Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Windows 7 and WoW

After a long wait I have finally made the switch to Windows 7. The gist of it is this: I love it. Now for the story.

I was pretty happy with my Windows XP Home because it ran decently and was fairly stable. I have long been an advocate of "an OS is just a means for me to run my programs and applications, nothing else". If it hadn't been for an excellent deal that I signed up for months before, I don't think I would have made the jump to Windows 7. Many moons ago, Microsoft offered a promo for those who preordered a copy of Windows 7 Home or Professional. The deal was too good to pass: only $50 for Home and $100 for Professional. So I did the right thing and pre-ordered a copy of Home Premium. I didn't go for Professional because the extra features aren't something that I would use.

If you're having a hard time choosing between the two, Professional has a couple of useful features extra that you might need (or not). Here are some of them. There's Windows XP mode which basically contains a full, licensed version of XP that runs in a virtual mode, useful if you want to run older programs that refuse to run under Windows 7. There's also a backup utility that has more features than copy/paste. A third important feature is Remote Desktop which can come in handy if you want to connect remotely to your home computer like, for example, from work so you can camp that Auction House!

The nice thing about Windows 7 is that the box contains 2 CDs: one for the 32-bit version and one for the 64-bit version. I would highly advise against installing the 32-bit one, unless you expect to run into major compatibility issues. 64-bit is the future and one of the main reasons is that it allows you to install virtually unlimited amounts of RAM. In my case, 6GB are just right.


Before you start installing, here are a few things you should do. Backup all the stuff on your main drive. If you have several drives, that can be as easy as moving everything not related to Windows to another drive. Move all your movies, music, games, documents, etc. Make a backup of your desktop, i.e. all the stuff in the Desktop folder. If you're like me, you'll have tons of crap there, including documents and folders.

Make sure to clean your main drive as much as possible. If you upgrade from Vista and choose the "Upgrade" option, you will be able to keep all your installed programs. You also have the option to do a "Clean Install" which I recommend anyway. Upgrading from Windows XP can only be done with a "Clean Install" which is just as well. I loves me a clean new system.

When performing the clean install, W7 will move your old Windows (including Program Files) into a Window.old folder. You can delete that if you think you don't need it, later. I will archive it though, just in case.

Since my only option was to do a clean install, I booted from the 64-bit DVD and the installation started. I was surprised by how few things it asks you, merely a couple of items of localization information. From there, just let the installer do its thing. The whole installation lasted about 40 minutes. I'm sure it would have been shorter had it not needed to backup my old Windows files. During the installation it rebooted twice: one too many if you ask me. The first time it reboots make sure to remove the DVD beforehand, or else it will start the installation all over again. If that happens, eject the DVD and reset the computer. The installation will resume.

Long story short, the installation process was very user friendly and it didn't require my attention at various times. The only thing that slightly bothered me was the lack of progress information. There's nothing tangible like a real-time progress bar, but merely status information for the various stages and a general progress bar that is very lazy to update.


When my new OS started for the first time, I was impressed. It looks very good compared to XP (I skipped Vista), it's sleek and responsive, even with the Aero interface and all the effects enabled. I liked the fact that it installed drivers for all my components and that it updated itself nicely.

One of the first things I did, after installing an antivirus, was to start WoW. If you've been wondering if WoW runs under W7, fret no more: it does, and nicely. In fact, it seemed to me that it ran even smoother than before. Whether it's the extra 3GB of RAM (for a total of 6GB), the new OS or pure coincidence, I can only be pleased by the apparent increase in performance. I didn't get to play a lot, just checked/reposted some auctions and emptied the mailbox. Hopefully tonight I'll get some more play time but I'm also about to upgrade my graphics card so that will definitely be a factor.

Well, that was a very short WoW-under-W7 review, wasn't it? In truth, I'm a lot more excited by Windows 7 itself than by WoW under W7. I wasn't worrying that it wouldn't run, I was merely curious as to whether there's any performance increase. First signs point towards that but more experimenting is required. One thing is certain: I've got a lot of work cut out for me installing my applications all over again.


Anonymous said...

I switched to 7 few months ag oand I like it. I already work on Vista in my office and overall it's a "better Vista" but nothing really different if you already know Vista indeed. MUCH better if you came from XP, lik you did.

WoW runs better because you added more ram :)

Tony Bowman said...

i've only ever played Wow under Windows 7. Hah. I just started playing at the end of June, when I built my first PC in about 5 years(had been a Mac user exclusively for that time period). Runs buttery smooth. I'm still using the release candidate, which is a pre-release version of Windows 7 Ultimate, and it's been rock solid. I'm not going to buy a copy until the license for the RC runs out in March, though.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that WoW is a 5-years old game and the last thing you really want to look at is... 3D graphics. Very simple models and half the textures are pure crap. In any case Dalaran will lag like hell in peak hours with people AFKing everywhere, even on a ninja machine.

In terms of pure gaming performance it's hard to say whether 7 is better than XP or not. Things change too fast and the same game wont have the same environment on XP and Seven: drivers wont be the same, tweaks wont be the same and so on.

Overall XP was much lighter than 7. Just take a look at HW requirements and you get the idea ;)

Anonymous said...

WoW doesn't work thruu remote desktop. at least it was like that on vista but i think its the same now. remote desktop is a great thing but not to run games.

Darth Solo said...

I had no idea WoW doesn't run through Remote Desktop. That sucks. Why doesn't it?

More than the OS I would say the amount of RAM and the video card are what counts. Even if WoW's graphics are old, they have been updated slightly over time.

It was about time to switch to a more modern OS anyway. The biggest thing for me is that I can make full use of all 6GB of RAM, and even more in the future.

Anonymous said...

Man, it's time to get on the Mac bandwagon. Windows keeps trying to get it right, but still can't hold a candle to the Mac.

Anonymous said...

When i tried wow and remote dekstop earlier i only got a message saying its not supported and game stops loading. It wont even start.

I did a search on it and found a workaround. If you start wow and run it in window mode. then minimize and leave it on. Then when you connect to your computer thruu remote desktop you will be able to play it thruu remote dektop. will be slow and so but for ah stuff it will be ok.

Darth Solo said...

@1st Anonymous you're barking up the wrong tree man! I'm a 100% Windows man and don't see it changing. If you ask me, I think Macs are more of a fashion statement these days.

@2nd Anonymous that's very interesting. I play WoW in windowed mode anyway because it's a world of difference between full-screen mode. I would suspect it's more a matter of Remote Desktop not being able to run a program in full-screen mode than WoW refusing to run thru Remote Desktop.

Anonymous said...

@Darth Said the same thing about Mac vs Windows until I actually sat down and started using a friends Mac and figured out that it is just a much more integrated way to use a computer. I used Windows for my whole life up until this past winter and wouldn't got back to Windows now if you paid me! I think it's just that much better. But if you like what you're using, then that's what counts.