Like many other web developers, I have over the years grown to shun the Microsoft Windows operating system. My main reason was simply that I like the idea of free and more importantly open source software. Its hard to shun the OS giant completely however as Microsoft OS's are ubiquitous not to mention the clear disparity between software availabilty for Windows and other OS's (even Macs). For the past 3 years I have been using the Ubuntu linux distro to carry out my day to day computing needs. Earlier this year however I had to concede defeat and resort to dual booting Windows XP (I did not even consider the atrocity called Vista) and Ubuntu. The reason? I needed to run Adobe Flash CS4 and no matter what anyone tells you, it does NOT run well under WINE.
It was all going pretty well, I did my flash thing in XP and i did just about everything else in Ubuntu. Then, one day not too long ago, I installed the Windows 7 RC. Boy was I blown away. Windows 7 is beautiful. Not just aesthetically, its beautiful to its core. After a clean (and relatively quick) install on my Vaio notebook I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was only one hardware driver that it was not able to install, the Sony Firmware Extension Parser Device (I have no idea what that is or does, the system ran fine without it before). After manually installing that driver, i proceeded to dig deeper into the OS. I ran through it trying to reproduce all the quirky errors I used to get with Vista and to my jaw dropping shock I could reproduce none. Most notably, it recognized my samba share without any registry hacks and was able to seamlessly sync with any Windows Mobile device I could throw at it. The boot time is significantly faster than previous iterations of the OS and I am yet to face any crippling issues. Interestingly enough, My Vaio laptop gets a higher windows experience rating in Windows 7 than it did in Windows Vista Ultimate: Absolutely amazing!
Windows 7, though impressive, is still windows and as such still has some of the annoying features of windows (e.g. inflexible networking). Those inescapable annoyances aside however, it seems right off the bat to be a HUGE improvement over Vista and an improvement even over XP. I find that I am now spending far more time in my Windows 7 install than in my Ubuntu Jaunty install (*hangs head in shame*). I am able to do everything that I was able to do in my Jaunty in Windows 7 and it all looks so much better. I've never been one for eye candy but looks DO matter. All the development tools I use luckily have Windows versions, even GIMP. I used to use a souped up Gedit as my source code editor but now I use Notepad++ which I have absolutely fallen in love with. Windows Live Writer replaces Scribus and of course my LAMP setup is replaced by Wampserver.
Maybe my liking for Windows 7 stems from the fact that I did not have to buy it (I'm running the freely downloadable RC) but I must say, I am seriously tempted to purchase it. I have never ever been tempted to purchase any OS before now. Well done Microsoft.