I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to preview the Windows 7 Milestone 3 build that was released at PDC this week. I downloaded it last night and installed it on an Acer Ferrari 1000 notebook I had lying around.
The install experience was remarkable - for such an early build the install was really smooth. I did not sit and watch it build but it had finished the bulk of the install and was waiting for me to enter my name inside of an hour.
Another interesting event during the install was being given the opportunity to enter my wireless settings during the initial setup routine.
After the install completed I logged in. Again it was remarkable. For such an early build the it looks pretty good. At this stage very Vista-like, but it actually looked fairly nice and seemed at least as responsive on Vista on the same hardware.
Next up I checked Device Manager to see what hardware had not been installed. This was my next surprise. A generic display driver was being used. The inbuilt webcam and the multicard reader did not have drivers. Everything else was detected.
Contrasting this with my first experience with an early Vista build - that was very different. It looked unfinished. Driver support was awful and it ran like a dog.
There are fewer "under the hood" architecture changes in Windows 7 and as such application and driver support is pretty good even at this early stage.
Overall I am happy and intrigued by this early build. I've found some nice features already and there are some noticeable absentees. That is a another story. I've not even had a chance to check out the tablet bits yet. I'm looking for some more hardware to test out this build on. Stay tuned!