For this article, I’m going to be covering Microsoft Windows 7 since it is Microsoft’s newest desktop Operating System and many still are using Windows XP or Vista and will be upgrading in the near future. I have been using Windows 7 for quite some time since I’ve had access to the pre-release software and then the RTM (release to manufacturing) code for a few months before it was publically available.
Windows 7 is the latest release of Microsoft’s desktop operating system and is targeted for both home and business users. It is very similar to Windows Vista, but has less perceived issues and runs better. Windows 7 is to Vista what Windows XP was to Windows 2000. Windows 2000 and Vista were not “bad” operating systems, but Windows XP and Windows 7 definitely smoothed out the rough edges from a very different operating system and improved performance and reliability. Windows 7 comes in multiple editions, however the most common are Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Most home users will be perfectly happy with the Home Premium edition, however the other editions do add some nice features like XP Mode, which I had to use recently. Previous versions of Windows have included a feature called compatibility mode which fools an application into thinking it’s running in a previous version of Windows and sometimes that’s enough to get an older application working. XP Mode on the other hand runs a virtual complete copy of Windows XP in the background and you can run your old applications which might have problems running on Windows 7 there. This is similar to how a Mac runs Windows software using virtualization software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion. XP Mode came in handy the other day because one program that wouldn’t work in Windows 7 natively was the software for my daughters LeapFrog Tag reader. Since the Tag reader wasn’t working correctly in Windows 7, I setup the XP Mode in Windows 7 and installed the application there and everything worked well, really well. Keep in mind, this is a band-aid fix until LeapFrog gets their act together and releases a Windows 7 compatible version of their software.
One typical question would be should I upgrade or purchase a new computer with Windows 7? One problem is that you can only do a direct upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. If you are running Windows XP, you can’t simply put the Windows 7 disc in your computer and do an in-place upgrade, you’ll need to do a re-install which involves backing up your computer, installing Windows 7 from scratch and then re-installing all your applications and data. If you are running Windows Vista, you can do an in-place upgrade which is simple to do and keeps your computers programs and data intact. The other factor you need to keep in mind though is, “Do you want to upgrade your current computer to Windows 7?” Computers that are more than a few years old might have problems because the manufacturers might not have the software drives available for Windows 7 (They want you to buy new hardware). With the low price of PC’s these days, it might make more sense to purchase a new system which comes with Windows 7. If you purchased a new system recently, you might be entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 7. The in-place upgrade from Vista has been known to cause some problems on some systems, but all the systems I’ve upgraded from Vista to Windows 7 have been problem free.
I think Microsoft has definitely listened to their customers and worked with their business partners to develop an operating system that fixes the problems that Vista had and works very reliably and performs well. It also includes new features and simplifies many of the common tasks that computer users encounter. While a few things have changed in Windows 7 such as the taskbar which operates a little bit differently (more like a Mac actually), once you get used to the changes it does make for a smoother and more efficient computing experience.
If you have any questions or need help upgrading to Windows 7, feel free to contact me via my web site at www.inlinetech.com.