Mini running Windows 7

So I bought my Dell Mini 9 because it was the only netbook that fully supported OS X, or rather OS X fully supported it. I installed 10.5.6 a few months ago and have been using it about every day with no issues. Recently I updated to 10.5.7 and the phail resulted — upon boot, the graphics driver seemed corrupt. Not sure exactly what was going on or if a fix is out there, I decided to start over.

So I installed Windows 7 RC 1 with a portable DVD drive (easier than the OS X process), it took about 45 minutes and either had all of the drivers, or Windows Update was able to locate the missing or outdated drivers. Two quick observations after a few hours of use.

The new hibernate is freaking awesome. Historically, windows hibernate (saving memory contents to disk and physically powering off the machine) took a long time to cycle down and cycle up, so you may as well shut down in most cases. I haven’t actually hibernated since I first saw it in Windows 2000 (XP?). With my Vostro 1500, Windows 7 will hibernate in about 10 seconds and wake up in about 15 seconds. On the netbook, it’s about 25 seconds down and 40 seconds up. A little slower than waking from suspend, but the fact that it’s not constantly sucking on the battery is worth the peace of mind.

The screen real estate is improved over OS X, or even another windows. I would say that OS X is not ideal for displays with very limited vertical resolution, as is the case with the Mini 9. It has the bar on the top which can’t be moved elsewhere, so that decreases your vertical real estate even more. And the dock on any side but the bottom just doesn’t feel right. There’s a hack on mydellmini.com that allows you to decrease the “size” of each of the applications that run, but it is very shotty. Windows 7 with the taskbar on the left allows for the max amount of vertical real estate, and it looks natural.

And since Microsoft has better relationships with hardware vendors, the hardware drivers are more recent and function better. I can really tell that everything is running more smoothly. Since I’m on the slowest possible SDHC drive for the Mini, OS X seemed to lag at points from just typical use. I’m not seeing the same with Windows 7.

Liking it so far, I suspect that I will use it as my primary OS from now on.

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