Windows 7 RC Test Drive

This is a bit dated but I thought I would include it in one of the firs posts on this site.

Microsoft has been working on a successor OS for Windows XP for a long time – longer than anyone expected. Of course, there was Vista – not a real success story. When Microsoft announced the general availability of the Release Candidate, I had to try it out for myself. Not a believer in beta software, I tend to wait for the boxed version to become available before sacrificing a working computer.

For this experiment, I chose my old Dell D600 laptop computer. If it worked on this relic then I would really be impressed! It worked and it was fast! My only problem was getting 32-bit drivers for the Intel wireless adapter. The built-in adapter had been discontinued and drivers were not available on the Dell web site or in a place easily found on the Intel site. A Google search yielded Vista drivers. I downloaded them and it worked. I was connected. If they didn’t then, “What good is a laptop without WiFi?”

Problems to date? After one of those “automatic updates”, my touchpad mouse no longer worked. Previously, the mouse had a tendency to wander uncontrollably to the Northeast corner of the dispaly and stay there. I noticed that during this time, the CPU was extremely busy. You guessed it! In it’s paranoia to be up to date, the wuauclt.exe was running at 100% CPU. This is almost as exciting as the Symantec Anti-Virus, rtvscan.exe program burning your CPU.  This time, I found I could move the mouse on the touchpad but couldnt “click.” I rolled back updates, downloaded new drivers no no avail. I decided that I burned enough time on it, so it’s a wireless mouse from now on.

Overall, Windows 7 is much improved over XP and Vista. They seem to finally have a winner.

Note: This post is based on a letter to the editor, I wrote a few months prior. I’ve reproduced it below but the full text is found on the Windows IT Pro web site at

Windows 7 Test Drive

After reading Michael Otey’s recent article “Windows 7 in the Enterprise” (June 2009, InstantDoc ID 101885), I took the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) for a test drive on my Dell Latitude D600 laptop, currently running Windows XP SP3. The system has a 1.7GHz Intel processor, 1GB RAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 video card, a Broadcom 570x NIC, and an Intel Pro Wireless LAN 2100 3a Mini PCI adapter. (A few years ago, I tried upgrading to Windows Vista 32-bit but couldn’t find support for the hardware components.) I use this relatively old computer for Microsoft Office, remote controlling other computers with the RDP client, and running guest machines under Virtual PC 2007. My only concern is an increasing slowness as more and more Microsoft patches are applied.

The promise of a more nimble, lighter-footprint OS from Microsoft intrigued me, so I downloaded the Windows 7 RC. I burned the download to a DVD and installed a spare disk drive on my laptop just to be sure I wouldn’t have to go back to square one if the test didn’t work.

The installation went relatively fast, and the laptop booted quickly. The Microsoft standard VGA drivers worked well, and I had a functioning wired Ethernet connection. I needed sound, so I installed Sigmatel audio drivers from Dell. Before I work on a new OS installation on a laptop or workstation, I get the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website and compile them on a CD. If the NIC doesn’t “light up,” I can install any drivers on the spot. I was unable to find any drivers for the ATI video; however, the Microsoft-supplied drivers were good enough.

My real problem was the Intel Pro Wireless 2100 3A adapter. A notebook without wireless capability just wouldn’t do. I found drivers for Vista on the Intel download site installed them and connected to my home network. At last, I had a fully functioning computer! Now for the real test: I needed antivirus, so I downloaded Avast! Home edition and then installed Microsoft Office 2007 and Virtual PC 2007.

While I’m not running in an enterprise environment, I find the Windows 7 startup to be surprisingly quick and application performance to be adequate to my needs. Also, if you’re familiar with Vista, the UI isn’t much different, and the UAC seems to be reasonable with its default setting. All things considered, Microsoft may be on to something.

This posting is provided “as is” with no warranties, guaranties or any rights whatsoever. All content is based on the author’s experiences and opinions and is not intended to influence the actions of the reader.
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