Friday, January 8, 2010

Windows 7 Versus Vista, an end user's perspective

It has been more than 4 years since last seriously using a Windows environment to do work.
I've never been a Windows expert, but I know enough about computers to do installations and driver updates without too much trouble; A couple years back I installed Windows XP on a laptop using a slipstreamed XP cd (sadly they don't include SATA drivers) so I wasn't expecting much trouble.

Both Windows 7 and Vista are the 32-bit editions, as compatibility seems to be better as such.

On my first install attempt, my current partition setup was like this:

1 Primary Boot Partition (Linux)
1 Primary Root Partition (Linux)
1 Empty NTFS Partition to install Windows on
3 Logical Partitions for Linux mount points.

Now, there is a good reason why forums will suggest installing Windows first, then Linux on top.

The first issues I encountered were:

- Windows cannot install to the desired partition error
- Windows cannot install to an external USB error

I figure it had something to do with the number of primary partitions already set up, in addition to the logical ones. Both Vista and Windows 7 had these issues and would not install on the current configuration; they don't seem to recognize logical partitions at all.

Unsurprisingly, GNU / Linux distributions will install without any hiccup given my partitioning scheme, as I successfully installed Ubuntu 8.10 on top afterwards. But this is irrelevant for this blog topic.

So I eventually caved in and wiped my hard drive of partitions and set up all my primaries using the Windows 7 partitioner. It's installed on the 2nd primary partition and everything worked fine.
My screen resolution is 1920x1200 and I was surprised that it was autodetected and set. Generally drivers are required to get it working. However, that was as good as it got. Not only did Windows 7 feel slower than Vista (based on perception, not on actual benchmarks) as windows started to lag, tasks took longer, etc. As Windows 7 detected the video card, I expected it to detect other components of my laptop. I did not install any drivers on 7, so perhaps the slowness was due to a missing component.
The kicker came when trying to watch videos with speakers plugged into the audio jack. No sound came out through the speakers. Sound kept playing from the laptop as if nothing had been recognized. Plus the sound was quieter than when using Linux or Vista systems.

And so I judged that Windows 7 wasn't ready.

On to Vista:

Like it's newer cousin 7, it would not install when my primary partitions were already in place. I wiped 7 off and began to install Vista on the same partition 7 was previously on.

Everything was the same for installation, except when presented with the desktop, resolution was reduced, blurry, and gross.
As I had the OEM driver install cd with me (a fact that is the reason why Vista was a breeze to install; without it, it would have been exponentially more difficult to work with) and soon had all drivers working.

Now Vista at this point was still working quite slow, as most people have complained about. After using the Windows Update to get all recent updates as well as some optional ones which included optimizations (highly recommended to install for you Vista users), normal desktop usage ran like a breeze.

Warcraft 3, although quite old now, ran extremely fast on full settings. As my laptop is known as a "Gaming Laptop", a moniker I dislike personally, having 512 MB of dedicated video DDR3, it's expected to run fast.

So for the simple task of playing Warcraft 3, Vista is definitely the winner.

Of course, this is purely an end-user perspective. For all the technical jargon and points that could be made (7 is faster, blah blah blah), I prefer Vista.
And the most probable reason for my preference, is the simple fact that Vista has been out longer.
It has had more time for bug reports, updates, and real-world usage. 7 hasn't been out long enough to gain the backing that Vista now has.
And that is one reason why many companies haven't switched yet, for good reason.

Personally, the only real diff I see right now between 7 and Vista is the user interface.
And both pale in comparison to speed I can achieve with linux systems.

XP runs great with 376 MB of ram in a virtual machine with 32MB video. If I need windows apps, I've got that covered.

Lastly, I'd like to give my own personal take on what should have happened after Xp.

Since the UI is so familiar and usable for most people, what Microsoft SHOULD have done, is take the XP interface and completely rebuild Windows in order to use that interface, but with a more secure and functional system and kernel.
Naturally, UI enhancements should be included, users should be given a choice of interfaces to implement. Just like GNU/Linux users can choose Gnome, KDE, fluxbox, Enlightenment just to name a few, and have those look like Mac OS-X, Windows, or just a blank desktop (minimal), Windows too should give users more choice.

For instance, some people in China have taken Ubuntu and made it into an XP clone, pixel for pixel. Link below.

Is it so hard to make Windows modular so people can build their own Windows system?

Perhaps. At least there is KDE - On - Windows for those that want functionality on their windows desktop.

So many opinions, so little time.
I hope this post hasn't exasperated you readers. ( lol as if anyone reads this blog =p )

And for the record, Ubuntu and popular distributions in general install in about 20 minutes. Vista and 7 in about 30 or 40.
Windows still uses a filesystem that's 9+ years old (NTFS) and support for things like FAT, FAT16/32/64.
Honestly guys, make a better filesystem.

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