Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

Summary: After using the finalised Windows 7 beta build (build 7000) for a good few days as my primary operating system, I'm exceptionally happy with it. I've tried to find bugs, as it is pre-release software, but so far have found none, which bodes well for the software giant.


Windows 7After using the finalised Windows 7 beta build (build 7000) for a good few days as my primary operating system, I'm exceptionally happy with it. I've tried to find bugs, as it is pre-release software, but so far have found none, which bodes well for the software giant. I do, however, have a few criticisms which for me, are hit me like the shrieking cry of a baby, nails down a blackboard, or even the thought of wet cotton wool for some strange reason. Eurgh.

Cut out the XPS nonsense

Microsoft embarked on the XPS file type in Windows 2000 originally, but only really came to light with the release of Windows Internet Explorer 7, where functionality was integrated into the browser. With a standalone XPS viewer in Windows 7, I cannot foresee many people using it. It may be an open XML specification, but the PDF has a long way before it is knocked off the majority market share.

It has potential, and it works well, with many manufacturers taking the specification and using it in their hardware. But to see the XPS as a "PDF killer" is incredibly unlikely, and personally think Microsoft should drop it. Have you ever seen a document provided in an XPS format over a PDF file? I can't say that I have.

Search sucks

Of all the operating system search engines I've used, I still find Windows XP easiest to use. With some interesting "improvements" in Vista which had barely changed from beta to release, this complicated things for me quite a bit. Now in Windows 7, searching for a file has become increasingly difficult. Often when I search, it's a specific file type or a file size greater than 30MB or so; to de-clutter my hard drive. The size option is still available, but for the life of me I cannot work out how to search by other parameters. Whether the Start menu search has replaced the main functionality of the F3 key, I am still unsure, but I just want a decent search box with plenty of options, please.

Windows 7 search sucks

Make BitLocker a little bit easier

I have always found BitLocker to be a right royal pain in the backside. You need a compatible chip on your processor otherwise the setup process won't even begin, and having the compatibility between Windows and the chip is another problem. In theory, BitLocker is a great idea; locking your entire hard drive if it is stolen or misplaced.

In practice, buying a whole set of laptops for your employees, may not even be compatible with the software because of the lack of a trusted-platform module (TPM) chip. There are hacks out there, but I've never seen a solution which actually works. Not only that, for those who have their computers already set up, may have difficulty because an extra hard drive partition is needed. Would you really risk your all set up and configured computer for the sake of an extra bit of security? Tempting, but when time is involved, it's probably going to be "no".

"BitLocker to Go" works a treat. If only they had left a BitLocker enabled flash drive on that train instead of a wad of top secret documents, they (probably) would have been fine.

Consider the ergonomics of the taskbar 

For decades, Windows users have learned the ways of the taskbar. Think about it; you don't move your cursor to the Start menu to then click, you simply move your mouse towards the bottom left of your screen. The same with the clock; to access the clock you move your mouse to the bottom left, without even thinking about it. There's no accuracy involved, there's even little in terms of thought process.

What's going on with the taskbar?

With the added feature of "Preview Desktop" taking the clock's place in the bottom-right of the screen, I fear some users may be thrown off guard by it. It's only a little change, and it can easily be turned off. I cannot see why it can't be placed to the left of the clock, keeping the taskbar layout the same. Although, with the taskbar changes already in the beta, maybe it is time for a change.

Compatibility woes

Common applications which were not fully supported when Vista first came out was a big step back for Microsoft. While their own brand of products; Windows Live, Office 2007 and the developing applications like Visual Studio worked a treat, many anti-virus companies felt the brunt of the sharp compatibility stick. A few of the programs I use and love do not work in this version of Windows. WLMLite, a portable version of Windows Live Messenger, ideal for those at work who can't download it, doesn't work. Nero 9 Essentials won't even install without spitting the dummy out. Skype works, but only after a handful of warning messages telling me of the incompatibility, and I won't even start on what iTunes does; suffice to say, "a world-class meltdown".

Aero Shake and Tourette's

I have Tourette's syndrome, as many of you are aware, and it's the full whack of Tourette's where you swear, shout, twitch, and generally look a bit of a nutter. When using a computer, my hand twitches and I occasionally smack the mouse onto the table, resulting in a number of mice being destroyed. But when I'm moving windows around my screen, my hand twitches, resulting in all but the active window being minimised; the new feature "Aero Shake". Now, this is a good feature to have, but at least have an option where we can disable it easily. I'm sick of my windows being minimised without my conscious say-so.

Is there anything I've missed?

Update: even with a critical post, I have just discovered something aesthetically brilliant. Holding the shift key as you click on a taskbar icon opens up a new window, but does it in a mini firework show of vibrant colour. I have yet to discover though what this feature is called, or what it is meant to actually do.


Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Find items with a size greater than... In Vista it's very easy!

    Find items with a size greater than 30MB?
    In Vista just type this:
    size: >30M

    So, please stop complaining for something you don't understand, you're too ignorant!
    • RE: qmlscycrajg

      But I'm not talking about Vista. I'm talking about Windows 7 (b.7000).
      • Win7 search works exactly the same as Vista search

        Win7 search works exactly the same as Vista search, so just type:
        • Of Course!!

          OMG! How stupid of us not to realize the "NEW" Windows OS has all the functionality of DOS. Duh!

          I sure am glad you pointed out how dumb we all are to look for a GUI feature when what we should be doing is memorizing text commands.
          • RE: Of Course

            WIN + F -> Advanced Search.

            There is your nice GUI.
          • Re: Of course

            just google windows search and you get EVERYTHING you need to know. Of course you may have to read a few pages, which may seem like a hinderance to you.
    • re: Find items

      [i]In Vista just type this:
      size: >30M

      So, please stop complaining for something you don't understand, you're too ignorant![/i]

      Hmm, for a user friendly experience.... that's neither easy or intuitive.
      • Natural Language Search in Windows Vista

        you can also enable the Natural Language Search in Windows Vista:

        To turn on natural language search
        1. Open Folder Options
        2. Click the Search tab.
        3. Select the Use natural language search check box.

        An example of a valid natural language search is "all files before 12/1/2006," which will search for and display all file types created or modified before 12/1/2006. Another example is "email from Bob Smith," which will return all emails sent to or from Bob Smith.
        • re:Natural Language Search in Windows Vista

          Thanks for the tip.
  • RE: Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

    I found a bug (after just installing it!). I opened the "Snipping Tool", and while it still shows up on the... whatever you call the bar where open programs and pinned programs are now displayed... it won't let me exit it and it doesn't seem to be showing up in Task Manager. Ah well.

    Another thing, the preview desktop feature doesn't seem to be working for me. If I click the button beside the clock, it does the 'show desktop' but the preview feature is greyed out.

    I haven't yet installed iTunes, but from the sounds of it, it looks like I'll be using Songbird for a while!

    Honestly, my first impression is that I'm really impressed with MS's effort on this. HOWEVER, the UI is significantly different from what Windows users are used to. It's a bigger jump than Vista was from XP (between "Libraries" and the... program bar..) and I think MS is going to have some significant problems (again unfortunately) with users complaining it is difficult to use.

    On a related, but kind of tangential note, why isn't anyone talking about the new Beta of Windows Live Messenger? Forget being miles ahead of the current stable release (though the beta itself is perfectly stable, I've been using it for months now), the new Beta, released this week, is miles ahead of the first beta!
    • iTunes working fine...

      Also, having just installed iTunes, it seems to be working fine for me!
      • itunes and other stuff

        i installed itunes 8 yesterday on the beta version and
        it is working fine. i connected my ipod and everything
        showed up perfectly. i don't know why your computer
        sucks with itunes but mine works fine (i'm talking
        about the writers computer). i also installed adobe
        photoshop cs4 and it is working perfectly. i was
        running the app and nothing came up wrong. windows
        media player works great also, i was watching
        transformers dvd and the quality looks great,
        especially since my computer has a basic xfx geforce
        9600 video card which 7 was able to downloaded the
        "pre-release" drivers directly from xfx. as anyone
        else seen this "pre-release" drivers on the hardware??
    • On the related note..

      Yes! Windows Live Messenger is amazing, thank you! Anyway, just wanna say that the entire Windows Live is really amazing.
  • RE: Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

    What do you want easy access to the clock for?

    I find the new peek/show desktop is far more useful, and far more needed in my normal workflow.
  • RE: Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

    I can't help thinking that you're criticising for the sake of criticising here. I'd like to deal with the main points.

    XPS Documents - Your logic of why don't Microsoft just roll over and die seems ridiculous. If this was the norm we wouldn't have Firefox for starters. Do you now remember what happened when we had IE6? There was no competition to Microsoft, thus they left IE6 to stagnate, not fixing it and not improving it. It turned into a major security problem as it had been left for so long. Only with the arrival of competition did Microsoft start fixing the problems and start innovating. Without competition you have NO innovation.

    Search - I have to agree with you on that one. XP's search was much better.

    Taskbar - Are people ever going to use Aero peek? Why are you getting all sweaty over a feture that nobody will use? There are other potential problems with the new taskbar that are far more important than this nothing button on the right.

    Compatability - Okay, so you've not found any bugs, wonderful. Remember though that this software is still a beta. It's fairly obvious that lots of things won't work!

    Aero Shake - This is a very good point you've raised actually. It's not just people like you but pensioners who will have mobility problems. I certainly do hope Microsoft fix this.
  • RE: Some minor criticisms of the Windows 7 beta

    Ok, is it just me or is it too much to ask for an actual in depth review of the OS. So far, everywhere I go, all I read about is some superficial changes MS is making to the interface that will take all of 15 minutes to get used to.

    Speed. Compatibility. Stability. That is what you should be looking into. Not how the task bar is arranged. An OS is not for looking pretty or having shiny start buttons. Its for running my applications. If in addition to runnin my apps, its also pretty and flashy, so be it. No one anywhere ever just sits there browsing through their task bar and enjoying the view of their desktop (well unless you have a .dream desktop - those are pretty spiffy). People sit down, launch their apps, and forget their OS exists, or should if its done right. Vista does this for me since I took the time to setup and configure it properly to my needs. I'll say it again - there's 3 things that actually are going to matter: speed, compatibility, stability.

    "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
    • THANK YOU!!!!!

      well said, I couldn't have said it better. yes all
      these writers are trying to do is create a bad rap for
      7 because they are microsoft haters. It does seem
      like many bloggers are just complaining about the
      looks and not performance. the reason is because
      microsoft is getting it right with 7 so far and
      bloggers are mad they have not to trash 7 on. WRITE
      about how it works and un/stable it is, write about
      real performance with software not about how it looks
      different and you don't like the looks. people want a
      real review ON PERFORMANCE, reliability, and whether
      it's time to leave XP.
  • File management needs serious improvement

    This may seem like a little thing, but it's wasted hours of my time and patience: Windows Explorer and common open/save dialogs INSIST that I view files the way M$ wants me to -- large icons or list view. But I almost always need Details view, so I keep resetting it over and over.

    Saving settings in Explorer lasts a few days until it reverts, or I view a folder that I haven't viewed before. No amount of Registry or other tweaks will fix common dialogs. Why does M$ *insist* that they know better than me how I like to work?

    And in Details view, why does M$ think I spend all of my time with digital photos and music? I have to keep removing the Ratings and Date Recorded columns and adding the Type and Date Created and Size columns. Over and over, no matter what folder it is. This is beyond stupid.

    Also, the Search feature is bloody worthless. It can't find files I know are there because I'm looking at them. It also seems to be less capable of finding file contents than XP or 2000 were. The freeware Handy File Tool does a better job of searching, but it has other problems.

    Nothing beats Google Desktop for searching, but I'm afraid to use it in Vista because of compatibility issues.

    But I'm just some guy, so M$ won't listen to the likes of me and nobody in Redmond will hear what I have to say. As long as they can ship boxes out the door, they couldn't care less about usability.
    The Daleks
    • your afraid?

      when was the last time you used google desktop? Last
      year? last week?try it again before posting you afraid
  • Some major similarities with Windows Vista

    Well I sure hope its snappier than Vista in every way, I have been running Vista ultimate 64bit, and still had to do tons of tweaks shown here:

    to get it to run the way I want.