Microsoft Windows 7 Review – Blog Exclusive

 

Similar to our approach for previous Microsoft operating system launches, CyberGuru has released this opinion paper on Windows 7, rather than a full review of the product.

This review will detail our first impressions with the product, the various flavours of the product and pricing. A series of screenshots is also available. If you would like to ask a question about Windows 7, we would be more than willing to assist. We will be answering questions through our ask a question form and answer the questions as part of the frequently asked questions of the article and as part of an series of articles on Windows 7 in this blog.

First Impressions

Having tested Microsoft Windows 7 since the launch of the first Release Candidate, I have always found it to be reliable and stable (and more so than Windows Vista). When Microsoft embarked on this new release, one of the goals was to improve boot up times and performance, and this they most certainly achieved. In this version, Microsoft they have refined and continued to provide some useful functionality, without causing needless bloating to the operating system. Upon the completion of the installation, you’ll notice the list of installed programs isn’t as large as it used to be – Windows Mail, Messenger and Movie Maker have all been moved to the Windows Live Suite and are included as part of a separately packaged and installed series of programs called “Windows Live Essentials”. Noticeably too Windows Meeting Space, a feature new in Windows Vista, is no where to be seen! There are many improvements under the bonnet with Windows 7. Personally I have found two such issues I had with Windows Vista, my wireless disconnections becoming non-existent where they were so frequent I had to move to a wired network with a 50 metre long cable around the house just to get the internet to work, and compatibility with older. A number of applications not compatible with Windows Vista (namely the version of Adobe Photoshop I run), is working magically requiring no changes to my configuration at all, whereas I had to use Virtual PC in the past to run this. Unfortunately though, to use the latest version of Windows Virtual PC now update on my computer required hardware which I don’t have. Windows 7 has the same hardware requirements as Windows Vista, although these should be considered an absolute minimum as additional software will be installed requiring additional capacity. The 32-bit operating system has the following system requirements:

  • 1GHz CPU (although faster is obviously better!)
  • 1GB RAM (we recommend at least 2GB or 3GB if you can afford it!)
  • 16GB hard disk space (this is just for the operating system!)
  • DirectX 9 with Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 or higher.

If you are unsure whether your system will work with Windows 7, contact us for an appointment to identify whether your compatible and capable! Most computers purchased in the past three to for years should not have many issues. It seems to me that Microsoft is working very hard to bring their customers back following Windows Vista, and this release has certainly has had Microsoft a lot to live up to. This latest version of Windows has certainly done so! If you are running Windows Vista or Windows XP, now is the time to upgrade to this latest release to receive the full benefit of your computer.

Flavours

Microsoft have made the new editions easier to follow, which the features from each addition being included in the one following it (like where “Home Premium” edition in Windows Vista had features such as Windows Media Centre which weren’t in Business. Please note when comparing Windows 7 editions with Windows Vista, Windows 7 names the “Professional” edition whereas Windows Vista called it “Business” edition.

Edition Description
Windows 7 Home Premium Edition designed for home users, includes Windows Home Basic features and provides Premium Games, Windows Media Centre.
Windows 7 Professional (link opens in new window) Edition designed for businesses, includes Location Aware Printing, Remote Desktop and Windows XP Mode.
Windows 7 Ultimate (link opens in new window) Edition designed for both home users and businesses seeking a “premium” experience, includes advanced features such as AppLocker, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Virtual Hard Disk Booting and MUI pack.

For detailed features of each edition, please visit the official Microsoft Windows 7 website: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows7/products/windows-7/compare-editions (link opens in new window) and http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows7/products/windows-7/features (link opens in new window).

Pricing

Edition Full Version Upgrade Academic
Windows 7 Home Premium $299 $199 TBA
Windows 7 Professional $449 $399 $49.95 (via Its Not Cheating (link opens in new window))
Windows 7 Ultimate $469 $429 TBA
N/A – Pricing not available or applicable for this product.
This pricing information is based on Microsoft’s Estimated Retail Pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Where can I find videos on Windows 7’s new features?

Answer: Microsoft has created a whole channel on Ninemsn Video of all of the new features. Check it out by clicking here (link opens in new window)!

Question: I am looking to upgrade to Windows 7, but don’t know if my computer will be able to support it. How can I find out? Answer: Microsoft advise that any computer built in the Windows Vista timeframe will be able to run any version of Windows 7 without requiring upgrading. However, we recommend that at least 2GB of memory is available on the computer.

Also, you need to check the
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor (link opens in new window) to ensure the software installed on your computer is compatible.

Question: I am having troubles running Norton 360 on my Windows 7 computer. Is there an upgrade or patch available?

Answer: We have found an Norton Community article (link opens in new window) that advises to run LiveUpdate to receive the new Norton 360 3.5 patch in order for it to be compatible with Windows 7. For more information, check out the Norton Upgrade Centre
(link opens in new window). Symantec is currently working on a new version of
Norton 360, a beta is available for download from the
Symantec Beta Centre (link opens in new window).

Question: Where can I download more themes?

Answer: The Personalisation Gallery (link opens in new window) contains a range of themes, backgrounds and gadgets which you can visit to download.

Question: I am sick and tired of all the upgrades to Windows, doesn’t Bill Gates already have enough money?!

Answer: Well, you could try moving to MacOS (link opens in new window), Google LiveAndroid (link opens in new window) or even Sugar on a Stick (link opens in new window) – but Microsoft wouldn’t recommend this (and we couldn’t support these!)

Question: Where can I find additional training resources and product reviews?

Answer: We recommend you check out Microsoft Learning (link opens in new window)’s website for training resources or ActiveWin (link opens in new window) for a complete product review.

Question: Is my hardware/software going to work with Windows 7?

Answer: As mentioned in our review above, we have found Windows 7 to be much more reliable and compatible with most existing hardware and software which came out in Windows XP and Windows Vista days. It is strange to believe, we have software which didn’t work correctly in Windows Vista that now works in Windows 7! However, if you want to be certain it will, check out the Windows 7 Compatibility Centre (link opens in new window). Some internet security software, such as Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security, may require updates. See the similar questions raised above.

Question: I am looking for a trial version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Where can I get it?

Answer: This isn’t a Windows 7 question, but we’ll answer it anyway! A trial is available for download at http://www.getmicrosoftoffice.com (link opens in new window).

Question: Can you recommend any reference books I can use to learn Windows 7?

Answer: We are a fan of both the “For Dummies” and “Idiot’s Guides” series of books, but Microsoft Press is currently offering free sample chapters of some of their Windows 7 books, which can be downloaded from Microsoft Learning.

Question: I recently bought a new computer. How can I receive a free upgrade advertised to Windows 7?

Answer: Microsoft provides to ways to receive an upgrade to Windows 7. Both are the same offer, but if you have bought your computer from a reseller, you will need to provide this information to the manufacturer to receive it. If you did in this way, you’ll also notice in the material provided, a reference to the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program. An example from a manufacturer, in this case HP, is provided below. Basically, for a “nominal fee” for postage and handling (which I believe is $30) you can upgrade to the next version of Windows, called Windows 7, for free. We would highly recommended you do this, even if we don’t upgrade straight away. For CyberGuru clients, at a time of our convenience, we can upgrade you to this version of Windows. Information is available from http://www.microsoft.com/upgradeoffer (link opens in new window) and has been included below as reference only:

  • Windows 7 Upgrade Option: http://www.microsoft.com/australia/windows/buy/offers/upgrade.aspx (link opens in new window) Customers who purchase a new Windows Home Premium, Business or Ultimate PC from today (26 June 2009) will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 for little or no cost when it launches on 22 October this year. This means that consumers can purchase and use a new Windows PC now, while being assured they are investing in the latest technology.The Windows 7 Upgrade Option will run until 31 January 2010, and people can redeem the offer until the end of February 2010.In addition, from now until the end of the financial year (30 June 2009) eligible Australian families can take advantage of the Education Tax Refund (ETR) on offer from the Australian Federal Government. The ETR allows eligible parents of school-age children to claim up to 50 percent back on expenses related to their kids’ education, including Windows PCs.This incentive, combined with Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Option, makes for a very attractive opportunity for eligible Australian families who have a window of opportunity from 26-30 June 2009 to take advantage of both offers by buying a Windows PC with a guaranteed upgrade to Windows 7 and getting up to 50% of the cost back from the Federal Government through the ETR. Consumers can check if the Windows PC they are purchasing is part of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option by: 1. Checking in-store stickers on the PC they are looking to purchase 2. Visiting the Microsoft websitewww.windows.com/upgradeoffer(link opens in new window) 3. Asking in-store if the PC they’re buying is eligible for the Windows 7 Upgrade For more information on Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Option go to: www.windows.com/upgradeoffer< (link opens in new window.) For more information on the Australian Government’s Education Tax Refund go to: http://www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au/home (link opens in new window).
  • Windows 7 Upgrade Offer (HP example):In conjunction with Microsoft, HP is offering the Windows® 7 Upgrade Option Program to help ensure that you have access to the latest in computing technology.This upgrade program is available to HP and Compaq desktop and notebook PC customers who purchase eligible Windows Vista® PCs. For eligibility and program details, see the HP Web site at http://www.hp.com/go/windows7upgrade (link opens in new window).Details about the features available in Windows 7 may be found at the Microsoft Web site at http://www.windows7.com (link opens in new window). The upgrade program may not be available in all countries or regions. Price, terms, and conditions may vary. Shipping and handling costs and other fees may apply and may vary by country or region. This is a limited time offer. Proof of purchase is required. This information is subject to change without notice.

Screenshots

A range of Windows 7 screenshots we have taken are available here.