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Last post Author Topic: Windows 7 — first impressions  (Read 22938 times)

tranglos

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Windows 7 — first impressions
« on: November 29, 2009, 04:51:38 PM »
Last week I built a new machine for my wife and installed Windows 7 Home Premium on it. My experience so far is limited to installing the system, drivers and some favorite shareware, and tweaking the knobs a bit. I've never used Vista, so this has been my first exposure to Aero, UAC and the redesigned Start Menu / taskbar controls.

Installation went flawlessly. The first hitch was when Windows would not find drivers for the TP-Link wi-fi adapter, and would not accept the *.inf file downloaded from the vendor site. (On the other hand, all I had to do for wired access was plug in the cable.) Turns out the on-disk version of Windows 7 must be a bit flaky in the driver department, since after Windows Update ran its course twice, the system decided it liked the vendor's wi-fi drivers after all. All other drivers (printer, scanner etc) were downloaded and installed automatically as soon as I connected the devices. Nice.

What's truly impressive is how snappy the system is. My wife's machine is mid-range, with a Core 2 Duo just like mine and a less amped up, though newer, motherboard - but everything starts and runs much, much faster than on my 2 years' old XP machine (which was pretty highly specced at the time). Granted, the new system hasn't yet amassed all the crud my XP machine has, but I'm still surprised, impressed and envious. Firefox starts up just like that, snap your fingers, no waiting. Word 2007 likewise. Is it the 8 MB of CPU cache instead of my 4? Is a new WD Caviar Black so much faster than my WD Raptor (I doubt that)? Are new DDR2 Patriot memory chips snappier than same from 2 years ago? Or has Windows really become more efficient on its own?

Now, for the newbie shock and some gripes.

Whoever still says UAC is a good idea... I just cannot see what you see. Roughly half the shareware apps I use raise the UAC warning on launch - a huge annoyance. But that's nothing. You can't even rename a desktop icon without an "As administrator" confirmation, even though the logged-in user *is* an administrator. Jeez! I *will* absolutely turn UAC off. It has no value. It pops up so often, after a short while you instinctively click Yes. That's worse than having no protection at all and having to actually think of what you're doing.

The Start menu - I understand MS tried to avoid the sub-sub-subfolder navigation ugliness, but after installing a number of apps, the menu becomes a steaming pile of cr*p anyway. But arranging the menu manually, say by trimming the number of folders, grouping related apps together, becomes a UAC nightmare. Why can't an admin user rename or move a Start menu item without those stupid prompts? *Deleting* a whole non-empty Start menu subfolder doesn't cause a warning, though. Figure that!

And for all the UAC paranoia, the Explorer option to hide extensions of known files still defaults to enabled! What's possibly the single most harmful setting in Windows, which gave rise to trojans masquerading as documents or images, is still there, unchanged. How can that be excused?

And while I'm at it, what happened to the system tray? Everything is hidden by default there. It may look nicer that way, but is less useful, because tray icons often indicate program state, and it's also harmful, because it makes it easier for vendors to cram your system with autostart applications that run in the tray, and now most users won't even see them, ever. All the stupid, ugly, useless, non-standard applications that install with hardware drivers, all the "start Java faster", "Adobe cr*p updater" little pieces of trash you want to disable as soon as you can, will now run unobstructed on most computers.

(The built in command-line in the Start menu is nice to have, though hardly impressive to this FARR aficionado. And I immediately turned taskbar captions back on; icons are often not distinctive enough.)

In general, it's getting harder to find things. Ive managed to open the Device Manager a couple of times, but I still can't remember where it is. And am I the only one enraged by the Control Panel design? By default, it shows the most common tasks, but a lot of important stuff isn't there, like user accounts. It took me a while to figure I had to change the view from categories to big or small icons, to display all the goodies. Now, a "view" is supposed to be a different presentation of the same data, right? It is not logical and it is not intuitive to show only a few items in the default view, and name the other views in a way that does not suggest you will see more when you choose them. Why not a "More" button, or an "Advanced" option? UI Hall of Shame, meet the Control Panel. I mean it!

In "Default programs", all the file associations grabbed by Windows Media Player are grayed out and can't be changed (to the VLC player, say). The workaround seems to be to manually change association for each individual file extension, which is somewhat arduous. I hope this is a bug.

I like the clickable breadcrumbs in Explorer windows (it took MS how many years to "invent" those?), but where is the "Up" button? No "Up" button, so now the most common navigational operation requires at least two careful clicks, instead of just one - unless there's some other way I haven't noticed.

Oh, I like the gadgets. This is the first sidebar I've seen that sticks to the desktop and does not force maximized windows to be resized to a smaller area. Programs just cover the gadgets, and that's good. That's a sidebar I can use.

All that said, my subjective perception of how fast and snappy 7 is has just about convinced me to switch my own machine too... eventually. Right now, it's too expensive to buy another copy on a whim.


JavaJones

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2009, 05:14:42 PM »
Excellent comments and observations. I think I echo almost every one of your complaints and criticisms. Overall I'm reasonably happy with Win7, but it's pretty hard to believe, with all the changes made, that fundamental things that have been wrong for a long time still go unchanged, or worse yet the unchangeable "improvements" like system tray behavior (which I happen to agree is a usability sacrifice in favor of aesthetics, which is ultimately in the service of neither amateur nor professional user). That UAC exists and is so obtrusive, yet "known" extensions are still hidden by default is such a glaring conflict that it's hard to believe.

- Oshyan

Josh

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2009, 05:20:29 PM »
Am I the only user who is NOT annoyed by UAC? Heck, even my wife uses her vista laptop and has not complained about UAC. She has even said UAC is helpful in that it can help prevent accidental deletion of a file she didn't intend to touch. UAC in Windows 7 is far from intrusive, in my opinion. Vista was overbearing at times with UAC but this was greatly improved in 7. The problem with UAC is that most application developers, even after a few years with Vista, have not realized what is throwing these UAC prompts and have not updated their applications. I have a feeling this will change with Win7, but one can only wonder why it hasn't happened sooner.
</rant>

cmpm

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2009, 05:23:19 PM »
I put a shortcut to the control panel on the desktop. "System" in control panel is where youwill find 'device manager'., among other places I suppose.

And yes I turned off UAC. It won't stop malware and the like imo, since that crap is usually hidden in other programs. Get Malwarebytes for $25 it works full time. And a good antivirus and maybe a firewall.

Josh

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 05:25:37 PM »
Please note: UAC is not DESIGNED to stop malware, much to the dismay of kaspersky and their latest report that states the fact that UAC does not stop malware.

And yes, I always switch control panel to classic view in every windows installation I use.

JavaJones

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 05:29:01 PM »
I agree that UAC is much better in Win7 but I still find it popping up a lot more than I'd like and seemingly unnecessarily (or at least the reason why is not *made* clear, as it should be). I haven't turned it off yet though, as I did in Vista, so maybe that says something...

For Device Manager and a lot more a 'trick' (not really, but surprisingly not everyone knows about this) I learned back in the Win2k days serves well here:
Right-Click on Computer and go to "Manage".
This gives you not only Device Manager, but Disk Managemenet, Event Log Viewers (lots more options in Win7 than before - nice!), System Services, and a lot more. In Win7 the Management Application has actually been further expanded and it's an extremely useful tool. I recommend checking it out it you don't already use it.

- Oshyan

Josh

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2009, 05:30:39 PM »
Or just memorize the msc shortcuts :) I simply hit the winkey, type devmgmt.msc and launch device manager :) But I am very keyboard savvy.

4wd

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 06:05:42 PM »
Right now, it's too expensive to buy another copy on a whim.

Would it not have been better to spring for the US$149.99 Family Pack and get W7HP for 3 machines?

As an aside, the greedy b*ggers are selling this in Australia starting tomorrow at AU$249.99, (~US$227).

Innuendo

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 07:58:58 PM »
Whoever still says UAC is a good idea... I just cannot see what you see. Roughly half the shareware apps I use raise the UAC warning on launch - a huge annoyance.

Then you need to upgrade roughly half of the shareware apps you use. Properly written apps should not bring forth a UAC prompt unless they are a system utility (spyware scanner, defragger, etc.). I have UAC set on high and rarely see UAC prompts.

Quote
But that's nothing. You can't even rename a desktop icon without an "As administrator" confirmation, even though the logged-in user *is* an administrator.

I don't experience that on my machine, but maybe it's because I have the desktop pointing to my D: drive.

Quote
And while I'm at it, what happened to the system tray? Everything is hidden by default there. It may look nicer that way, but is less useful, because tray icons often indicate program state, and it's also harmful, because it makes it easier for vendors to cram your system with autostart applications that run in the tray, and now most users won't even see them, ever.

You have the power to customize which system tray icons are shown all the time and which ones are hidden all the time. It's a great feature.

Quote
All the stupid, ugly, useless, non-standard applications that install with hardware drivers, all the "start Java faster", "Adobe cr*p updater" little pieces of trash you want to disable as soon as you can, will now run unobstructed on most computers.

It's been my experience that with most computer users it doesn't matter if the little pieces of trash are hidden or not. They run obstructed whether they are visible or not.

Quote
Ive managed to open the Device Manager a couple of times, but I still can't remember where it is. And am I the only one enraged by the Control Panel design?

Do what I do and configure the Control Panel to show as a menu rather than a link on the start menu & all the confusion will melt away.

Quote
In "Default programs", all the file associations grabbed by Windows Media Player are grayed out and can't be changed (to the VLC player, say). The workaround seems to be to manually change association for each individual file extension, which is somewhat arduous. I hope this is a bug.

If you use the file association method inside VLC you'll accomplish your task a lot easier.

Quote
I like the clickable breadcrumbs in Explorer windows (it took MS how many years to "invent" those?), but where is the "Up" button? No "Up" button, so now the most common navigational operation requires at least two careful clicks, instead of just one - unless there's some other way I haven't noticed.

Hit Backspace.


JavaJones

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 08:41:56 PM »
I think the customizable systray is a good thing, I just think A: stuff shouldn't be hidden by default and B: like the new "Jump menus" they implemented (and the less customized right-click menus before), all systray icons should have standard functions like close, including "don't show this icon anymore" or some such. It would be more convenient and intuitive to do that than have to go into a special settings window to do the same thing as we have to now.

Does backspace go *up* or "back"?

- Oshyan

jomanlk

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2009, 12:10:40 AM »
I've been using Win7 for a couple of weeks now. Switching from XP to win7 just blows my mind. It's great to look at it and still has the software equivalent of the "new car smell"  :D

A lot of the gripes mentioned here can be fixed by changing the default behavior. I'm still getting used to the fact that Win7 has more clickable areas (breadcrumbs cutting out the 'Up' button, links cutting out control panel icons and so forth). I also like the new start bar, but I won't have a fair assessment till I start working on win7 (still use XP for work, but switching gradually).

UAC does piss me off though, it would have been awesome if you could add exceptions to it. UAC gives me warnings everytime my system starts up because I have Everything search as a startup item. I'm probably going to have to turn it off. Other than that, everything is hunky dory

@JavaJones
backspace goes 'back' (which can sometimes be 'back' depending on the path you took). If you want to go 'up' just use the breadcrumb.


JavaJones

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2009, 12:48:56 AM »
Right, exactly - backspace is "back" and there's a button for that. An "up" button would still be nice, even though I know the breadcrumbs serve the same (and even greater) purpose.

- Oshyan

f0dder

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 02:06:35 AM »
The reason stuff starts faster on Win7 than XP is probably SuperFetch, which is pretty nifty :)

Not being able to rename start menu entries or desktop icons without UAC prompt is that you've installed apps "for all users" instead of "just for me".
- carpe noctem

Carol Haynes

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 06:19:26 AM »
UAC does piss me off though, it would have been awesome if you could add exceptions to it. UAC gives me warnings everytime my system starts up because I have Everything search as a startup item. I'm probably going to have to turn it off. Other than that, everything is hunky dory

There are two workarounds for running applications that need admin rights during start up:

1) Simplest - turn off UAC (not really recommended but a simple option).

2) Instead of running the application via the normal startup option set up a scheduled task to start the program at login and give the task admin rights. See http://blogs.techrep...ow-on-windows/?p=616 for details on how to do it it Vista - the same appraoch works in Windows 7.


tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 06:32:50 AM »
Would it not have been better to spring for the US$149.99 Family Pack and get W7HP for 3 machines?

It would indeed be better, if only Microsoft were selling 3-packs in Poland. They aren't. They used to sell XP in 3-packs, which was how I originally bought it, but Vista and now 7 are only sold in ones. I guess "greedy b*ggers" is right :)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2009, 06:41:50 AM »
Poland is now in the EU so why not simply buy it from another EU country? Under the single market I can't see that Microsoft is legally able to restrict sales within regions of Europe.

I suppose it might be difficult to find a Polish version in the UK (especially if they don't actually produce the Polish Family Pack) but if you can cope with English or another EU language where the three pack is available you should be able to buy it and activate it without any issues.

For example: http://www.amazon.co...Family/dp/B002MT21N6

tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2009, 07:52:41 AM »
Please note: UAC is not DESIGNED to stop malware, much to the dismay of kaspersky and their latest report that states the fact that UAC does not stop malware.

I seriously don't think I understand what it *is* designed to do, other than to annoy and confuse. The problem seems to be that Windows can't tell the difference between a user-initiated action and an action that's possibly unauthorized.

If I just double-clicked a shortcut, what's the point of asking for confirmation? I'll confirm it, why wouldn't I? If the shortcut leads to a virus, this is a task for AV software to detect it.

tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2009, 08:06:15 AM »
Poland is now in the EU so why not simply buy it from another EU country? Under the single market I can't see that Microsoft is legally able to restrict sales within regions of Europe.

Legally they can't restrict sales, but everyone does it anyway - from MS to Amazon to Embarcadero (you can only buy Delphi from a local reseller, at really aggravating prices and no added value).

For example: http://www.amazon.co...Family/dp/B002MT21N6

Amazon won't ship this outside of the UK - at least this has been my experience with software, I haven't tried this specific item. I'd normally be happy with an English version of Windows, but having the PL version is a must for my work, since I often need to check the UI to keep my translations consistent. There are glossaries, but they often lag behind what's actually shown on screen.

I'm not complaining about not being able to jump on 7 right away though. My wife's computer is confusing both her and myself. In a Save As dialog box, how do you navigate quickly to the physical folder structure? It takes too many clicks to go via Desktop -> Computer -> drive -> find your folder. I'll have to spend some time with it to find a quicker way or find how to tweak the locations displayed by default.

(And, unrelated to Windows 7, we just tried to scan a page into a Word 2007 doc and couldn't find out how. There's no intuitive path such as Insert -> (Image -> ) From Scanner. The actual procedure is here, check it out. This is the first time ever I've had to google to find out how to do something in Word! And now that I know how to do it, I curse whoever came up with the idea that scanner image acquisition has anything to do with clip art. I must be getting old! :) )


Josh

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2009, 08:06:47 AM »
Actually, in Win7, it can distinguish between user-initiated actions. You have to remember, however, that certain actions WILL throw a prompt making sure its something you want to do (Launching regedit or certain MMC Snapins).

And the reason it can ask for confirmations is if that application is compromised (which is why no white-lists are made for UAC) and it tries to do something admin level, it will alert you. Remember, this is not designed for the techie, its designed for the home user who launches an application and it provides them a warning in case.

UAC is DESIGNED to give you warnings to potential hazardous applications or programs.

tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2009, 08:09:43 AM »
I think the customizable systray is a good thing, I just think A: stuff shouldn't be hidden by default

Precisely. Just like hiding known file extensions - the default setting is wrong.

and B: like the new "Jump menus"

I don't think I've discovered the jump menus yet, though now I recall having read about them. What are they?

Does backspace go *up* or "back"?

I think it goes back in Explorer. It goes up in TC and DOpus.

tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2009, 08:18:05 AM »
Actually, in Win7, it can distinguish between user-initiated actions. You have to remember, however, that certain actions WILL throw a prompt making sure its something you want to do (Launching regedit or certain MMC Snapins).

Since it's pretty much impossible to launch regedit or a snapin accidentally, the prompt seems redundant.

And the reason it can ask for confirmations is if that application is compromised (which is why no white-lists are made for UAC) and it tries to do something admin level, it will alert you.

Then it should alert when a process tries to do somtehing fishy, not simply when the process starts. It's impossible to know beforehand whether an app has been compromised or not. Again, this is what AV/antispyware software is there to detect.

UAC is DESIGNED to give you warnings to potential hazardous applications or programs.

Like Tune-Up Utilities 2010 :) I installed it, I launch it, I don't need to click through another prompt - it just makes no sense. What is anyone supposed to do - say Oh noes, I bought this really dangerous software, maybe I should listen to Windows and not use it after all? It's crazy.

At the same time, there are no prompts when TuneUp installer registers its services, which is where a malware app could do some real harm.

I just can't see a scenario where I should be prompted before I knowingly execute a known application. It serves no purpose if the app is fine, and it serves no purpose if the app is a trojan, because I cannot know that. At the very least there should be an option like "Do not prompt for this application again".



Carol Haynes

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2009, 08:22:02 AM »
Amazon won't ship this outside of the UK - at least this has been my experience with software, I haven't tried this specific item. I'd normally be happy with an English version of Windows, but having the PL version is a must for my work, since I often need to check the UI to keep my translations consistent. There are glossaries, but they often lag behind what's actually shown on screen.

If that is the case you should contact Amazon since they are in violation of EU trading law. The whole point of the single market as it was set up was to remove trade barriers in Europe.

If you want a copy from the UK and can't get it any other way contact me via PM and we can arrange something!

tranglos

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2009, 08:24:04 AM »
Then you need to upgrade roughly half of the shareware apps you use. Properly written apps should not bring forth a UAC prompt unless they are a system utility (spyware scanner, defragger, etc.). I have UAC set on high and rarely see UAC prompts.

Why should there be a prompt to run a spyware scanner? How is it useful? Potentially, how many people will get spooked by the warning and decide not to run the scanner after all?

Quote
But that's nothing. You can't even rename a desktop icon without an "As administrator" confirmation, even though the logged-in user *is* an administrator.
I don't experience that on my machine, but maybe it's because I have the desktop pointing to my D: drive.

That may well be. I still don't get why deleting items does not require admin rights, but renaming does.
Quote
In "Default programs", all the file associations grabbed by Windows Media Player are grayed out and can't be changed (to the VLC player, say). The workaround seems to be to manually change association for each individual file extension, which is somewhat arduous. I hope this is a bug.
If you use the file association method inside VLC you'll accomplish your task a lot easier.

I did that of course, and Media Player was still launching. I've had to select individual file extensions and remap them one by one. Like I said, this could be unintended.


Innuendo

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2009, 10:13:07 AM »
Why should there be a prompt to run a spyware scanner? How is it useful?

All Windows knows is that something (your spyware scanner) is trying to get direct access to your hard drive & registry. Windows does know that lots of malicious programs try to do the same thing. Windows, unfortunately, cannot differentiate between good programs and bad programs. It's near impossible to do.

However, Norton was working on a UAC white-list app that would allow one to okay a UAC prompt once & then have the system remember that app as being okay & never prompting again. I haven't heard anything about that program lately, though.

Quote
I did that of course, and Media Player was still launching. I've had to select individual file extensions and remap them one by one. Like I said, this could be unintended.

Lots of programs had this problem when Vista first came out, but the problem went away once the programs were updated to change the file associations the right way. Are you using the latest version of VLC? You may need to upgrade.

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Re: Windows 7 — first impressions
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2009, 10:22:24 AM »
For Device Manager and a lot more a 'trick' (not really, but surprisingly not everyone knows about this) I learned back in the Win2k days serves well here:
Right-Click on Computer and go to "Manage".

- Oshyan
Ironically, that is the only way I knew how to open the device manager for a while. (Still is the way I open it too)
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