Sunday, July 19, 2009

Windows 7 update

First the good news. Installation was a breeze. I created a new partition on my XP box, and installed the W7 RC to this. It was pretty much a one click process - far less tortuous than previous Windows installs.

It looks nice, though as always the default themes are a bit cheesy. Internet Explorer 8 comes as standard, although when the retail version hits the punters in October, European distributions won't come with a browser! So you'll have to have one of IE/Firefox/Opera/Safari saved as an executable on a network drive or USB key and install it from there because you won't be able to browse the internet by default! I reckon this is going to catch a LOT of people out.

Immediate impressions are good, especially networking to my Vista machine through the "libraries". Essentially this is a way of creating a shortcut in one of a number of "libraries" - the usual documents, pictures, music etc - that appear in your Explorer window. Rather than faffing about with Vista or XP network protocols I just linked to an external hard disk attached to access all my photos. However, most of the permissions on the Vista box drives were already set for networking.

As far as I can tell there's no email client of any sort there either (there's Mail in Vista and Outlook Express in XP of course).

Setting up my printer (physically attached to my Vista machine) was also a breeze. In general, the whole user experience seems to have been made easier, but in a way that Vista tried and failed to do.

I'm led to believe that setting up a network between multiple W7 boxes will be very simple, and this seems to stand scrutiny. If you're going to try and network Vista or XP boxes to a W7 machine it might be a lot harder. The recommendation is that you'll need W7 on all machines.

Which brings me to a gripe.

There is talk of a "family pack" licence for W7 which would allow you to install on up to 3 machines. Great for the many households like ours that have more than 1 PC/laptop.

But it's not clear yet whether this family pack licence will be available to UK customers. As W7 isn't officially released until October 22nd, we could all wait and see how it pans out.

But if like me you're keen to take advantage of the discounted pre-order prices, you need to buy now. The price go up at the end of July. So, as mentioned below, I've bought (or pre-ordered) W7 Home Premium. Trouble is I don't know whether that will allow me to run it on only 1 box probably) or 3 boxes (unlikely). If the latter graet, but as things stand, I reckon I'm going to have to shell out for at least one additional licence at what will be close to or full whack, because Microsoft are unable to tell me what I need to know, and because I'm a UK customer that they don't really care about anyway (why else would a $50 price tag in the US be a £50 price tag in the UK? Don't give me that blather about exchange rates, it's to stiff the Brits - and other Eurpoeans probably ).

I've sent an email to MS support asking for clarification, but if the techno world out there can't yet tell me via Google, I'm pretty sure MS aren't going to tell me.

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