I just installed Windows 7 and I thought I would share my experiences. I bought 2 copies of Win 7 Pro (OEM) since I have 2 computers to upgrade. I skipped Vista so I'm starting with XP. Good thing I got 2 copies as one of the discs (from Tiger) was scratched so bad Windows would not install from that DVD. The 2nd copy was scratched as well but my drive was able to read it well enough to get through the install. I'm sending the other copy back. And these discs came packaged in a full sized DVD movie case so they got scratched before they were put in the case. Mass duplicators suck.
First, I recommend you read all the available material about pre-requisites. A GOOD idea is to go to MS's OEM website and read the docs. Good stuff there. Also, the Win 7 Upgrade Advisor should be D/L-ed and run to see what HW needs updating or replacement. Luckily all my HW passed and its all 3 years old.
I have been installing Windows since version 95 and the Win 7 install is the smoothest yet. Having said that, its not without difficulties. I installed onto a 2nd HD and that's what I recommend. That way you can dual boot your current OS with Win 7. And then you can migrate over your apps at your leisure. Forget the "upgrade" version. That's for people who really like trouble. Windows has the dual boot thing down pretty good now.
The install took less time than previous versions, partly due to using DVDs instead of CDs. In fact, almost everything is faster in Win 7. Boot (not counting BIOS portion) to the password prompt takes 23 seconds on my box, from that point its another 7 seconds. Shutdown takes 6 to 7 seconds consistently! Apps start up faster, the ones I've tried anyway. The internet is WAY faster. Web pages load almost instantly! I don't know what they did but it worked. I can only imagine how fast this thing would be in a new system with an i7 processor with fast RAM, a solid state HD, and 2 GTX 275's SLI!
Win 7 comes with NO GAMES. Zip, nada. I installed the 64-bit version and have only had one app fail to run and that one is really old anyway. I'm still installing apps though. Oh yeah, the "compatibility mode"? Scratch that. It didn't work for me. I suppose in some specific situations it MIGHT work, probably not. So if your app doesn't like Win 7 then you won't be running that app on Win 7. I don't know why anyone would want the 32-bit version, defeats the purpose of upgrade.
Win 7 is more in tune with multimedia, than prev versions, including making things easier to find, when its not busy making things harder to find. E.g. try bookmarking in IE 8. Until you find the right shortcut key you'll have a hard time. Similar for Win Media Player, MS hides features. Windows Media Center features are built in to Win 7 so if you want to use your computer to run your home entertainment system then Win 7 is a good choice. Home networking is even more improved since XP and Vista. Its come a long way from the crappy Win 95/98 days. Win 7 seems to handle far more types of devices with ease.
Win 7 runs an enormous number of processes, 50 on my box (Damn!). And it uses 1 GB of RAM, I have 4 GB installed and I would call that minimum. 2GB will be a stretch. Also, Win 7 uses twice as much HD space as XP, 16 GB vs. 7 GB, so make your partitions big enough if you do partition. Those numbers include the swap file which can be moved. I would give Win 7 30 GB. User accounts will fill that up pretty quick though.
Visually, Win 7 is stunning. Very nice. If you've used Vista it may seem about the same, just more of it. The gadgets are carried over from Vista. I expected "gadgets" to take off but that has not really materialized. There are some useful gadgets though.
IE 8 looks nice and seems to run very fast and integrates all the new internet stuff, feeds, IM, multi-device sync, web slices, the whole 9 yards. But it does not work well with BV! I tried to write this in IE 8 and it has problems with BV's scroll panes. Luckily Firefox works fine.
Oh yeah, when you boot the Win 7 DVD the 1st screen you get, the "stupid" screen, is gonna make you laugh & scream. So before you boot the DVD go into your BIOS and make sure you know your boot priority because the first thing Win does is ask you to select a "boot type". What the hell does that mean? Well its the devices in your boot priority and Win gives you a numbered list with no text to tell you what the heck it is you are selecting. Doh! If you put your DVD first in the boot priority then select "1" on the "stupid" screen. Aaargh!
As usual Win loves to go infinite loop on the first reboot. Just make sure you select the HD on reboot, that's probably "2" on the "stupid" screen. Otherwise you'll be starting the process all over, and over and over. Same as all previous versions of Windows.
Things you could have problems with: Hardware and/or drivers. Some companies are just not supporting Windows 7 on hardware that is more than 2 years old. Yep, 2 years old! That is completely unacceptable to me but that is not MS's fault. ATI/AMD is not supporting Win 7 on video cards older than about 2 -3 years old (which covers pretty much everybody). Believe it or not. Ooooh kaaaay AMD. Same goes for Hauppauge (assuming you had a device from them that was working to start with).
Bottom line: I like Win 7. Looks nice and runs well. Simplifies many tedious things and, so far, is making life a little easier than what it replaced, a 3 year old install of XP that needed re-install to get rid of built up internet gunk. Now to try installing a game...
Win 7 Rating: 5.8 (due to the Seagate HDs, 6.7 otherwise)
Mobo: Intel D975XBX2(KR)
Proc: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz (slightly O/C-ed)
Ram: OCZ Platinum Series Dual Channel 800 MHz (4x1GB) 5-5-5-14 (slightly O/C-ed)
HD: (2) Seagate Barracuda 500 GB 7200.11 SATA (get solid state!)
Video: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB DDR3 (not recommended, bad design, but very fast)
Media: Sony DVD Burner DRU-170C (had problems with this, noisy, unreliable)
Cooler: ZeroTherm BTF90 All Copper (works well)
Case: Thermaltake Armor VA8000BWS (big, lots of led fans)
P/S: OCZ GameXStream 700W (not quite enough juice for SLI/X-FIRE)
Other: Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-350 (Worthless POS! Vid Quality <VHS, big fat pixels!)
Other: Logitech diNovo wireless bluetooth KB, Mouse, Keypad
(another POS, BT sux! short range, interference, disconnects, uses batteries very fast)