The retail of launch Windows 7 in Australia happened last tonight. Some retailers around the country had midnight launches. Internationally there’ll be rolling releases with NZ kicking off the action.
What’s new ?
There’s a long list of changes here, it is not a service pack, it’s a well thought out, refined operating system that results in a very positive user experience.
- Speed (improved boot times, start using your machine sooner after Windows loads, lower resources required)
- New taskbar (app re-ordering, date in systray, jump lists)
- Aero snap (side-by-side makes multi-window browsing, document comparisons and tutorials a breeze)
- Power Management (Should result in longer battery life for laptops)
- Format support (Almost all common audio and video codecs are now supported natively)
- Start Menu Search (Not new to Vista users, but improved)
- Customization (Themes and gadgets allow for dramatic personalization)
- Libraries (Docs, Pics, Vids, Music – Aggregates content from multiple sources)
- Home Group (Dramatically simplified sharing between multiple machines)
- Multi-touch (Supported natively in Win7, multi-touch devices are becoming much more common)
- Multi-monitor support improved (Adapts automatically when you remove or add displays)
This really just scratches the surface of the changes in Windows 7. For an in-depth review of what’s new, head over to Paul Thurott’s WinSuperSite for a massive mult-part review.
Which version do you need ?
There’s been a fair bit made of the fact Windows 7 has too many versions. In reality, at home you want Windows 7 Home Premium, at work you’ll be sitting in front of Windows 7 Professional. The exceptions are bottom dollar netbooks may have Starter edition, but you should avoid this like the plague. For those with too much cash, there is Ultimate, but you get the idea – Home Premium is what your getting.
The 32-bit vs 64-bit decision
This decision is actually quite easy – 64-bit. Your default choice for Windows 7 should be 64-bit, with only a couple of a exceptions. If you have a netbook, you’ll be running 32-bit. If you have a 3+ year old machine, you’ll need to check that your hardware supports it. Unlike previous versions of Windows, 64-bit works, in my experience, flawlessly. Any application that doesn’t support, will simply run in 32-bit mode, but those that do support it, can take advantage of much more RAM, resulting in much better performance. Even in a laptop with 2-3GB RAM, I suggest you install 64-bit now then if you upgrade to 4GB+ later on, you’ll save yourself a re-install.
Upgrade vs Clean install
I’ll recommend a clean install everyday of the week. My experience has been that Vista > Win7 in place upgrades, while easier, results in higher disk cost, almost double the boot times and the biggest benefit of Windows 7 – speed, virtually negated.
Wether your on XP or Vista, make sure you backup your content, de-activate apps, format, install Windows 7, re-install your apps, then restore your data.
After you install Windows 7 (Post-install)
There’s 2 things I recommend you get straight away if you do decide to move to Windows7.
How much does it cost ?
First note is to those who’ve purchased a new machine since June 26, 2009, you may be eligible for a free or very cheap upgrade. Check out the Microsoft Upgrade site for details.
As for Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade pricing is as follows
The key here is too look around, don’t jump into the purchase simply because someone is ‘having a sale’.
Be sure to price-check multiple local retailers near you, or check out online prices if your comfortable buying that way. Microsoft’s own online store is avoiding alienating its retailing partners with a $199 price tag. You do get the advantage of a digital locker to re-downloading your software and manage serial keys.
So should you upgrade ?
After using Windows 7 since January this year on multiple machines, it’s a very solid release. The performance and compatibility issues that consumers experienced with Vista were clearly heard by Microsoft and have been addressed. There’s changes to almost every part of this release, the sum of all these changes come together to make a really slick user experience.
Ultimately the answer is yes, Windows 7 is the best version of Windows I’ve used. My recommendation is to upgrade to Windows 7, I confident you’ll be glad you did.
That said if your happy with your existing setup, stick with it and get Windows 7 when you move to a new machine in the future.