Windows 7 is packed with improvements and cool stuff, but it still carries a whiff of Windows Vista that may put Windows XP diehards off. We look at whether you should upgrade or not.

There's no doubt that Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7, is packed with improvements and cool stuff, but it still carries a whiff of Vista that may put XP diehards off.

Like many people who compute both at home and at work, I use XP and Vista as well as Mac OS X Leopard, and I like elements of all three. So I've been watching the beta and RC versions of Windows 7 very closely. Does the final 'release to manufacturing' (RTM) code - the same code that will ship with new PCs and retail versions of Windows 7 in October - merit a jump from any of my current platforms?

Well, yes and no. Little features such as the ability to burn CDs from single ISO image files are great - I don't need to install third-party tools to create CD-Rs anymore. And Windows 7 definitely boots up faster than XP or Vista on identically configured machines. You can't knock the advantage of 60 seconds less boot time.

But grrr! Just when things were going well, I tried to do a little light video editing, only to discover that Windows Movie Maker isn't included with Windows 7. It's now part of Microsoft Live, and it's still in beta. In its present form, it's much less capable than the app that ships with XP. So after 10 minutes with Windows 7, I found myself booting up an old XP machine for an everyday task.

(I later discovered that there is a downloadable version of MovieMaker that works with Windows 7, although Microsoft's download page doesn't list Windows 7 among the supported OSes. Nevertheless, it's not nearly as elegant as having it included with the OS.)

What other joys and disappointments does the new Windows bring? Read on to find out.

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  1. Reasons for and against Windows 7
  2. Finding stuff is easier...
  3. It looks better...
  4. It's not as prissy as Vista...
  5. Networking like a Hollywood pro