Why You Should Upgrade To Windows 7

Posted on July 22, 2010

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If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past two years, you probably have a faint idea of what Windows 7 is. If you’re part of the 70% demographic that uses Windows XP, then you’ve probably held back from Vista with good reason, and probably don’t know why you’d even want to switch to Windows 7– which is the successor to Vista. If you’re one of the early adopters (like myself) that got Vista, then you should have already upgraded to 7 (I don’t know why you wouldn’t). Even some Windows 2000 users that were too underpowered to run Vista might feel the urge to switch. If you aren’t one of the millions already using 7, then please, listen to this article and buy yourself a copy at the end– because here are the top reasons for you to upgrade to Windows 7.

First of all, more computers can run Windows 7 then they could Vista. In fact, upgrading from Vista will yeild about two times more performance, and an upgrade from XP (provided you have at least a gig of RAM) will only slow down slightly while at the same time bringing more features. The reason? Lower hardware requirements. Windows 7 only requires 1 gig of RAM to run (as opposed to 2 for Vista) on the 32 bit version, and the 64 bit version only needs two (but I recommend four). the requirements for graphics cards are lower too, even with Aero turned on. Additionally, since Microsoft decided to strip 7 of a few Gb worth of extras, it takes up less space on your hard drive. Here are the exact specs from Microsoft’s site:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor.
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit).
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit).
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.
  • The installation of Windows 7 is completely painless. I managed to snag a free upgrade to Windows 7 back last November, and upgrading from Windows Vista was a dream. All I did was pop the disk into my CD drive, open up the installer, and kiss 4 years of Vista madness goodbye. The installation only took about an hour (I went downstairs for a while to play Xbox, and when I came back, it was done) for the upgrade (a clean install would take slightly longer), and when I came back, everything was the same as I left it in Vista, the only difference was that I wasn’t running Vista. Everything worked smoothly right off the bat– even my wallpaper was the same!

    This was that wallpaper. Just in case you wanted to know.

    All my devices and programs worked fine without any headaches. Even iTunes worked! Camtasia Studio recognised my FireWire camera right away, as it did with my USB microphone. Internet worked, all my files were in the right place. I went back to doing exactly what I was doing before, an hour ago, In Vista. Which is exactly how it should be. Some people miss the fact that the operating system is just a platform for you do run your programs on, so it should be barebones, it shouldn’t be overly concerned with appearance, and it should be compatible with all of your devices and programs. You should be able to get up and keep doing exactly what you were doing before without any hiccups, like I did with my transition from Vista to 7.

    You can get Windows 7 upgrades starting at $120, and a full version will set you back anywhere from $220 to $350, depending on which edition you choose to get.

    Upgrading aside, I’ve had plenty of time to play around with Windows 7 since I upgraded about 9 months ago. Using it for several hours every day and logging thousands of hours in total, I haven’t been trying to push it to the limit– I’ve just been evaluating it on how well it does the tasks I want it to do in my daily life, just like I have tested all operating systems before. In these months of usage, I have actually found myself saving time doing simple things, and saving myself stress. Whenever I go back to using Vista I find myself trying to do things that I subconsciously do all the time in Windows 7– like Aero Snap (which is actually a great feature). I love the little details included in the operating system that make it function faster, even if it’s just by a little bit. By far one of my favorite additions to Windows 7 is the superbar, which was designed as a replacement of both the taskbar and the Quick Launch. In the superbar, both have been combined into a thicker bar with Quick Launch built-in. Bigger icons make for quicker and easier clicking, and easier use on touch screens.

    Another thing– that you might have already gathered by looking at the above image– is that if you hover over an open icon with your cursor, a little preview thumbnail will pop up, showing you a real-time view of the app. For instance, if you’re watching a YouTube video on Firefox, just hover over the Firefox icon to see a mini version of the video being played. Some programs add more functionality to the basic thumbnail. For example, Windows Media Player and iTunes both bring up simple music controls (pause, skip forward, and skip backward) just below the preview window, which saves you a trip to the program itself.

    Another neat thing with the superbar is the Jumplist feature. A jumplist is basically a list of tasks you can do without having the program’s window open. For instance, if you have iTunes open, you can right click on the iTunes icon in the superbar and you’ll be greeted with a list of tasks. Recently played songs, a list of some playlists, shuffle songs, open iTunes store, etc.

    The amount of icons you can have in the superbar is only limited to your screen size. Even so, once you reach the end the other icons will slowly start to shrink as you add more, so the bigger the icons you want, the less you can have.

    Moving along the superbar to the far left, you can see that even the classic Start menu has been altered for speed. For example, the start search bar has been refined under the hood for greater speed and more relevant results. Also, if you hover over some programs in the start menu (like notepad or wordpad) you’ll see a list of recent items pop up.

    Superbar aside, that isn’t the only time saving goodie in Windows 7– I really like the Aero Snap feature of Windows 7. Aero Snap is a built-in feature where if you grab a window, drag it to one side of the screen, it will maximize to fill exactly half the screen, which is a useful feature if you’re comparing two documents at once. You can aslo drag it to the top to fully maximize it.

    All in all, these are only a few reasons for you to upgrade to Windows 7. Simplicity, power, speed, and a touch of elegance all make for a great operating system, and I don’t see why you shouldn’t upgrade from Windows XP or Vista.

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