One thing I looked for in an operating system is predictability meaning it will work the way I anticipate. Windows 7 in its attempt to automate functions and deliver every imaginable feature falls down on this front. Unanticipated things occur, some good, some bad. Whoever said Windows was simple?
Case in point: I never recall turning on the picture Slide Show viewer. The surprise was somewhat serendipitous because it allows me to automatically view the hundreds of shots I took on a recent trip to Europe. I like this applet. Hey, there’s Dvorak’s grave…and Smetana’s. That’s son Chris and wife Ann high above the Voltava River in Prague. That’s me high up clinging to side of St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral in Plzen, Czech Republic. Very nice. Photos appear in user-defined increments of five seconds to five minutes with optional transitions. This very nice applet is easy enough to shut down so no complaint there, but I don’t recall activating it (as it turns out, a single click turns it on – Libraries->Pictures->Slide Show).
On a related note, Windows 7 does a vastly superior job of organizing files. To me, the Libraries feature as I come from XP is one of the best in Windows 7. It offers relief from the usual unorganized mess of photos, music, videos and documents that quickly accumulate year after year. Kudos on this, Microsoft.
It’s a different story with Narrator, the overbearing voice-guide to Windows 7 for the vision-challenged. Run the mouse over the icons and the voice spits out a rapid-fire jumble of definitions like “checkbox, exit button, application, focus on start button, show desktop, running application toolbar with five buttons.” Huh? Granted, I turned on Narrator (click on Programs->Accessories-> Ease of Access), but often it’s describing that seems to have no relationship where I am in Windows. Worse, it only sort of shuts off. Searching help with “Shut Off Narrator” yielded zero results. I exit the program and it keeps working (Windows has a habit of making you feel like it’s your fault).
One other feature I’ve played around with is the Network and Sharing Center which most of us use to find a Wifi hotspot. It functions the same way as the same way as Wifi manager in XP, but looks different for no advantage that I can immediately detect. It’s just another thing to learn although that happens quickly. Features like this seem the next model year of a car that you don’t need. Maybe as I dig down, I’ll find the Network and Sharing Center is vastly superior to its XP counterpart, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was no need to a network center. You just connect. That’s coming some day.
A nit with Windows 7 which should be fixed once it’s commercially available is no Windows 7 option for downloading Flash, Adobe Air and presumably other applications. I clicked on the “Vista/XP/2003/2000” option and after several tries, it downloaded, but Flash applications do not run reliably. And I can’t Air-based tweetdeck to run.
As for performance and reliability, Windows 7 on my netbook continues to do fine. I have to keep telling myself to give the myriad features on it a chance.