Jim Louderback

October 10, 2009

Windows 7 – It’s Vista All Over Again

Filed under: Commentary — Jim @ 10:36 am

“There you go again”. The Gipper said it in 1982, and I’m saying it today – but about Windows 7, not Jimmy Carter.

Because the more I play with Windows 7, the more I see the Vista debacle unfolding all over again. The commonly accepted wisdom is that Windows 7 is oh-so-much-better than Vista. Well, based on my own extensive testing, it’s not. Not at all.

First a bit of history. Back in 2006 I was editor-in-chief of PC Magazine. Vista was coming out and we were pretty darn laudatory. Microsoft provided us with new hardware, we tested beta versions of Vista, and we loved it. Shortly after it shipped, alas, the Wow was less Now than Ow. Vista sucked upon release to the world for a wide range of reasons – not least because the networking and audio driver models were completely rebuilt in the six months prior to release. That led to driver problems, along with general instability. When I left PC Magazine in 2007, my parting column was a bit of an apology – we’d been too easy on what turned out to be one of Microsoft’s more uneven efforts.

It’s easy to get snowed. Microsoft provides its favored reviewers a steady stream of highlights, new versions, and new features – along with brand new hardware to run the new builds upon. A team of technical marketers inside the borg stand at the ready – helping the anointed work through, and around, any problems that develop during testing.

I was definitely MFN last time around – but this time I’m less than a pimple on Microsoft’s ass. As full-time CEO, and only part-time and casual geek, they could care less about what I think about Windows 7. And surprisingly, that’s become truly liberating. Because I got a chance to evaluate the new OS not based on how MSFT wanted me to see it, but how it really is.

Over the past two months, I’ve been testing the Win7 release candidate not on brand new hardware, nor on the free systems Microsoft has been providing to its favored reviewers. Instead, I’ve suffered through trying to upgrade a wide variety of systems that are a lot more like what you’re probably running – 1-3 year old notebooks and desktops. And what I’ve found is sharply different from the overweening bootlicking being spewed by most reviewers.

I don’t fault them – well, not too much. They’ve been running Windows 7 in a best-case environment, and I’ve been running it in the worst. They have access to a near-limitless supply of new computers, new notebooks and new peripherals from vendors eager to ride the expected coattails of Microsoft’s triumphant release. I’ve been relegated to testing Windows 7 on the old systems that you and I are still running.

They love it. I’m not so sure. I’ve installed windows 7 on 8 different machines – a mix of notebooks and desktops – and I’ve downgraded all but two of them. Why? Because despite the hype, it worked more slowly, crashed more often, and just flat out didn’t work right.

So I’m here to tell you that Windows 7 is definitely a step forward – but not for many existing computers. You may not want to hear this, but Vista Service Pack 2 – the current upgraded version – is actually better, in many cases, than Windows 7.

If you’re buying a new system, you’re probably better with Windows 7. There are some annoying interface glitches, but overall you’ll probably be happier. But for the vast majority of Vista users – those that have upgraded to SP2, and have a relatively stable environment – you’re much better off with Vista. My advice: don’t upgrade. The path is likely to lead to frustration, pain and long nights fighting with drivers, displays and other configuration nightmares. Here’s an in depth look at what I found during my extensive testing, and how Windows 7 proved generally unacceptable to the carefully crafted Vista-based world I live in today.



Bad ComputerWindows 7 obviously suffers from Mac envy. A lot of the newly adopted conventions are build atop long-time Macintosh capabilities. But that doesn’t make them right. For the vast majority of Windows users that have never played with a Macintosh, the new conventions will be curious at best, and bewildering at worst.

Take the start menu and task bar. Mac-faithful have lauded the new “jump lists”, which let you see a pop-up list of most recently used files in a right-side pull up list. Google’s Chrome browser, for example, makes good use of this to expose pages you’ve most recently visited. But the vast majority of today’s applications can’t begin to support this feature. And that legacy unfortunately makes the taskbar changes – which eventually should be positive – into a mishmash of competing and inconsistent behaviors.

Consistency. We crave it as kids, and expect it as adults – at least in our operating systems. Click on an icon, and it should to the same thing today, tomorrow, next week and next year. And that’s what makes the changes to the Windows taskbar so frustrating. Let’s say you open a bunch of browser windows in IE, or documents in Word. Click on the Vista-based taskbar logo, and you’ll see a LIFO list of opened windows, with the most recent item at the top of the list. In computer terms, a LIFO stack, where the most recent sits at the top of the stack, the oldest at the bottom. Logical, and after years of windows usage, what we all expect.

Oh not with Windows 7. Instead, you get two entirely different representations of opened application instantiations. The first, very similar to Vista, simply stacks the windows atop each other vertically. But inexplicably, the most recently opened file or page is at the BOTTOM of the stacked list, not the top. WTF? Why change from FIFO (first in first out – with the last opened on the top of the stacked list) to LIFO (Last in First Out – with the most recent on the bottom)?

Oh, and it gets worse. Sometimes, when you click on a taskbar icon, you get a vertical list of the latest opened documents in reverse LIFO order. Other times, inexplicably, you get a horizontal display of document thumbnails that give you a window into those opened files. That would be all well and good – except its far too difficult to actually bring up any of those open windows. Navigating up or down a stack is far easier than right to left – especially when I often found myself selecting a thumbnail with no apparent effect at all.

Anyone who regularly moves from Vista to Windows 7 will find themselves disoriented, confused and frustrated by the convention change. Because inconsistency in operating systems – just as with abusive parents – is not something we’re readily able to deal with as a species. Doing it the wrong way – but doing it that way all the time – is far preferable to what seems like a random implementation that changes based on rules we cannot comprehend.

I’m sure there’s a rational, logical reason for why Windows moved from LIFO to FIFO stacks, and why they move from vertical stacks to horizontal thumbnails. But alas, I didn’t’ get invited to the special analyst briefings, so like everyone else in computerland, I’m forced to muddle through on my own. And I just don’t get it –even after months of using Windows 7. And if I’m frustrated and confused, chances are you will be too.

Here’s my uninformed answer as to why so many dumb changes were implemented. Some PhD interface god convinced TPTB that LIFO, horizontal lists, and so much more were more intuitive than FIFO, and the status quo. But guess what? The conventions I’m already used to are guaranteed to be more intuitive than anything you change. And that’s a theme that pervades Windows 7. They changed to ape OSX, or to hew to someone’s academic usability beliefs – without realizing that hundreds of millions of Windows users already have a habitual use case in place. This, unfortunately, is a theme of windows7. Arguably poor interface conventions were changed to a more preferred version – with little thought to how familiarity trumps even the most fashionable user interface theories.

There are a wide range of other UI elements that you may find useful, but I found distracting. One of the most praised – the ability to mazimize a window by dragging it to the top of the screen, or minimize it by dragging it down, proved irritating and relatively useless in my tests. I like hauling Windows around to different parts of my screen, to cut and paste, or keep real-time apps open. Invariably Windows 7 would maximize my IM window, or twitter client, when all I wanted to do was safely tuck it out of the way.

Sure, in a year or two, it’ll all seem perfectly lovely and normal.   But for now, it’s a lot to unlearn, and a lot to figure out.



I was really looking forward to the new HomeGroup feature. It promised to let home users easily share files, music and more among computers on a network. Let’s face it, networking on Windows has been abysmal, whether you’re running XP, Vista, 3.1 or the Lan Manager NOS that underpins it all. HomeGroup promises to wipe away all those problems and easily let you share among peer systems on the same network.

Unfortunately it didn’t always work consistently among my Windows 7 machines, and it doesn’t work at all with Vista or even Microsoft’s own Windows Home Server. I often found machines that were previously linked to a home group suddenly become orphans – unable to connect to another Windows 7 PC sitting right next to it on the desk.

Nice concept. But until it works consistently, and until Microsoft deigns to bring Vista, XP and Windows Home Server into its HomeGroup, this feature is more trouble than it’s worth.

And speaking of the excellent Windows Home Server, why doesn’t it completely support Windows 7 today? Microsoft is promising true integration with the upcoming Service Pack 3, but it’s still not out – and according to Microsoft it won’t be until year end. Without that support, Windows 7 just isn’t ready for my house, and probably not for yours too.



So what went wrong? Here’s a system by system list of the 7 computers I tested, and whether Windows 7 is still running.


clip_image003Toshiba Portege R400: This tablet PC was designed for Vista, and shipped right around when Vista did. Featuring a convertible, writable screen, it also had a tiny OLED display on the front, which tracked emails and other system messages even when the system was asleep. Windows 7 installed well, but there were a few problems. First, the system converts from landscape to portrait in tablet mode, depending on how you hold it – that function didn’t work in Windows 7. I couldn’t get the OLED display to work right. And the machine was just sluggish, even with 3 gigs of RAM. Plus Toshiba didn’t have any windows7 drivers available on their site. VERDICT: DOWNGRADED

clip_image005Lenovo T400s: This was actually the newest device I tested. The upgrade to Windows 7 went fine, although Lenovo’s site lacked windows7 driver support, and I couldn’t get one, key feature to work – the built-in EVDO card. Although many kind users had posted work-arounds, I spent fruitless hours trying to implement them. In the end, the lack of Windows 7 drivers in general, and specifically for EVDO, doomed Win7. VERDICT: DOWNGRADED

clip_image007Dell XPS 1330: This 18 month old system upgraded to Windows 7 easily. However, after using it for a week or so, the machine inexplicably went belly-up, and ceased booting altogether. Dell called it a complete loss, and advised me to junk the machine. Spurious correlation? Did windows 7 kill my machine? Probably not. But still, you have to wonder. VERDICT: DEAD AND BURIED


clip_image009Dell Studio Hybrid: Essentially a notebook computer in a desktop package, again the upgrade was quick and easy. And despite a curious inability to sleep regularly, Windows 7 is performing well. VERDICT: SUCCESS



clip_image011Home Theater PC, based on ASUS M3A78-EMH HDMI: I used this year old motherboard to build a home theater PC, with dual USB-based ATSC tuners to let me record over the air HD, along with serving up music and photos. This was a brand-new installation, and I started with a clean Windows 7 64-bit installation. Alas, nothing went right. Only one of my four ATSC tuners were even supported by Windows 7, and that support was sporadic. ASUS had no drivers on its website for Windows7, which meant that I had to jump through hoops to upgrade the BIOS. And the system regularly, and inexplicably, crashed horribly with a Blue-Screen of Death. A terrible experience. I wiped it clean, loaded Vista Ultimate 64, and it’s been working like a champ since. VERDICT: DOWNGRADED


imageAsus Rampage II Republic of Gamers Motherboard: If anything should support Windows 7, I’d expect this relatively new motherboard, built around the X58 chipset, and with a super-fast Core i7 processor to work great. This was designed to be my video and audio-editing workstation, so I loaded it with memory and disk. I installed a clean version of 64-bit Windows 7, but I ran into the same problems here as with the Home Theater PC above. ASUS hasn’t provided any Windows 7 drivers, and the generic ones are full of bugs. The system regularly crashed with a Blue-Screen of Death. Ouch. Vista Ultimate runs great on it, by the way. VERDICT: DOWNGRADED


clip_image015MSI 975X Platinum Motherboard: This has been my workhorse PC for the last 2.5 years. I built it to run Vista – you can read all about that here. It runs Vista quite well, and now it runs Windows 7. The upgrade was pretty easy, even though ASUS Windows 7 drivers were unavailable, the stock Windows versions seem to work. And despite an occasional crash, and an odd tendency to startup in the middle of the night, things are going reasonably well. However, I can no longer use any of my ATSC HD cards to watch TV, and for some reason DirecTV’s DirecTV2PC program doesn’t work anymore either. But with a full-on plasma display right next to it, that’s not a big deal. I’d put Vista back on, but I figure I should have at least one Windows 7 machine I use regularly. VERDICT: PARTIAL SUCCESS



We’ve seen this story before. Vista was overhyped when it came out by everyone from PC Magazine to the Wall Street Journal. And now Windows 7 is getting the same treatment. One new wrinkle this time – most of the reviewers have embraced Apple’s Macintosh line, and instead of comparing Windows 7 to Vista – as most users would. Microsoft knows this, and they’ve added in a number of Mac-like features. That’s not necessarily bad, but it will mean some significant adjustment for most end-users. That, coupled with the driver, compatibility and upgrade issues I ran into, lead me to not recommending that users upgrade existing compuers from Vista to Windows 7 today. Things may change in six months or so, but for now Vista SP2 is simply a better product.

If you’re buying a new computer, definitely move to Windows7. But for everyone else, you’re better off staying pat, and spending that Benjamin on more memory instead.


  1. Your basic complaint seems to be driver support from the manufacturers. I think its a bit weird complaint since windows 7 seems to run fine with vista drivers. Ive used windows 7 on my old asus M6800 laptop without driver problems. It might just be my luck but it takes a while to get the drivers out. We had the same problem with XP and Vista.

    ALSO! You should try Windows 7 on a mac :) just for the fun of it. Ive heard great reports of doing so.

    Comment by Christian — October 12, 2009 @ 8:20 am

  2. This seems strange that the generic Asus drivers did not work; I have an older motherboard running the x38 chipset and it works fine.
    Windows 7 x64 has been a dream on this machine and the only crash I had, down to default video drivers, windows recovered from…
    I think that what you say in your article is not the norm and I would wonder how you set your machines up to get these awful results…?

    Comment by Matt Dixson — October 12, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  3. Wow – your article makes me rethink some of my assessments that “if you got Vista to run OK – upgrading to Windows 7 was a no brainer”. I also found your comments about the UI changes an interesting opinion. I find them most welcome changes, but now understand there might be a sizable group of people I have to support that do not feel the same way.

    Finally, I feel really lucky that on my two upgrade experiences (Latitude 6500 and Sony VAIO VGN-FE770G) I didn’t have any problem other than the occasional hunt for drivers, and on those occasions found that the old Vista Driver worked fine.

    Thanks for the article,

    Best Regards, Jim

    Comment by Jim Herdt — October 12, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  4. I have to strongly disagree and wonder if this is not a way to drum up hits to this website. I use Vista SP2 at work and have loaded Win 7 on a 4 year old laptop (Dell e1505) and a Mini 9 netbook. Both of them have had no problems like the ones that he is describing. The speed of the machines is comparable to XP and definitely faster that when I had Vista on the laptop. I have enabled the Homegroup feature it works great (although only between the Win7 machines).

    I was worried that this was going to be another Vista, but I have been pleasantly surprised. We will be purchasing one PC with Windows 7 on it here at work in the next month to do some testing. The expectation is that sometime early next year we will start the rollout of Win 7 on our mainly XP network.

    Comment by Scott — October 12, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  5. Matt,
    I think you are spot on. The only plus I found on Windows 7 was shutting down. One button click and my computer shuts down, no second window to confirm what I want.
    It boots up quicker too. I upgraded(?) from Windows XP to Windows 7. I will be going back and actually upgrading back to Windows XP.
    I have Windows Vista on another laptop and find it, as you said, less than intuitive.
    Perhaps in 2012, if the world does not end, Windows 8 will be better. LOL

    Comment by Dennis — October 12, 2009 @ 9:00 am

  6. “Plus Toshiba didn’t have any windows7 drivers”
    “the lack of Windows 7 drivers in general, and specifically for EVDO”
    “ASUS had no drivers on its website for Windows7”
    “ASUS hasn’t provided any Windows 7 drivers”
    “though ASUS Windows 7 drivers were unavailable”

    And that’s with Windows 7 RC and a more than probably bad install disc.

    For me installed on a Pc with an ABIT NF7-S (yes, with chip nforce2 that is unsupported by Nvidia since Vista) and all vista/xp drivers IT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY.
    It’s hands down the best OS I have ever had on this computer.

    So next time use Windows 7 RTM and VISTA/xp drivers with Compatibility Mode and everything will be ok.

    Comment by Setag LliB — October 12, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  7. I haven’t installed 7 on as many machines as you have (2 installs of RC and 2 installs of RTM.) My experience was that install and driver implementation was near flawless. No crashes and performance is on par with XP.
    The only negative I have experienced is one machine has a tendency to lock up explorer, but that appears to be due to a shell extension – not a problem unique to Win7.
    Not sure if you have an axe to grind or what, but I like the changes to the UI as well. I hate when I have to go back to using an XP machine now.

    Comment by Mike Best — October 12, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  8. Really? I have thoroughly enjoyed my windows7 (RC 64bit) experience. The only difficulty I have had is running Tivo Desktop software, which I don’t know is necessarily Windows7’s fault.

    Fast, Smooth, elegant. That’s all I have to say.

    Maybe the problem is the Upgrade path. I did a fresh install alongside XP in case anything went badly, but right from the get go I never went back to XP. I have my official disk on Order and will do another Fresh install when it shows up.

    Comment by Sumyunguy — October 12, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  9. I’ve got Win7 running on an ASUS motherboard (Formula Striker II), and didn’t even have to download ANY drivers. They were either part of the initial install or were quickly found by Windows Update.

    I’ve loaded Win7 in various Beta releases through the RTM and have found very few incompatibilities, and nothing that made my computer crash or any major systems inoperable (sound, video or network). This includes a netbook, an HP tablet, a couple of desktops and a Lenovo laptop. Any drivers that were unavailable were solved by Vista drivers

    Comment by Mark Murray — October 12, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  10. I find your assessment of Windows 7 to be quite interesting. I believe you have valid arguments on many points. Ironically, Windows 7 is the first version of Windows I have enjoyed in a long, long time and it has actually prompted me to move from Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro to Windows 7. I am currently running the Windows 7 Enterprise 90-day trial (final version) and it is running brilliantly.

    I welcome the changes to the UI but I also find that the whole experience of using the OS just feels more polished, stable and confidence inspiring. I have had no issues installing Windows 7 Enterprise on my MacBook Pro and all my Vista drivers that came with Boot Camp worked brilliantly.

    Comment by J.P. — October 12, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  11. 90% of your and most peoples complaints seem to be about drivers which are in no way Microsoft’s fault. Everyone knows all companies are lazy on their ass getting new drivers out and a lot of them probably won’t be out this month either.

    The other half of it is the same old resistance to learning new things or new ways. I bet you’d love things to still work the way they did in XP.

    Comment by DVSBSTD — October 12, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  12. Seriously, ASUS Drivers? Avoid as much as you can. They are pretty good on the hardware side but I have always had problems with their hacky drivers, as in BSOD, unrealiable operation etc. In XP and Vista too. I now have a X58 motherboard, ASUS P6T “Deluxe”, but I am using either Windows default, Intel or Nvidia drivers etc. Or other manufacturers driver. I haven’t noticed any severe bugs in those drivers. I have been running Win7 Beta, RC and now RTM.
    I have had some application annoyances which required googling and reading forums for fixes.
    PowerDVD9 Activation (had to contact support for it to work), some games requiring workarounds.
    RC had severe problems (BSOD) with scanning but that has been fixed in RTM (at least for me).

    Comment by dnm — October 12, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  13. My ASUS P5QL-CM and AVerMedia AVerTV PCIe capture card worked on the get-go with Windows 7 64bit. Detected the signal automatically and configured Media Center accordingly. Never had to touch a driver disk. 32-bit was another story… Media Center would eventually BSOD when I initially installed Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit, not so much due to the hardware but due to Media Center being sooo buggy in 32bit mode. Of course, my experience with Vista Ultimate when it first came out was a nightmare. I ended up not being able to use my Hauppauge PCI card at all, even after a service pack and updated drivers.

    Comment by bigexxon — October 12, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  14. Jim, Jim, Jim…Win7 runds flawlessly on my 2003 Dell 4550 w/ a 2.4 GHz P4 and 1G of RAM. It also works great (not flawlessly) on my Acer Aspire One w/ only an 8G SSD, 1GHz Atom and 1 G of RAM.

    Interesting thing about the Dell. There was no Vista audio driver released for the original SoundBlaster Live card it has. So, I installed the original XP driver. IT WORKS!

    I’ve never had a crash, I don’t even know what the Win7 BSOD looks like. I’ve been allowing all the services to run since I still haven’t seen any performance lag, and I run Aero like a champ; something Vista can’t do.

    So, I don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

    Comment by WazNeeni — October 12, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  15. Hi Jim! (I used to work for him)

    I don’t know why people don’t get it, but your basic observation has been true of every new version of Windows, basically ever. More so of Vista than others, but basically they design it for the current and upcoming generations of PCs, not 3 year old notebooks.

    That said, I’ve only installed it on 2 systems and they worked fine: a 2-3 year old ThinkPad and a 4 year old Dell Dimension XPS. The Dell was a bitch, didn’t work right, but after I updated the BIOS (the newest version came out in 2005 so I’m somewhat to blame) it worked well.

    Personally, I don’t see what’s so much better than Vista. I’ve always liked Vista and haven’t had a lot of hardware problems with it, although clearly IHVs (HP in particular) have been atrociously lax at providing good driver support for it. Why then would Win7 be so much better, when it has the exact same driver model? Walt Mosspuppet tried to make this point, that hardware support was better, and it just goes to show how some reviewers don’t get it.

    Oh, I’m looking for work. Need anyone here in NJ?

    Comment by Larry Seltzer — October 12, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  16. I’m going to assume that you either aren’t very good with computers or you are just attempting to create controversy. I’ve run the beta, RC, and now Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and have never had any driver issues. I’m using an Asus board and Asus audio drivers. If you know what you are doing, you can install the vista drivers from Asus and they work just fine. Your issues with the Toshiba Portege R400 probably have to do with the fact that for those features to work you need the supplied Toshiba software to be installed. Generally if you re-install your OS then you don’t have that software any longer. In any event, Windows 7 hasn’t been released yet and when it is, companies will have working drivers for it. You’re acting as if people already have 7 and that nothing works with it, which is not at all the case.
    Honestly your complaints about the UI are laughable. Of course Microsoft is copying Apple. Why do you think people like Apple? It’s because of the looks and Microsoft is starting to catch on. All of the new features are extremely intuitive. I have shown people who are 40+ how to use the new features and they had no issues whatsoever. Your issue with accidentally maximizing your windows is just your lack of competence. It only maximizes the window if you drag it to the very top and release it. After the first time, generally people learn how to keep that from happening.

    Comment by davidmyers — October 12, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  17. PS
    Windows 7 beta and RC had a known bug with not sleeping correctly. If you had bothered to do any investigating whatsoever you would have known that. Plus I’ve not once had an something crash and as a result have to restart the computer. Windows 7 handles crashes better than any Microsoft OS and just as well as Linux.

    Comment by davidmyers — October 12, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  18. what a biased article.very misguiding to others. probably not many bad reviews hence you had to do your bit of flushing.

    and people should not bother installing win7 over a 4yr old machines anyways, thats clear stupidity. xp is good enough for them. well supported and runs everything.

    am happy for good ol windows. is come a long way.

    Comment by bb — October 12, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  19. What a load of bull crap. Driver support is hardly Microsoft’s responsibility, and Win7 isn’t even released!

    I’ve been running Win7 (beta first, RC after that) in my 3 year old Dell Latitude D620 for months now and it works flawlessly. Never had a single crash. Always suspends/hibernates and/or resumes perfectly. Haven’t had to install a single driver (everything detected and installed automatically). The OS is fast and stable (more than XP running on the same system) with only 1.5 GB of RAM.

    As for the UI changes, they are all positive and enhance productivity. Jumplists are great, allow you to quickly launch your favorite (pinned) or frequently used docs (who cares in what order they show up?, you can actually reorder them) in a second. While they do require specific application support for some features, for the basic frequently used/pinned docs any old application will work. You’re confused because a couple of things changed? You’re a moron. Because that has always been the case. From Win3.11 to Win95. From Win95 to Win98. From Win98 to Win2K. From Win2K to WinXP. From WinXP to Vista. Name a single OS transition where Microsoft hasn’t changed the location of some setting or the look of some UI elements. Might be frustrating for the first… 3 days or so, but then you get used to it. It’s just a matter of not trying to fight against change and saying how much better things were in the past… It’s like those who are still complaining about the ribbon interface in Office 2007! Just ridiculous!

    Comment by jtarrio — October 12, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  20. Veredict: use linux

    Comment by tux — October 12, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  21. Well I am running window 7 RC on a 4 year old Toshiba laptop and a 3 year old Gateway desktop that were both running XP. I have experienced no issues with drivers. I have used every version of Windows except Vista since Win 3.1, and I have never had a more stable experience.

    As for the UI changes, they give Windows a very clean and elegant look that is also more productive.

    Jim, do yourself a favor don’t follow John Dvorak’s lead with outrageous claims just for quick hits, it’s not becoming of you.

    Comment by Al — October 12, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  22. Another happy Win7 user. 64-bit RTM, on a custom built i7-860, Gigabyte P55 board, Nvidia GPU, etc.

    Installed flawlessly on the first boot, caught all peripherals, including a webcam, scanner, printer, wifi card, and more.

    No hokey TV tuner cards, though. Hardly a surprise you’d have driver troubles there.

    And yeah–a middle of the road PC from 18 months ago probably isn’t a good candidate for an OS upgrade.

    Comment by Rob — October 12, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

  23. They can add “Mac-like” features all they want but none of them are any good. The horribly designed Start Menu is still there and pretty much defines the designed by committee category. i have zero interest in the under the hood sameness of 7 which still of course has a registry to get corrupted and filled with sludge, still has lots of cruft code that does nothing but consume resources and cause instability, still does not scale well on multiple procs or cores and with large amounts of memory. I prefer a modern, well designed, and optimized OS and Windows 7 ain’t it.

    Comment by Darwin — October 12, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  24. what a bunch of unmitigated hogwash. I just installed an asus mobo M3A78-CM and the asus website had win7 drivers aplenty. so did all the manufacturers of the cards and hardware I use. you just didn’t look hard enough or in the right place. win7 is the best version of windows since 2k. I have had no problems on this and two other machines, first with the beta and now with the rc. mister softee didn’t have to get the “MFN” excited about it. for the first time they let anyone download and use it. that’s where the excitement is coming from. so, go ahead and pull it from your rigs. the rest of us will look at you waving goodbye in our rear view mirrors.

    Comment by jay pea — October 12, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

  25. “Your basic complaint seems to be driver support from the manufacturers. I think its a bit weird complaint since windows 7 seems to run fine with vista drivers.”
    Yep, I suggest waiting until 7 launches, then the vendors should have drivers available for the RTM version.

    Comment by Yuhong Bao — October 12, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  26. I have to agree with most other people writing comments here, and tell you that this review is the furthest from what I have experienced. I installed Win7 on top of my Vista, and I havent had to update a single driver. Everything has been running super smooth, I havent had any crashes.

    Good luck finding an OS that you can get to work.

    Regards, Soren

    Comment by Soren Morch — October 12, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

  27. Hey Jim 😉 I’ve tried Win 7 on the machine Ms loaned me (which meant I got to try it on a working machine back at M3 stage when getting drivers for a random system would have been a challenge), but we’ve also tried it out on every system we’ve had through the office since.

    Toshiba Portege R400
    This is the prettiest and least useful PC I have ever used. Even Windows 7 cannot rescue this puppy. result: PAPERWEIGHT

    Elonex media center
    It’s a Pentium 4 with a Hauppauge TV card that hasn’t received a signal in 3 years with XP on, that regularly stutters when playing video from the network drive. With 7, video plays smoothly, without stuttering, it starts and shuts down faster – and with a driver download last month it started receiving TV channels again. result: REVITALISED

    Toshiba M 400
    runs 7 without any problems except for the lack of graphics driver – NVIDIA abandoned the graphics card before Vista and there’s no way round that. result: GAME CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF NO DRIVER

    HP Elitebook 2710p
    our main workhorse tablets – very happy with 7 and HP will trickle out the rest of the drivers sometime. result: JUST FINE, HURRY UP WITH THE DRIVERS

    HP Elitebook 2730p
    I have a screen corruption bug in the Intel graphics driver that will not go away and other issues that are *all* down to drivers. HP never looks at drivers until Windows is GA, and any issues that are down to Windows rather than driver code can’t by fixed until SP1. result: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO THE DRIVERS

    Asus S101 EEE PC, HP MiniNote, Lenovo S10, Dell Mini 9
    Atom netbooks on my tests run faster, start and shut down quicker and last longer on battery with 7. result: VAST IMPROVEMENT

    What I think your experiences really show is that users are utterly vulnerable to vendors who don’t engage with Microsoft and who choose not to bring out new drivers. And as a reviewer it’s hard to call the vendors on this because you can’t tell when they’re going to be good or bad because it varies from product to product. I think we need some kind of community scoring system for vendors, category by category and product by product to score how well they do on producing drivers. More naming and shaming.

    Comment by Mary Branscombe — October 13, 2009 @ 12:02 am

  28. Almost every comment here disagrees with your article. have fun :)

    Comment by muchLove — October 13, 2009 @ 2:10 am

  29. Dude seriously, I hope you never have to buy a new cell phone or a new car, because let’s face it – it is going to be little different that the cell phone and car you have right now.

    Whenever there’s a new version of a software or a gadget or an automobile, there are always few changes. You will always have to learn to do a few things differently and same applies to Windows 7.

    Your big complaint is about drivers. I don’t think that’s Microsoft’s fault. Win 7 is still not officially released yet. I don’t expect to have drivers for it yet. I installed Win 7 on a Mac Mini and it works fine with Vista drivers.

    As far as stacks go, keeping the last opened window on the bottom makes sense because it will be closest to the taskbar icon. You will have to move your mouse the least.

    If you are afraid of this small change so much, I wonder how the transition from Office 2003-07 would go. I am sure you are still running 2003 because you can’t adapt to the ribbon

    Comment by desi — October 13, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  30. Wow. I’ve never read an article with so many commenters disagreeing with the OP. Very pathetic attempt on getting traffic to your site. Anyway just every one else i haven’t had any bad experiences with it yet.

    Comment by Hamanaptra — October 13, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  31. Regarding the driver availability issue, many of these vendors are waiting till 10/22 to release drivers. You can decry them for it, but it is hardly MS’s fault for not having drivers that the vendors are not releasing, all while testing the OS before GA.

    Check out those failed machines when the drivers are released, which in the case of Lenovo should be just about on the day of availability. I don’t blame MS for this, but I would blame Lenovo who normally works in this fashion. The Lenovo System Update debacle FTL.

    Comment by T Man — October 13, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  32. There are so many myths on the PC platform. When you buy a PC, you get only what you have right after purchase. There are no upgrades. What you guys call upgrades is destroying a PC and using its parts to build a new PC. That’s why all the downgrades.

    I can’t believe people are still using Microsoft stuff. For the whole 21st century there has not been a single success out of them, but many failures: botnets, Longhorn (didn’t ship,) endless Zunes always a year behind at least, XBox repairs, Vista, Mojave!, no in-place upgrade to 7 for 80% of the platform, Windows Mobile 6.5 took 2.5 years of work from 6.0 during which time all 3 iPhones were released, Zune HD has IE6 when the mobile Web is all WebKit/HTML5 so touchscreen Zune HD can’t run millions of mobile/touch sites, search engine rebrand that failed to stop losing market share, malware literally emptying user’s bank accounts when they do online banking, and of course the most massive end user data loss in history with the Sidekick.

    If that quicksand is what you’re building your 2010-2020 on, then I am going to continue to drink your milkshake, because my whole 21st century has been virus-free, malware-free, driver-free, almost completely crash free, Microsoft-free, and highly productive. Day-in day-out my computer is just ready to work when I open the lid. My I-T costs are zero and I’m a songwriter, not a tech!

    Microsoft customers need to acknowledge the Microsoft technical and functional crisis and route around it. You are the laughing stock spending hours futzing with Windows while Bill Gates gives your money to charity instead of using it to fix Windows.

    Comment by Hamranhansenhansen — October 13, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  33. @Hamranhansenhansen: STFU and GTFO you moron.

    Comment by Setag LliB — October 13, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  34. I can’t see how you had any driver problems, I am running windows 7 64bit since the beta times on my laptop with no driver hunting installed it and boom it worked. I also tried it on a 7 year old Pentium 4 hp machine and it work right out of the box, no driver problems, just worked. I now could not go back to Vista and would not even think about going back to Xp, don’t know what you did wrong, maybe bad luck, maybe bad disk image? I have also found it to be much faster then vista.
    maybe try to find a new image or not to try too hard with the drivers but I cannot agree with your review of windows 7.

    Comment by Julien — October 13, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  35. Jim-

    You sound like my Dad. He should not be reviewing software either.

    Comment by Matt — October 13, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  36. Honestly, don’t expect Microsoft to rename and re-release XP. Thing change. Ask Steve Jobs to get his foot out of your ass before you right your next review. Because Windows 7 is FTW.

    Comment by Frostmourne — October 14, 2009 @ 12:04 am

  37. Nice linkage provided by Paul Thurrott today. Basically, articles stating the exact opposite of what Jim is saying, some specifically regarding drivers.


    Comment by WazNeeni — October 14, 2009 @ 1:06 am

  38. The problem with the XPS 1330 was probably nothing to do with Windows 7 and everything to do with the bad build quality of the machine. I am still paying for mine, even though I’ve scrapped it. 3 motherboards, 2 screens, things falling off the laptop because they are stuck on with tape, sections of the machine literally just collapsing, the chassis (stuck on with double sided sticky pads) coming away from the body of the machine… and of course the faulty NVidida graphics chip…

    Its a piece of crap, badly made machine. Nothing to do with 7.

    Comment by Paul Kerton — October 16, 2009 @ 5:36 am

  39. “There you go again”. The Gipper said it in 1982, and I’m saying it today – but about Windows 7, not Jimmy Carter.

    It was 1980, not 1982. My inner poli-nerd had to point this out.

    Comment by chnews — October 16, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  40. “Dell XPS 1330: This 18 month old system upgraded to Windows 7 easily. However…”

    Ironically I know of another Dell like this that went mysteriously belly-up after the Vista upgrade. Techs here and at Dell wrote the computer off. It had to be completely wiped, powered down and reset. Now it’s happily running Hardy Heron and is quite productive.

    Just a late night story from Alaska

    Comment by AlaskaBoy — October 17, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

  41. Fiona, it is a great post thanks for writing it!

    Comment by купить навигатор — October 18, 2009 @ 3:17 am

  42. Really, that bad. I have been running W7 since its inital public beta. I so far have slightly over 100 (103) various installs of 7 (35 beta, 40 RC, and 28 RTM). I have installed it on everything from Netbooks, to OLD P4 machines, to Lenovo laptops, to Gaming machines, and everything else in between.
    The low end specs was a 1.4g P4 from Dell with 768 megs of Memory to an Self Built Ultimate Gaming Machine running the 64 bit version of 7 with an Asus board – Nvidia video card and 8 gigs of memory. Out of 103 installs, I am 103 out of 103. So lets look at a few things you said…..
    1 – Unable to upgrade. Does this mean you attempted an in place upgrade? Any good tech will be able to look at a pc and know if its a good pc to upgrade or if backing up and doing a full clean install is involved. (In most cases a full clean install should be done anyways….that is what I recommend to all my clients)
    2 – The equipment you used….one of the comments said it well XPS 1330, with the known reputation that machine has, no tech in their right mind would ever tell a client that oh ya we can do that (At least no tech with integrity.
    3 – The changes you complain about that look like Mac changes that people wont like. Well yes they are there and I agree (Sort of ) that I don’t care for them, but with that said those who dont like them, in a matter of a few minutes a few changes in the settings of the machine and they can be undone and put back to virtually the way XP looks, if thats what the client wants. Only a tech without much knowledge would ever tell a client that oh well thats how it came and thats what you live with.
    **Lastly everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would never take that away from anyone. If you dont like it, that is your opinion, but being backed up with what virtually everyone else said here in the comments, your either a desk person and never really do field I.T or your post is just one serious attempt at nothing more than driving traffic. (In which case we are all the itiots for falling for your trick, I guess)

    Comment by Alex — October 18, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  43. Jim,

    I’m finding some of your complaints valid, but also probably tied to the release client and previous betas. I’m currently using Win 7 RC on both of my main machines for work (against the wisdom of others) and despite the occasional glitch I’m not experiencing the errors you are. Drivers all work. And I’m sure functionality for some more than others was an issue.

    As far as the start bar. It did take some getting used to but, all in all I like it much better and can get much more use out of it than in Vista.

    I’m a power user and being one Vista couldn’t handle me one bit. Win 7 has been holding up nicely.

    Those are just my opinions. Best of luck to you. About to go listen to TWiT featuring you. Should be a good episode.


    Comment by Seth Goldstein — October 19, 2009 @ 5:38 am

  44. Все просто и понятно…что ничего не понятно.

    Comment by Физик — October 19, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  45. Так зачитался, что пропустил бы футбол 😀

    Comment by Строитель — October 19, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  46. Wow what a difference a review from a biased apple fanatic…For different opinion read Walt Mossberg, Cali Lewis(geekbrief),Leo Laporte, Maximumpc, endgadget,gizmodo,lifehacker & Businessweek reviews….They all have high praises …You would think jim was using win 1.0 …Anyways coming to site looking for a favorable review was silly….

    I have been using Win 7 RC1 for months and it runs great…Nice article for hits though…Well done jim, well done…..My 2 cents

    Comment by mark — October 19, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

  47. Спасибо за тему… Радует одно – что остались в инете еще более ли менее не зафлуженные блоги, на которых можно лицезреть интересную информацию и увидеть человеческие обсуждения.

    Comment by Einhell — October 19, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  48. Блог супер, все бы такие!

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    Comment by Дэвид — October 20, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  51. Люди давайте уважать друг-друга… Мне кажется что автор правильно написал, ну можно было и помягче. P. S. Всех с новым годом, который уже наступил: )

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  55. Смотришь на ваш пост и мысли неприличные в голову лезут…

    Comment by Dell — October 20, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  56. Надежда на наслаждение почти так же приятна, как и само наслаждение. – У. Шекспир

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  59. Windows 7 Rocks.

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  60. “Спасибо”

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    Trackback by krdfpgud — October 21, 2009 @ 10:28 am

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  63. “спасибо за инфу”

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    Comment by Григорий Лепс — October 21, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  65. Interesting read.

    I’ve run every version of Windows 7 I could get my hands on on my friends PC – because it wouldn’t install on mine either NTLDR missing when booting from CD – presumably something to do with my drive controller being incompatible, but XP worked, and 98, and DOS – or telling me that my Pentium D 920 with 4Gb of RAM did not meet minimal system requirements. I never used Vista BTW, installed it once, after 30 mins… Back to XP.

    Anyhow, through each version of 7 I found it even more difficult to use than Vista had been, I hate how I can’t have classic start menu as well, and the themes bog the system down, I want no themes or nice looking garbage so I can max performance out.

    After some time I ran some debuggers and stripped parts of the OS down, I discovered several memory leaks within the OS, XP has a few, but nothing compared to Windows 7.

    I must conclude that Microsoft has lost me now, I’ve used every single Windows ever released (and some not released… shhh!) and find that it’s a lost cause, I’m too skint to go over to Apple next time, so it’s Kubuntu Linux for me on my next system (Should get used to it fast, I used to use Suse and RedHat on a server a few years back) as Windows just doesn’t make the grade anymore.

    Comment by High Treason — October 21, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  66. здорово)

    Comment by evroremont — October 21, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

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    Comment by Diageo — October 22, 2009 @ 2:52 am

  68. My vista crashed. I liked some thingsabout it. I’ve been waiting for 7 to come out . I run alot of pictures and think that the picture software in the past is way behind what it should be . So I guess I’m going to have to buy more picture software because it doesn’t look like 7 has that much . Who writes this stuff anyway someone that never has to use it.

    Comment by Anna Herman — October 22, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  69. можно в Гугле еще поискать..

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  71. Louderback, I think you are a fool. Good things don’t always come easy. And they don’t always come in a uni-body construction either.

    All of the points you made are baseless. You cant compare an RC or a beta to the final product.

    Comment by Slipdisc — October 22, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

  72. FYI, Windows 7 is far better than Vista. You cant expect a brand new OS to have compatible drivers for everything right off the bat. THAT is a no brainer. How about you try it out for a month and a half and get back to us on how great it is. Obviously your quick to jump to conclusions just because its not going your way. My dad just bought a new laptop and its works great for him. Maybe your just retarded?

    Comment by Levi — October 23, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  73. Fiona, it is a great post thanks for writing it!

    Comment by мобильные телефоны оптом — October 24, 2009 @ 1:03 am

  74. Jim, Jim, Jim . . .

    You’re “liberating” comment was right on the mark, but I’m afraid you completely missed the point with everything else.

    Like you (seem to be saying), I still prefer XP over Vista/7. And that’s about interface, but not because one is “better” than the other; that’s subjective. And it’s not because there are glitches in the way 7 acts that XP doesn’t have; OS’s have glitches. ALL of them. It’s quite simple; people resist change; we like what we know. Simple.

    While Windows 7 is cosmetically not much of a change from Vista, and while their performance moment-to-moment might be about the same, it feels better. It starts up faster, the onerous manner in which security is enforced in Vista has been altered enough in 7 to not act like a horse collar around your neck, etc., etc., etc.

    Are the business practices at Microsoft still incredibly ugly, predatory, and consumer-unfriendly? You bet. Do I agree that there’s no good reason to upgrade your existing XP machine to 7? Yup. Might I upgrade a Vista machine? Yeah, I would, but since I continued to specify XP for both my company and our clients’ companies right up until this week, that’s not an issue here.

    Jim, in the REAL world, 7 is simply a whole lot better than Vista. As for XP, 24 months from now those of us still using it might start to need to think in terms of upgrade depending on how evolution looks by then.

    But my friend, I think you are still living in that non-liberated world of the journalist when you compare 7 and Vista and come to the conclusions you came to.

    Maybe being CEO at a big company isn’t so liberating, after all.

    Jeff Yablon
    Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support, Business Change Coaching and Virtual Assistant Services

    Comment by Jeff Yablon — October 24, 2009 @ 5:59 am

  75. “Достаточно интересная и познавательная тема”

    Comment by forsage — October 24, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

  76. “Побольше бы таких статей”

    Comment by webcams — October 24, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  77. After reading your article, I must conclude that you’re just trying to be sensationalist for the sake of attention, because your testing was not valid and your conclusions biased.

    For example, you tested before the release date of Windows 7, when the majority of hardware vendors had not yet released Win7-qualified drivers. How is that ever going to be a good test then? In the week leading up to the release date of Windows 7, all the major manufacturers have published drivers – so the very issues that you whinge about on Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Dell, HP and other hardware have already been resolved.

    I happen to have tested Win7 (64-bit), on four of the same models that you have. They are all running perfectly, and have a new lease of life now that they are free of their Vista chains.

    I think your name says it all.

    Comment by Ivan — October 24, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  78. Иди посмотри хороший фильм и отдохни, я как раз написал статью о том где брать фильмы. Смотри в правом меню раздел “Страницы”, а там статью под названием “Где брать фильмы?”

    Comment by Киберг — October 24, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  79. Okay, so let’s get to the chase: Windows 7 is a relatively new operating system that is supposed to be a refined version of the soon to be overtaken OS of Vista. Think about this before you jump to any conclusions (making it as OBJECTIVE as possible):
    Time Frame since the Release of the OS
    Amount of glitches found in the first week of release
    and of course, anything else that you can make it as objective as possible.

    But for a person like me, who has used his cousin’s Windows 7 Beta for a brief moment, you might think that I have no place in the conversation.

    Here’s the thing: The computer that I’m currently using is a crappy Vista OS, a glitchy and old XP (which is labeled as a counterfeit computer but I didn’t make the computer). When XP was out, it ran great, and the computer thrived, but because of the beat-up state that the XP had, it really deteriorated rapidly within the last 3 years. Vista, which ran quite well (except for the fact that it has too many security settings which I don’t blame Microsoft too much for especially because of Post 9-11 Trauma and viral attacks in 2002-2006) started to lose speed within 2 months.

    Driver-Wise I never had any issues with the transition for an upgradeable computer before, so I don’t know how many countless driver bugs there were from that transition. But people attacked this new operating system without having the PREVIOUS OS checked yet. And since I bought my laptop with the idea of upgrading (Mine came with the free upgrade), i can say that it’s somewhat safe to upgrade by the beginning of next year. But before then, there are many glitches that will need to be resolved.

    In a personal issue, I highly dislike the consistently annoying security settings placed onto the laptop because I constantly go into my registry cleaner and anti-virus programs, as well as my disk defragmenter.

    Comment by Lorin — October 24, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

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  82. I think that the MS hype machine is on overdrive again. A lot of the posters might be ms employees? I remember way back when OS/2 was trying to compete with windows and MS employees kept attacking all over the forums…

    How do we know that these win loving people are not MS employees or paid associates?

    For me Vista and win7 are the same cr@p… OSX and Linux are way better…

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  87. Hmmm… I have upgraded my Mid-2007 Dell Vostro 1400 laptop to Windows 7, and have never looked back. I find it to be much faster than Vista, love the new taskbar, and find myself trying to use aerosnap on other computers automatically. And yes, like previous commenters have stated, Vista drivers have worked fine. Plus it all looks very pretty.

    Comment by Caleb Withers — October 30, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  88. Yes, I agree with this post

    Comment by Ilya — November 17, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  89. Actually for those of us keeping score at home, President Reagan also said “There you go again” in 1984 during his debate will Walter Mondale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It0Dtm1gFFQ).

    And Walter Mondale, to his credit, completely stuffed the Gipper.

    Great column, interesting to read the reactions.

    Comment by Michael Roth — December 15, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  90. I am no industry columnist/guru, but my experience with Windows 7 (from the first public beta, through RC and RTM, to final install) has been the direct opposite of what you describe. I’ve variously installed Windows 7 on a Thinkpad x60s; Thinkpad x61s; HP dv2000; Sony Vaio desktop (2004 vintage); Dell Mini 9 netbook; HP 2370p Elitebook; and a Black MacBook. Each installation was as close to flawless as I could imagine, and with a little driver searching, NO SYSTEM has failed to run Windows 7 BETTER than whatever version of OS they originally used (XP, Vista, or even OS X).

    No, I do not own stock or work for Microsoft, nor any of these computer vendors. Frankly, I have real reservations about all of the “problems” you experienced in your setups. Whether an upgrade install (newer Vista systems) or fresh install (XP and Vista) all are stable and running without a SINGLE BSOD (knock on wood).

    Comment by Dale Strauss — December 15, 2009 @ 6:56 am

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  93. Интересно, я попробую.

    Comment by Светлана — December 20, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  94. I’m running an Asus G50vt-x5, which, to be fair, is only about 8 months old, and like you said I didn’t have much trouble upgrading from Vista to 7. However, this laptop has a bunch of proprietary drivers that have a tendency to be a bit glitchy, but I have yet to have any real problems with them after upgrading to 7. Does the Asus site have 7 drivers? I don’t know. Would I need them if I have decided to do a clean install? Again, I don’t know. What I do know is that my experience is much more stable with 7 then it was in the same amount of time after using Vista. Will it stay that way? Only time will tell. What I do know is, as an experienced end-user, 7 does have at least a few improvements over Vista; but then again, my machine is fairly new. On another note, I agree completely with you about HomeGroup.

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