Windows 7 on a netbook: looks good so far

Windows7ultimate

My poor MSI Wind. The hard drive has to be suffering from MOSPD or Multiple OS Personality Disorder. If XP, Vista and OS X weren’t enough stress for the 80 GB drive, wiping it this morning to play with Windows 7 likely put it over the top. Can anyone recommend a specialist? For the Wind, not me… I’m clearly beyond saving at this point…

Like LAPTOP Magazine, I like what I see so far. The new Network Manager is indeed a more simplified and improved method of managing connectivity. On the Wind with 1GB of RAM (I removed the extra gig for now) I’m getting the same Windows Experience Index that LAPTOP sees on their Asus Eee PC 1000H: a 2.3, which is the lowest score and is for the Aero graphics. Ironically, Windows Update found a newer driver for the Intel graphics and after installing that just now, the same score dropped to 2.0. Hey, it’s a test build…

This version doesn’t offer the new Taskbar user interface so I can’t comment on that. I can say that while the overall system looks very much like Vista, it feels "cleaner" and "simpler". That’s just a first impression since it took more than a day to download and I just installed this morning. Installation was seamless and took around 40 minutes for a clean install. Some hardware wasn’t recognized and was a bit of challenge get going. In particular: neither the Ethernet nor the WiFi was working, so I had to use a second computer to get the drivers from MSI. Even then, the wireless driver didn’t work, but the Ethernet one did. Windows Update addressed the WiFi.

I also like the idea of the HomeGroup, which is a simple way to share your Libraries with other devices on your network. It’s basically an easy way to set up networking and file sharing. File Backup looks tweaked a bit and when I popped in a USB flash drive, I got the options of view files, use for ReadyBoost or use for File Backup.

Although we shouldn’t draw any major performance conclusions from a test build, I’m sure folks will ask about sleep and resume. Sleep is taking about two seconds and resume is about one second. Bear in mind that I have no third party apps installed.

Going back to the "cleaner and simpler" thought. The entire OS seems less in the way. Notifications and system messages are far more configurable and I don’t feel like I’m getting nagged. I see four notification levels for UAC, in fact. Very nice. In terms of how "heavy" the OS is, these bits are interesting.

  • Windows 7 is taking up around 11GB of space on my hard drive.
  • There are only 38 processes running at startup
  • Boot time is around a minute

Memory usage seems a bit high too me, but again, this is a test build and clearly isn’t optimized for performance. Once the OS has started up, it looks like 51% of the memory is in use, although a bunch of that is used for cache. One interesting tidbit that’s just an observation: Windows 7 reports 6 hours and 23 minutes of battery life for my Wind when unplugged. I realize that’s not a number to be trusted, but I’ve never seen Windows XP or Vista go that high. Perhaps there’s some mobile device power optimizations under the hood yet to be found?

I’ll likely do some further digging into Windows 7 over the weekend, but it won’t stay on my Wind after that. All of the final bits and pieces aren’t there so aside from a glimpse of what’s to come in the UI, this looks very much like a leaner and meaner Vista variant. Then again, first appearances show that it’s closer to the Vista Lite we’ve called for so if the hard drive can suffer from a little more MOSPD, maybe I’ll leave it on for longer than a week. ;)

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