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Should I upgrade to Windows 7?

Nov 4th 2009

If you’ve been holding off on buying a new computer, Microsoft Windows 7 will be a good excuse to get back into the game. And if you’ve been weighing a Mac versus a Windows PC, then you should know that "7" pushes the scales on the Windows side.

But should you upgrade your aging computer, even if you’re running Windows XP?
And should you use the occasion to buy a new PC?

Upgrade to 7, or not to 7? That is the question!

Should I upgrade to Windows 7?
If you’re running Windows Vista, you’re in luck, upgrading can be straightforward, however if you’re running Windows XP, you may have a little more of a battle on your hands.

Windows 7 does not provide a direct in-place upgrade for Windows XP that will retain your applications, programs, settings, customisations, personalisation and data as part of the installation. If you try to upgrade to Windows 7 from a system which is using Windows XP, you will be shown an error report which informs you that direct upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 is not available.

It does get easier though. Once you’re up and running with Windows 7, there is a tool called Windows Easy Transfer that can migrate your settings from Windows XP.

What sort of hardware will I need to install Windows 7?
The minimum requirements, according to Microsoft, are a processor that’s 1 GHz or faster, at least 1GB of RAM, 16GB of free disk space (20 if you’re going to run the 64-bit version), and a DirectX 9 graphics card.

What does that all mean, you ask?
You need the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

As the name implies, this software tool will determine whether your hardware is compatible with Windows 7. It even nags you to plug in all of your external devices and make sure they are turned on, so it can do a thorough analysis.

What new features are in Windows 7?
Well, it looks great, and has a whole stack of great new enhancements that allow you organise your Windows and desktop.

There are also Wi-Fi Networking Improvements: When Wi-Fi is available, the wireless icon lights up in the system tray. Click it to display a pop-up list of wireless networks then click the one you want to connect to. If you have to enter a passphrase, you’ll be prompted to do so, otherwise, you’re connected immediately.
When you bring your work laptop home, it automatically connects to your home network even though it’s configured to connect to a domain. It also protects your work files even though you’re on your home network.

When connected to a network, you’ll have access to the “Homegroup” directory interface. From here, you have access to all devices in your home including PCs, laptops, mobile phones, digital photo frames, printers, etc. Sharing features for the home network have also been simplified. Windows also 7 switches your default printer depending on where you are – work or home, etc.

Here are a few other things worth noting:
• UAC is less annoying! UAC was a new feature with Windows Vista. The feature continually prompted you for an administrative logon for access to certain areas of Windows or key function. A nice feature, but in reality, a little too intrusive. Now there’s a new slider control that lets you adjust how much the UAC pop-up is allowed to prompt you. You can also adjust warning levels specifically to disable warnings for things like changing Windows settings while still getting warned with 3rd party programs try to make unauthorized changes. Adjusting the UAC settings no longer requires a reboot, either.
• The new “Action Center” lets you control the messages delivered through things like Windows Firewall, Windows Updates, etc.
• Touch support: On touch-enabled devices, you can interact with the Windows via touch, gestures, flicks, etc. Windows 7 supports multi-touch. There’s also around 25% more space between items in the context menus to allow easier control when touching.
• System Tray: In Windows 7, you have complete control over your system tray. You can remove, change, and even move around the different applications that reside there.
• Windows 7 has a reduced memory footprint and they’ve reduced the disk I/O reads “substantially.” In the demo, a 1 Ghz/1 GB RAM netbook had 500 MB RAM available after boot.
• Better power management in Windows 7 means longer battery life for notebooks and netbooks.
• Overall, the system is faster. The taskbar responds almost instantaneously. The boot time is also faster.
• You can use BitLocker to encrypt a USB memory stick.
• Remote Desktop supports multiple monitors. Easier access to Virtual Private Networks (VPN)s
• There is a new presentation feature for PowerPoint addicts – Windows Key + P lets you connect to a projector easily.

Enjoy Windows 7, and if you need help, give us a call on 0845 890 2992!