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Microsoft has done it again

Review Windows 7 RC1
Wed May 13 2009, 05:01

WELL, MICROSOFT has done it again! Unfortunately. Once more it has put form above function, to the level where the function is worse on Windows 7 than it was on either Windows 2000 or XP. And can you say glitz? Sure you can.

(Doctor: "Steady oldtimer. What caused your crisis?")

I tried to use Windows 7, really I did! But it was s-l-o-w.

I felt a little better after taking two digels and a Prozac. Then I reduced the 32-bit color screen to 16-bit, which helped. But it wasn't enough, still sluggish. Next I disabled all the widget animations and leaping windows. That helped too.

All this is on a system that rates 4.6 on something called the 'Windows' scale. After those two fixes, the system performance could almost be called snappy. It ought to be, on a dual Athlon64 X2 5200 with 4GB of memory and a medium class ATI 2400 video card.

(Doctor: "So oldtimer, you found the system does run?")

Well, it runs once you tweak some settings, otherwise it's somewhere between a crawl and a walk.

Let me explain. I did a couple of installs, a tough one for starters.

I tried installing WinTV-V7 for my HRM 1800 HD and analog tuner. It installed, but could only find channel 51 in analog in an area - Seattle and Tacoma - with dozens of digital and analog channels where a cheaper KWORLD TV Capture device running under Windows XP received clearly channels 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 20, 22, 28, 33, 45, 51 and a few more I can't recall. Worst of all, channel 51 is all Spanish, and I don't understand a word of it.

I'll be trying V6 for the 1800 when I can get a working unzip. There seems to be a problem with downloading that, too.

I did install BOINC V6 and ran, but each night, the system turned off the monitor and neither keyboard or mouse would reactivate the screen. The hardware was running, but BOINC had not run for more than 95 minutes each night. I fixed this when I found a sleep timer several levels down in the control panel, which I changed to 'Never' when I found it.

Thunderbird 2 and Firefox 3.1 downloaded and came up without problems, but Openoffice took three tries before a full 140MB got downloaded. I haven't tested Openoffice yet, I'm writing this on another system.

The easiest access to downloads for me is via command prompt. CD to \down<Tab><Enter> and type the first letter or three of the download name, another <Tab><Enter> and it starts. Then you find out how your luck is running. So far, the third party stuff is working better than Microsoft's.

Now for the really bad news.

Solitaire is unbearable. After forcing myself through six games, I dragged the Solitaire entry to the Recycle Bin. Yes, it is that bad. Microsoft has managed to add so much glitz that even Solitaire is unpleasant to watch. But the killer was at the end of each and every game, when I was presented with an apparently unavoidable box that required me to make a choice between ending the game (a loss), restarting the game (a loss), or going back one or more steps (not a loss). There were no options I could find that would bring back the prior default behavior, which was to simply hit Deal for the next game. Thus ends that last bit of simplicity on Windows systems, not with a bang, but with a wimpering user.

(Doctor: "Where else do you hurt, oldtimer?")

Oh yes, the install. A number of pains hit me there. First, the install starts without any option to partition or format the disk, or even to verify that it chose the disk you indicated. I did catch it when it would have installed on one of my SATA disks holding perhaps 200GB of data. I clicked on the unused 80GB drive, which was then shaded with a light green, about the color of my face a little later. No mention of expert mode if you wanted something special, like a minimal install.

Then a totally uninformative series of steps is shown and install starts right in. If you didn't point to the correct disk, you are about to lose some data. Hope you've got it backed up. Control? Microsoft doesn't want the user to have any control at all as far as I can see.

(Doctor: "What about the good things?")

Good things? (Thinks...) Can I get back to you if I think of any?

(Doctor: "Nurse! Double oldtimer's Prozac dosage, put him in a nice padded cell until he stops shaking. Under no circumstances let him near a Windows 7 system, it could be fatal."

Nurse: "Another one? Doc, we're running out of padded, er... quiet rooms.")

Doctor: "You'd almost think it was an evil plot....") µ


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