The Real Deal 185: Road test: Windows 7 (podcast)

Tom and Rafe discuss life with Windows 7, Entourage, Seagate hard drives, Ubuntu, and more.

Tom Merritt Former CNET executive editor
7 min read

Tom and Rafe discuss life with Windows 7, Entourage, Seagate hard drives, Ubuntu and more.

Watch this: Ep. 185: Road test: Windows 7


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Episode 185

Windows 7
Windows 7 Virtualized
XP Mode (for VPN)


Hey guys,

Good timing for a road-test episode, as I have been using Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty
Jackalope (man, I always feel stupid typing out those codenames..) on an old
Toshiba laptop. This was my wife’s old windows machine that (supposedly)
died two years ago. Well, I wanted something to do the other day so I
downloaded the 9.04 ISO and tried installing it on the not quite dead yet

The install was dead easy, about the same as installing OSX, so a little
easier than windows (for me anyway) and in about 20 min the machine was up
and running. I could not get the Atheros wifi chipset to work, but, alas,
google is your friend and I managed to install (very easily) the restricted
drivers and I was online. Now, understand, I have used Ndiswrapper etc to
get windows drivers to work in linux which is like a special level of hell,
whereas this was simply point and click, no terminal, nothing.

I gave the machine to our eight your old son. He has high functioning
autism, so change is not the easiest thing for him (hell, it is hard on most
people). His desktop machine is an old (and I mean old) machine running
Kubuntu 6.04. He had no problem at all adjusting. Indeed, the UI is so
darned intuitive that he no longer has to ask to connect to the wi fi if he
loses a signal, he figured out right away that he just had to click on the
wi fi icon and select our network and not the neighbours’.

I have of course played with it some too and this machine, an old 1.6 GHz
laptop with 1 GB of RAM runs better than the Dell Inspiron that I have at
work. Applications open very quickly, the media stuff, such as the music
and video player work perfectly with our Freenas home server.

It is so damned slick that my wife now is entertaining the idea of
flattening her vista machine and moving over to Ubuntu. That said, we have
a site license at work for Windows 7, so well, maybe she will try that

Sorry for the long email, but I really am loving this OS, and so is my boy
(so much so that I caught him the first night he got his ‘new’ laptop at
2:45 am watching Youtube videos and reading wikipedia).

Dave (the psychologist)


Hi Tom & Rafe,

Having decided to skip Windows Vista like most companies did, we decided that our company would test the waters of W7.
We decided that we would take the “Squeaky-clean Install” approach and install W7 Professional x64 on fresh hardware: A heavily reviewed and highly rated LGA775 motherboard (according to NewEgg, the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R), load it with 8GB RAM, a 3GHz Core2-quad processor, and a popular but inexpensive (nVidia GeForce 9400) graphics card.

The OS installation went very well. The W7 installer even detected the RAID-1 mirrored system disks we configured using the Intel ICH10R Matrix Storage Manager!

However, two benefits of W7 that were touted by Microsoft didn’t work out for us:

* We were led to believe that W7 would support Vista device drivers. Not so in our case. When we attempted to load the Vista driver for our Kyocera network printer, we were greeted with “Operating system not supported”. We can work around this by using the printer in PostScript mode, but we consider the driver-compatibility claim to be false. To be fair, this may have been Kyocera’s doing.


* Has Microsoft has fixed sleep and hibernation as promised? We don’t think so! After allowing the system to enter sleep mode (after 30 minutes of idle time) and waking the system up, we could move the mouse pointer, but little else. The network support did not wake up (couldn’t ping the computer), and open windows would not respond to clicking, dragging, or closing. Sounds like the same old problems we’ve seen in previous Windows OS’s.

Both the above experiences were with the newly installed OS with no 3rd party software (except device drivers) installed.

Notwithstanding the above, I like the look, feel and feature set of W7, and think we can make our peace with it.

I think maybe I’ll roll the dice and try an in-place upgrade of my Asus Laptop from Vista Business x64 to W7 x64…. or … maybe not!

Question: Why would someone ever choose 32-bit W7 for a clean install over x64?

Rob from Sedona


Hey Tom and Rafe,

I know you guys are doing a road test episode this week so I figured I’d contribute. I got the infamous Seagete Momentus 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5 in HDD for my Macbook Pro. I was worried about the reported clicking noise but Tom’s good experience and Newegg’s deal convinced me to get it. I’ve been using it for about a week now and I have no problem with it. The drive is performing very well and I hear no clicking noise yet. So there’s one another person who got a good batch of the drives.

Thanks, LTS,

Sang Park


Hey Tom,

Lately I have been hearing this new term “Network neutrality” and am kinda confused on what exactly it is and who is taking sides and why? Just a little lost and want to learn more about the reoccurring topic.


Answer: We’ll explain.


I’ve actually got a problem with my external hard drive that I thought you might be able to help me with. I’ve got a 500 GB external USB drive with an HFS partition (for time machine backup) and a FAT32 partition. While I was restoring my information from the time machine backup to a new hard drive I installed in my MacBook Pro, somehow all the data disappeared from my FAT32 partition. I ran a recovery program and it found a partition that was not recognized by OS X that was the same size as my FAT32 partition and it still has all my data on it. The program costs $100 to actually recover the data — is there a free program you could recommend or a command line utility I could use to mount and restore that “hidden” partition?

Thanks for your help.


Answer: PhotoRec http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec

Hey real deal,
If I wanted to buy a mac and run a virtual windows 7 on the machine as
well, what do I need?

Yours truly,
Cameron Tora

Answer: You need a virtual machine. I use VMWare. VirtualBox is free. You need a legal copy of Windows 7. I’d recommend as big of a hard drive as you can afford. And get the max on RAM.


I know your thinking only 18% of the market has vista and doing the upgrade from Vista is quite easy and painless so a how to video about this is almost pointless. (I will try to avoid making the comment that Apple only has 5% market share and everyone talks about them!… woops!)

Well your almost 100% right, as compared to the XP upgrade path it is easy.

That said I did notice that items placed on your taskbar in vista don’t move to your Windows 7 task bar. (No idea why that is other then I did it a few times to make sure and they don’t move.)
So taking all your taskbar shortcuts and dropping them in a folder called “taskbar” on your desktop is a great idea before the upgrade. After the upgrade you can pin them back (and set the icons to small) if you want to return to the look at feel you had before.

One other small item I don’t see many people talking about is the fact that the old look and feel of the Windows 95 style menus are GONE from 7. So for some people (like me) who always kicked it old school menus it requires adjustment. Or a utility exists that allows you to get the XP start menu feel back in 7. (More info: http://www.askvg.com/how-to-get-good-old-classic-start-menu-back-in-windows-7/)

NOTE: I didn’t do that but some people may wish to.

I am sure there are quite a few other tips and tricks you can show people about the move from Vista to 7.

Keep up the amazing work… And feel free to ignore my e-mail… :) I don’t take it personally…

All the best,

Joe Dawson
IT Security Consultant


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