What it did was a little bit of jack and a whole lotta squat. I'm not even getting higher benchmarks on Windows 7 than I did on Vista. It performs about the same. The Games Explorer allows you to access all your games from one handy place, which is a nice feature that cuts down on desktop clutter, but that's about it.
Even though I'm seeing few real gaming benefits, the OS is a welcome improvement over Vista. It runs well, the various Mac-ish graphical and navigational features are welcome, it's more stable, and the entire experience is just better.
The Windows Media Center remains a total clusterfark, of course. It runs like a sloth stuck in tar, and every time I start it up my laptop fan kicks into high gear. When I try to load my list of MP3s, the entire utility sees this as an opportunity to pop over to the neighbors for a cuppa and a little chat. It returns about 5 minutes later to offer me the single worst media interface I've encountered this side of DOS. Styling it after the Xbox interface might have been a good idea if a) this wasn't a computer OS, and b) the Xbox interface didn't already bite the wax tadpole.
On the positive side, the upgrade to Windows gave me some excuse to dig around in the native Windows games, which I'd never bothered to do with Vista. I'm actually pretty impressed.
The Games Explorer includes internet versions of Backgammon, Spades, and Checkers. These work marvelously well, anonymously matching players from around in the world in quick pickup games. Aside from the occasional drop-out player, I had no problems with these at all. They're simple, user-friendly, and work exactly as advertised. As a painless bit of light multiplayer, it's a terrific feature.
The versions of solitaire, chess, and hearts are fine, but certainly the last two would benefit from the same online matchmaking provided for backgammon, spades, and checkers.
Overall, a nice experience, but not one that can really sustain a full column. Instead, I wrote about horror gaming, with some thoughts on Dead Space 2 and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, both of which I plan to discuss in the future.