Some Windows 7 RC impressions...

I gave in and upgraded Windows Vista SP2 on my laptop to Windows 7 RC. (Moreover, I plan to buy a new laptop around when RTM is released anyway, so I hopefully don't need to worry so much about the update from RC to RTM).

Some observations I made:

Installation/Upgrade from Vista

  • It asked me to uninstall PerfectDisk (2008) before it would let me continue. Fine I did so. But it still persisted to ask me to uninstall it after it was uninstalled. I had to have a look in the Windows 7 setup log to find out what it was picking up. PerfeckDisk is one of those applications that likes to copy its setup files to a separate folder within the Program Files folder. Apparently Windows 7 was checking every binary in the Program Files folder (or something), and so was picking those up.. Hence, removing those setup files overcame this. (There was some other strange things about some of the apps that were detected, but the other ones didn't block the installation at least).
  • The upgrade took a fair while - about 3.5 hours. It spent a lot of time gathering and then restoring system/user files, settings and programs. I won't question it...
  • After upgrading, Kaspersky decided to forget its "activation code" (i.e. licence key). Whoever the fault lies with, uninstalling it was easier than bothering to find the licence key.
Windows Explorer
  • Where are the sort header buttons in Windows Explorer gone that were in Vista (in views other than details)? It doesn't seem that I'm alone in missing them!
  • The status bar doesn't display file sizes anymore, as it is apparently superseded by the details pane. Yet the details pane is slow to update, and doesn't display file sizes when you have more than 15 files selected - a bit of a nuisance.
  • They seem to have a new list control here, unfortunately it has does have some strange quirks.
Biometric Support

Initially it seemed pretty nice, as that when combined with the new UPEK Protector Suite software, fingerprint recognition at the logon screen when the computer was locked was really quick compared to with the old software on Vista/XP. But, it mostly has stopped working after having my laptop on for a few days (generally, I use standby and hibernate rather than shutdown). Most of the problems are probably down to the UPEK software, though. Anyway now that my laptop has not been restarted for several days we have:
  • Doesn't recognise fingerprint swipes for most of the sessions after coming out of standby. Maybe related to this message in the event log: "S1: Fingerprint sensor device communication error."
  • Windows Biometric Support service crashing on the occasion in some UPEK library
  • The issue in the below post with the UPEK software leaking things at stupid rates
  • This WTF message from the UPEK software (followed by it not working):

On reflection, the problem here seems to be general suckage of the UPEK software.

Amusingly, UPEK have apparently found me judging by the comment left on this post :p


It has its positives and negatives:
  • What is really nice is the space it gives. I generally have lots of things running so I do appreciate this.
  • But when you have multiple windows of an application open, it can be quite hard to navigate, especially with a touchpad. I may have five explorer windows open - if the Explorer icon is in the bottom left of the screen the thumbnails will be weighted to the right of the icon. Then to copy and paste a file from fifth window to the fourth with the touchpad, it involves a lot of work. In this respect, it would be easier if the thumbnails were stacked vertically, as you could move the mouse in a straight vertical motion. Or perhaps if the Alt-Tab menu had labels underneath each thumbnail.
  • I did also think one of the reasons of web browser tabs was to reduce taskbar clutter - showing them as separate 'sub-windows' seems to negate that somewhat to me. I often keep 20+ tabs open in Firefox, so it seems this would quickly fall apart. It also breaks the simple act of clicking on the taskbar icon to do a simple minimise/restore. Though, I appreciate that sometimes it is quite useful.
  • Why can't the jump list appear next to the mouse when you right click instead of above the taskbar? Again more unnecessary mouse movements. The jump list also makes doing something like 'Open file location' a chore (compared to the old quick launch) as the command does not appear when you right click on the application entry in the jump list (you have to go through properties).
  • Also, the position of 'Show desktop' seems a failure to me. I often blindly click there when I instead wanted to show the calendar. And when I want to show the desktop, I find myself near the start button - it seems like a better location also because icons on the desktop are usually located on the left.
  • I do feel that a medium option for the size of the taskbar icons would have been nice, alongside the existing small and large options.
  • Why is the text used in Jump Lists weirdly blurry? Comparison below (top is main pane of start menu, bottom control panel jump list). It does depend on the angle I look at my laptop display, actually. If you zoom in closely, the reason it might look quite different is obvious.
That's enough for now...