How great is Windows 7? Like anything it may depend on who you ask. For example, ask Microsoft and it’s probably the best thing since the discovery of electricity. Seriously though, Windows 7 is best known for being the antidote to Vista (considered by some to be a second edition of Vista). I hardly ever hear anyone say they like Vista which has always been riddled with problems including User Account Control issues, driver signing requirements (64bit), problem service packs, and compatibility issues. Let’s explore Window’s 7 best features and determine what degree of improvement it holds over Windows Vista.
Is Windows 7 generally compatible with hardware and software? Microsoft has actually done quite a bit better making this operating system compatible with most hardware and software used today. In fact, an “upgrade advisor” is available to inform the user if there are any compatibility issues before that person upgrades to Windows 7….“Bravo.” Unfortunately Windows 7 is not compatible with everything, especially older hardware.
Microsoft foresaw some of the problems with compatibility and took extra steps to minimize those issues. Windows 7 contains a feature called “Xp Mode”. What this is literally, is Windows Xp running on Windows 7. Once installed, there is a window on the desktop that will run programs designed for Xp. It is a “virtual” operating system where you can perform all the tasks that you would ordinarily be able to run on a Windows Xp computer. Windows Xp Mode was designed primarily to help businesses move from Windows Xp to Windows 7.
Another feature which is improved in windows 7, and which was highly criticized in Vista is called the User Account Control (UAC). The UAC was set up for security purposes. Whenever there was a system level change in Vista, the operating system would prompt a dialog box that would require the user’s permission to either stop or continue (how annoying)! Even the default administrator account is subject to the UAC in Vista. The Windows 7 UAC is better for several reasons. There are more settings that allow a user to control the UAC according to his/her comfort level with the notifications. The UAC is now designed to provide the user with the control over what changes can happen to the system.
There are a few things in particular that (from a technician’s perspective) make Windows 7 a whole lot better. It is simply a more stable operating system, programs load and run quickly, and basic drivers are automatically installed after a re-install of the operating system. One of the most notable improvements however is the file management system known as libraries. Previous operating systems haven’t been as efficient about pulling together files with the same characteristics and allowing you to access them from one place. Libraries is very cool because even if you have pictures (for example) spread around your entire hard drive, they can all be found easily in that centralized location. Still, there is no doubt that getting used to the layout of the Windows 7 OS takes some getting used to, especially if you’re an “Xp” person.
Speaking of the Xp operating system, I’ve received the same question many times about whether one should migrate to Windows 7 for their next pc or laptop, or stay with Windows Xp. That’s a good question. So stay tuned for my next article addressing that issue. In conclusion, there is no question that Windows 7 rocks compared to Vista, and although still susceptible to crashing, blue screens and viruses, it does have the greatest potential of any of Microsoft’s operating systems so far.