Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today's Blog Is Brought To You By The Letter W and the Number 7

So, a few weeks ago I finally made the decision that it was time to break away from using Windows XP. I had never really heard anything good about Vista, so I never made the switch to that. My fiancee's laptop has Vista (because that's what it came with) but I never really get to use it, so I really have no comment about Vista. But I knew it was time to update my OS. I'm not a developer nor a programmer, and my computer is used mainly for entertainment in the form of games, so I really didn't want to go with a flavor of Linux. So, I thought about getting Windows 7; thought about it for a long time actually. I was reading good things about Windows 7 online, which was interesting considering how much bad I had heard about Vista when it came out. What finally sold me on it was when a buddy of mine from college posted on Facebook about how much he actually liked Windows 7 and how easy the install process was. To put this in perspective, when I was in college, you had basically two choices for browser – Internet Explorer and Netscape; FireFox, Opera, Chrome, etc. didn't exist yet. Sam used Netscape because he hated Microsoft that much; so, to hear him praise Windows 7 kind of sold me the idea that maybe it was a good, stable operating system.

Being a little smarter than the average bear when it comes to computers (I built my last two computers myself, as well as my fiancee's desktop computer), I usually don't buy full copies of an OS if I don't have to. My copy of XP was what is called an OEM edition. When I found that TigerDirect had Windows 7 in OEM, I was very pleased. So you understand – at BestBuy, for example, or anywhere else that sells the retail version of Windows 7 Professional you are going to pay $300. By ordering an OEM edition, I paid half that. OEM stands for Other Equipment Manufacturer. What it means in a nutshell is, I bought the version of Windows that normally is sold to companies like HP, Dell or Compaq. It's the exact same Windows as the retail version except the key code you get doesn't entitle you to any tech support from Microsoft – you're supposed to call whoever built your computer for that. So, in my case, I'm my own tech support since I built the thing myself, but it's worth not having MS's tech support available to me to be able to have paid half what I would have if I had gone to the box store up the street. Besides, is actually pretty good if I get a cryptic error code or something happens I don't quite understand and I need a reference source to tell me how to fix it.

Now, as far as my review, I'm not going to get all techie/geeky on you here. There's enough on the internet already written about Windows 7 vs Vista vs XP vs whatever to keep you busy and entertained for days if you so choose to Google it for yourself. Suffice it to say that I'm very pleased I made the switch. I'm finally able to take advantage of the 64-bit dual core processor, the 3GB of RAM and the 1GB 3D Video Card I put in this thing when I built it. I can notice a difference in speed in terms of how quickly applications load, and to be honest, I didn't find my computer to be all that slow when I was running XP. The graphics are pretty crisp, although at this point I've not had the chance to re-install all my games to get a full comparison going.
Don't get me wrong, I have had a few trip-ups with some older software not wanting to run or install correctly. The interesting thing is, Win7 has a lot of built in help when it detects a compatibility issue. If you've got Professional or Ultimate, you have the option to run things in Vista or XP mode if necessary. I've only had to do that with one application, and it turned out that that wasn't even really the issue (I missed a setting involving telling Ventrilo that I was using a 5.1 surround sound card... oops). When installing drivers, anytime there was a compatibility issue, Windows 7 managed to find the fix on its own (a feat I never had any previous version of Windows accomplish even though it supposedly had the ability to do so). I did have one piece of hardware that Windows 7 just would not recognize because it is to old (a very old NIC card), but I can let that slide as even I have to admit that it's to old to still be trying to use.

So, aside from some very minor issues, and just trying to get used to the new interface, I have to admit that I really dig Windows 7 so far. It gets a thumbs up from me (like my opinion means shit to you). My only real regret is that I probably should have gone ahead and paid the extra $50 to get the Ultimate Edition instead of just Professional.

Until next time,
~ JC

Next week's planned blog: a comparison of Runes of Magic to World of Warcraft and some commentary on overcoming MMO addiction and my subsequent partial relapse.
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