An Honest Windows 7 Review

I just read this excellent review of the Windows 7 Professional [sic] edition by Ramon Cahenzli. It’s really well written, especially as I assume English is not his native language, detailed, funny and very poignant.

I wish I’d written it. But then that would mean I’d have to buy Windows which isn’t something I really want or need to do.

Here’s a couple of quotes but do go and read it when you have a few minutes spare. You’ll remember why we use Ubuntu and other Free and Open Source software.

The Windows boot manager still believes that only one system needs to be installed on a machine. It flat out replaces any existing bootloader with itself, and then only displays Microsoft operating systems for booting…

… Windows Update wanted to install a few urgent updates. It downloaded the files and tried to install once. The installs all failed. It didn’t tell me why. The system log only showed “an error occurred while installing…”. I retried and one install went through, the other failed. After another try, all installs went OK and the system wanted a reboot…

…I don’t know how, but Microsoft managed to break ASCII text files. That’s an achievement.

On the new Windows 7 UI…

It’s like a room with 1960s spherical chairs (with orange cushions) placed around a 2008 Ikea living room table, on an 80s synthetic flokati rug

I must say I’d forgotten about all the reboots that you have to on Windows. Surely they could have fixed that by now?

My conviction that Windows is pants remains even with their new version. About the same release time a far better, more secure and more modern operating system will be released: Ubuntu 9.10. It will be free and available from here.

Don’t waste your money on Windows; seriously.

Don’t waste your money…

As a piece of software given to a human being, Windows 7 is a trap. It is full of non-free software, and you cannot follow your natural instinct to share and pass it on to your neighbor, otherwise you act against the law (and the license). By purchasing and using the system, you surrender much of your freedom and are under the control of a single company.

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  • mike says:

    Poignant? Looks more like another tired hack piece by an angry Linux fanboy. Then you accompany the article, I assume with a straight face, with the suggestion that Ubuntu is a truly viable alternative. If your audience is made up entirely of diehard tech heads, maybe, but otherwise that’s a pipedream to expect the average Joe to run on something like that. The look on his face when he tries to buy software for it at Best Buy would be priceless, though.

  • Ramon says:

    Hi Mike, Joe Average wouldn’t have to go to Best Buy to buy software anymore, you just tell him where to click in whatever distro (e.g. Ubuntu) to get to the software installer screen or website. Even Joe Sixpack can learn to think different(ly). Look at the Apple iTunes store. People buy music in the form of downloads there as if it’s natural, but in the first year it came up, it was mostly for geeks. Everyone else still bought CDs.

    The advantage of pre-packaged software for Joe Sixpack is that the stuff just works, and it is updated along with his operating system if he does an upgrade (which also just take a click or two), so he won’t run the risk of having old software that won’t work on his current system.

    You are assuming the old ways of software distribution stick around forever, with people dragging home cardboard boxes containing plastic boxes containing plastic discs that they stick into an optical reader at home. This isn’t set in stone any more than music distribution on big old vinyl discs was.

    I’m not sure if you read the entire article, I wasn’t angry; the text is more on the boring side than angry or exciting. I’m a bit sad that even when you are as level-headed and objective as possible, some people will still call you a zealot, a fanboi or a preacher. I’m not making any subjective claims apart from the UI design ones, and even those you could run by an interaction designer to get a proper semi-scientific opinion.

  • steve says:

    Mike is a rabid Bill-Gates-fellating windows rent-boi. WHo the fuck is “Joe-Sixpack” anyways? I never met a redneck with a computer.

  • Happy Hippo says:

    I like Windows 7, it’s not too bad, maybe you are right and there are better operating systems, but I can’t be bothered to learn new interface, applications, tricks etc.. So I’m gonna stick with Microsoft for now 🙂

    • Avi Bercovich says:

      ‘can’t be bothered to learn new interface’… you must be joking. Vista/Win7 is full of new UI stuff forcing you to relearn or modify many usage patterns.

      I’m not averse to learning new UI if it offers me significant extra functionality and/or ease of use. In my opinion Vista/Win7 doesn’t do that.

      Mind you – the Ubuntu 9.04 -> 9.10 live update thing seems to have given up the ghost so FOSS aint doing to well atm. wither. Think it might be a good time to try the new Chakra distro which is a KDE-desktopped version of the lovely lightweight Arch Linux distro.

      Who knows… it might be good 🙂

  • I use a lot of different OSes, and Windows 7 is one of them. I’m actually quite impressed with it. The fonts look fine (there’s an option for font smoothing which makes them look better – it was on by default for me – perhaps it’s off for older graphics cards?), and Notepad / WordPad aren’t acting up for me either. They may not be “fully featured”, but they do work.

    I’m not defending the OS because I like the way Microsoft does business. There’s a lot about their software and their commercial practices that I dislike (not least having to ring them twice in the space of a week because my husband’s computer suffered two catastrophic hardware failures and their system couldn’t believe anyone would do two rebuilds in such a short space of time). I do feel compelled to defend the OS’s text displaying, and editor, though. I’m not sure what went wrong for the original reviewer, but that stuff works fine over here.

  • Ramon says:

    @Lesley: Hi and thanks 🙂 Font smoothing was on by default, but Microsoft’s subpixel hinting (which they call ClearType) just made things look worse, so I switched it off, still not getting great results. Side by side, X.Org always made the same fonts look better than Win7. ClearType also has trouble displaying text with wildly different foreground and background colors, there are a lot of color artifacts in the anti-aliasing e.g. with white text on brown background. These are issues X.Org doesn’t have, neither with nor without subpixel hinting, so I wanted to point out that it’s possible to do better in this regard.

    The graphics card’s a Geforce 9600, so hopefully it’s not too weak to display a bit of text 😉

    (Isn’t anti-aliasing and subpixel hinting CPU-bound anyhow?)

    I don’t think anything really went wrong when I reviewed this, the fonts still look just as bad as in the screenshots today. I’ve also seen them look the same way on coworkers’ machines, so I’m sure that’s intentional.

    • Thanks for your response. Your graphics card is similar to mine, so if it is handled by the GPU, that can’t be it (I’ve no idea either way there, I just assumed it was).

      I saw the issues you describe when I was running Safari – the font handling in that is disgusting in my opinion, but every other app is crystal clear. Very strange!

      I googled this issue (because the difference between the screenshots you showed in the review and the fonts I’m seeing is HUGE) and it seems you’re not alone in having blurry fonts – some people have solved it with tweaking, some haven’t, but I do agree that it’s something that shouldn’t need to be tweaked. Especially since you’re running decently modern hardware.

  • Matthew Norris says:

    I like Linux too, but come on, windows 7 is the s**t. If you can’t see that you’re blind.

  • A Walters says:

    Windows 7 is crap is nowhere near a good as Mac OS

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