Windows 7 Passes Beta Tests
Could it be that Microsoft is on the way to actually making good on promises to deliver a much-improved successor to Windows Vista?
Corporate admins shouldn't get overly excited by the prospect, but the word among testers of early beta versions of the Build 7,000 series of Windows 7 is that Vista's heir apparent runs significantly faster on new and older machines than Windows XP and Vista run.
"I really like what I see from this [first release of] beta code; it's a solid piece of work. Frankly, I'm somewhat surprised," says one beta tester with a large Chicago-based financial firm. He adds that it's still very early in the beta cycle, which gives Microsoft ample opportunity to "muck things up." But, that said, it also gives Microsoft more time to make the code run even faster, he adds.
The Windows 7 Build 7,000 represents the first series of what figures to be many beta builds. Builds in the 6,000 series were pre-beta builds. Microsoft had initially intended to make Windows 7 available to a small circle of testers, but Build 7,000 was leaked and became widely available on many Web sites by early January.
The fact that Windows 7 appears as though it will run on a wider variety of older machines than Vista (which requires at least 2GB of memory for acceptable performance) figures to win a lot of hearts and minds -- if not wallets -- among cost-conscious corporate users.
Another beta tester, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he ran the early code on a system with only 1GB of memory and experienced acceptable performance.
"It would be extremely rare, even unique, for Microsoft to deliver a next-generation operating system that actually required fewer hardware resources than the operating system before it -- but boy, I'd take it," says John Henderson, a networking administrator with a Nevada-based utility.
But you can't please all the people all the time. Some reviewers still cite niggling problems with the somewhat-reworked interface. Others are worried about the changes Redmond has made to the User Account Control (UAC), which might affect some applications and installers.
As of press time, Microsoft officials would not comment on when the first beta of Windows 7 would be formally delivered. They continue to say that the finished product will arrive in either late 2009 or early 2010.
Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.