One month with Windows 7

It has been one month now that I started to use Windows 7 based Dell Vostro 1320 notebook on daily basis. The hardware parameters of this little thing are: Core 2 Duo 2.26, 500 GB HDD, 8 GB of RAM, 13″ screen, Windows 7 Professional (64 bit of course, how else with all that RAM). All this with 3 year next business day warranty for about $1400 CAD – not bad deal at all.

Reason of going bi-OS was need to run different configurations of ATG suite, consisting of 3-4 instances of JBoss (each with 1-2 GB of RAM) and the database server at the same time. The database server is quite often SQL Server which as we know does not really run on anything else but Windows. The performance penalty of using VM on notebook is too large so I had to go native. Alternative arrangement – Bootcamp on new Macbook Pro would be way too expensive – just price of additional RAM and Windows would be about $800, all  this with sharing 500 GB between 2 OS-es, so I took the chance to use Windows on PC grade hardware.

First impression on OS front: I like it. It is definitely the least annoying OS made in Redmond. Ever.

Microsoft picked good features to copy from OS-X – the dock is finally something that works. I really like the “compatibility mode” – it has saved me few times already when installing software either too old or too paranoid to go ahead without detecting XP. Combination of explicit and implicit restore points also worked very well for me: it is nice relief after years in running installers with the feeling “if this  fails, I am screwed and nothing but completely reinstall will get registry back to same state again”.

What also works much better than any windows is waking up and jumping networks. Wifi is quite reliable and security zones make sense. Kudos to Microsoft for getting it (finally) right.

All these observations are made while I am using Windows 7 in parallel with Snow Leopard. I have expected it to be much more annoying and uncomfortable going back and forth. The only thing that still drives me crazy is  the Ctrl-versus-Command key schizophrenia. I really wish there was a way how to make this be consistent.

On hardware side, I am less enthusiastic. The form factor and portability of beefed up notebook is the best thing I am really happy about. The rest is OK. Keyboard is OK, but not great. The trackpad drives me crazy with being much smaller that it could be and not allowing multi-finger scrolls. Screen is OK but not as great as the MBP equivalent. DVD drive often does not close and the convenient buttons for media  play should provide some form of tactile feedback.

I found that ideal mode of using the Vostro is to switch it on, put is somewhere within reach of WiFi network and access the desktop using remote desktop client from a Mac. This way I have access to really good keyboard and trackpad as well as the option of using all the Mac only software I need in addition to Windows: like Things,  TextMate, OmniGraffle. The cloud based services (Google Docs, DropBox, Evernote) take care of keeping things that need to be in sync in sync. Best of both worlds.

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2 Comments on “One month with Windows 7”

  1. PHenry Says:

    Ya, laptops never have good keyboards. :< I always end up hooking up some MS keyboard and mouse while at work/home. While on the road/airport/plane/train/etc, the laptop keyboard is palitable at best, but that's about it.

  2. miroadamy Says:

    Macbook Pro keyboard is pretty good. I have been using it a lot – by far best notebook keyboard I had. New MPB have also very good – albeit different -keyboard.

    From PC notebook, the best was old Fujitsu Lifebook N6x series back from 2004. Still use it to play Spider Solitaire 😉


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