Windows 7 through the eyes of a real person – Day 2

Here’s the next instalment from Rich’s Windows 7 diary:

I’m in!

Back from work so time to fire up the PC, let’s see how the boot process goes. Not too slow but no faster than my previous Vista install but I do like the fancy new Windows logo animation...small things J

We’re in and it looks good, I do like the wallpaper. Have a little look around-check the Games section, nothing new although it seems “InkBall” has gone...shame, I quite liked that. I realise I’m not connected to the wireless router and it suddenly dawns on me that if ever I was going to have a driver problem, this would be it-getting my wireless dongle to work in Windows 7 (I had enough problems in Vista!). Before I get worked up, I download the newest set of Vista drivers from the Netgear site and install those.

Disconnect and reconnect dongle = nothing

Worry = Increasing

Reboot = SUCCESS

Smile = huge

Easy. This is an instant example of how MS building on Vista’s base will make this OS transition SO much better than XP to Vista. Connecting to the net is the one big that that pretty much everyone needs/wants to do with a new PC and if I can get my hot-headed dongle to work in the beta I don’t think anyone need worry when it gets released to manufacturing. Now I’m online I’m much happier J

A quick check shows that, as thought, Windows.old is there looking after all the files from the now gone Vista install-which means I don’t need to bother re-loading the many GB’s of backed up music. I open up Media Player 12 and set it to scan for available media as it’s going to take a while-I go and make a brew.

30 minutes or so later I check on it and the library is much bigger than I expected which puzzles me until I remember that WMP now plays M4a files. I got really excited about that feature when I heard about it and now here it is...and it’s awesome! My ipod doesn’t get that much use these days (I tend to use my HTC Diamond now) but it still gets taken out once in a while, and it got used heavily for a good few years; so I’ve got a big collection of m4a tracks. Over the years I’ve ended up with 2 more or less separate music collections as if I wanted to add songs to my ipod I’d rip them in iTunes but if I just wanted them on the computer, I’d rip them into WMP as WMA’s.

Now with Windows Media Player 12, they’re all together in the one place and I love it! I rarely ventured into iTunes unless I really had to, so I’m finding songs-nay entire albums-I’d forgotten I’d ripped which is pretty cool. Another benefit is that this combined library is showing up duplicated duplicates where I’ve got the tracks in both WMA & M4a-allowing me to delete one of them and reclaim ever more previous HD space. Also, in general, I find WMP 12 to be faster and more responsive than the previous version too-everything’s just a little bit slicker...

As well as M4a support there were a few other features I’d heard about so let’s go and have a look at those:


After a few months I disabled the Sidebar in Vista as it annoyed me just a bit too much for me to put up with it. In theory it was a great idea but it took up that whole side of the screen and just felt restrictive and cumbersome, so I was happy to hear that Windows 7 allowed you to place the gadgets where ever you wanted without the rigidity of the sidebar.

This is probably the area that giving me the most problems. First of all I can’t add all the gadgets-I wanted the calendar but it just refused, so I went with the clock and placed it randomly on my desktop. After a little shuffling it ended up next to the “My Computer” shortcut...such a little thing being able to do this but it makes the user experience much better.

The second and biggest issue, is that sidebar.exe practically takes over my machine-using at least 55% CPU but often hovering around the 90-95% mark; this of course slows everything else to a crawl. All it takes is ending the process to free up the CPU but this obviously shouldn’t be happening, hopefully this will be sorted in the RTM version. Also, I can’t see any way of removing sidebar.exe from’s not in msconfig and there is no longer a system tray icon to right click K This means I’ve got to bring up Task Manager each time I log on to shut down the process-quite annoying...


The Windows 7 beta is only available until the 10th February to download, so get your copy now!

To get more information on Windows 7, check out the following resources:

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