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playing with Win7

Sunday,  01/04/09  11:07 AM

I’ve spent some time the past few days installing and playing with Windows 7, the successor to Vista.  You know all the problems people have had with Vista, how it is slower and klunkier and less compatible, and how Windows XP really is “better” in most situations, despite being six years older.  So now Microsoft is coming out with “Windows 7” – that is apparently what it will be called, by the way – based on the Vista code base but with emphasis on making it faster, less klunky, and more compatible.  Microsoft seem to have absorbed the message that new features are all very exciting, but speed and compatibility matter too.

Anyway so far so good, it is immediately apparent that Win7 is faster than Vista, and you get far fewer weird popup messages asking you for permission to use your own computer.  The look and feel is otherwise quite similar to Vista.  I’m not a Vista expert, in fact I’ve actively avoided it (!), but the differences between Vista and Win7 in actual features seem minor.  I’m really rooting for Win7 because at some point [my company] Aperio will have to switch from XP to something, and I was hoping hoping hoping that we wouldn't have to switch to Vista.  And when I say “switch”, I mean for Aperio’s applications as delivered to customers as well as the operating system we all use day-to-day.

Here’s a screen shot of Win7 running IE8 (beta) accessing Aperio's Spectrum product (our Flash WebViewer works just fine) with our ImageScope viewer accessing a digital slide.  Pretty much everything “just works” although some of the graphic effects are a bit different (the controls have a new look, “flat” is the new “3D”, and the outline on the filmstrip thumbnail is overly heavy):

Win 7 in action - click for full-size screenshot

Aperio's image analysis algorithm framework works, as does the nuclear IHC analysis algorithm, and I’ve been using this as a helpful performance benchmark.  One thing Win7 has under the covers is better support for multicore/multiprocessor machines, especially the x64 version, but I haven’t been able to test that on my laptop.  At some point I’ll have to try some of the new 16-core 64-bit servers, they'd be perfect for analysis acceleration :)

Stay tuned for more…

PS once again the value of having VMWare for this sort of experimentation is confirmed. I would not have dared install Win7 on my laptop for everyday use, but by having a VM for it I can play with it to my heart’s content, then go back to XP for “real” work.

PPS in case you’re wondering, no, Win7 is not yet available, in fact, it is not yet in beta.  Do not ask where I got it :)