Windows 7 on the MSI Wind Netbook: First Impressions

Windows 7 on the MSI Wind
Windows 7 on the MSI Wind

Thanks to a kind Microsoftie at the Tablet & Touch Meetup, I received an official DVD of the Windows 7 beta. This saved me a ton of downloading time that I don’t really have. I was home from CES for 36 hours before jetting off to SFO this morning. Since I spent the first 12 hours at home asleep, the DVD came in handy.

I decided to just do a clean Windows 7 install for the moment; no point in dual-booting or anything since my netbook has MOSPD anyway. That’s Multiple Operating System Personality Disorder for those new to our mobile escapades. I didn’t take the 2GB RAM stick out either, but that’s something I’ll have to do when I get back this weekend. After all, most netbooks these days come with 512MB or 1GB of memory. Having said that, here’s what I see when installing Windows 7 on the MSI Wind as I sit in PHL waiting for a flight.

  • A clean install was painless and took less than 30 minutes. As near as I can tell at this point, the only item that didn’t work after the initial install were my wireless card. Running Windows Update while wired to my LAN resolved that issue. Everything else seemed to work out of the gate: Bluetooth, webcam, trackpad scrolling, etc…
  • Boot time is 56.6 seconds and that includes around 10 seconds of the BIOS & MSI Wind splash screen. I can see everything I expect in the system tray at that point and can start opening apps. Note, I’m in the PHL airport and can’t test the wireless connection time, although at the 56.6 mark, I see the connection manager looking for a WiFi signal.
  • Sleep without any programs open is 7.2 seconds. Resume is 3.6 seconds. I expect that these figures will vary based on your hardware, amount of RAM, applications open at the time, etc… I’ll do more time tests as I start to use Windows 7.
  • Windows says the battery life on a full charge is 6 hours and 18 minutes. As I said when I looked at an early Win7 build, that’s not an exact number to use, but a good general indicator.
  • Another general indicator of expected performance is the Windows Experience Index:
  1. Processor = 2.2
  2. Memory = 4.5
  3. Graphics = 2.3
  4. Gaming Graphics = 3.0
  5. Primary Hard Disk = 4.9
  • All of my function keys appear to be working, although I don’t see any visible difference when using the Turbo / Underclock button. Note that I haven’t installed any of the MSI utilities yet, so my on-screen menu items for these keys aren’t working.

All in all, the initial experience during and just after installation is very positive. It’s way too early to formulate any  performance impressions as I have to install an app or two and then use the device for my daily grind to gain any useful data. However, this shows promise, especially for devices like netbooks that have relatively meager hardware. During all of these observations, I have Aero Glass running; performance can be improved by turning that off.

In terms of first looks of the OS “feel”, I remember clicking the Control Panel on Vista and the machine took a few seconds to open and render. I won’t say that it’s instantaneous in Windows 7 on my netbook, but it’s pretty close. There’s not much lag at all when maneuvering around the OS and that’s good because it shouldn’t get in your way. I see 30 processes at startup and a pretty reasonable memory footprint in use.

All in all: good signs that show promise. After continued use I’ll have more to say. I’m curious how Windows 7 works after an extended time frame people still report “disk thrashing” after startup and such. I haven’t seen that yet, but it’s way too early to discount the possibility.