Windows 7 has now been installed on my netbook for a little over a week of use. I use my netbook daily at work, as a primary work computer & play device during dead periods. The netbook is an Asus EEE PC 1000HE from Amazon (not the cheaper best buy version). When doing my research, I came to the conclusion that this was far and away the best netbook when taking price & performance into consideration (Some of the Sony models were more appealing to me, but also double the price). I have been using Windows 7 as my primary OS on my desktop at home since the day RC1 was released, and have thus far been very impressed by it's stability, features, and feel.
I thought that the modest specs of the netbook (1.6ghz, 1gb of RAM, 5400RPM HDD) would be more than adequate to run anything I wanted and pretty fast on the included Windows XP Home. I was not happy with the fact that I had to use XP Home with it, but settled in with it anyway. About 5 or 6 hours of use, I realized that the speed at which applications opened and performed was slightly irritating. Especially during the first 5-10 minutes of turning on or after several days of use (I didn't shut down normally. I used hibernate mode instead). While it was tolerable, it was also irritating. I upgraded to 2GB of RAM, the maximum supported by this netbook. It did better, but it was still not quite up to my high, and possibly unrealistic, expectations. I considered stripping the boot items of the OS and hoping this would improve the performance, but I had a friend of mine inform me that Windows 7 had been reported to perform at least as good as Windows XP. It was time to try it.
The ASUS EEE PC 1000HE comes with it's 160GB HDD already partitioned into 2 logical disks, divided evenly, so I would not have to format the drive to run both XP & Windows 7. This was a great convenience. Installation of Windows 7 was quite simple, as I knew it would be, but surprisingly it was also extremely quick. Everything was simple, easy to do, no glitches at all during the installation. However, after installation was completed, the problems started.
Once I got it booted up into Windows 7 and installed my normal array of programs successfully (OpenOffice, AVG, Firefox, & iTunes), I loaded up my iTunes with some playlists and while listening to music attempted to use the Fn key to turn down the volume, and I realize that none of my Fn shortcuts & shortcut keys are working. A little bit of Googling informs me that I should download an older version of the Intel display driver, and install the XP version of drivers for the shortcut keys and this will enable my Fn shortcuts as well.
So, I start my trek of screwing with OS drivers in the most asinine way possible. I had to install the older Windows Vista Intel driver instead of the driver Intel has for Windows 7. Odd, but the driver does work. So I set about installing the drivers provided by ASUS for the 1000HE on their website (all are Windows XP drivers, they don't support any other OS for this model). It is a little clunky with installing the drivers, but I finally get them installed. I now can edit the shortcut buttons and my Fn shortcuts are working as well. Not exactly smoothly installed to get to this point, but it's working.
I'm now satisfied with the functionality of the netbook running Windows 7, but there is still 1 more irritation that I have yet to attempt to address. The Fn shortcut to disable the trackpad says that it disables the trackpad, but it actually doesn't. Even when it's disabled, the trackpad continues to function. This is irritating to me because I have a tendency to accidently tap the pad while typing and it moves my cursor away from where I'm typing. I plan on looking into fixing this sometime next week most likely. I still have not even attempted to use the wired ethernet port, which I've read should not be working in Windows 7. This isn't an issue for me, as I normally use the wireless-n anyway.
As far as performance of Windows 7 vs Windows XP on this particular netbook, I'm inclined to say that overall performance is better on Windows 7. However, I do notice a bigger slowdown when I have several programs running at once than I did in Windows XP. To me, it's definitely a good trade off. I can tolerate only having 5-6 tabs open in Firefox, an OpenOffice document, TweetDeck, and iTunes running, as opposed to 15 tabs, several OpenOffice documents, TweetDeck, iTunes, and a few PDF files open. Not to mention, the great little useful tricks that come with Windows 7, such as drag to the left of the screen to take up the left half the screen with that window. I find myself missing it whenever I'm forced to use an XP or Vista machine.
I wish that I had retained completely full functionality through the upgrade to Windows 7, but the missing components are more small annoyances rather than deal breaking issues. The performance boost, better OS, and the fact that now I use the same OS for both home and mobile is well worth the upgrade to me. I suggest to anyone who is a fan of Windows 7, and has a netbook that is capable of the upgrade easily. Do a little research online and you'll find out how much of pain your particular model will be to upgrade to Windows 7.