Before you read on, you need to understand that I spent the best years of my career life working for Microsoft. I started evangelizing Windows to corporate America in 1989. I lived, breathed and knew everything about Microsoft Windows. I recently began evaluating Microsoft Windows 7 in a most unorthodox way. I'm evaluating it on a MacBook Pro. Oh, shame on me!
Here is what I did. I started a virtual machine (VM) running Windows XP on my Macbook Pro. I opened Internet Explorer, connected to the Windows 7 download page and downloaded the WIndows 7 image file (ISO) to my desktop. Next, I opened up Parallels Desktop for Mac version 4 (build 4.0.3810) and setup a new VM using the Parallels profile called 'Windows 7 (experimental)'. I simply pointed the VM wizard at the ISO file, allocated 2GB of RAM and 32GB of hard drive space, and that was it. Installation completed without a problem, I restarted the VM, installed Parallel Tools, restarted the VM, and Windows 7.0 came to life in a Window on my Mac desktop.
First impressions are very important. People adopt or abandon products based on this. My first impression of Windows 7 was that it looked an awful lot like Windows Vista. The only immediately noticeable difference was in the look of the Windows Taskbar. Windows 7 looked good, ran very responsively, and I immediately noticed that it didn't appear to suffer from the lag in performance that Windows Vista did under Parallels. I do have Windows Vista installed on my Mac, but I rarely use it because I think that the performance is poor. I use Windows XP under Parallels, because it runs much better and lets me run the same Windows applications as Windows Vista. So, it's sort of a 'no brainer' to select Windows XP over Vista. I played around with Windows 7 for a couple of hours, installed Kaspersky's virus protection, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Money. All went smoothly and I continued to like what I saw. The performance combined with the user interface refinements looked good. You could sort of say that Windows 7 is really Windows Vista 2. Too bad that Microsoft seems to want to forget Windows Vista.
Next, I started to test some of the settings in Parallels to see how Windows 7 would integrate in the Mac environment. Parallels offers a few different way to run VMs. They are referred to as Coherence, Full Screen, Window, and Modality. I typically use everything by Modality as I still haven't figured out what it's for. Running Windows 7 under Coherence really caught my attention. Coherence runs Windows applications in individual windows on the Mac desktop. It's pretty cool. But in previous builds of Parallels, there was a rather awkward Windows menu bar that hovered just above the Mac Dock bar. It was odd and didn't look too good. In the new build of Parallels, the Windows Taskbar is hidden by default. So, you start with a very clean, highly integrated look. To access the Windows menu system, you can simply click on the Parallels icon or the icon for any of the Windows applications that are running. I found this to be very cool and totally enjoyed the level of integration and performance that I was seeing. I found myself marveling at the combined level of integration between the 2 operating systems. It looks like the computing world will have something very nice to use from Microsoft by the end of this year. Running it on a Mac makes it even better as you can choose the best of class applications from both worlds.
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