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Windows 7 RC – Installation on Precision T7400

May 1, 2009

In true tester fashion, my Windows 7 RC x64 installations will spread across three machines:

Work: Dell Precision T7400
Home: Dell XPS 720 H2C
Home: Dell XPS M170

The first installation was at work and, so far, I’m quite impressed.

Summary

My Precision workstations, in general, gives me grief due to the myriad of “server-ish” components they tend to have—PERC 6/i controllers, Quadro video cards, 8–12GB of memory, etc.

Windows 7 RC installed flawlessly—no additional drivers necessary.

Performance

Compared to Vista, Win7 seems to scream.  I constantly had issues with Vista (with and without SP2 beta) on the Precision T7400–-random lockups, hangups when running high IO (such as multiple VMs), and general oddities.

I haven’t loaded up Virtual PC (we’re “slowly” moving towards HyperV, if I could just get people to let go of the server), but system performance looks good.  Here’s the Windows Experience Index for the machine:

WEI for Precision T7400

The low scores of 4.5 and 4.8 for graphics are expected—the Precision T7400 just has a simple Quadro FX 570 in it.  I’m not playing EverQuest II at work—I promise—but the card is good enough for Visual Studio and two monitors of coding goodness. ;)

With a high end of 7.9, I was surprised to see the 8–month old machines score so high in processor, memory, and hard drives.  The system has two Xeon X5472’s clocked at 3.0GHz, 8GB of memory, and four SAS 15k drives configured in 2xRAID1 (two mirrors).

These scores were also immediately after installation—no tweaks, upgraded drivers, or enhancements.

Software

As expected, everything has installed without a hitch—expect the one love of my life: Oracle.

As a partly Oracle shop, the Oracle Data Tools (ver 11.10.6.21) are a part of my life.  You learn to love to hate them with Oracle’s complex and arcane installation packager and other requirements.  Unfortunately, Windows 7 is detected as Windows 6.1 (hit the command prompt and type ‘ver’ to verifiy) and the Oracle installations (even the newest 11g) are locked to 6.0 (or Vista).

How to get around this?  Start up the installation, then cancel it.  The detector will ask you to use it’s settings and it’ll work like a champ. 

The “manual” option would be to right-click the setup.exe, Properties > Compatibility tab > and change the ‘Run this program in compatibility mode for:‘ and set it to XP or Vista.

XP Compat Mode.

Other software that installed without a hitch:

  • Visual Studio 2008 w/ latest SP
  • ReSharper 4.5
  • ActiveReports 3.0 (b5.2.1178)
  • GhostDoc 2.1.3
  • AutoHotKey 1.0.48.02
  • ANTS Profiler 4.3
  • CopySourceAsHtml 3.0
  • AssemblyInfoTask (latest build)
  • Digsby (latest alpha #21804)
  • SQL Server 2008 Client Tools w/ latest SP
  • FoxIt Reader 3.0
  • Launchy 2.1.2
  • Virtual CloneDrive 5.4.2.5
  • Fiddler2 Beta (latest v2.2.2.0 beta)
  • WinRAR
  • NotePad2 x64
  • Office Ultimate 2007
  • Paint.NET 3.0
  • FireFox 3.0.10 (3.5b4 breaks too many add-ons atm)

That’s basically—everything!  Cool.

Things For Improvement

Why can’t Windows 7 have a bit more “Windows Server 2008” feel as far as components and features?  Less is more.  Pop up a screen and prompt users for what ‘features’ they want.

Here’s a few things that I wish Windows 7 RC did “out of the box” but are not crucial:

  • Detect whether or not the computer is a pen/tablet PC.  There’s no reason to automatically install “Tablet PC Components” automatically.
  • Windows Gadget Platform shouldn’t be installed by default.
  • Internet Printing Client and Windows Fax and Scan… please stop installing these by default.
  • More printer drivers?  I tried adding our HP LaserJet P4510 and Windows 7 doesn’t have included PCL or PS drivers.  These are pretty common printers, folks.
  • When a domain policy is managing Windows Firewall, Action Center should not prompt me for action.  I shouldn’t need to go in and click ‘Turn off messages about network firewall’.
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Categories: Microsoft, Windows 7
  1. Phill
    June 29, 2009 at 6:11 am

    I agree with your sentiments completely. I don’t have Oracle, and my home PCs are hand-built (XP, SuSE Linux and PC-BSD). My work laptop had Vista and it was a real pain, even without new applications (other than Office Ultimate 2007). Slow to load, drivers unavailable, ‘Not responding’ errors, VPN to office a joke. UAC a pain.

    I got an early beta of W7 from Technet & put it on my main home PC and thought, boy this may be Vista in a new jacket, but what a jacket. Got permission from IT to put it on the laptop. Same thing – whizzo.

    Removed the beta & did a clean install of the RC. Even better – even plugging in my LaPazz graphics tablet detected, searching for drivers/ driver installed / your new hardware is ready to use. Absolute mustard.

    The home network functioned ‘straight out of the box’ and the laptop VPN to work went straight through without the pain of Vista and does the same when I plug in the ethernet at work.

    As a linux fan who does a lot of stuff for Windows users, this lot worries me :-( Still, I am not Windows-phobic like some ;-)

    Also agreed on your ‘should not install out of the box’ items!

    Phill

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