“Doesn’t Suck Too Badly” is about the best we can hope for from Microsoft. Honestly, if Gates and Ballmer had to pay for the lost productivity we all suffer every time they totally change the Windows UI, then they’d be driving around in 1976 Pintos and living in crappy apartments instead of living large as arrogant fuckwad douchebag billionaires.
I installed W7 on one of my Dell ATG D630s. To my utter astonishment, I discovered there actually is a benefit to W7: Every single device installed perfectly, right out of the box. That, in and of itself, was amazing. I wasn’t left with a Device Mangler full of question marks. Right off the bat, I saved an hour of futzing around on the Dell web site, downloading drivers and playing an infuriating game of “guess the hardware”.
The default UI blows, of course. It took me about an hour of Googling around and futzing around to get the UI as close to “Windows Classic” as possible.
Start -> Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Personalization -> Basic Themes -> Windows Classic will get your windows to look reasonably like XP.
Then you have to futz with the firewall and the Start menu.
Notification Area: OFF
Taskbar Buttons: Never Combine
To get most of the M$ crap off your Explorer windows, open up a window and click -> ORGANIZE -> LAYOUT.
Unfortunately, the only way to get a Classic start menu is to install a free program called CSMENU.
-> Control Panel ->All Control Panel Items -> Performance Options -> Visual Effects turns off all the bullshit eye candy screen stuff like animations inside Explorer windows, fade effects on the menus and other assorted, needless crap.
Unfortunately, a lot of the hard-coded locations of vital stuff have changed, an unfortunate annoyance that has carried over from the hopeless Windows Vista. For example, you can’t get to C:\Documents and Settings because it basically doesn’t exist.
But the performance is pretty good, I can live with it. I’ll wait for at least Service Pack 1 (if not Service Pack 2) before I use it for anything important.