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  • Seven reasons why Windows 7 is better

    Posted by on October 22, 2009

    A quick peek at how this new operating system outshines its rocky predecessor.

    More on Windows 7:

    For Microsoft, today is D-Day.

    Er, or make that W-Day, as Windows 7, the company’s much-hyped new operating system, hits store shelves and ships preloaded in computers.

    It’s no secret the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant took it on the chin over Windows Vista, 2006’s flawed operating system that caused so much consumer frustration PC manufacturers began offering the older (but proven) Windows XP on their machines instead.

    To make matters worse for Microsoft, its No. 1 rival, Apple, leveraged the success of its iconic iPod and iPhone to sell more Mac computers, and began running a highly successful ad campaign to tout the ease of use and stability of Macs over Windows.

    So here we are on October 22, 2009, and it’s a chance for Microsoft to see if their mojo is back.

    Sales might help determine the verdict, but from a software point of view, Windows 7 is a home run.

    More on Windows 7:

    Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts
    What’s new in Windows 7
    Better device management
    True multimedia platform
    Blog: How to protect yourself online

    Here’s a fun “before and after” look at how much better Windows 7 is than Windows Vista, in seven key areas.

    It’s a fact: Windows 7 runs significantly faster than its predecessor, Vista.

    This is true not just while launching and running programs but on boot-up times, as well.

    For example, Microsoft Canada’s Rick Claus, a senior IT pro advisor, says a two-year-old Dell laptop — with many programs set to load when the computer turns on — took 1:35 minutes to boot up with Windows 7, compared to more than 2:30 minutes on the same laptop running Windows Vista.

    “Microsoft has re-jigged the dependencies of certain services and the way programs initiate during the boot-up process, resulting in much faster speeds,” says Claus. “Another way to think about it is Windows 7 handles these boot sequences in parallel rather than linearly.”

    * Video: Windows 7 — going touchy feely

    PC maker Lenovo says its Windows 7 machines are roughly 33 to 50 per cent faster than the same hardware running Windows Vista. This is also due in part to Lenovo’s own proprietary tweaks to Windows 7, as part of the company’s “Enhanced Experience” certification (look for the sticker).

    Power management
    Windows 7 is more “power aware” of your laptop than Vista, says Claus, and can turn off “routines” that aren’t necessary at that time, such as disk defragmentation, which results in longer battery life.

    At a recent Microsoft event, two identical laptops were playing the same DVD, but the computer running Windows 7 ran about 20 per cent longer than the Vista machine.

    User interface
    In Windows Vista, something as simple as launching a recent PowerPoint or Word document required users to first click Start, followed by Recent Items, and then you needed to find what you were working on.

    In Windows 7, however, you can “pin” any file or application (such as Word) to the taskbar on your desktop, and simply click to launch it. Or you can press the corresponding key on the keyboard based on what order it is on the taskbar (example: tap the Windows button and the “2” key for the second pinned item) and it’ll launch. Or you can right mouse-click over the pinned program (e.g. Word) and it will show all recent documents opened.

    Unlike Vista, Windows 7 also has interface tweaks such as “Shake” (click and shake an opened window to minimize everything else), “Touch” (use your fingertip to open applications on supported hardware) and “Snap” to lock two windows side by side, such as a web browser and document (perfect for widescreen monitors).

    More on Windows 7:

    More on Windows 7:

    Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts
    What’s new in Windows 7
    Better device management
    True multimedia platform
    Blog: How to protect yourself online

    Security reminders
    One of the more annoying “features” of Windows Vista was constant security reminders whenever you wanted to install or run applications.

    Called “User Account Control” (UAC), it wasn’t unusual to click two or three times just to approve an application to run, such as a downloaded game. As a result, many users opted to turn UAC off altogether in the Control Panel settings.

    In Windows 7, though, many of the security features are in the background, so while you’re still protected it’s far less obtrusive.

    “Basically, if you’re asking for something to be done and it requires administrative rights — and you’re an administrator — it won’t ask you to approve it,” confirms Claus on how Windows 7 handles this same scenario.

    Minimum requirements
    Though it’s been three years since Windows Vista launched, you can use the same hardware to run Windows 7.

    Many people were forced to upgrade their computers (if not system memory) for Vista, whereas Windows 7’s minimum hardware requirements are more modest.

    * Video: Windows 7 — going touchy feely

    “In fact, Windows 7 works a lot faster on the same hardware than ran Windows Vista,” adds Claus. “Windows 7 is a lot snappier, a lot more responsive.”

    Another key difference between Windows Vista and Windows 7 is the implementation of HomeGroup. This allows multiple computer users in the same home (running Windows 7) to wirelessly access and share data or media between PCs.

    For example, you’re surfing the web and want to listen to your music while doing so, but it’s stored on your desktop’s hard drive downstairs. No problem — simply type in the Windows 7 code generated by the HomeGroup program (you only need to do this once) and you can access your collection of tunes.

    You can also print something wirelessly from the kitchen table even though your “all in one” machine is connected to your desktop in the basement.

    Easy networking is one of the hallmarks of Windows 7.

    Finally, Windows 7 is cheaper than Windows Vista.

    For example, the full version of Windows Vista Ultimate retailed for $499.95 when it debuted in 2006, compared to $349.95 for the Windows 7 equivalent.

    Similarly, the Windows 7 Home Premium (full version) is also cheaper at $224.95 compared to $299.95 for Windows Vista.

    For the first time, a “Windows 7 Family Pack” is also available, for $199.95, which offers a Windows Home Premium upgrade license you can install on up to three PCs at home.

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