In which I come to grips with the ups and downs of migrating to Windows 7, Office 2010, Visio 2010, and a number of other applications that make my eyes water and my lower lip quiver...
In my previous blog I related how I came to break my old computer and purchase a new machine. As part of this, I was obliged to upgrade to Windows 7, Office 2010, and a variety of other software applications, and it’s the software side of things I’d like to discuss now…
But before we do begin to consider the software, with regard to the computer itself, I’d like to start by saying that I really love my Sony VAIO – thus far it has performed flawlessly. On the other hand, since Joe (see my previous blog) described his dual-core Core i5 as being “Screamingly Fast,” it struck me that my quad-core Core i7 was not perhaps quite as fast as I had expected.
You know, I’m old enough at this game that I should know better … but believe it or not I had completely neglected to consider the clock frequency (take me outside and spank me now). I emailed Joe asking about his machine, which turns out to have a 3.0+ GHz clock. On looking more closely at my machine, I discovered that I have a 1.73 GHz clock, although there is a nice shiny label that promises “Up to 2.93 GHz with Turbo Boost.”
Hmmm... “Turbo Boost” sounds a bit like marketing hype, and we all know that you cannot really trust those little rapscallions who have turned to the dark (marketing) side, but a quick visit to the Wikipeda informed me that:
Intel Turbo Boost is a technology implemented by Intel in certain versions of their Nehalem-based CPUs, including Core i5 and Core i7. Turbo Boost allows dynamically increasing CPU clock-speed on demand. Turbo Boost activates when the operating system requests the highest performance state of the processor. Processor performance states are handled via ACPI which is supported by all major operating systems so no additional software or drivers are required to support this new technology. (Most refer to this concept as "dynamic overclocking".)
When the processor has not reached its thermal and electrical limits and the user's workload demands additional performance, the processor clock frequency will dynamically increase in increments of 133 MHz on short and regular intervals until a thermal or power limit is reached or the maximum speed for the number of active cores is reached. Conversely, when any of the limits are reached or exceeded, the processor frequency will automatically decrease in decrements of 133 MHz until the processor is again operating within its limits.
So maybe it’s true (grin). OK Let’s start at the top and work our way through the operating system and various software applications I’ve loaded thus far:
It’s awesome. I love it. And I speak here as a man who does not like change. My memory fades and I no longer really recall the days of DOS and Windows 3.1 and suchlike – I do remember that I was relatively happy with Windows 95 – I also remember that I didn’t enjoy the move to Windows 98 (I grew to like it over time) – I certainly didn’t revel in the migration to Windows 2000 – I never had to face the horrors of Windows ME – I didn’t relish the move to Windows XP (again, I grew to like it over time) – and I avoided Windows Vista like the plague (I was told my many folks that it was a disaster in a business setting).
Thus, based on past experience, I really was not looking forward to coming to grips with yet another operating system in the form of Windows 7. How young and foolish I was. If I were now in a position to advise someone about moving from Windows XP or earlier (or Windows Vista) to Windows 7 I would jump up and down, wave my arms around, and shout: “Don’t waste a second – upgrade immediately!”
(Note that I am NOT suggesting that you load Windows 7 onto an older machine – I don’t know how well that would work – all I’m saying is that if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to acquire a new computer running Windows 7, then embrace it and don’t be afraid.).
Why do I like Windows 7 so much? Well, apart from anything else, it boots up really, REALLY quickly. When I powered up my old Windows XP machine, it would sit there with its hard-disk drive thrashing furiously for ages. I mean, it seemed to take FOREVER before things settled down and I could actually get to do something useful. I’ve been told that this was due to the fact that Windows XP pre-loaded a bunch of stuff on the off-chance it would be required. Actually, I still have that machine sat next to me plugged into a spare monitor as we speak, so I’ll power it down and see how long it takes to boot up again using the stopwatch feature on my new Android Cell Phone
(I’ll report back later in this article when it’s powered up again).
By comparison, my new machine with Windows 7 boots up INCREDIBLY FAST. I’ve been told that this is due to the fact that it uses a “load on demand” model in which it only loads things when it needs them. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I just powered it down and up again to see how long it took (something I would never have done with my old machine while in the middle of writing an article) and it was ready to rock and roll in less than 60 seconds (it seems like much less)!
Another really good thing about Windows 7 is that I’ve found it easy to use – to put this another way, I’ve been able to do almost everything I wanted to do without the operating system getting in my way (also it has awesome background images that you can use if you wish).
One feature that is especially useful (I would go so far as to say “amazingly so”) is the Windows 7 Search feature. With Windows XP, you have to click the Start
button and then the Search
link and then (in order to speed things up) fill in loads of fields specifying what you were looking for and when it was created and where you wanted to look and whether it should look only in the file’s name or if it should also look in the contents of the file and… arrgggh!
And when you finally instructed Windows XP to commence the search, it started to grind along painstakingly working its way through all of your files and folders…
By comparison, in Windows 7 you simply click the Start
button and you are immediately presented with the Search
field saying Search programs and files
If you start typing something like “Dr. Who”
, the system dynamically displays a list of appropriate files (this list is automatically based both on the file names and the contents of those files). You can either click on one of these files or you can click the See more results link
, in which case you are presented with all the information you need to track down the file or image or whatever of interest.
The fact that the search function displays its results instantly and dynamically (on-the-fly) means it must be constantly searching and indexing things in the background and storing the results in a database somewhere. I don’t know how it does it. I don’t care. All I know is that it works beautifully and that in the future this is going to save me countless hours of rooting through my file and folders by hand.
Actually, I’ll share something rather embarrassing with you. When I first wished to perform a search, I clicked the Start
button and then looked for the Search
link in the list of links on the right-hand side of the resulting dialog. Because I was looking at these links, I simply didn’t notice the Search programs and files
When I didn’t see the Search
link I started to mutter and grumble and instead clicked the Help and Support
link and performed a query on “Search”. Of course it came back saying “Click the Start button and then type a word or part of a word in the search box”
. “What search box?”
I said to myself … but I clicked the Start
button again… and there it was (give me strength!)
As an aside – my old machine finally finished booting up a little while ago (I could have told you earlier but I didn’t want to break the flow). It took around 7.5 minutes before the hard disk drive stopped thrashing full-bore and instead began to thrash intermittently, at which time I would have been in a position to start doing something useful (it took another minute or so before the hard disk light stopped flashing at all).
Good Grief – I didn’t realize I was going to waffle on for so long. I’m afraid that I will have to leave my musings on the other software packages until my next blog. In the meantime, I do have one question. When I open a folder in Windows 7 I can select between different views, including Details
. Most of the time I prefer to see the Details
view, but on occasion (like when looking at a folder containing images) it’s better to be presented with an Icon
The problem is that if I select an alternative view in any folder, that view seems to persist when I subsequently move into daughter folders. Actually, I just tested this, and I also find that if I change the view in a daughter folder, the new view persists when I regress into a parent folder.
What I would really like to do would be to set the default view (to be applied to the majority of folders) to be the Details
view, but to specify that hand-selected folders would always present their information in the Icon
view … do you know if this can be achieved and – if so – how?
Until next time – have a good one!