December 1, 2009

Windows7 Experience

Network Upgraded to Microsoft’s Windows 7 Operating System

My home network is now running Windows28... er, four Windows7 systems, plus a Windows XP/XP Pro, and a couple of Apple Mac Leopard & Snow Leopard systems. {Note - 3/24/2010: I also have a fifth Windows7 system: my Toshiba NB305 netbook running Windows7 Starter.} I also have a dual boot to Suse Linux 10. Two of the Windows7 systems are Windows7 Ultimate and two are Windows7 Premium. Two of the systems were upgrades from Vista and one was an upgrade from XP Pro to Vista to Windows7. One was a scratch install of Windows7 Premium on a self-built machine, which supports boots to multiple operating systems. Incidentally, all of my software is legally licensed and registered. I do not use pirate software. Some I buy through academic sites at discount, but most is commercially acquired. Software is much, much more expensive than hardware and except for the very earliest days of computing, it has always been so. You can see a systems diagram of my home configuration here.

The expereience has been very positive. The upgrades from Vista were without any issues, and the upgrade from XP through Vista to Windows7 was with minimal impact. The largest loss is that my Lexmark Z65n printer has no Windows7 driver and is unlikely to gain one. The good news about that is that I replaced it with a wireless all-in-one color printer, an HP Officejet 6500. A few system utilities had to be upgraded or replaced, and a few applications automatically or with permission performed upgrades. Everything important works.

Windows7 is much quicker, more reliable, less annoying, more secure, and generally more pleasant to use than Vista or XP. It is very automatic in its setup and assumptions, but gives one the ability to maintain a great deal of configuration control if they choose. Networking is a breeze, and is very powerful. I had made crude fixes to the lack of shared resources with XP and Vista, and Windows7 made these arrangements redundant (I removed most of them).

I had used a beta release prior to these upgrades, just to test it and get familiar. The official release was even better. I bought a copy of Vista to upgrade my personal desktop from XP Pro, my plan being to stage that upgrade and then quickly go to Window7. Windows7 was a free upgrade to the Vista if Vista was purchased in a period prior to the release date, and I purchased my copy one day prior to the release date. Microsoft then sent me a copy of Windows7, which arrived within two weeks of the Vista purchase. Vista was inexpensive and so this way I got the Windows7 Premium copy inexpensively. I upgraded Karen's Vista desktop using that copy. I then purchased a two-computer license for Windows7 Premium from an educator-only website at the education discount, which I qualify for as a Penn State professor. I used those copies on my personal desktop and our household server.

Suggestion: Try it; you might like it.

As an aside, related but not directly relevant, I replaced my "ChuckBuilt" machine - used for security - with a new hand-built computer. It is called "ChuckSecurity" and is also the household security system. I used an old eMachines cabinet, a new 350 watt power supply, a new motherboard (Biostar G31E-M7), a new Intel 2.2 GHz Celeron E1500 Dual-Core processor, 4 GB of new whiz-bang memory, an old DVD/CD R/W player, and put in the two old disk drives from ChuckBuild. {Note - 12/31/2009: I replaced one of the two drives with a 160 GB drive I took from ChuckServer, where I installed a new 500 GB drive for backups.} The motherboard has onboard LAN, video controllers, SATA and IDE controllers, various I/O ports, etc. Everything works as it is supposed to work. I booted it up, loaded new drivers, re-authenticated Win XP, and now I have a new computer for my security systems. {Note -12/31/09: I replaced the beta with a licensed Premium version two weeks after posting this originally.} The reused disk drives are adequate and I can also boot to either SUSE Linus or the Windows7 beta release (that one is valid until around March, 2010). I took ChuckBuilt, which I put together about three years ago and which ran continuously since then, out of service because its power supply fried the motherboard, and I ruined the processor trying to remove it. Hey, I'm not perfect. Close, maybe.Jes' kidding widya

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