Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ReadyBoost in Windows 7 - It Rocks

With the official launch of Windows 7 just a few weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some overlooked and improved features that were first introduced in Windows Vista.

Far and away the least mentioned and most effective carryover for many may very well be ReadyBoost, particularly in the case of enterprise deployment .. and a  few 'older' PCs.

One of the boxes I tested Windows 7 on would be considered 'legacy' at this stage.  A single core processor, 1 GB of RAM onboard and shared graphics memory.  Honestly, while I expected a little 'search' for some drivers, I wasn't sure if any of the versions would work at all.

The 'Beta', RC, and Enterprise version all ran fine and at about the same speed as XP.  Memory intensive graphics and video were a challenge but still an improvement over XP using the latest Windows 7 drivers.

Then came the magic.


I plugged in an 8 GB flash drive (ReadyBoost certified ... IE: 1 ms or less access time) and dedicated the drive to ReadyBoost via the pop-up dialog.

Microsoft should be talking more about this.  Not only did ReadyBoost under Windows 7 improve overall system performance and speed, but it literally felt like I had changed the CPU or added more memory.  On the same computer, XP was now a very slow 'turtle'.

There was absolutely no comparison in access times, video or graphics.

I'm not encouraging installation of the operating system on computers with less than the recommended system resources but if you 'need' to push one or two boxes on your network to 'the next level', ReadyBoost might be the answer.  (In the chance that it isn't, obviously back everything up first?!).

On to other stuff ... Vista also introduced the 'Snipping Tool'.  After a little networking last night, apparently I'm not the only one that missed it entirely.

Bottom line .... Screen capture (with annotation) is build into the operating system.  Couple that with a significantly upgraded version of yes, Microsoft Paint, and you can actually do some pretty neat stuff without launching another 'big' program.

(Left - 'Snipped' on the fly while writing this piece)

Like any other operating system, Windows 7 is going to behave differently with different hardware configurations.  It's a pretty safe bet that if your box ran well (or great) with Vista, it should not only 'like' Windows 7, but from everything I've experienced to date, it should find all the drivers you need automatically.

Finally a suggestion.  After visiting your PC manufacturer's website, take an inventory of your computer's components and head over to the component manufacturer's website(s) to see if any newer Windows 7 specific drivers have been released for your chipset(s), wireless adapter, audio, etc.

As has been the case for me since the initial release of the Windows 7 Beta .... you may get a very pleasant surprise.