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Week 1 with Windows 7 beta

Over the weekend I managed to snag a legitimate copy of the Windows 7 beta and installed it on my secondary computer, an Athlon 5600+ with 3GB of memory and nVidia 7800GTX video card. I had a spare hard drive that I could use for the install, so when I'm ready, I can return to the old system with Vista set up and installed.

To be honest, I don't want to. Because this is a secondary computer, I don't stress it as much as my main (Intel Q6600, 4GB, nVidia 9800GT), but the difference is notable already. It's ridiculous to see such a faster, snappier response on a slower computer, but that's the case. Everything is faster and smoother, right down to opening the start window.

The install was very fast, about 20 minutes. Microsoft does need to add a progress meter or something to indicate activity, because at one point I just saw a blank screen saying Windows was being installed, but there was no activity. I feared a lock-up but eventually it progressed.

One subtle improvement that caught my eye was video driver installation. If you've been through a Windows install, you know it defaults to 640x480 resolution. If Windows recognizes your video card, it installs the driver, but you have to reboot to make it take effect. That wasn't necessary here. Late in the install, the screen went blank and came back in high resolution mode, the proper resolution for my monitor. On completion, I checked, and sure enough, both my video card and monitor had been detected and the proper WHQL drivers installed.

Another nifty feature: Windows 7 recognized my router and put it in the Device Smart list. Right clicking on it gave me the option to open the vendor page at Netgear, or open the configuration manager. I chose the latter, and there was the router's config menu, which I normally access by starting a browser and pointing to http://192.168.0.1.

If this keeps up I might be tempted to install it on my main computer. I really, really don't want to have to reinstall all of my favorite apps again, but so far, so good on Windows 7. I can't see any reason why Microsoft can't keep the June deadline it has set for itself.

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