Tuesday 6 July 2010

Windows 7

While ordering a replacement power supply for one of my machines I decided to add a Windows 7 to the shopping cart.

This was in no small part prompted by the NVidia parallel nsight addin for visual studio which would not work on my XP machines. An additional contributing factor was the lack of SP3 for Windows XP Pro x64. Of course the new office 2010 will only run on XP SP3, Vista and Windows 7.

Having had a brief and scary encounter with Windows Vista I am pleasantly surprised with the new version of Windows.  Microsoft have done a good job with this one.

The installation process had to be a "clean" one as there is no upgrade path from winXP x64. I took a full backup of my "ComputeCube" machine and without bothering to format the C drive just popped the DVD in and rebooted.

The installation process was completely painless and apart from one reboot occurring too quickly for me to remove the DVD from the tray it was all installed within 15 to 20 mins. The windows 7 installer actually makes a backup of your old windows and program files directories so there was no need to go and fetch stuff back from my backups.

I did lose my dual boot option for my Linux but lately I've been running them all inside VM's so I'm not concerned by that at all.  If you are looking for good VM software: Sun VirtualBox seems to tick all the boxes and even has an API.

After the first login I was happy to see it had picked up all my hardware including the Tesla C1060. The only thing it had got rather wrong was the IP address of the gateway - it had missed by one.... weird.

I've been using it since Saturday now with visual studio and office 2010 and apart from one frozen file copy dialog (which rather surprisingly could be end-tasked without crashing explorer...) it has performed flawlessly.

Windows 7 also allows you to use DirectCompute on your GPU's. I've not quite got to grips with it yet but it seems quite functional. I'll probably stick to CUDA and OpenCL for now, much like I prefer OpenGL over DirectX - I just don't have the time to learn all these technologies and think it makes a bit more sense to stick to the cross platform ones for now.

Tip: When trying to register com components via the command prompt, make sure you have selected "run as administrator"  even if you are logged in with admin rights.

In summary Windows 7 installation is easy and thereafter it does what it says on the tin. What more can you ask from an OS?

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