It's been a few hours now since I've taken the plunge, downloaded and installed the release candidate version of Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system, Windows 7 on my main working computer.
I have worked out five things that will be useful for those who, like me, will make the transition over the next few months to Windows 7 RC from Windows XP, not from Vista.
(1) If Windows XP Worked Fine, 7 RC will Work Fine
I am running Windows 7 RC on a Compaq NC6420, a two year old laptop with 2.5GB memory and a Core 2 Duo CPU running at 1.66GHz. I've ran the beta version on a Pentium 4 1.5GHz PC before and it was just as quick as when that desktop was loaded with Windows XP. Rule of thumb is Windows 7 RC will run as smoothly as with Windows XP.
(2) Windows 7 RC Is Very Different From XP visually
If, like me, you are moving to Windows 7 RC from XP, you will need to undergo a learning curve due to some significant visual differences. I stuck with the grey and conservative Windows 2000 colour scheme for almost a decade now, so shifting to the colour happy Vista like scheme is a bit disconcerting at first. Fear not though as Windows 7 has a "classic theme" that brings back the grey and blue background.
(3) You don't need to download drivers (mostly)
One thing that struck me when installing Windows 7 is how flawless the installation process is. From start to finish, it took only 30 minutes or so on my two year old laptop. Unlike Windows XP, Windows 7 automatically looks for and installs the most up to date drivers. It just works and makes life so much easier. That said, there are a couple of niggles. Neither my ultra small Bluetooth dongle nor the onboard card reader were not detected.
(4) Most software will run just fine (or even better)
After installing 10 applications or so, I can vouch that Windows 7 appears to be compatible with everything that worked fine on Windows XP. Even those, like Google's Desktop software, which stubbornly flagged dialog boxes saying that they were not compatible with the platform, ended up working just fine. Windows 7 already has a build in Windows XP profile for improved compatibility.
(5) You can try it for free
Perhaps the most compelling argument and a real deal winner for me, is the fact that users will be able to test and evaluate Windows 7 RC for free for at least 10 months. Dual booting Windows XP and Windows 7 can be easily done and makes sense, at least in the beginning. Microsoft never had a similar scheme before for such a long time for consumer operating systems. Let's hope that the software giant will emulate Apple and release a home user version.