Not so long ago I wrote a blog post about Ubuntu vs. Windows 7. After booting extensively into both systems I can now reveal that the operating system that will be going onto my PCs will be Windows 7.
I loved the community of Ubuntu, I loved the way it was so easy to customise (like removing the space hogging bar at the top of the screen). I loved the way it just worked – and updates like a dream. What I didn’t like was the poor compatibility I kept experiencing when using Open Office – something I couldn’t cope with since I use a lot of commercially produced resources in MS Office format. I also found that many specialist programs (like my Science diagrams software, and my symbol-based word processor) didn’t work without significant effort (wine and VM machines are not what I would call ‘making the software work easily’).
The more I used Windows 7, the more I fell in love with the new interface (which I hated when I first installed it). The enhancements provide many useful time savers and productivity tools that you come to depend on.
I love the taskbar. Let me say that again. I love the taskbar. Showing only icons at the bottom was a stroke of genius. Once you get used to them, going back to XP/Vista seems like a huge step backwards. Better still is the way you can mouse over each icon and it shows you all the windows open for that application. I love the way a middle click over a preview closes it, and a middle click on an application icon opens a new instance of that application to work on. Doesn’t sound like much, but you soon come to rely on little features like this.
I love the new Windows explorer interface. Navigating between folders is quick and smooth, as the picture below shows. You can move between document libraries, downloads folder, My Computer and the network with minimal mouse movement – and all from the same window. Another small improvement but a huge time saver once you get used to using it.
All of my software has worked on Windows 7. All the specialist software that I need works without fiddling. Live Mesh does an excellent job of syncing folders between computers (the blue folders above) – and works much better than rivals I tried (Dropbox seemed to forever be syncing MS Office temp files).
I love the ability to customise the login screen (also possible in Ubuntu) and the supplied rotating desktop wallpapers are superb. The new improved Aero makes for more than just eye candy – the screen seems drab and dull if it is turned off for any reason. Other small improvements – system tray improved, love the auto screen dimming when idle. I also am impressed by the responsiveness and the fact that I get the same experience on my netbook and my much faster laptop.
Yes I know that Windows 7 is much more expensive than Ubuntu, but Mac OSX is much more expensive than Windows and it hasn’t stopped Mac users paying a premium to get an operating system that they prefer.