Posted by: reformedmusings | May 2, 2009

Windows 7 Release Candidate Installation and Notes

This has been a banner week. First, Ubuntu 9.04 hit the streets, which I wrote about in this post. Then, Windows 7 Release Candidate hit Microsoft’s Developers’ Network and the torrents. A word of caution on the torrents – there are modified images around with malware embedded. If you are going to put the release candidate on a production system, be careful where you get it. Microsoft will make it available to the general public on May 5, 2009.

Note that that the product keys for the beta release will work for this release candidate.

As usual, I installed the Windows 7 Release Candidate in a VMWare Workstation virtual machine, although I’m debating installing it onto a spare hard drive to check out the Aero interface.

Upon cranking up the virtual CD, Windows 7 starts the installation:

win7rc-install

This goes on for quite a while, then Windows restarts itself:

win7rc-phase2

The glowing Windows symbol in the middle of the screen is animated. After updating the registry, it goes back into the installation screen:

win7rc-install2

Windows 7 takes quite a while to work through the “Completing Installation” step. At the end, Windows again restarts itself to another animated black screen:

win7rc-firstuse

This also takes quite a bit of time. At the end, the attractive login screen finally presents itself:

win7rc-login

Think that you’re done? Nope, Windows 7 still has to set up the desktop for a while:

win7rc-setdesktop

Then the network setup appears:

win7rc-netsetup

Windows 7 goes through two more network setup screens that I didn’t capture. The first provides choices on what to share over the home network. The second provides a pass code to use to share stuff on the network. The latter provides a nice security layer. Note that Ubuntu does the entire network setup for you automatically.

After all that, we can finally get serious. The initial desktop hasn’t changed since the initial beta (same betta spendens species):

win7rc-defaultdesk1

The finished installation took up 7,054 MB of hard disk and loaded into 346 MB of RAM. That compares with 7.3 GB of disk space for beta build 7057 and 8.65 GB for the first beta build 7000. Ubuntu 9.04 took just 3.1 GB of disk space, which includes a complete office suite and multimedia editing software, and used only 175 MB of RAM on initial loading.

I didn’t find a lot of system differences between beta build 7057 and the build 7100 release candidate. The RC has pretty much the same rotating wallpapers as the last beta leak. I chose the U.S. set for this installation. The RC has a nice menu set aside with handy items for those new to the operating system. It is geared towards learning Windows 7 and transferring your data over to it:

win7rc-getstarted

The User Account Control (UAC) default hasn’t changed, which still leaves it open to spoofing:

win7rc-uacset

The release candidate comes with Internet Explorer 8, complete with its compatibility mode:

win7rc-ie8

The gadgets are also about the same as build 7057:

win7rc-gadgets

It’s a bit warmer outside than when I tested build 7057. Here’s another great wallpaper in the U.S. rotation:

win7rc-wallpaper

As an experiment, I installed Avast4 Personal Edition. Windows 7 RC warned me that a program was trying to change the system:

win7rc-uacwarn

Note that the desktop is dimmed, indicating that background processes have been disabled while the security dialog is active. This theoretically prevents bypassing of the security warning. However, the dialog still doesn’t require a password to be entered, thus still leaving the system open to exploitation.

Avast4 says that it is compatible with Windows up to Vista, but it seems to work fine in the Windows 7 Release Candidate. It updated its signatures after installation and scanned directories without issue.

I also installed the excellent and free OpenOffice.org office suite. It continues to work perfectly in Windows 7 builds, as does Firefox 3.0.10 and Spybot Search and Destroy. Life is good in the open source and free software worlds.

However, Adobe Reader didn’t have the same luck. I double-clicked on a pdf file and Windows offered to find a compatible program. Windows opened IE8, then offered Adobe Reader for download. I downloaded and tried to install it, but received the following warning:

win7rc-adobe1

It looks like Vista compatibility doesn’t guarantee Windows 7 compatibility.

Overall performance seemed brisk. Windows 7 Release Candidate proved peppy even in a virtual machine, feeling faster than previous builds. I conducted my previous testing with 1 GB RAM VMs, but did this one with a 512 MB RAM VM to test compatibility with less memory than Vista’s required 1 GB. Windows 7 seemed to run about the same under both memory conditions – that is, quite well.

I haven’t fully explored the release candidate yet. So far, it has been solidly stable. Windows 7 is still bloated compared to Ubuntu, plus it is infected with customer-exploiting DRM. Then there’s the price tag. So as I’ve said before, Windows 7 is definitely not a viable alternative to the free, powerful, and DRM-free Ubuntu, but seems to be easier on resources and much faster than Vista. These are reasons enough for Vista users to move to Windows 7. Software and hardware compatibility will still be potential issues for Windows XP users, as Windows 7 is basically Vista Service Pack 3.

More to follow…

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Responses

  1. […] Windows 7 Release Candidate Installation and Notes « Reformed MusingsThe RC has a nice menu set aside with handy items for those new to the operating system. It is geared towards learning Windows 7 and transferring your data over to it: win7rc-getstarted. The User…https://reformedmusings.wordpress.com […]

  2. […] I noted in this post, Windows 7 Release Candidate retains the same default UAC setting as earlier betas. This default […]

  3. […] dunno; PB’s Reformed Musings is not a fan. Windows 7 Release Candidate Installation and Notes Reformed Musings At least 62 gaping security holes in Windows 7 Release Candidate Reformed Musings […]


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