Windows 7: Should I upgrade / install?
After having used Windows 7 for at least a month now regularly, I’ve come to realize one thing… Windows 7 is not stable! Things that had been fixed in Vista are now clearly broken again. For example, I could run Vista for probably a month or longer without the need to reboot. If I’m lucky, I can get away with running Windows 7 for about a week or two before its innards get flakey. For example, there are now processes that hang and cannot be killed by Task Manager. This forces the need to reboot. Once the apps hang, it’s impossible to reboot cleanly. So, I have yet to be able to reboot Windows 7 without having to force power off the system. Just today, I once again tried to use the ‘Restart’ function which did absolutely nothing. Windows 7 appeared to start the shutdown process and then clearly hung and did not finish.
I have also had a problem with Windows 7 drivers. For example, the ATI driver I now have installed on Windows 7 is clearly bugged. When I run Daz Studio 3, I can load a specific 3D model set and crash the system with a BSOD. Worse, Windows 7 knows that it crashed, but it doesn’t have any clue what crashed it. It knows it was a driver crash, but not the specific driver. When I click the troubleshoot panel that appears after the system reboots, the panel goes away and offers no advice.
These are clearly the problems of yet another immature and sad operating system attempt by Microsoft. Windows 7 should be more stable than Vista (which was, according to a lot of people, very unstable). Well, I’m here to say that Vista is a ton more stable than Windows 7 is. Yes, Vista is quirky and odd in places, but the underlying OS is pretty much rock steady. I rarely had crashes or BSODs. I could leave the system running for long periods of time without instability. Windows 7, on the other hand, is just completely unstable. This thing should never have made it out of Beta, let alone to the store shelves.
Should you install?
To answer this question is… no, do not install this disaster of an OS. Wait until at least Service Pack 1. When that arrives, Microsoft might actually be able to make this disaster workable. Right now, it’s an unmitigated unstable mess. In fact, this OS is far worse than Vista in a lot of respects at this point. If you are on XP, stay there. Since there is no upgrade path from XP, you probably don’t want to try an upgrade anyway.. let alone to something that’s much more unstable than XP. Not to mention, Windows 7 has a far bigger disk usage footprint than XP.
If you are running Vista, carefully examine if you really need this OS. Frankly, the bells and whistles that Microsoft added aren’t enough to justify an upgrade or the expense. If you happen to buy a new computer with Windows 7 loaded, then take it. If you want to upgrade an existing system, don’t do it.
Side by Side installs no longer available
Since the release of Vista, Microsoft has done away with side by side installs. You used to be able to install a new operating system on the same disk drive as an existing other Windows version. As of Vista, Microsoft stopped that. Instead, you are now required to buy a new disk and install it on that fresh drive. You cannot install it on the same partition as an existing other Windows install. Windows 7 will rename the old installation to Windows.old and make it no longer bootable. You might be able to get away with a side-by-side install on a separate partition, but I’ve never tested this. So, if you’re thinking of taking Windows 7 for a test spin first, you should buy a new disk and install it on that blank disk. Then, decide if you want to upgrade your Vista partition based on that test drive. Alternatively, I’d recommend using something like Ghost to clone your existing partition for a test drive upgrade onto that blank new drive. If you don’t like it, put your old disk back in and boot your system back into Vista (or whatever).
If you really must have Windows 7 on your machine, go for it. But, be warned that it is not stable by any stretch. Perhaps Service Pack 1 will fix these issues, but right now be warned that you will likely experience the same issues I have. If you are an IT professional thinking of upgrading an employee’s computer, you should wait until Windows 7 is far more stable than it is today.