The Australian Federal Government department that handles social security, Centelink, is testing the Windows 7 beta . That may not be exciting news for most people . It isn’t for me either, really. But the nature of the computing world is such that any new operating system release by Microsoft is a big deal.

Government departments and businesses were slow to take up Vista. I’m not sure why – it was a good product, but got a bad press from the moment it came out.

Businesses and government departments which did not upgrade to Vista will almost have to upgrade to Windows 7. XP is now getting too old to support fully, and even getting XP drivers for new devices may become a problem. This will make Windows 7 Microsoft’s biggest ever selling operating system.

I have run Vista HP on my home computers since the day it was released, Vista Business on my main work computer, and Vista Ultimate on my video processing and games computers at work. All without any significant hitches.

I installed the Windows 7 beta on my home computer a couple of months ago. It is fast and stable. Impressively so for a beta. Changes to the taskbar are the most obvious new feature, and as this review points out, they are all good. At first I missed the ‘Show Desktop’ button, which I used all the time, but it is still there, just tucked away at the very bottom right hand corner. I dislike the new Windows Explorer which seems to me to make basic file operations (moving, copying, etc) less intuitive. But its new default setting of opening to ‘Libraries’ makes sense and will suit most people.

All in all a solid new product. And I don’t mind spending the money. If there was anything else out there that was better, I’d buy it. But there isn’t. And yes, I’ve tried Macs and Linux.