The Computer Blog

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running Windows 7 RC 64 and Liking It!

I’m now running the 64 bit version of Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) on my 2008 Mac Pro. While I’ve only been using it for a few days, I have to say it is a marked improvement over Windows XP. It is smooth, crash free, and delicious, full of enough eye-candy to satisfy even the most gluttonous of computer wizards.

So far, what’s surprised me the most is the number of my old programs it is running without complaint. All but one of my primary flight simulators, including Jane’s F/A-18, Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and X-Plane 9, work. The one that doesn’t is the original Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator nor will it load Star Wars Racer or other programs/installers closer to the Windows 98 era. I am running many of those programs, though, in a Windows XP virtual machine hosted by the free Virtual PC download from Microsoft. That said, running XP under Virtual PC isn’t hassle fre. It takes longer to load it up under Virtual PC than it does under VMWare’s Fusion on my MacBook Pro under OS X, though once it comes up it runs fairly effortlessly. It does exhibit one bug, and it does not see my CH Pro Combatstick when it’s plugged in, preventing me from testing any of my other sims or games, even though W7 does detect it. So, I’m only loading business programs on the XP VM for the time being. When I have more time, I’ll try to find a fix or some download associated with the RC that will fix it for me.

Office 2007 installed and ran without a hitch in both the W7 64 bit and XP VM environments, as did Symantec Anti-Virus 2009. I did have to buy an extra copy of the Symantec NAV to cover myself in the XP VM and also need to spring for a new CD burning utility since the last one I bought for Windows was Nero 6, and it’s incompatible with W7, according to the little window that popped up when I tried to load it. But I really don’t mind that. It’s a small price to pay to harness all the power in my Apple hardware.

Loading, unloading, and operation of applications has been both smooth and error-free. W7 provides a beautiful interface, and though not radically changed from that of XP, its small changes enhance the user experience. I liked what I was seeing enough to spend all my free time over three days to rebuild my Windows system around it; and though that has taken an excruciating amount of time, Microsoft says I can run on the RC until June 10, 2010. That’s smart marketing. You know I’ll buy a copy of it then even at a one-time, ridiculous Microsoft price. I’m hoping part of what that money will buy e is the ability to continue running then by plugging in a new “key” or, at worst, applying the final release via “upgrade”.

I’m still just playing, still on my honeymoon with this software, but I feel Microsoft has a winner in Windows 7, though not enough of one to convince me to switch off OS X. I like OS X’s simplicity and functionality and was more than ready to return to it after three days of nothing but Windows 7. For me, having and using W7RC is akin to having the best of both worlds and using whichever operating systems fits my mood or my task at hand. For those of you reading about my experiences, you need temper what I’m saying by only one thing, i.e., the knowledge that I’m running Windows 7 on a 2.8 GHz eight core machine with 16GB of ram and an ATI 3870 Radeon HD video card with 512MB video RAM on a PCI-E 2.0 bus. Your own mileage may vary, but that is always true.