Windows 7 is now ‘RTM’ Released to Manufacturing which is Microsoft speak to say that all the programming and testing is done – now they make the DVD’s and boxes as well as fully unleashing the marketing mavens.
At least 1.5GB of RAM is suggested for any machine running Windows 7, preferably more if you intend to run Outlook at the same time as other Office programs.
- Start menu with documents fly-outs
- ‘Jump Lists’ of open windows from the taskbar
- Libraries, they let you display files from multiple folders in one list e.g. all images can appear in one library regardless of where you saved them.
- More connectivity improvements especially for wireless links.
- BitLocker for removable drives
- Improved backup, mostly in the more expensive versions of Windows 7
With any Microsoft product marketing check the fine print for any feature before you get too excited about it. E.g.– DirectAccess, a new Windows 7 feature, sounds great; Just plug into a network and you get a VPN link to your office network, butto make it work your NW Adminneeds to make specific changes and use the latest server software from Microsoft.
HomeGroup is yet more improvements for homes and small businesses to make a shared network, but you need to buy Windows 7 on all the computers to make it work.
Should you upgrade from Vista?
Windows 7 has much to like however the main advantage of the new Windows is also the main reason not to upgrade.
Windows 7 is a considerable improvement in stability and performance over the complex and clumsy Windows Vista, only problem for customers, is that they are being asked to pay around US$200 (Windows 7 Professional Upgrade) for what amounts to a recanting of Microsoft’s previous mistakes with Vista.
Should you upgrade from Windows XP?
Windows XP users qualify for the ‘upgrade’ pricing for Windows 7 but don’t get an easy conversion path on their computer.
At first glance it seems that upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 would be a good idea on computers with sufficient hardware to take advantage of it.
However there’s a catch – Microsoft has NOT provided upgrade software to convert Windows XP to Windows 7. You have to save all your documents and settings from Windows XP, then install a ‘clean’ Wndows 7 operating system. You’re then left with the tedium of re-installing all your software and re-configuring both Windows and your software.
The process of ‘scrubbing’ a computer and starting again from scratch can speed up your computer however it takes time, need to be done carefully and is far too much hassle for many regular computer users.
Moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 involves more than the price you pay to Microsoft; there’s a significant cost in your own time and trouble in the changeover.
Windows 7 on a new computer
If Windows 7 is offered on a new computer, get it.
That advice applies for both desktop and laptop computers. For MS Office at least 2GB of RAM is suggest, preferably more if you’re running Outlook and/or various Office apps at the same time. You can use up to 4GB which is the maximum with a 32-bit processor.
Windows 7 also supports 64-bit machines and for power hungry users it might be worth considering a 64bit computer, if only so you can make use of more than 4GB of RAM.
Finally, if buying Windows on a new computer or as an upgrade, make sure that you buy the version that has all the features you need. Microsoft has a brief compare editions summary.