A Week with Win7 6801

A week on from promoting Win7 onto my ‘production’ lounge media center machine, and I think it’s about time to have a rundown.

The new interface is certainly nicer to look at, although some organisation needs to be fixed, sometimes things are muddled, and the ‘tab’ style interface is not made very clear. Besides that there is inconsistencies in the interface, some is moved to the Win7 MCE way and style, while other parts are lifted straight from TV Pack, although at this early stage it’s nice to see what they have accomplished since then.

Bugs, well there are some, the packed codec issue needs sorting PDQ (worth noting that Matroska support just needs the Haali splitter installing), and there have been a few crashes and bangs along the way, but nothing much worse than the TV Pack update caused, and I’ll put up with it as BBC and ITV’s HD efforts are out of the box this time round.

Capture The new Media Center Sharing stuff is nice as well (see left), this allows access natively to the content recorded on other Media Centers throughout the network, although word of warning it seems to be tied into the home networking feature, so turn that on.

Other things of note are games support, it works, but can be a little flaky, I had to install Red Alert 3 in Vista compatibility mode, but it works ok running in that mode, so can’t really complain (I use the main PC for a bit of gaming on the telly, it’s beefy enough to cope).

Other things that I’ve noticed, make sure you use the video drivers from Windows Update, the new WDDM 1.1 drivers are not feature complete, and don’t have the manufacturer extensions in them, but my Intel, ATI and nVidia cards all run a lot better using them (and the nVidia one especially is better than OEM, it actually supports 1:1 pixel mapping on my telly, which the nVidia ones could not cope with even in Vista!). The only downside besides extensions, is performance is not quite as good as the latest Catalyst drivers, but I can live with that.

Another nice to see is the memory usage, I’ve never seen my VMC box under a gig of ram, and just checking the Win7 one shows 866mb in use, so a lot lower memory footprint. Talking performance, it seems that the IO on my HDD’s is better as well, it’s scored 0.3 higher in the Windows Experience Index than Vista, and certainly feels snappier, my HDD’s are not constantly flashing either, which is good as well.

So all in all I would recommend it as an upgrade, you will break some of your 3rd party app installs, so worth testing them first if they are ‘must have’ installs though.