Windows 7 – the perfect system for a netbook?

We tested Windows 7 on the new 10-inch Acer Aspire One netbook. Although Windows 7 is only in beta testing, our findings are promising.

Windows 7 - the perfect system for a netbook?

Microsoft’s new system is noticeably faster and has significantly lower hardware requirements.

Acer Aspire One arrived to our editorial office with Windows XP preinstalled, as well as a set of programs to improve the operation of the system and office software (MS Works, MS Office trial). The computer was equipped as standard: Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6 GHz), 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive.

After performing basic measurements: system startup and shutdown times, and typical applications, we proceeded to install the beta of Windows 7. Due to the lack of a drive, the system was installed from a flash memory. After starting the installer, the Install Windows window appeared, along with a suggestion to learn more about installing a new system – “What to know before installing Windows”. We had 2 installation options to choose from – upgrade and clean system. It turned out that upgrade is possible only if Windows Vista is installed on the computer. So we were left with “ploughing the land” and installing the system from scratch.

The installation process itself was unattended, similar to what happens with Windows Vista. The first surprise and a big plus – the installation time – in the case of the Aspire One was just 35 minutes. The system correctly identified the computer’s components and installed the correct drivers, except for the network card and WLAN support. Fortunately, we were able to use the wireless network drivers coming from Windows XP. After connecting to the Internet, another surprise came – the system immediately downloaded several patches, along with the missing Ethernet network card driver.

At first glance, there is no revolution in the appearance of the desktop, although it seems more spacious and ergonomic. The desktop features a new taskbar, switching between windows, gadgets and a Start menu. The new Internet Explorer has sped up significantly, while Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center look more aesthetically pleasing.

Windows 7 - the perfect system for a netbook?

Importantly, Windows 7 had no problems with multithreading, taskbar, desktop animation as well as multimedia playback. We deliberately chose a movie (“Stealth”) with a lot of details and dynamic action. Despite this, even in full-screen mode there were no stutters. System resource usage with the Word editor running was: 54 percent memory and 5 percent CPU load. Below is a table comparing the startup times of selected processes.

Summary

The system has gained more stability and noticeably accelerated, which allows for free and comfortable work even on such a modestly equipped computer as a netbook. The beta tests are already promising, and it is unofficially said that a special version dedicated to netbooks will be created. We can only hope that the price will be attractive, especially in case of cheap ultra-mobile computers.

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