Windows 7 βeta

A Windows Vista-running PC decided to implode the other day, crashing with random noise on the screen (or a really strange frosting-type effect, where slightly off-white static quickly encroaches from the edges of the screen) after Windows has been running for a while, for a few minutes after starting a DirectX game, etc.

It could potentially be malware-related… but it seems too drastic a failure for that.

I’m wondering about whether it may be a hardware problem, perhaps in the graphics card (it is a small form-factor case, so the graphics board is probably getting quite toasty). Nevertheless, software hasn’t been ruled out, so this seems like a good chance to try out the new beta of Windows 7.

The machine is a fairly standard Shuttle SFF PC with a Core2 Duo processor, Intel chipset, and ATI Radeon HD2600 PCI-e graphics. However, after installing the 64bit version of Windows it quickly became clear that, be it because it’s beta or be it because it’s 64bit, the current form of Windows 7 has limited usability:

On this machine, amongst the items for which drivers do not exist are the Realtek USB Wifi module (which, to be fair, wasn’t recognised under Linux either), the ICH9 82801 SMBus (which is about as standard as they come), the onboard Gigabit ethernet controller (seriously?), the integrated fingerprint reader (not necessarily a surprise), and several others. Having no support for any of the available network interfaces, though, is somewhat limiting.

I’m going to try the 32bit version next, and see how that compares. I’ve heard that drivers for 64bit Windows tend to be sparse at best – but I didn’t figure that the situation would be this bad…