Technologizer: Windows 7 RC – FAQs

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By Harry McCracken

Sixteen questions (and answers!) on the new, almost-finished version of Microsoft’s next OS.

Windows 7 is here–sort of. Yes, Microsoft still isn’t talking about when it’ll ship the final version–all evidence suggests it’ll be sometime this Fall–but the company is unleashing the Windows 7 Release Candidate today. It’s a free, all-but-final version of the operating system, and it’ll work until March 1st, 2010 before Microsoft forces you to uninstall it or overwrite it with a paid-for copy of the final edition. In short, if you’re itching to give Windows 7 a try, you can.

I’ve been using Windows 7 in various prerelease incarnations since last October, and for the more part, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. (So did most of the Technologizer community members who took our survey on the beta.) For the past few days I’ve been running the Release Candidate–mostly on an Asus EeePC 1000HE, and to a lesser extent on a Dell XPS M1330 laptop. (Full disclosure: The latter machine was loaned to me by Microsoft for Windows 7 testing.)

I’ll be writing about this beta a lot in the coming months–right up until the time that I get my hands on a version of W7 that’s even closer to being ready to roll. After the jump, some questions and answers about the Release Candidate and Windows 7 in general.

1. So should I use this Release Candidate?
The usual caveat applies, at least officially: Don’t use pre-release software for mission-critical work. You might break a PC that’s working well, or discover that some of your applications are incompatible only after you’ve installed W7. That said, I’ve preferred prerelease versions of Windows 7 to Windows Vista for months now–even though it’s an unfinished product, it’s run faster and more smoothly on every computer I’ve put it on than theoretically time-tested Vista.

I’ve also had good luck with compatibility–I’ve installed Microsoft Office 2007, Google Chrome, Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop, and other applications, and they’ve all run just fine. My Verizon USB EVDO modem works, too. Even Symantec’s Norton 360 security suite didn’t completely choke–security suites aren’t really supposed to work on new versions of Windows–although I did get an error message about an incompatible heuristics driver. (Symantec says it’s finishing up work on a Win 7-friendly version of the product.)

The biggest glitch I’ve encountered so far: My HP OfficeJet Pro 7500 doesn’t seem to want to install, even when I use W7’s compatbility feature to attempt to fool the HP installer into thinking that it’s in Windows Vista. I’m not done troubleshooting it, though–and come to think of it, getting it to work with my Mac was also a struggle.

In short, I don’t think you have to be foolhardy or even particularly brave to take Windows 7 for a test drive. I would, however, recommend installing it alongside your current version of Windows rather than an top of it. You’ll have no choice if you’ve got Windows XP–W7 doesn’t support XP upgrades. But even on a machine that currently runs Vista, I wouldn’t advise overwriting a shipping OS with a prerelease one. It’s simply safer to keep your old OS on hand in case anything goes wrong.

ARTICLE CONTINUED HERE

[This post is excerpted with Harry’s permission from his Technologizer blog.]

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22 thoughts on “Technologizer: Windows 7 RC – FAQs

  1. Well I must say I like windows7 works great for me have had no problems with running programs, Printers or anything. AVG works great on it and I have used AVG fo years and find it better than all the paid Anti Virus programs out there. The only one big big problem I have with windows7 is the have taken out Outlook Express Mail. I must say that was the most stupid thing to do. I have had no end of trouble trying to find a good Email service the use. But can not find one. the Live mail is total rubbish. So Microsoft wake up and give us our Outlook Express back. Or will have to go back to XP I suppose.

  2. I have purchased a new Laptop with Win7 and I have 4 printers…one, only a few months and two, only 2 yrs old…one is a Laser that I will need for my business come January…Win7 won’t work with any of them…no drivers or other compatability…Can anyone tell me what Laser printer will work with Win7???

  3. most microsoft os’s are backwards compatible the promblem came in vista enforcing the rules that software writers weren’t following. good drivers generally work for 2 os’s, drivers that exploit shortcuts in the os might not even work after a service pack upgrade. so while ms is the greatest remember they write software that runs on thousands of different hardware configurations, not a bad ability in my opion.

  4. the latest version of AVG does work with windows 7 just fine make sure you download the latest version from their website

  5. I installed W7 beta(on a partition)and it ran everything beautifully I got ‘on line’ without a glitch However – since installing W7RC I can no longer get on line as it doesn’t recognise my(antiquated)Linksys 100TX card have tried everything even downloading the driver(using Vista O/S which recognises the card)and transferring it into W7RC O/S The card is shown in Device Manager but still doesn’t work Any suggestions ???

  6. i am running the 7 x64 RC as my main OS on 2 desktops and a laptop, and have been doing so since build 6801. The only program i have compatibility issue with is the new samsung pc studio, and all i really used it for was converting movies to mp4, and there are plenty free apps out there for that. I am using the Norton 360 (Win 7 compatibility beta) and it runs superbly, as does Norton IS 2009, although it didnt work on a 7 x86 i tried it on. I am far from a MS fanboy, but i love this OS, and will purchase it when it becomes available, i just hope that MS take the credit crunch into account when pricing it.

  7. the biggest complaint i have with MICROSOFT is all new OS are not backward compatable…the consumer are forced to buy newer hardware,for crying out loud MICROSOFT people just cant afford new cameras,printers,scanners ect..ect..EVERY TIME YOU DEVELOPE AN OS. I personaly have 600 dollars in three copies of vista ultimate…you should support us(the consumer) for once..I tried 7RC but back to vista,vista hasnt been out 5 years and MS is already trying to come out with a new OS, that is crazy..they hiped up VISTA like it was something GREAT,(like DX10.. BLA..BLA…BLA.) NOW THERE RUNNING THE SAME with W7…that makes me angry..(FINISH THE JOB WITH VISTA MICROSOFT THEN ILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT YOU FUTURE OS..)SUPPORT THOSE WHO MADE YOU WHAT YOU ARE..THE CONSUMER…………

  8. Went from Vista to W7 rc a few days ago. I have never installed a new OS before and was terrified but all went great and was up and running in a few hours. Everything seems to be running perfect, from my avast av, my old officejet 6310, and most important my entire adobe master suite.

    My laptop of 2 years is antiquated by most peoples standards but I haven’t had one issue! <3 w7

  9. I backed up my critical files, loaded W 7 beta and not W7 RC without hesitation. After nearly 15 years of waiting on windows to open instantly, W 7 is the nearest to that wish.

    Why W 7? My biggest peave with XP 64-bit is that it still didn’t recongize/utilize all 4 GB memory. Now, all of my memory is used and the benchmarks are better because of it.

  10. Actually, you can do a dual boot of win7 with XP. (or vista, obviously ) Simply re-partitioning the hard drive with a free app like ‘GParted’ and loading the release candidate to a new partition. Should be at least 20gigs, I’d recommend a fair bit more if you can spare it.

    Googling “dual boot xp and windows 7” will provide a number of sites with step by step instructions.

  11. Will it allow two way communication between our laptop and our A3 printer? We’re pretty broke and I’ve been contemplating downgrading my wife’s Dell laptop from the supplied Vista home to XP simply so she can print double sided on the big Epson.
    She’s an artist, and there’s no point telling me of all the “easy” ways of sharing printers on our little net, she simply can’t hack that. Our “main” desktop computer still runs on Win 2000 Pro, so I don’t know what the anti poor old XP nerds will say about my system – but then I’ve been involved with computers since 1964

  12. I installed Windows 7 Beta 64 bit version… and could not get my usb wireless card to work.. nor my printer..nor my scanner. So I tried the 64 bit version of Ubuntu (beta version at the moment): wireless works perfect.. as well as printer and scanner. Needless to say, Win7 is not in my computer any more.

  13. the only problem I have found is that the mouse locks up when my PC comes out of hybrid sleep. the mouse is a USB if that makes a difference.

  14. What free version have you been able to get to run on Win7 RC? I can’t AVG to run. I receive an error message that says file corrupt.

  15. i agree with derick bartelings some programs just dont work like they do on xp or vista beta but thats microsoft for you all for themselfs and not the general puplic think about it the more they try the more they mess up like with ie 8 none of my toolbars will work

  16. I was more impressed with the Beta version than the RC one, since they changed compatibilities with some software. One of them was Tune-up 2009, which runs on XP, Vista and on W7 Beta, but will not run on the RC, even in all XP modes, and Vista modes, so one step back again. But, at least some other utilities still run!

  17. My Mcafee Antivirus could not run on Windows 7 RC. I’m forced to user those free AV available on the internet.

  18. Commenting on your problem with HP Printer drivers…
    I wish the ‘pretend my OS is an older version’ was a reliable way to fix the compatability issue with drivers. I have an Office Laserjet 3500n, when it was new it cost $3000, and it still works excellent. The problem is that HP drivers stop working at XP. And 64 bit OS? No can do. I have a non-genuine version of XP sitting on an old computer that now acts as my printing platform. I cant even connect to it from my Vista32 to print because of the incompatability. If Microsoft worked it’s magic and really made the OS fully backwards compatable, it would make many many lives easier. And yes, the Universal Print driver is neat… but now I have to transfer my files over to an older version of WORD, loosing some neat presets and turning my nice advertising document into junk, just to print something.

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