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Microsoft Windows 7: Computer Operating System Done Right

By Ion Saliu, System Operator At-Large

Microsoft Windows 7 really improved on Vista.

I wrote disparagingly about Microsoft Windows Vista in 2008. I began with an original sin of the day: Everybody wants to be fancy these days!

My Dell PC had the 64-bit version of Windows Vista installed. The Aero theme in Vista did look splendid as an interface. But I had to believe that mostly persons with highly educated artistic tastes appreciated the super-model of the interface models. For that's what Windows, even in its super-model incarnation, is: A pretty interface on top of DOS. You can imagine {Windows Vista} as the marriage of Joe-The-Plumber (DOS) to a beautiful super-model who advertises for Dior ( t'adore...) I can't see how such marriage could last for long. It didn't! The beauty of Vista turned off millions of pinheads! You know, the business customers, those who made Microsoft one of the richest corporations in history.

Microsoft released this new version, named Windows 7. Actually, it should have been named Vista 1.1. The stunningly beautiful themes in Vista were replaced by much more sober graphics. To my dismay, I was sad in the first hours! I had fallen in love with Vista appearance (that super model analogy!) The default theme of Windows 7 is more serious, however. We use computers primarily for serious things, not for the purpose of visual enchantment. And, during the boot process, there is the theme of the white dove and the olive branch!

I said in the aforementioned article that the graphical designers of Vista might have been working in orgy-like settings (like alcohol, drugs, and sex!) They got sober during Windows 7 remake of Vista! It is no longer the case of astonishing imagery for the sake of artistic astonishment. The Microsoft developers realized that the essence of Windows is seriousness as in productivity. Let the childish stuff to the Mac computers and operating systems — the kids shouldn't be subjected to productivity too early in life!

The first highly annoying thing Vista threw at users was the User Account Control (UAC). That feature didn't let you do anything without maddeningly asking you to click OK in two dialog boxes! The nuisance was featured in Apple computer commercials (at least, the ones that have flooded the U.S. television). Luckily, the UAC highly irritating bonehead feature of Vista could be turned off in the Control Panel. It was not intuitive, however. You had to guess to open the Users function of the Control Panel! Or, search the help facility (Vista came with the best help facility ever in an operating system; Help in Windows 7 is even better).

The User Account Control in Windows 7 was thoroughly reworked. It has now 4 settings. The default setting is not maddening anymore. In fact, the default setting of UAC makes a lot of sense from the security vistapoint…I mean, viewpoint! The user has also the ability to completely turn off UAC.

One thing I hated when XP came along was the hiding, by default, of the underlining of the menu items. The feature was insanely buried in the XP configuration. It takes a lot of steps of right-clicking (I still don't remember the whole procedure…but I said it was insane, didn't I?) You gotta find a button named Effects, and then uncheck Hide Underlining Menu Items...(or something as crazy as that...) Otherwise, the XP menus do not show the underscore, which represents an acceleration key. For example, the File menu shows an underscore...…under letter F. Therefore, pressing simultaneously letter F and the Alt key opens the File menu. That is an extraordinary productivity feature that an operating system can offer!

There is more to that productivity feature related to a tiny character named underscore. It offers also a health benefit to a user's hands. Many of the operating systems (or software applications as well) are available instantly with a right-button click of the mouse. The so-called context-sensitive menus can show acceleration keys like the main menus (on the menu bars). But that feature is enabled only if the Hide Underlining Menu Items default in Windows XP is disabled.

Disabling that crazy default opens a goldmine of productivity shortcuts! I apply them to the fullest! I right-click in a folder, and the context-sensitive menu pops up. I know quite a few shortcuts from memory, after so much usage. Instead of moving the mouse tip over 'New' with my right hand, I just press w with my left hand. Then, instead of moving the mouse tip over 'Folder' with my right hand, I just press f with my left hand. I just created a new folder in the speediest manner, while using both hands. A user's right hand (a majority of users; lefties need special settings; what I say here is still valid for them, but interchanging the hands) is the most exploited by extensive and intensive computer work. DOS exploited both hands equally, but people still filed lawsuits on the grounds of arm and hand ailments (carpal tunnel syndrome and the like). Everything became even more dangerous after Mac and Windows, because the dominant hand has been more excruciatingly required to do extra work.

Windows Vista completely eliminated the Menu underlining feature. The default was even more insanely anti-productivity designed. The default hid the menus altogether! Very hard to unbury that feature! One must search thoroughly and expect quite a few misses. The user can only uncheck 'Hide Menu Items'. The underscore cannot be enabled. Only pressing the Alt key can show the acceleration keys of the menu items (on the menu bar). Big problem, though! If you right click and open up the context-sensitive menus, you won't be able to see the acceleration keys. If you press the Alt key to show the shortcuts, the context-sensitive menu boxes evaporate instantly! You must have an elephant memory and remember all the acceleration keys from your XP era (or past life)! I did remember the key sequences for creating a new folder and several other tasks.

Windows 7 also fixed that crazy miss in Vista. The fix is not very intuitive, however. The default is still Hide menu items and underscore of acceleration keys. You need to right-click on the Desktop and choose Personalize. Then, Ease of Access Center, then Make the keyboard easier to use, then check Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys.

The real Vista pain was triggered by issues with my software — I mean, software that I wrote.

All the 16-bit software I wrote is unusable in Vista, the 64-bit version. No doubt, the 64-bit software will be the future…soon, very soon! We'll be alive and well and kicking in the 64-bit era.

I tried to run my software as in my IonMenu setting. It no longer worked under 64-bit Windows 7. The border-creating program no longer works, as it must be 16-bit software. Ok! No big deal! But, then, the 'wait for a keypress DOS .COM application' is no longer working (WAITS.COM and/or WAITER.COM in my menus). No longer functional is QEdit, the best text-operating application ever, one of the best computer programs ever! The replacement, by Microsoft, EDIT part of QBasic, later part of CMD, no longer works, either! QEdit is already dead, the Microsoft henchmen roared!

Hey, even Microsoft's greatest programming tool ever, Visual Basic 6, does not work properly under 7! The programmer receives a serious warning, before attempting to write a new program in VB6! Yeah, right! Upgrade to the new Microsoft programming tools! It's about elimination, stupid! Don't you realize that Microsoft creates programming tools so that no mere mortals can program — ever?

It was clear I had to take radical actions. I needed to keep Windows XP. Problem: My old XP computer showed signs of age. It had serious difficulties running my Powerball software (it was too slow). The monitor also was aged (but not in the same category as wine). I did regret discarding my old PC, but I had no choice. Thus, I had to reconfigure my new computer in such a manner that my old PC would still be around.

My solution was the bid-headache-producing dual boot. The material quoted at the top of this article showed my painstaking process of enabling a dual-boot PC.

I heard many corporations faced even bigger problems because of incompatibilities running 16-bit software of 64-bit Vista. Microsoft was responsive this time. They offer a free feature in the Professional and Business editions of Windows 7. It is called Windows XP Mode. The process is not the simplest, again. The user must go to a Microsoft download site and install Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. There is about 300 MB of downloading. The user must turn OFF the PC after the installation. The user must read first PDF files at Microsoft downloading sites. This feature is not present in the Home editions of Windows 7. If I had the same option in Vista, I would have saved the cost I paid for a new copy Of Windows XP. I am just one individual; the savings for corporations can add up to huge sums by not having to buy new copies of XP!

The installation of Windows 7 goes pretty smoothly. I upgraded the 64-bit Vista, and most settings were preserved. My Home Premium didn't have the XP Mode. Yet, I saved a few gigabytes of space by upgrading to Windows 7 Professional!

One caveat regarding the installation. It is not primarily a fault of Microsoft's. The installation requires several points of restarting the system. The ROM-BIOS chip in every PC has this message at boot-up, IF a CD/DVD is in: Press any key to boot from the CD… Nobody should ever touch any key! Let the process continue automatically! Microsoft could help by writing a warning in the printed materials that come with the software. My case could have been even more dangerous since my PC is still dual-booting. At one point, I still had to select an operating system — the process was no longer automated! But I looked for more than 10 seconds before touching the keyboard!

I didn't need any hardware upgrades for this version of…Vista 1.1! I only needed to upgrade two device drivers (modem diagnostics from Dell). I don't use dial-up Internet, anyway!

Some pundits say that Windows 7 loads and starts faster than Vista. I haven't noticed a speed increase; neither have I noticed any slowdown. I noticed for sure far fewer error messages. I did get some weird errors in Internet Explorer under Vista.

The weirdest experience I had with this upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 started … at Walmart! The store in my hometown (Gettysburg) had not received Windows 7 on October 22, noon time. I went to a Walmart store in a bigger town (Hanover). They said they had received Windows 7. They directed me to an aisle, but I couldn't see any software on the shelves! I was shocked! The salesman took a couple of keys and opened two big padlocks of a cage! It was like a national gold depository or a bank vault! Point is, I don't remember the last time I bought an operating system in brick-and-mortar store! The last time I bought (Windows XP) was on eBay (2008). It resembled an action of national security importance!

Hasta la vista, baby!

Closely related Web pages on Microsoft Windows upgrades.

Closely related

Microsoft Windows upgrades are heavily determined by financial reasons viewed as survival totems.

Read about Windows 7 operating system: It is more productive and easier to configure.

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Microsoft Windows 7 was a much needed upgrade to Windows Vista. Windows-7 discarded the cumbersome features in Vista, thus resulting in a far superior computer PC operating system.