New Microsoft Windows 7 Review

  • What do you need to know about Windows 7?

  • Is it suitable for your applications?

  • Are there features that can improve your productivity?

Start your review of Windows 7 from this web page.


Windows 7 Desktop  with custom background, start menu and new task bar

Review Features List Versions Upgrade Paths
System Requirements 32 bit System Requirements 64 bit Upgrade Advisor Application
Windows 7 Compatibility Computer Power Management Windows 7 System Tools

Features

  • Performance is faster than Vista with quicker boot up times and restore times from sleep mode.
  • Usability improved in terms of a redesigned Taskbar smarter control of Windows. See image below.
  • Smart program and document search from the start button window text box. Quicker searching results of desired items.
  • Simpler printer and network setup.
  • Media centre functionality built in including support for TV tuner cards and personal video recording.
  • More home networking sharing options between Windows 7 computers. Easy viewing of what is available from each computer.
  • Smarter application window positioning using Snap. When a window is dragged to a border then a Snap feature take place.
  • More Power Management options available such as quicker sleep and resume.
  • USB device availability quicker. If USB device is known then its availability is quicker still.
  • Background services are enabled only if you use then. e.g. Bluetooth.
  • Networking options including wired, wireless, dial up, VPN are in one location. Click on a network entry to connect.
  • Multi touch interface available with suitable hardware. tap to click, press hold tap second finger to right click, zoom in and out with 2 fingers.
  • Jump lists are task bar application icons with associated context sensitive recent documents column list that can be quickly opened.
  • Bitlocker can encrypt both internal hard drives and removable USB drives.  
  • Legacy software can run in a Windows XP virtual machine within Windows 7. XP applications can be started from Windows 7. 
  • Documents can be viewed in Libraries with initial titles of Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. These can contain both local, public and remote folders within each Library (see picture on right).
  • Internet Explorer 8 is quicker, safer from malware and phishing sites, more stable even if 1 tab fails, has advanced right click options such as search term, email URL and define terms. Image of IE 8 on lower right.
Libraries of documents, music, pictures and video with navigation bar
Task bar groups instances of the same application together for review in a vertical column Internet Explorer 8 has new features for speed, safety and reliability

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Versions


Version Quick
Search
Domain
Networks
Network
Backup
Drive
Bitlocker
Multi-
Language
Media
Centre
XP virtual
machine
New User
Interface
Internet
Explorer 8
Starter (think Netbooks) Y Y Y
Home Premium Y Y Y Y
Professional Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Ultimate / Enterprise Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Touch needs Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. Starter Edition is 32 Bit only.

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Windows 7 Upgrade Paths

From To
Windows XP None
Vista Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium
Vista Business Windows 7 Professional
Vista Ultimate Windows 7 Ultimate

The installation media contains all versions of Windows 7. What is installed is dependent on the license key used.  The version used can be upgraded by buying Online a Anytime upgrade license key.
No email software is installed with the Windows 7 operating system. Review Proprietary, Open Source, Cloud Software comparison
Computer operating system upgrades can use a backup device for your documents, install Windows 7 and then retrieve backup documents. The second method is to migrate from an old computer to a new computer with Windows 7 installation and movement of your documents. Both methods use a  User State Migration Toolkit. Upgrade paths are 32 bit to 32 bit or 64 bit to 64 bit.

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Windows 7 System Requirements 32 bit

There is a 4 GB memory maximum limitation with this version. After graphics card and driver memory is subtracted, this leaves approximately 3.0 to 3.5 GB system memory usable. Starter edition is only available in 32 bit version.

Parameter Minimum Recommended
Processor 1 GHz 2 GHz dual core
Memory 1 GB 2 GB
Drive Space 16 GB Drives start from about 160 GB
Graphics Direct X 9 card Direct X 11 card
Windows Media Centre (optional) TV card TV card
XP Mode (optional) + 1GB memory
+ 15 GB drive space
+ 1GB memory
+ 15 GB drive space

Review memory and drive space allocation for intended applications and media files to be stored.

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Windows 7 System Requirements 64 bit


Parameter Minimum Recommended
Processor 1 GHz 2 GHz dual core
Memory 2 GB 4 GB
Drive Space 16 GB Drives start from about 160 GB
Graphics Direct X 9 card Direct X 11 card
Windows Media Centre  (optional) TV card TV card
XP Mode  (optional) + 1GB memory
+ 15 GB drive space
+ 1GB memory
+ 15 GB drive space


Review memory and drive space allocation for intended applications and media files to be stored.
No 4 GB limitation on memory use. This is useful for users with multiple applications in use at once and when working with large multimedia files. Computer hardware needs to have 64 bit drivers to work with this version of operating system.

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Upgrade Advisor

This is a download to check your compatibility for the Windows 7 operating system. All used peripheral such as printers, scanners, external drives and webcams should be connected when running this program.

Windows Vista can be upgraded to Windows 7.
Windows XP requires a complete Windows 7 install. If you have a spare hard drive or hard drive partition then dual booting is possible if hardware specifications are sufficient.

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Windows 7 Compatibility

New computers with Windows 7 will have hardware compatibility already taken care of. Before buying new peripherals review that Windows 7 drivers are available for the device. Different drivers are needed for the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 7.

Software compatibility is more likely with the 32 bit version of Windows 7. There is a Windows XP virtual machine system available for Windows 7 advanced versions for backward compatibility.

Windows 7 can be deployed as a virtual machine hosted on a server. The client can be a thin client or an older computer. The processing is done at the server end with the client handling screen keyboard and mouse activity. Each virtual machine has its own virtualized hard disk VHD file. A common Windows 7 VHD can exist with client incremental VHD files to save a great deal of storage.

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Windows 7 Power Management

Quick sleep
Quick resume
Quicker reconnection to networking
Power management standard options are now: dim screen, turn off screen, sleep. Different values can be set for battery or mains powered.
Ambient light sensor support for varying screen brightness to suit background light levels and power efficiency.
USB devices can be selectively suspended.
New power management options for multiple core processors are now available with Windows 7.
Timer Coalescing can align processes to perform background activities together and thereby keeping the computer idle time proportion higher. New Application Programming Interfaces for Windows 7 allow software development using this feature.
When networking is not connected then a new lower power state for networking hardware can start with the appropriate hardware.
The default power management is balanced which tries to achieve performance and efficiency where possible.
Display default brightness when on AC Mains power and when on batteries can be different.
Display dimming is enabled by default after 5 minutes on AC power and 2 minutes when on batteries after no computer activity.
Hard drive idle timeouts are enabled by default after 60 minutes on AC power and 30 minutes when on batteries after no computer activity.
Wireless networking can enter power saving schemes if the wireless network supports it. This is detected by Windows 7.
Options for when batteries are critically low include: no action, sleep, hibernate or shutdown.
PowerCfg /energy is a tool used to monitor what devices/applications are using computer resources. This can help refine computer power management policies. A report is created showing any power efficiency issues.
PowerCfg /requests can show what processes are preventing a computer to enter a sleep state.
Xperf   can detect what activities occur a boot time, what in calling computer interrupts and general resource usage.
PwrTest can be used to display current power management information, show processor states versus time, drive states versus time, battery information versus time and can place a computer into sleep mode.

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Windows 7 Support Tools

Powershell script editor allows automating tasks and responding to system events (manually or automatic).
Problem Step Recorder allows easier fault diagnosis. Screen shots and actions are stored as a web page file that can be viewed or emailed.
Windows Troubleshooting Pack Builder allows IT support to build help files with pictures to work in with the operating system.
System Restore also notes what applications and drivers changed since a restore point to help fine tune appropriate IT technical response.
Windows 7 DVD includes tools to solve boot up issues, restore an image backup, test hardware or use a System Restore.
Reliability Monitor keeps a time line of the computers activities which affect reliability to trace back any issues causing system troubles.
Windows Automated Installation Kit allows the building of computer images with applications, drivers and patches for large computer rollouts of Windows 7. Images can be deployed from a Windows 2008 server using Windows Deployment Service. Multi-casting can be used to push the image to the target computers.
Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit can analyze a computer to see if it is likely to be compatible with this operating system. Data Collection Packages DCP are made on client computers. The DCP files are then catergorised into how important each application is. These can then be analysed with a Internet connected computer with Microsoft with results such as compatible, minor issues with solutions, non compatible or unknown.

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Does the Review show if Windows 7 is suitable for your applications and environement?

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