Microsoft® Windows 7® is an operating system for personal and business computers, including both desktops and laptops. During its development, Windows 7 was code named Blackhorn and Vienna. An unofficial beta of Windows 7 was leaked to the Internet in the latter part of December 2008, while Microsoft released the official beta in January 2009. Windows 7 succeeds the Vista® operating system, and is considered an incremental upgrade to Vista.
Reviews of the beta versions of Windows 7 have been fairly uniform in assessment. In a nutshell, Windows 7 is reportedly a faster version of Vista. In a few cases the benchmarks of this operating system beat Vista and XP®, scoring higher in areas such as faster boot and shut-down times and faster access in working with files and documents. In other key areas including general office activities and video editing, XP remains faster.
The Vista operating system received wide criticism for being a slow operating system while consuming a great deal of system resources with higher minimum hardware requirements than previous Windows systems. In a word, critics claimed Vista was inefficient. While Windows 7 has the same minimum requirements as Vista, it does appear to make better use of them.
Since Windows 7 is an incremental upgrade from Vista, drivers and programs made for Vista are fully compatible with Windows 7, according to Microsoft. This should make it easy to switch from Vista to Windows 7, for those who took the Vista plunge. Programs that were designed to run on Vista will run on Windows 7, so performing a Windows 7 upgrade should be a painless process, preserving programs and preferences.
While the glassy Aero graphic user interface (GUI) persists in Windows 7, a few changes have been made as would be expected. The shut down button is a handy, uncomplicated textual button, rather than the icons that appeared in Vista, and the Security Center is called the Action Center in Windows 7. The new Action Center combines security and maintenance features for easier access to functions like system restore and backup management. Windows 7 also adds HomeGroups, a feature that makes it easier to set up a secure home network for sharing files and resources without putting your computer at risk from outside interlopers.
A few programs are no longer bundled with Windows 7, but can be downloaded at the Microsoft site. These include Microsoft Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Windows Calendar and Windows Mail. The Windows Sidebar gadget is also gone from Windows 7, replaced by Desktop Gadgets.
Anyone familiar with Vista will likely find the change to Windows 7 easy to adjust to, and the improved performance a plus. If, however, Vista cannot run a device or program necessary for your computer environment, Windows 7 will not likely provide salvation.