Century IT blog

Windows 7 Is it ready for you?

November 2nd, 2009

 Windows 7 Logo

 

In this article we will have a look at Microsoft’s newest Operating System and what the differences are than previous Versions, its availability, and what it can do for you.

But first a few words about Windows Vista, well after the success of Windows XP it was always going to be a hard act to follow, and unfortunately for Microsoft Windows Vista did not follow it very well. Microsoft conceded and continued to supply Windows XP to the PC Manufacturers due to high demand for it.

Enter Windows 7, and a very public announcement it was too, with Microsoft freely distributing a late Beta Version, and after that a Release Candidate. This was a marketing plan and a good way of getting Windows 7 to as many people as it could before the launch date, so that the code could be tested, corrected and revised as much as possible before launch. Another criticism of Windows Vista was that it lacked drivers for much of the hardware that users already had purchased, that means that printers, scanners, video cards and the like would not work with Vista out of the box. Microsoft has addressed this problem by providing as many drivers as possible built into Windows 7, in fact more and more have been added from even the ones included in the beta and release candidate versions. The fact that the drivers that were produced by hardware manufacturers for Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7 makes the problem of limited drives a lot less of a problem. Delivering the drivers to the pc has also been enhanced, now Windows Updates provides these drivers in the same way that critical updates and service packs are delivered. The new features are a big step forward a dynamic task bar, windows manipulation, better driver support, Windows XP mode for Business and Ultimate versions. However one of the biggest steps forward is the start up and shutdown times, anyone who has waited for Vista to shutdown will be please to hear this!

If you are intending to install Windows 7 on a laptop the initial indications are that the power saving is more efficient, which means that battery life should be longer. Other features for mobile users include a Location-Aware printing, which makes printing documents far easier if you are moving from office to office. Another technology that is maturing with Windows 7 is the support for 64bit computers. Using a 64 bit Operating system with the appropriate hardware means that Windows can use gigabytes of memory, the limit of the traditional 32bit Windows is 3 – 4 Gb. This means that with 64 bit computing many more programs can be running at the same time than before, and swapping between them will become easier.

 

Improved User Interface

Microsoft has made a considerable number of enhancements to the User Interface from Windows Vista. This addressed a few problems regarding windows management; some of the changes are of a more entertaining nature.

Aero Shake
Hold down a window by its top border (or any other part) and shake your mouse to minimize all other windows. Alternative Shortcut: Win + Home.

Aero Peek
Hold your mouse icon over a program icon in the TaskBar to get a preview of the program (if it’s running), then move your mouse and hold it over this icon to bring up the actual window itself. Click to bring this window up permanently or just move the mouse away.

Action Center
This feature is an extension of the old security centre that first appeared in Windows XP in Service Pack 1. It basically informs you of any potential security problems, and system updates that are required. Most of the time it will sit quietly monitoring, but when things need attention it will start alerting.

ISO Burner
As software distribution is now mostly electronic, this has created a need for a in built Windows utility that will create a CD or DVD from an ISO image. Well the ISO burner in Windows 7 is just that very useful when you need it.

Biometric Device Management
Windows 7 provides a basic framework for biometric devices, enabling manufacturers of these devices like fingerprint readers to use this framework to develop their programs. This unified support will mean that these types of devices should be similar in operation.

Credential Manager
This is a useful addition to the Windows 7 Utility Set, it allows you to store all your usernames and passwords in one place, and when you go to use a website or network share the credential manager can login for you. Another useful feature is that your password vault can be backed up and restored should you ever have a problem

Display projection Windows Mobility Centre
w7displayIf you give lots of presentations, you’ll welcome a new tool in Windows 7 that makes it easy for you to display your Windows 7 portable computer’s desktop on a projector. Just press the Windows logo key + P and you’ll see the pop-up box this will take you through a wizard to get you connected.

Windows Mobility Centre
w7mobilityThis is a blend of the Windows Sync Centre and Power settings, giving information on screen brightness, battery capacity, secondary monitors, wireless networking etc. Some of the sections can be adjusted to save power or adjust wireless networks that are connected.

System Repair Disc
The Vista Service Pack 1 betas included a new feature that let you easily create a system repair disc with a friendly graphical interface, but it was removed in the final release of SP1. Windows 7 restores this functionality, and enables a full image backup of the computer. This means that you can have a set of restore DVD’s to return your computer to a previous state.

Better backup utility
Of course, previous versions of Windows included a backup utility, but this tool has been significantly improved in Windows 7. Vista’s backup program was user friendly but not very flexible. Windows 7 gives you more granular control over what you want to back up.
You can invoke the “Backup and Restore” applet from Control Panel or by typing Backup in the Search box on the Start menu. You can back up your files to a local hard disk, a removable disk, a DVD, or another computer on the network. (You may need to provide credentials to access a network location.) Then, you can choose to back up libraries or individual folders.

Task bar / Jump lists
w7taskThe Jump List feature is designed to provide you with quick access to the documents and tasks associated with applications. You can think of Jump Lists like little application-specific Start menus. Jump Lists can be found on the application icons that appear on the Taskbar when an application is running or on the Start menu in the recently opened programs section. Jump Lists can also be found on the icons of applications that have been specifically pinned to the Taskbar or the Start menu. The task bar has had some changes to it and in many ways is looks like the Apple Mac Dock, but does include some further enhancements. They include larger icons to allow the new features to be seen clearly. One of the new features is the inclusion of a progress bar built in to the programs running on the task bar. So if you are downloading a file in Internet Explorer then the icon will show the progress. Shortcuts can also be “pinned” to the taskbar allowing quick and easy access to them.

Windows 7, like previous versions of Windows Operating Systems come in different versions, for the home, business and extreme users, below is the details of the features that come with each of these versions.

 

Windows 7 versions

There are 3 main versions that will be offered by Microsoft from launch day the 22nd October 2009 they are Business, Home Premium and Ultimate below is a summary of the components of each of these versions.

 

Windows 7 – Home Premium

  • Windows 7 Home PremiumAvailable worldwide, to OEMs and in retail
  • Includes Aero UI tweaks
  • Features multi-touch capabilities – on Touch screens
    Adds “premium” games
  • Adds media capabilities (Media Center, DVD playback, DVD creation, etc.)
  • Can create home network groups

  

Windows 7 – Professional

windows 7 proAvailable worldwide, to OEMs and in retail

  • Includes all features of Premium
  • Adds enhanced networking capabilities (Remote Desktop host, domain support, offline folders, etc.)
  • Adds Mobility Center
  • Adds Presentation Mode – Profile configuration

 

Windows 7 – Ultimate

w7ultimate1Limited OEM and retail availability

  • Includes all features of Professional
  • Adds Branch Cache – Branch Office file store
  • Adds Direct Access – Transparent tunnelling to Head Office
  • Adds BitLocker – Drive Encryption

 

 

Windows 7 updates

If you wish to purchase an upgrade version of Windows 7 for your Vista Operating system and you live in the Euro Zone, you are out of luck. Due to legal wrangling with the EU Commission, Microsoft will not offer any upgrade pricing or product. Also they are not shipping Internet Explorer with Windows 7 within the Euro Zone for the same reason. This will affect over half a billion people. This means that people who want to install Windows 7 on an existing system will have to backup their user data and do a clean install, and then restore your data.
Compatibility issues – Microsoft have thought of the users who still have programs that don’t work well with Windows 7. XP Mode is essentially a Windows XP PC inside Windows 7. So when you want to run those old programs you can use this XP machine to do this quickly and easily.
So we originally asked is Windows 7 ready for you? Well the answer is probably yes, in fact when you buy your next new pc or laptop it will be pre-installed on it. However those of you who want Windows 7 on an existing pc may be in for a painful installation. There is no upgrade path you can go down in the UK as mentioned above, so the only way to get Windows 7 on an existing PC is to buy the full version then wipe and install.

“Taking a backup of all your important data first of course.”

If you are still unsure what Windows 7 has to offer or if it is the right time for you, then please give us a call today on 02380 070 101 for a full, confidential and without-obligation discussion of your needs.

 

This Article is only the opinion of Century IT Services LLP. All features mentioned were correct at time of writing we take no responsibility for issues arising through incorrect planning, installation or incompatibility with other applications.