So, I have been playing with Windows 7 now for a bit. I’ve loaded it on my laptop and recently loaded it on my main machine. Here is what I have decided. Windows 7 is pretty darn good.
First, lets talk about Windows 7 on my laptop. The upgrade from Vista to Ultimate edition (this is on a work laptop with our Action Pack Windows 7 Ultimate RTM, so not a free bee as we pay for the action pack) was actually pretty painless. Yes I usually tend to do a wipe and reload instead of an in place upgrade, but I wanted to see what sort of issues would arise for the lazy. After running it for a month I have not had a single issue. The only piece of software I had to upgrade was my Kaskpersky Antivirus from the 2009 to the 2010 version. Thankfully, Kaspersky’s install keys work on all versions as long as it is still within the license period. All my other software that was on the laptop worked out of the box, the Aero slide show desktop that I use does not affect my performance, and I have been pleased with the speed of the system. Booting up is pretty quick (definitely faster than my XP machines which are a little old or gummed up with junk). The laptop is a ASUS with a Centrinio 2 processor, Nvidia’s 9800M GS video card with 512MB of ram and 4 GB of system ram.
My Desktop upgrade was needed due to the fact that the XP Media Center on that machine was getting unusable. Too many apps, too much junk, so time for a reload. I took out the Windows 7 Professional from our Action Pack for this one since I only had 1 license for the Ultimate version. I made sure to back up almost everything (dummy forget to do his bookmarks) and double checked my main software’s compatibility with 64 bit operating systems. The desktop is a HP a1450n which has an AMD 64 bit 4200+ dual core processor and 4 GB of ram, plus a BFG 9800GTX+ OC video card with 1GB of memory. Very important fact on that video card as you will see.
The install was tough, not because of Windows 7 actually, but because of the video card. See the install kept hanging, so I started doing some research. I knew I had problems updating the driver for the video card when it was on XP, so that was my first thought. For once my first thought was right. Windows 7 when installing goes out to find the right Microsoft Certified Drivers for your hardware. A very nice feature most of the time, and it worked great with my laptop. Unfortunately, there is a known issue (which BFG says they don’t support anything but the original drivers shipped with their cards, and they use a proprietary BIOS that they don’t update, but more on that later on) that the 9800GTX+ cards will lock if you use a driver beyond the 176.24 driver from 2008. So I luckily had a spare 8800GT sitting around, switched out my video card, and sure enough the installation went as smooth as my laptop.
Once loaded up, I decided to do a little futzing and using safe mode, was able to install my 9800GTX+ with the 176.24 64 bit drivers for Vista. I wasn’t happy with this, as I want to get everything going, and I found that for the 9800GTX+ cards made by eVGA and Gigabyte, there was a BIOS update that corrected the driver issue. I Couldn’t find such a fix for my BFG card, so I called BFG’s tech support where I was told that Windows 7 is still in beta, and that I should use old drivers only. Technically that is true and technically I guess the NVidia drivers are still in beta, but they work great with my laptop. I was also told that after the drivers were officially released then they could help me out a little bit more. Of course they said that all the newer drivers for the 9000 series were not guaranteed to work on any 9000 series card anyway. Basically I was given a brush off.
Windows 7 has been a fantastic operating system so far. I have no complaints about it at all. What I really learned is that people should stay away from BFG video cards, as they don’t care to support their product. Oh, and so you know, I bought the 9800GTX+ card from Best Buy about 5 months ago.
I’ll post more about Windows 7 as time goes on, but when it comes out, I do recommend it if you system can handle it.