Windows 7 : First impressions

11 01 2009

On Thursday night I took the plunge and installed Windows 7 Beta 1 onto my ‘production’ PC at home. Gutsy move I know, but in my previous experience with operating system beta’s (95, 98, 98 SE, ME, XP and Vista) you need to use it in anger to find the real issues.

The install was painless and only needed a small amount of interaction from me, which was great because I got to watch Iron Man that Father Christmas got me for Christmas ;). Once it was installed my first impression was WOW. Not because I am a Microsoft fanboy (I am), but because it was quick and responsive. For what is supposed to be Beta 1, it is behaving like Beta 2 or something that is way further along in the development cycle.

There are some things that immediately caught my eye:

  • Libraries – Instead of Documents / Photo’s / Videos etc, there is now a concept of libraries, which are virtual containers of folders. They appear to be very much what WinFS was supposed to be.  It was a relatively painless experience adding a new folder to a library, and I even managed to create a couple of new libraries in a matter of seconds.
  • Superbar – This took a bit of getting used to, instead of a taskbar you now have a pseudo taskbar that shows what is running, launch programs and show the status of things like file copies. It’s a bit hard to describe and I am sure a quick Google will find much better descriptions than mine.
  • Sidebar – The sidebar has gone but there are still gadgets thankfully for us gadget developers 🙂 With no sidebar to dock the gadgets in, there are some subtle changes to how they work which I will post about later.
  • Aero Peek – When you choose a program that is running from the superbar, all other windows will change to a transparent glass frame and only the program you selected will be rendered. This is great for finding a program when you have lots of windows open.

From a beta testing perspective, Windows 7 Beta 1 is a bad build, the quality bar is so high it makes it damn hard to find bug which is why we are testing it. It does on the other hand make it a joy to use, and I am certainly looking forward to diving into the depths of what it has to offer.





PDC 2008 : Wrap up

5 11 2008

So the PDC is over and there were a heap of product announcements, some of them really well done and received (Windows 7) some of them not so well done or understood (Azure). Personally I think Azure is going to be huge, and I am really interested to see how people are going to start using it in the real world, specifically how it’s going to impact the partner and enterprise ecosystems.

Anyway, I wanted to go back and look at my Canberra Airport Crystal ball and see what came true or what the Crystal ball was too damn foggy to see clearly.

Live
Lots and lots of Mesh news. As expected, a developers preview of Mesh was released built on the new Azure Services platform, one of Microsoft’s big announcements for PDC. The SDK / framework was released in a limited beta. Yes there was a new Mesh build dropped, moving Mesh from Tech Preview to Beta and introducing a number of new features. The Mac and Mobile clients were released, and I have to admit I am loving using the mobile client to push photos from my phone through to my other machines.

Windows
PDC had lots and lots of Windows 7 news. There were some really interesting demonstrations showing off the new feature of Windows 7 including HomeGroups, new Taskbar, Libraries, Aero improvements etc. As predicated there was a build given out to the attendees which everyone is commenting on how stable and snappy it is.  Unfortunately in typical MS style, the builds shown did not necessarily reflect the build given to the attendees, but WithinWindows has worked out how to address that to a certain extent. I am not waiting for the Windows 7 beta to start so I can get my hands on it.
Office
The biggest surprise to me was that there wasn’t much in the way of Office announcements at PDC. I had fully expected some demo’s of the Office 14 suite, but maybe it’s too early in the development cycle to see it. What was announced was Office Web Applications, a set of web based applications including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote that include a vast majority of the functionality of the desktop clients blowing the current implementation of Google Apps out of the water. There is a pretty snazzy demo on Channel 9 showing the integration between client and web that is an interesting watch.  I have to admit, these apps got me thinking as to some of the scenarios that they could be used in, think Excel Services. Wouldn’t it be awesome to not need any client applications at all and to do everything within SharePoint 14? I am not quite sure when we are going to see more Office 14 related news, stay tuned.

All in all, PDC 2008 delivered a lot of news, a lot of it as predicted from my Canberra Airport crystal ball. Of those items I am particularly interested in Windows 7 (heh I have always been an operating system wh0re) and how people are going to start using the Live Framework in their application. It is certainly going to be a wild ride ahead.