I spent some time last week downloading the new Windows Beta 7 ( http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/Windows7/Home ) with installation on Sunday. The download was an all–day affair. The installation required first that I burn the downloaded image to a DVD disc, then boot from the disc and install. If you are reading this and are curious, Microsoft has extended the download deadline to February 10th. It's well worth a look.
On the techi-ish side, I already had a data partition on my laptop, so saved all that stuff to an external hard drive and installed the new beta to the second partition. I now have a dual boot machine, keeping my original XP intact on the first partition.
A few pleasant surprises: the beta is stable; I was able to install all my familiar software without complaints, including an old set of card games originally designed for W3.x; no email software included in the download, but since I was already using Windows Live Mail, a tab on the start button allowed me to add that, Messenger, blog software, etc. very quickly and easily. By the way, if you have a hotmail account, I recomment using Live Mail, whatever your Windows OS version, since it integrates very well with your server email account. My printer and digital camera also work smoothly, with a straightforward, fast installation via Windows. I didn't need to hunt for my discs to get them running. I have yet to try out my scanner, but from what I see so far, I expect it to work also.
The newest OS is visually very beautiful. I used to think computing should be a no–nonsense affair, but hey, why not have some fun? There are new games included, my laptop seems to run faster, and I like the organisation of files and ease of access. Flexibilty is extensive, with many choices of themes, colour schemes, fonts and font sizes and greater choices in sound, if you listen to a lot of music, or watch television, radio programs, etc. via streaming. To date, I have not had accessibility issues, so I cannot comment on how well someone with visual or other impairments might adapt this OS for their needs.
How does this tie in with writing? Well, directly, it doesn't. On the other hand, my wrting experience hasn't altered with the use of this beta. I have always saved off–site copies of my work, so that if something goes bla–hooey while I experiment with it, I can easily go back to XP and resume where I left off. Like so many others, I use my laptop for much more than just writing—I think this newest entry by Microsoft will definitely enhance the experience for writers and non–writers alike.