Vail Tech Bytes: Windows 7 – it just works?
VAIL, Colorado -I’m a PC… and Windows 7 was my idea. OK, not really, but I did finally make the leap and upgrade to see what all the buzz was about. Now, I’ve only been a Windows 7 user for a week, so I’m by no means an expert yet, but to kick off a series on Windows 7 and all its new features, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s column to my absolute first impressions of Windows 7.Windows 7 is the newest operating system from Microsoft that went on sale in late October last year. In a lot of ways I consider myself an early adopter of technology and always like to try out the newest gadgets and programs as they hit the market, but with operating systems, I tend to wait for all the bugs to get worked out with the first batches of updates. So last week I figured it was time, found a good price on the professional version and began the harrowing installation process.OK, so it wasn’t really harrowing. Actually, pretty far from it. I backed up all my important files and then proceeded to do a clean install of the new operating system, as I prefer to start with a clean slate anytime I make a major switch. The process was really simple, pick the language, pick the keyboard layout and go. After a couple of restarts, and about a half hour or so of progress bars, I thought I was all set. Well, it turns out not quite. When I reached one of the final installation screens that prompted me to enter my product key, I kept getting a message saying the key was invalid. Darn.I knew that couldn’t be, as it was brand new software that I had just purchased from a reputable source. Turns out that by doing the upgrade the way that I had (from XP, manually backing up just my important files and doing a clean install) the system failed to recognize that I had had a previous version of Windows installed, and therefore was rejecting my upgrade key, instead wanting a full-version key.After a quick Internet search, I found I was not alone, and came across the solution to to successfully activating my version. This part was pretty frustrating, but I’m thankful for the others who had gone before me for posting their fixes online (another reason why it’s sometimes good to wait).But once I got up and running, I was actually pretty impressed with what I found. Of course, the first thing I did was open the control panel and immediately changed the “theme” to personalize my system. In addition to customizing your desktop background, you can also change the color of the task bar, the window frames and the start menu to any color you desire. Trivial, I know, but fun nonetheless to have more personalization options.The next item of business was to connect my all-in-one printer/scanner and get that set up. It was honestly as simple as plugging the USB cable in and turning it on. Windows recognized the device, found and downloaded the required drivers and set everything up automatically. When I hit the print function in an application, it printed. I opened Windows Fax & Scan, hit “new scan” and the scanner worked without a hitch. Even my Mac has more steps than that to get set up. Not bad, Microsoft, not bad.And for my last test, I had to make sure that it could run my panorama software, which is one of just a few reasons I have Windows in the first place, and so I downloaded it, installed and voila, worked like a charm.I’ve spent a couple more days playing around with the OS, and have to say, I haven’t found anything that’s really bugged me about it so far, but again, I’ll give that time. For next week’s column, I’ll check out more of the new features of Windows 7 and let you know how it goes.Jessie Williams is the owner of Second October Media, http://secondoctober.com, a Web development and graphic design firm in Edwards. Have a tech question you’d like answered? Send her an e-mail at email@example.com.