I’ve been using Windows 7 RC1 since the beginning of June last year. I installed it on my AMD64 3200+ Asus motherboard system with 2 gigs of ram. It was a fairly painless install at that point. I had 3 hard drives in the system and used the smallest as my Windows 7 test drive; completely wiping out the old XP Pro install and doing a fresh Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit install. It was probably one of the easiest OS installs I’ve ever done. The RC (release candidate) detected all of the old hardware except the on board Asus wireless card. I installed a Trendnet wireless network card and all was well and working. All of my software worked just fine as well as some external hardware like a flat bed scanner, several USB external hard drives as well as several thumb drives.
This past week was install week at VE3MPG for 2 machines: my ham computer described above and my work machine – a AMD quad core system with 4 gigs of ram, 2 hard drives – a 500 gig OS drive and a 1 terabyte data drive, fast video, and wireless network card. This last system was newly built a few months ago and tested with the release candidate Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. With the official release version of Windows 7 many more drivers were made available and my ham shack system installed in less than half an hour; this time the on board wireless drivers installed. I purchased the 3 pack Home Premium version of Windows 7 as I find this is probably the best bang for the buck of the available versions of Win7. One can install either the 32 bit or 64 bit version to a maximum of 3 systems. If you’re not on a corporate network this version works just fine for home based networks.
I find that Windows 7 is snappier and just works faster than XP did on my ham station computer. All of my ham software works great – Ham Radio Deluxe, VE7CC’s DX cluster program and just about anything I’ve downloaded to do with amateur radio. All of my older legacy programs work fine as does my Keyspan (USA-19H) USB to serial port adapter. It all works just great. Boot up times seem to be about the same or slightly faster.
I really enjoy the desktop gadgets – some ham radio related that I’ll write about in another post. On my work system, the quad core machine, I installed Sun Microsystems’ VirtualBox and installed Windows XP Pro as a guest operating system, in case I do run into some non-functioning or XP only software. With VirtualBox you can run multiple operating systems on the desktop. XP in VirtualBox makes use of hardware, networking components and USB ports. VirtualBox supports Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT, Server 2003 + 2008, Windows XP, Ubuntu and many other Linux flavours. See the VirtualBox website for more information. VirtualBox hosts include Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris.
Microsoft provides a tool called Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. You download, install and run it on your system – it will advise you if it’s realistic to run Windows 7 on your hardware and determine which hardware has new drivers or drivers not yet available. Microsoft updates the Upgrade Advisor regularly as new drivers are released by the manufacturers.
My ham station computer is going on 6 years old now but it’s running all of my software just fine on Windows 7. I’ll report later on other ham software compatibilities.