Windows 7 Features, Benefits and Testing

On Thursday, October 22, Windows 7 was released to consumers. Windows 7 was designed from inception to be an upgrade to the Windows line of operating systems while at the same time remaining compatible with the hardware and applications Windows Vista was compatible with.

The new Windows 7 interface is more intuitive and user friendly than its predecessors. The design of Windows 7 is clean and sleek, and its taskbars and windows look somewhat similar to those of a Mac. One key feature of Windows 7 is the built-in multi-touch mapping application, which allows users to interact with graphical applications with a touch of a finger. A primary benefit of the Windows 7 operating system is performance improvement over its predecessor Windows Vista. Microsoft has even created a “Starter” version of Windows 7 that is compatible with netbooks – mobile computers with limited hardware performance and capabilities.

Technologies Benefiting from Windows 7
Graphics chips, such as those from ATI and NVIDIA, benefit greatly from Windows 7. DirectX 11, a software technology that provides the APIs necessary for detailed graphics and audio, will enable the next generation of graphics technology. It is the perfect technology for the detail-oriented PC gamer or game developer interested in fluid game play and more realistic worlds and characters.

The new Intel Core i7 processor can also take advantage of the Windows 7 operating system to provide unmatched speed and optimized performance to PCs. With Intel Core i7, running multiple applications and creating digital media without sacrificing computer performance are possible. Windows 7 developers focused heavily on ensuring the operating system was fully compatible with and could take advantage of the multiple cores offered on modern processors such as the Intel i7 chip.

32 bit vs. 64 bit Architecture
Windows 7 is available in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. The 32 or 64 bit architecture refers to the memory address length that the processor can reference and impacts the amount of memory that can be used. Most likely, a PC that is more than a couple years old will only be capable of running the 32 bit version. A PC with a modern processor has the ability to run the 64 bit version.

The amount of memory that can be used for a 32 bit CPU is 4 GB. To experience the speed improvements of a 64 bit operating system, software optimized for 64 bit processing is required.

Windows 7 Versions
Consumers, IT managers and other IT decision makers will need to evaluate Windows 7 to determine which version of the software is right for them. Microsoft offers Windows 7 in a variety of packages. Each package contains features and benefits targeted at a specific group of users. This evaluation should be made carefully as the versions range in price, and not all features will be applicable to all users. The six versions of Windows 7 are outlined below.

Windows 7 Editions

Windows 7 Starter: Windows 7 Starter is the most basic edition. It does not include the Windows Aero theme, and is offered in 32-bit only.

Windows 7 Home Basic: The Home Basic edition is available in emerging markets, such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Thailand. Aero options and some other new features are not included in this edition.

Windows 7 Home Premium: Home Premium is designed for personal users and includes features such as the Windows Media Center, Windows Aero and Multi-touch. Microsoft touts the entertainment experience of using Home Premium and emphasizes the simplicity of creating a home network with Home Premium to share photos, videos and music.

Windows 7 Professional: Windows 7 Professional is designed for power users and small business users. It includes all of the Windows 7 Home Premium features and also includes the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain and operate as a remote desktop server. Additional features include location aware printing, encrypting file system, presentation mode and the ability to run many Windows XP productivity programs in Windows XP Mode.

Windows 7 Enterprise: Enterprise is designed for business PCs and includes a feature called BitLocker Drive Encryption, designed to help protect data against loss or theft and allows users to work in the language of their choice and switch between 35 languages.

Windows 7 Ultimate: Ultimate includes all the features that Enterprise offers, but is designed for individual use. Windows 7 Professional users have the option to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate for a fee using Windows Anytime Upgrade.

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