A week ago, Bettie and I spent the day in a movie theater in Cleveland. We were attending a Microsoft rollout of Windows 7. We hit both the morning and afternoon sessions, morning for developers and afternoon for the IT staff (who deploy what the developers write). And we liked what we saw.

I’m a guy who’s not sold on Microsoft – they’re big and omnivorous.  They think they can set standards, and ignore what’s out in the marketplace.  They’re big, bold, and arrogant.

Finally, with Windows 7, they may have something to be arrogant about.  Pretty nifty software, and everything I’ve been reading about it is good.  See Jerry Pournelle’s comments throughout his monthly column here, and see the comments to a geek who’s having networking problems (especially #7, 8, 11, 17, and 20).

Bettie and I walked away from the event with copies of Windows 7 Ultimate.  Yes, no, and no.  Yes, we’re planning on installing them.  No, you can’t have one of ours.  And no, that’s not why I’m writing this entry.

Windows 7 takes up less resources than Vista.  If you are running Vista now, you can upgrade to Win7 without upgrading your hardware.  That’s a first for Microsoft.  They also make it possible for you to upgrade in place, without losing your data.  The recommendation from me is to install to bare metal (after a backup first).

I’m not saying that you should upgrade, but I’m not staying away from 7 the way I stayed away from Vista.  And if you’re thinking about upgrading as opposed to buying new hardware starting Thursday, here are a couple tools for you.  The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will tell you how your CPU, graphics, memory, and disk will do for Vista.  And Steve Gibson’s neat SecurAble will give you good CPU information, including the bitness (32 or 64) and whether your CPU can do hardware virtualization.

The word on the street (not from experience) is that 64-bit is the way to go if you can handle it.  There’s a lot more memory that’s accessible with the 64-bit version.  The 32-bit one is capped at about 3.5G.

Hardware virtualization is cool because Win7 gives you the option of running XP in a virtual machine, in case you have some applications that don’t like Vista or Win7.  It’s called XP mode.  And it can be set up painlessly, as an icon on your desktop.  If XYZ.123 needs to run in XP, you can set it up so that when you click on the icon, it starts up the virtual machine and runs the application seamlessly, so you don’t even know there’s virtualization going on.

Neat stuff.