Just pray you don't need to purchase all that stuff to get Windows 7 to work...

When I first used Windows Vista I was running an entry-level machine (AMD Sempron cpu, Radeon 9250 gpu, 1 gig ram etc) and the OS utterly destroyed my machine.  Not only was my hardware incapable of running Vista effectively, there were also hardware components that weren’t compatible, such as my soundcard and the 1 gig of ram that I had in the PC (that was more than sufficient for Windows XP) struggled to meet the requirements of the resource-hungry software.  Let’s not forget the myriad of software applications that were rendered obsolete due to the fact that backwards compatibility was pretty much an alien concept for Vista.

So after a huge upgrade (dual-core processing, 3 gigs ram, Radeon 4870 gpu etc) I found that I had Vista under control due to the fact that I had overpowered it into submission (hooray!).  I also found that I had an easier time using Vista when I had hardware that was ‘Vista Certified’ although there were still things like the Vista Certified Verbatim 250 gig external hard-drive that would not work on the OS, it worked on XP and Linux Ubuntu, but not Vista.

I know that everyone complained about Vista; resource hungry, poor backwards compatibility, incessantly being harassed by ‘security’ messages and so on but I had the OS installed for 15 months and I seldom experienced any major problems.

So finally after hearing so much about Windows 7, I decided to format my PC and install Microsoft’s latest piece of software to see what all the fuss is about.  Windows 7 has already been called Microsoft’s best operating system since Windows XP, so I decided to judge that for myself.  One of the main things that Windows 7 is supposed to address is the backwards compatibility issue that plagued the previous OS.  Windows 7 is supposed to be XP app friendly and since Win7 is based upon the Vista architecture, it should have no problems running Vista software either. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

I know that Win7 has only been out officially for 5 days or so but I had a tough time getting everything to work properly on the OS. Win7 seems to be even more hostile towards older applications than Vista and I ended up spending ages online trying to find new software that would actually run on Win7.  Considering that the BETA version and various other versions of Win7 have been available for download, be it official downloads or illegal, you’d think that people would spend time testing the OS before its official release to see if it had any major issues, specially since Microsoft has been making a big deal about how backwards compatible their new baby supposedly is.

Below, I’ve listed some applications that no longer work in Windows 7, forcing me to find alternatives, very frustrating indeed.

  • Daemon tools lite: any version below 4.35 will not work properly and Win7 will pop up with a ‘this product has known software incompatibility issues’ message.  What the fuck Microsoft? The first thing I install and there’s a compatibility issue?!
  • FabDVD Decrpyter 4 & 5:  both of these apps failed to install correctly forcing me to upgrade to version 6, bearing in mind that you have to pay for FabDVD software, as well as the aforementioned Daemon tools.
  • The older version of Comodo firewall wouldn’t initialize so I checked online for firewalls that are supported by Win7, I downloaded a few (freeware of course) and when I tried to install them I was met with more compatibility error messages *sighs*
  • My version of AVG Antivirus had to be upgraded too.
  • My gigabyte motherboard drivers, specifically the RealtekHD drivers, were incompatible, meaning that I had to spend an eternity finding audio drivers that actually worked.

Those are just a few of the apps that no longer work on the OS (I’m using the x86/32bit version btw).  I couldn’t install cccp codec pack because Win7 doesn’t have D3D 9 binaries meaning I had to go to Microsoft’s website and download the damn file before I could install my codec pack.  Speaking of which, MS Media Player Classic cannot effectively play mkv or ogg files that are subtitled (like anime) since it’s unable to display sub-titles, only hard-coded subs (such as those found on avi files) worked.  I’m not sure if it’s the codec pack or what, but DVD video quality is horrendous when using vlc player, mpc or PowerDVD, so I ended up having to use Media Player 12 to watch DVDs.

Through my persistence I persevered and once I had replaced all the old software with apps that were actually compatible I found that Win7 is actually quite intuitive and easy to use, although the new task bar took some getting used to.  Some applications like Windows Movie Maker have been omitted from Win7 (though you are able to download it from Microsoft’s site if you like) and there’s no more resource-chowing sidebar like in Vista, though you are able to attach widgets to your desktop (right-click in explorer >> gadgets).

The Windows firewall has been much improved, however I still don’t trust it and use a third-party alternative (Outpost ftw).  There are now various aero themes to choose from, all of which are accompanied by their own sound schemes and the OS now comes with DirectX11, how that will affect games and 3D apps remains to be seen.  Win7 also uses 10% less ram than its predecessor although if you intend on using the x64/64-bit variant of the OS you’ll need a minimum of 2 gigs ram.  The other problem with the 64-bit version is that there are going to be a lot of old XP apps that simply wont run, so if you installed Win7 with the hopes of playing some old game that wouldn’t work on Vista, make sure you’re using the 32-bit version.

As with every Windows OS installment, Win7 looks very pretty, more so than Vista, it uses a very clean and attractive interface that’s very nice to look at and navigate around.  I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what Win7 has to offer and further investigation will yield new things (be they good or bad), however if you’ve been using Vista hassle-free, I don’t see much benefit to upgrading to Windows 7, it’s just more of the same really, like a reconfigured, more secure version of Vista.  Linux users will probably scoff at the OS since their platform of choice has already been able to do what Win7 is capable of as far as internet security and stability is concerned and MS fan-boys will have a new toy to play with, albeit an expensive one.  So all in all, I wouldn’t say it’s imperative that you upgrade to Win7 at this moment but if curiosity gets the better of you (such as in my case), give Win7 a try.