Much better than Vista!
<br>• Recoded for Performance<br>• The User Interface has added functionality
<br>• Too many security updates (M$ Checking in)<br>• Tricky to turn off certian notifications
The Bottom Line:
Obtain this upgrade if your computer seems to struggle with Vista, and consider using this instead of XP. It is prettier.
I have fallen in love with Windows 7. I am not ashamed of this fact, although for the price it may not be worth it just for a slick new look. That was not the only improvement that was made to the OS, but it was certainly the main reason I adopted it so quickly, and why I bothered at all with Vista, 7's glitchy predecessor.
My Favourite Features:
Via the so-called "Action Center", accessible through the Control Panel, common Windows nuisances like notifications that come in the form of pop-ups in the lower right of the screen can be completely disabled.
Upon competing the install of the OS, I have noticed time and time again that fewer devices require manual driver installations, even for older devices. Many new and old devices have had strong proprietary support added into the Windows 7 installer itself. Any other missing drivers tend to be accessable from Windows Update, also found in Control Panel, and all that is necessary after the initial install is to update the whole computer. That is a huge time saver for me, as I am often tasked with updating computers to newer versions of Windows, and having to find all the various drivers and keeping them up to date for each and every componenets was something I couldn't wait to be a thing of the past, which it finally is.
Windows 7 saw the addition of extra UI functionality such as the ability to drag windows by their header to the left, right, and top of the screen to have them take up 50% of the screen, on the sides, or to maximize the window, respectively. Windows switching is improved, and aero peek is more stylish now, also.
The taskbar has been optionally fattened and allows for stacks of related opened windows from different programs, tidying up your desktop environment. My friends love this feature, although I feel that this means having to click twice as much when accessing multiple window regularly. You can now also "pin" items to the taskbar itself, and to the start menu, a not-quite revolutionary way to increase your productivity, but I yelled "finally!" when I noticed this feature for the first time. I have switched out the windows taskbar altogether in favour of BBLean, an opensource shell replacement, so that says what I really think about the improved taskbar. I liked it at first but don't think it's worth it's overall weight on the screen even considering all of this added functionality. This doesn't make me want to downgrade back to XP though, not at all.
Support for the latest DirectX mean that you can play the latest games, and that is missing in windows XP. You do not need the best computer to get a lot from Windows 7, though, I have found. The basic visual elements of Explorer are improved, and I do feel that Windows 7 offers some of the same level of style found in Apple OSX Leopard and Snow Leopard. It looks great.
Now Windows UI is starting to match that which was commonplace in UNIX distributions in terms of UI functionality.
The main improvement was that innefient code paths were apparently located and recoded. So the speed of Windows 7 is my favourite other aspect, besides the design, which differred very little from Vista in it's smooth modernity.
There is an endless amount of customization that can be done which can even take advantage of the beautiful composition effects offered forth by this new, sleek OS.
What is dissapointing:
I hate how intrusive Windows can be. I would prefer that Microsoft interfered less in my activities, but that is likely because I am a power-user, not your typical end-user. Support for this OS from Microsoft is there if needed, and I have always found it to be reasonable, however I have had difficulty understanding the operators and them me. I wish there were more localized call-centres.
As many of my friends have downloaded and installed pirated versions of Windows 7, the fact that there are secret updates that check the legitimacy of the installed OS is a nuisance. What's worse is sometimes a perfectly legitimate version of Windows may begin notifying the user that it is not "Genuine" and eventually deactivate, and stop you from accessing most of your computers funcionality.
In my work as a Support Technician I've noticed that common issues including broken video drivers and blue screens are resolved simply by rolling back updates and leaving them rolled back. I generally disable all but the updates which directly seem to matter to me, such as driver and software updates.
By default Windows 7 nags at you in a similar, tail-wagging-the-dog fashion as XP and Vista do (about everthing from your lack of an anti-virus program, dissabled updates, to apparently unresolved issues that ... aren't issues). As I mentioned this can be stopped, but it is tricky for beginner users, and I think that it is unprofessional. But that is a minor issue.
A word on compatibility:
It was once an issue, and if you looked really hard you might find a software or hardware product that you really like that isn't going to work on you Windows 7 computer, however, I have not, and no one I know complains about this kind of issue. There are, of course, certain sofwares and suites of softwares that are only made for other platforms, such as the latest versions of Logic Pro, only made for Apple OSX. However everyone I know well who uses an Apple, tends to be dissapointed about missing out on things only available to Windows users. So there! :P