By Robert Downey – Cougar News Staff Writer
This month, the software giant in Redmond, CA released the latest and greatest version of it’s Windows operating system. Microsoft has suffered from some embarrassment after the release of Windows Vista; it’s reception was tepid at best. Vista suffered from a lot of problems that made some users question whether or not Microsoft still had it in them to release a worthwhile operating system. It seems the poor Vista sales and customer feedback affected Microsoft, and Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. Great.
I’ve had the opportunity to use Windows 7 for some time now. I signed up in March for the beta test and have put Windows 7 though the paces to see what it’s all about. Windows 7 is still Vista under the hood, but the differences have made a profound impact. Firstly, the desktop and taskbar have been re-designed for more customization. The taskbar now allows you to “pin” applications to it so you can avoid navigating menu after menu. A great new addition is the ability to drag windows up to the top of the screen to maximize it; this makes using a trackpad or touch-enabled screen much easier to navigate. This time around Windows isn’t focused around widgets and annoying utilities in the lower-right toolbar, they have been overhauled to stay out of your way so you can get to work. The toolbar has been condensed and will expand in a small menu which you can customize easily to manage your utilities.
Most modern homes have multiple computers, so Windows 7 has a media sharing utility that makes it easy to share files with every other computer in the house. Windows 7 is also much fast than its predecessor, requiring less computer resources. Microsoft has tuned Windows 7 to run on most computers, even the popular low priced netbooks. This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more new features and tools at your disposal in Windows 7.
With every release of a new operating system there is always some hesitation to upgrade. A new version usually means you’re waiting for new drivers and devices to become compatable, and sometimes the OS isn’t ready for prime time. Luckily for us, this isn’t the case with Windows 7. Microsoft has been testing the OS for over a year, so most of the bugs have been ironed out.
As with all new OS’s you should always backup your data, and do a clean install to avoid any problems. It isn’t recommended to buy the cheaper upgrade versions of Windows, but if you need to save money it is an option.
If you plan to upgrade, jump over to the Windows 7 homepage and take a look at the versions available. The different packages lack certain functionality. For example, the “Ultimate” version contains emulation software built it which make it easy for you to use older software. If you’re the type of user that just surfs the web, uses e-mail, and rocks Netflix & Hulu from time to time, buy the cheapest version you can find. If you are a student, you can send Microsoft your school schedule and become eligible to receive Windows 7 for only $30. This is a very generous move by Microsoft, which is emulating Apple’s love for student discounts.
In closing, get out there and upgrade without worry. Windows finally feels modern and fresh, just don’t forget to get yourself a good anti-virus program (because they haven’t fixed everything yet).