Well, I’ve been using Windows 7 for a couple weeks now, and I’m happy. It has fewer compatibility problems with older software than I’d been led to expect, the UI is (mostly) better, and so far it’s been as stable as a rock.

It’s also nice using an OS modern enough to know what all your hardware is on install.

The UI is nicely cleaned up. Some/all of this presumably came with Vista, but I haven’t really dealt with it. The min/max/close trio of buttons look far better than what XP did, and go to the top of the window (I find it interesting that this is the place I consider the major failing of OS X, since in any version I’ve seen, they ignore their own advice and make these tiny little gem-buttons that are hard to distinguish from each other or select). The taskbar now just shows program icons, instead of going for the window title. Not quite as handy, but those titles have been becoming less relevant over the years. Extra windows on a program are shown with kind of ‘pages’ symbol with the main icon. The neat bits are that hovering over one of these will show a miniature version of the window(s), and you can click on them to switch, or even close a window without switching to it (handy for ‘pop-under’ browser windows >.<). Now if they could just get those undeclared dialog boxes to show up there (I’m looking at you Adobe Updater…).

I’ve never been entirely happy with the double-pane style of start menu that came in with XP, but it’s not bad. The one thing that has changed this time that I’m not happy with is that hitting Start and then ‘up’ does not take you to the Shut Down command. More to the point, I’m not sure how to get there through the keyboard at all.

When I first installed it there were a few ‘compatibility patches’ in Windows Update, and last week another showed up. I looked at the info for that one, and it was a list of all sorts of older software that they improved Windows 7 (and other versions) ability to run. I noticed some productivity software, older educational software (which tends to have very long life cycles), and some games, a couple of which I recognized as being pretty old. This is dozens of titles in that one patch, a lot of effort is going into this, and it’s really nice to see.

The one thing that didn’t go well is that Win7 cannot talk to a Win2K system on the network. It’ll see it, it’ll see the various shared items, but the password protection/log in will not work. However, a Win2K system can talk to a Win7 system just fine.

Our place had three Win2K systems, Goriki (my old system, now replaced by the Win7 Horo), Micca (Smudge’s system, due to be put on Win7 in a few months), and Argentum (the house file server). We also have a NAS, which works fine with Win7, but migrating all the data from Argentum to Alexandria seemed too much like work. The other option was to get Argentum off of Win2K before Micca was upgraded and Smudge could no longer talk to it.

Since it didn’t need anything fancy, I figured that XP would probably be enough to get the network talking correctly, and I might be able to score an unused copy cheap. I mentioned this to, since I figured he would be a good bet at scrounging up something.

I didn’t expect him to drop an unopened XP box on my lap as soon as I mentioned it.

So, on Saturday, I worked on modernizing Argentum, which drove home just how old he is. Dual processor Pentium II with an absolutely creaky CD-ROM drive and the last InWin A500 case left in the house (my favorite, it has a slide-out backplane that I just can’t find in modern cases). I had already contemplated doing something about the hardware when I found a problem. The BIOS is too old to know what to do with a USB keyboard, so I couldn’t tell it to boot off the CD drive.

So, I pulled out Goriki and and rearanged his drives. At first, I tried using a leftover drive that had been skunked when the drive controller on Haruhi went, but the BIOS stopped seeing it after some initial success. A dive into the parts box came up with the old main drive for Utena (still tried to boot Win98), which I reformatted and turned into the new boot drive. Everything went fairly smoothly (some trouble getting Windows Update to agree to work with XP SP 1), and I plugged in the Library drive from Argentum.

I also renamed Goriki to Argentum, so none of the existing network mappings even realize there’s a new machine on. Since this is a fast Pentium 4, I think power usage will be up a bit, even from the two-processor system, but the fan noise is way down, which is nice.