Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is a polished piece of work, ready for prime time

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Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Pros

  • Early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista

Cons

  • Too soon to make a proper assessment of the operating system

Bottom Line

It's way too early to make a proper assessment of Windows 7, but Microsoft has made its intentions clear: Windows 7 is intended to right the wrongs Vista wrought, but retain that operating system's good points. And at this point, we can't argue with that. Our early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista, which can only be a good thing. We'll be updating this review as we get more information on and time with Windows 7, so be sure to bookmark this page.

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Windows 7: Networking Improvements

Windows 7 adds a few networking improvements that Vista and XP lacked. One of the most significant of these is HomeGroups, which give structure to the process of sharing devices and media files over a home network.

Setting up a HomeGroup between two or more Windows 7 PCs automates the sharing of Libraries (collections of pictures, music files, movies, or documents), printers, and storage devices. Windows 7 also increases the number of SMB network connections that you can have in a single network.

Setting up a HomeGroup needn't put all of your systems at risk, it seems. When you create one, Windows generates a secure passkey that you must enter on every system that you add to the HomeGroup, which should help keep interlopers from reaching your shared files and devices, even if they manage to get onto your wireless network.

Windows 7: Easy Upgrade

In our last trial of Windows 7, we had no opportunity to perform a full upgrade from Vista — an experience that will be important to many people who want to try out the 7 beta or to upgrade their own systems to 7 from XP or Vista.

If no news is good news, we're pleased to report that our own upgrade went off without a hitch. The actual install time was roughly 40 minutes, and the system rebooted more times than seemed necessary for a simple OS upgrade, but the final result was a fully functional installation. Even our AVG antivirus continued to function normally, which came as a welcome surprise.

Of course, we're running the new OS on a test machine that we use primarily for trying out things like this, and it isn't exactly laden with media files and applications. In coming weeks, we'll try the beta out on additional systems with a range of installed apps and files to see how the upgrade goes on machines with more-complicated software loads.

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