Microsoft newest salvo in the operating system wars is out in beta, and if it is any indication of what will come with the final shipping product, then they are aiming for victory. Microsoft Windows 7, note there is no year or name or code letters, is what Windows Vista should have been. It is clean, fast, and stable. It contains all of the visual upgrades that were shoved into Vista, but with stability and speed that is at least as good as XP, if not better.
When Microsoft published the beta of Windows 7 they obviously underestimated how interested people were in their next move. Within hours the servers hosting the files and generating the license keys were overloaded and went off-line. Many pundits thought this was a first sign of bad things to come. But within a day the servers were back on line and offering up the files and keys without problem.
The disk image to install the OS is approximately 2.4 gig – much smaller that the equivalent Vista image. The first thing you notice as you go through the install is how quickly it moves. There are none of the long pauses between questions that seem to make up so much of the time of previous installations. And in fact, there are far fewer of those questions. The Windows 7 installation intelligently inquires of the hardware and makes assumptions so that the user doesn’t have to answer a litany of prompts about hardware and location. These setting can be fully configured once the system is up and running, but the bar to getting to that running state is much lower. Whether on older hardware or virtual machines, the entire installation seems fairly consistent at about 30 minutes in length, and not once did the installation fail.