Windows 7: So Far, So Good

doug_thompsonBy Doug Thomspson

I got my first Windows 7 computer Monday. So far, all I can say is that the system and the interface makes more sense to me than Windows XP or Vista.

There’re plenty of reviews of Windows 7 out there with all kinds of advice. Anybody who reads this column regularly, however, knows what my one and only criteria is: Does it run my game smoothly?

Yes, it does. The only game I’ve installed and had even an hour of playtime with is ‘‘Mass Effect,’’ though. I’ve had the machine less than 24 hours as I write this, after all.

I’m keeping my old Windows XP machine, so running old games on the new operating system is not an issue.

I’ve encountered two problems with Windows 7, one of which is small and very easy to fix.

The in-game programs that “read” how powerful your system is and picks the graphic settings for you never worked well under the best of circumstances with XP. They were no use at all in either Mass Effect or Oblivion on Windows 7, however. They set the graphics levels very, very low. It’s like they didn’t recognize the system and took the safest course.

This criticism is hardly worth mentioning since I can’t recall a single time I didn’t wind up setting my own graphics anyway. I went back in and set the graphics on both games as high as they could go — and learned I don’t really like “dynamic shadows.” They worked, however.

The bigger problem was with Oblivion. When you opened a menu, as you do when you look at and pick up loot, the mouse didn’t work, at least not for 15 seconds or more. I suspect that’s because I installed the game and then patched it without installing the 1.1 patch first, before the 1.2 patch. I don’t know. I also haven’t tried restarting the computer, which may fix the problem.

In general, I don’t have the cluttered desktop that I’ve seen on just about every Windows machine I’ve ever looked at. The reason for that is a logical, simple — even elegant — system that allows you to go to a key folder in the taskbar without a bunch of clicks.

There’s a very nice bunch of gadgets and dressings — calendars, sticky notes, gauges to tell you how your system is performing — that I intend to shun like they were poison. I like a clean desk, at least on the screen. I don’t like thinking up easy, elegant filing systems. I’m perfectly content to let Microsoft do it for me, even though they haven’t done that great a job in the past. They have this time with Windows 7.

Of course, I didn’t install Windows. That makes a big difference. According to press accounts the big majority of headaches with the new operating system comes from trying to install it. The biggest headaches of all apparently come when you’re trying to install it on a used machine that has another operating system already on it.

If that’s the case, then the only advice I can give so far is to get a professional to do it. Once the system is up and running, it is smooth.

We use Mac machines at work. They’re not the latest, but they sure have their partisans around here. I’m aware you can install software on your Mac that allows you to run Windows programs smoothly. They work extremely well, I’m told. That’s nice. However, they are more expensive than Windows machines. I’d rather take the cheaper machine and spend the extra money on better graphics cards, etc.

Again, my sole criteria is game-running performance. Windows 7 runs the game. I don’t care about the rest, really.

More on this topic will come. First, I have to get some games my old computer couldn’t run.

Categories: Legacy Archive