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Wednesday 14 January 2009

More On Windows 7

So after three days using Windows 7 in anger in a consumer sense I’ve got to say that it’s a fairly impressive offering for a Beta, it’s certainly going to become my default OS at home and probably at work too now that I have the option to switch to it.

I’ve been using it on my XPS M1330 at home in full Windows 7 mode, Aero interface with all the eye candy turned on and also at work in a VM where Aero doesn’t work. The difference in usability surprised me – I’ve always found Aero on Vista to be pointless overhead but in Windows 7 the eye-candy is actually useful and the UI improvements with Aero-7 make it a must have for me.

Speed wise and memory footprint wise it’s as fast as and maybe quicker than Vista on the same hardware (full boot+login to a usable desktop takes ~43 seconds from cold on my M1330 (2.2GHz Core Duo\4GB RAM), Vista takes ~44). Memory footprint for both Vista and Windows 7 on this hardware is about 1GB RAM with a pair of browsers (IE8 & Chrome) open. On the VM on my work laptop (a Dell Latitude D630 with a 2.2Ghz Core Duo and 2GB RAM) Windows 7 boots in about 60 seconds including logging in but uses only about 500Meg RAM of the 1GB assigned to the VM with the same two browsers running. Interestingly VMware Workstation 6.5’s “New VM” Wizard handles Windows 7 seamlessly giving a completely zero touch installation that took about 35 minutes to install from the DVD.

No crashes so far on either system and the only glitch has been that I can’t find a way to disable “Tap to Click” on the touchpad on the M1330.

There’s quite a nifty blog entry here  from Tim Sneath at Microsoft that lists a bunch of the new features which includes a couple of things I’d missed on Monday – most notably the CTRL+WIN+Left/Right arrow for moving maximized windows between monitors on a multi monitor display, ALT+CTRL+TAB for tabbing between windows within a single app, CTRL+Shift while clicking on an icon to launch with elevated privileges, WIN+Space for peaking at the desktop, Shift+Right click on a folder in Explorer adds Open-in-New-Process and Command-Prompt-Here.

Digging deeper I went scratching around for further changes within apps and came up with the following initial list for those curious about the command line environment that Windows 7 delivers. There are a few but on reflection the number of changes are quite small.

Robocopy:  Additional switch options not present in Windows Vista Version.

  • /EFSRAW :: copy all encrypted files in EFS RAW mode.
  • /DCOPY:T :: COPY Directory Timestamps.
  • /SECFIX :: FIX file Security on all files, even skipped files.
  • /TIMFIX :: FIX file Times on all files, even skipped files.
  • /SL :: copy symbolic links versus the target.
  • /MT[:n] :: Do multi-threaded copies with n threads (default 8).
  •              n must be at least 1 and not greater than 128.
  •              This option is incompatible with the /IPG and /EFSRAW options
  •              Redirect output using /LOG option for better performance.
  • /FFT :: assume FAT File Times (2-second granularity).
  • /DST :: compensate for one-hour DST time differences.
  • /XJD :: eXclude Junction points for Directories.
  • /XJF :: eXclude Junction points for Files.
  • /BYTES :: Print sizes as bytes.
  • /UNICODE :: output status as UNICODE.

Netsh: Additional contexts not present in Vista version

  • branchcache    - Changes to the `netsh branchcache' context.
  • dnsclient      - Changes to the `netsh dnsclient' context.
  • namespace      - Changes to the `netsh namespace' context.
  • trace          - Changes to the `netsh trace' context.
  • wcn            - Changes to the `netsh wcn' context.
  • wfp            - Changes to the `netsh wfp' context.
  • wwan           - Changes to the `netsh wwan' context.

Ipconfig: Additional ipv6 options, drops “compartments” concept

Diskpart: Support commands for Virtual Disks (Attach, Detach, Expand, Merge..)

Sc.exe: Adds support for service triggers \ trigger queries

Setspn.exe:  Register custom Service Principle Names in DNS

Tzutil.exe:  Enables scripted timezone changes


New Apps / Features:

Isoburn.exe: Compact GUI app for burning an iso to a CD\DVD

PSR.exe: Problem Steps Recorder.

Resource Monitor: Significantly enhanced version of the Resource Monitor that was previously available only from within TaskManager->Performance tab but is now also in the Start Menu.

Includes additional summary features for each heading using a tabbed interface in particular providing a very useful Physicial Memory utilization graphic.

Private Character Editor: Roll your own customized characters\fonts.

Admin tools now has a more logical home in the Start Menu -> Maintenance menu in addition to being buried inside the Control Panel.

Aero Shake: Pretty nifty clutter clearing – minimizes all other windows when you grab a window title bar and “shake” it. Additional gestures are supported elsewhere – left click+hold and then an upward “swoosh” gesture on the taskbar opens the right context menu (it’s more intuitive than it sounds and great on a touchscreen)

Smart Maximizing\restore\tiling by dragging a window to the top of the screen it automatically maximizes, by dragging it to the left or right edge it grows to fill a tile that takes up half the screen set flush against which ever side you drag it to. Dragging the title bar away from the edge restores the window to it’s former size.

Fonts Subsystem has been given a whole new look, no more windows 3.1 Add fonts dialog. Yaay.

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