I’m all for beta testing of new products and when Windows 7 first beta came out I was one of the first to install it on my Dell XPS 1530 laptop. All was good except some video resolution problems when switching to HDMI output and back. I installed Ubuntu aside so this wouldn’t be a problem all that much.
Then Windows 7 Build 7068 can out and with that I hoped to get rid of that single problem. I burned the DVD and started the upgrade procedure which stopped after just 3 minutes. Not that a success.
After an hour of trying to rescue what was left of my data (didn’t make a back-up of course) I did a clean install which went really well. Not only did the installation finish in about 35 min (instead of upgrading from vista that took around 3 hours), but the resolution problem was gone as well.
I played with Build 7068 for a few weeks and I must say that some of the new features are quite impressive. There are many little enhancements that make your life just a little bit easier, like arranging windows side by side with a keyboard shortcut. I hadn’t even thought of Ubuntu was it not that I wanted to show it to a friend of mine.
That was when I found out that Windows 7 completely got rid of GRUB. No booting to Ubuntu anymore. I remembered the MediaDirect button that is on my Dell laptop. It takes you to a sort of bootmenu that lets you boot a minimalistic mediacenter that is on a hidden Dell partition. I pressed the button, the MediaDirect screen came up and then everything froze.
No MediaDirect, no GRUB, and when I tried to get back into Windows 7 it said that all my partitions were gone. Thanks Microsoft.
Of course I know that this is still a beta and that some problems are to be expected and unavoidable, but this is not acceptable. This build is the last build before the Release Candidate and should not screw up your entire partition table.
In that same week Ubuntu 9.04 came out. Every time I install Ubuntu I’m suprised how easy and quick the installation is. All my drivers are automatically installed (except the closed-source Nvidia, but that is easy to fetch) and it’s immediatly ready to work with.
I’m certainly not a Windows or Microsoft basher because I think most of their software is really great, but this was the last time I install a Windows Beta on my laptop (that I use every day).
p.s. Ubuntu rules