Thoughts on the Windows 7 Betas

Album Cover: The Future

"Love's the only engine of survival."
Leonard Cohen / The Future

Posted on May 02, 2009 1:59 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Since one operating system upgrade obviously isn't enough, I plan on upgrading to Windows 7 RC very soon. As mentioned previously, I've been running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Beta build 7048 on my main computer, Skywalker. Even before that and since then, I've been using the initial Beta build, build 7000, on my laptop at work.

As alluded to back in March, I've been keeping track of all the issues, bugs, annoyances and pitfalls of the beta builds so that I could blog about them here. Hopefully this will prove informative for anyone who's considering giving Windows 7 a try, but mostly it's just a way for me to track all of the issues I've encountered and see if they've been addressed once I've upgraded to the Windows 7 RC build.

First and foremost, I'd be remiss not to point out that the builds I've been using at work and at home are stable. Build 7048 is much more stable than build 7000, but I haven't experienced any form of data loss on the latter. The main issue I noticed in build 7000 that went away in 7048 was the Blue Screen of Death. I saw a few of those on my work laptop, but actually haven't seen them since and certainly haven't seen them on build 7048. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Windows 7 Beta Build 7000

The following are issues I've encountered with the 7000 build:

  • The aforementioned Blue Screens of Death.
  • At times, when using Firefox, the entire operating system shell would flicker in really ugly rainbow colors.

Windows 7 Beta Build 7048

Because I've spent a much higher percentage of time using build 7048 (since it's installed on my main computer at home), I've encountered many more issues. However, this list doesn't suggest that these issues aren't present in the 7000 build. In fact, they most likely are.

  • I've noticed frequent messages that say something along the lines of "(Application Name) has stopped working..." and "Trying to find a solution..." This appears to be how Windows 7 addresses program hangs or crashes, but very rarely does it do anything useful for me, the user. I usually just hit "Cancel."
  • On several occasions, the taskbar has gotten into a seemingly frozen state, in which the application icons are no longer animated and the time display seems to be completely hosed. However, in a few instances, the taskbar still remained usable nonetheless.
  • I noticed that at some point between builds 7000 and 7048, the button on the start menu to shut the operating system down was renamed from "Shut Down" to "Shut down." Regardless, having a shut down button directly on the start menu without having to navigate a menu to shut the computer down is a nice improvement.
  • Unlike previous versions of Windows, this version seems to lose its credentials to network shares rather frequently. In Windows XP, I could restart a computer on the network, and it would retain its credentials to shares on that restarted computer and allow me to view them without having to re-authenticate. Unfortunately, in build 7048 it appears that re-authenticating isn't even an option. I've always had to log out and back in to access the share again.
  • One of the most critical and most annoying bugs I've encountered is the loss of all network connectivity while attempting to transfer files over the network. When I first installed build 7048, I still had my old PC on the network and wanted to just transfer important files from one to the other. I ended up having to resort to a USB stick instead because the network kept getting hosed and I'd have to actually restart the computer to make the problem go away.
  • Another annoyance occurs when trying to save a file to a new folder. If you create a new folder, give it a name, and then double-click on the newly named folder, you get an error message saying "Folder New Folder does not exist." Of course it doesn't. I just renamed it! But anyway, the workaround is to either click away from the renamed folder and then double-click on it, or to just try a second time.
  • I noticed that when you SHIFT-DELETE a folder to permanently delete it, bypassing the recycle bin, it takes a few seconds before it actually disappears. The first few times this happened, I thought maybe it wasn't working.
  • Aside from the network connectivity problem, the other issue I really hope has been addressed in the RC build is the fact that it takes so long to generate the Programs menu in the start menu. The start menu comes up just fine, but if you click on "All Programs," it can sometimes take up to 30 seconds to render the programs list.

Aside from all the user interface improvements that are well-documented elsewhere, there are some nice little touches to be found in the beta builds as well. Here are a few:

  • When transferring files, either from your PC to a USB stick, or from a digital camera to your PC, etc., if you move to other windows, you can still track the progress of the transfer via the taskbar. The icon in the taskbar is highlighted green (at least in my current desktop theme) from left to right according to the percentage completed. So if a transfer is halfway done, the left-most half of the icon in the taskbar shows up green. I love this feature.
  • Another great feature also involves file transfers. If you attempt to transfer a file that is currently in use to another location, Windows 7, rather than letting the transfer fail, will let you know which application is currently using the file. This allows you to address the issue in that application and then continue the file transfer attempt.
  • Being able to have full control over which icons are visible in the system tray and how each system tray application is allowed to notify you of new messages and events is a huge step up over previous versions of Windows as well.

The fact that I've been using the 64-bit version of build 7048 has presented it's own quirks and interesting tidbits, so I'll be covering those in a separate post soon. In the meantime, this is a pretty good state of affairs as far as my experience with the Windows 7 beta builds goes.


inqckqhm on May 15, 2017 at 5:23 AM:

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