Windows 7 in Parallels on a Mac
It's no secret that I'm all about Mac hardware and living in OS X when I'm not developing .NET stuff. It's also no secret that I thought Vista was too much of a dog to use, and have been sticking to Windows XP because of that. And in all fairness, I suppose some of that bias is rooted in the fact that Vista was a nightmare on my wife's old laptop, but I did experiment a little with it in a Parallels VM, and it just felt clunky. The outright bizarre dialogs with a chapter of text for everything also threw me for a loop.
People seemed pretty enthusiastic about Windows 7 though, so I thought I'd give it a go using Parallels 4, which lists 7 support as "experimental." Well, it's a pretty solid experiment so far!
Install went perfectly, and pretty quickly, without the silly self-serving ads describing how great Windows is. Once the install was done, the first win is the boot time, which is frankly awesome. This is after installing Visual Studio, SQL and such. Visual Studio seems to start faster as well, but I'm still convinced that this is caused by some kind of "cache rot" with ReSharper, since turning it off seems to yield faster start up times.
I prefer coherence mode in Parallels, since I typically run Adium, Firefox for e-mail and CoasterBuzz Feed in the background while working. It generally seems to work pretty well, and dock icons are much nicer than they were in XP when a high-res version is available. Trying to drag a window around at high speed is still not a pretty affair, but generally I don't do that in real life anyway. Drag-and-drop between an Explorer window and the OS X desktop works fine too.
So my early impression is that at the very least, it's a substantial improvement over Vista in terms of general perceived performance. I'll have to experiment some more and see how it affects battery life, which is something largely left to the folks at Parallels, I suspect. The question becomes, "What do I get that I don't get in XP?" I'm sure that's what IT departments everywhere also ask. I don't have a good answer for that other than I want the pretty, and I want to feel like everything is a bit zippier.
Poking around control panels and properties dialogs and such, it does appear that the Windows team has made great strides in getting away from the ridiculous verbosity of Vista, thank God. Stuff feels like it was built by user interface designers and not engineers who "know" what people want. I'm really happy to see this corner turned.