A child’s eye view of Windows 7

Remember that cheesy YouTube video about the Windows 7 Launch parties? Well it sounded like a great way for me to get a free copy of Windows 7 for my home PC, so I signed up immediately. Suddenly all those people laughing at the video get that smile wiped off their face when they jealously eye up my Launch Party goody bag.

I wasn’t actually planning on having a party but I still installed Windows 7 (64bit) on my PC. I could do an in place upgrade from Vista and the Upgrade Advisor said everything should still work. I had installed the RC on various virtual machines, laptops and netbooks, all using a clean install so I was expecting a similar 20 minute install period. It actually turned out to be over 3 hours for my upgrade! This isn’t too bad considering the amount of junk that has been on that PC since it was an XP machine 3 years ago. After the install, everything was working very happily and I could enjoy the familiar sight of Windows 7 Ultimate in the comfort of my front room.

On the morning of the official public launch (Thursday, 22nd October 2009) I came downstairs to the usual sight of my three sons huddled around the TV watching cartoons. They said to me straight away about how the new Windows was on the adverts and when would we get it. I told them we already had it and spontaneously invited them to an exclusive Launch Party.

Sol demo’s his favourite

When I arrived home after work, my eldest, 10 year old, son told me about how his whole school was buzzing about Windows 7 and the kudos he received when he told them all how his Dad has seen the boss of Microsoft and we’ve already got it. I could hear a small voice in my mind cackling “hahahahahaha they have succumbed to my computer geekiness and following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps” ( the wife will not be pleased). However, in reality I was surprised to hear that children, all under 11, had been talking about it at all. I got a bit over-excited about showing them all the whizzy new features so turned on the PC straight away. While my youngest, 5 year old, son got started on the free turtle puzzle from the party kit, my middle, 8 year old, child got into the cockpit first.

It took him a while to log on for the first time (about 5 mins) but this was just a one off wait. Getting our priorities in order, the first task was to choose a new Desktop Theme (you can download even more from the Personalization Gallery). I then showed him the new taskbar and the aero snap & shake features and then let him have a play (see video >>>). I then went to show him some other features but realised that there weren’t any! My 10 year old had his turn and said mater of factly, “So, apart from being a bit quicker, it’s just the same as Vista”. I found it hard to disagree with him. The internet remained unchanged, all of his games were in the same place and worked as normal and YouTube was still YouTube (this is how he & his friends listen to music). I couldn’t show him the media centre as it’s rather pointless without a TV tuner and a large widescreen TV in the same room. I couldn’t show the great multi-touch features as we’ve just got a normal monitor. He liked the new look of Microsoft Paint and that he could move his desktop gadgets wherever he wanted without having the sidebar but he then went off to help Levi with the puzzle. My youngest was said that he couldn’t play Tinker anymore (but not for long) but soon forgot that when he was on moshimonsters.com

It’s easy to get carried away with the hype, especially as I work supporting Microsoft computers everyday. Windows 7 brings a lot more to business users especially when served by a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine but for kids used to Vista at home (and XP at school) the OS does what it has always done – provide a platform for their games, apps and devices.  As time goes on we will probably get a netbook with Win7 on it for them, maybe even an Xbox 360, then we can benefit fully from the HomeGroup and Media Centre stuff. They will also be able to get a grasp of multi-touch at school when the teachers hook up their Windows 7 laptops (whenever they get them!) to the classroom projector and interactive whiteboards. For now, the buzz has certainly died down in our house. We aren’t quite at the stage where each family member has their own device, a touchscreen in the kitchen and a NAS under the stairs but with the keen enthusiasm they showed to exploring new technology we can’t be far off 😉

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