I am happy with it. I had no issues installing any of my hardware. I have a rather small laptop resource wise and windows 7 seems to be running faster than the vista and all the drivers work. much better experience than when I tried to downgrade to xp from vista.

    • Jim Henderson
      June 4, 2009 at 1:35 pm

      Well you know, Microsoft don't put a lot of testing time into downgrades...

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