Upgrading to Windows 7 gives your old computer a new lease on life.
In Windows 7, Microsoft offers a raft of great new features to assist with both work and play. Whether you’re creating school projects, making home movies, designing business presentations or just playing games, you’ll enjoy the improvements that Windows 7 offers.
Windows 7 is your computer’s operating system - the underlying software on which applications such as Word and Internet Explorer run. Think of it like the foundations of a house. If you’re still running Windows XP or Vista, it might be time to upgrade that foundation to Windows 7.
You’ll enjoy a great new interface while retaining the familiar Microsoft look and feel. The improvements just make life easier -- easier to get things done, find what you’re looking for and connect things up.
The revamped Task Bar lets you quickly launch your favourite applications and jump to the features you use most. Improved live thumbnails make it easy to flick through open applications to find the window you’re looking for. The new search options also help you find folders, files and applications in a flash.
Even arranging your windows is easier with Windows 7. You can drag them to the left or right of the screen to automatically resize and take up half the screen. Holding and shaking a window hides all the others, while shaking it again brings them back. Sorting out the clutter on your desktop has never been easier.
New PCs should come with Windows 7 pre-installed, but if you’re upgrading an old computer you’ve got three versions to choose from - Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. If you’re upgrading from Vista or XP you might be eligible for the discounted upgrade version.
If your hardware supports it, 64-bit versions offer a performance boost and capacity for extra RAM compared to 32-bit. Home Premium should meet the needs of most home users. Professional adds advanced features such as joining domains, remote desktop connections and Windows XP mode for running old applications which don’t work under Windows 7. On top of this, Ultimate then adds features such as drive encryption and application restrictions.
The improved Task Bar and search features are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hassle-free computing.
Setting up your computer is easier thanks to improved wireless connectivity, networking and file sharing. Meanwhile the new Action Centre and improved alerts system keep you safe while staying out of the way while you’re trying to get things done.
There’s also a search box built into the top right corner of Windows Explorer, which offers predictive search as you type. You can narrow down your search options to cut through clutter and preview a document before opening it.
When it comes time to relax, the new Play To feature makes it simple to stream music and video to other computers or devices such as televisions, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. Meanwhile Remote Media Streaming lets you access your library while you’re away from home.
Windows 7 builds on the User Account Control features introduced with Vista, which blocks malware trying to take control of your computer. It’s been tweaked in Windows 7 to reduce the number of pop-up alerts.
The new Action Center makes it easy to monitor your firewall, antivirus and Windows updates automatically, with an icon on the System Tray down near the clock alerting you to any problems.
Windows 7 features a built-in firewall, plus Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download which helps protect against viruses. Meanwhile Windows Defender deals with pop-up ads, sluggish performance and security threats caused by spyware. It’s also worth considering the advanced options of packages such as Norton Internet Security 2011, which can scan emails an instant messaging for threats as well as offer parental controls.
You can download Microsoft’s free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if Windows 7 is right for your old computer.
If you’re upgrading from Windows Vista, Windows 7 can leave your applications and documents intact. You also have the option of a Custom install. If you choose to reformat the hard drive, a Custom install will delete everything and start again. If you don’t reformat the hard drive, you’ll find your documents in a folder called Windows old.
If you’re upgrading from Windows XP, you can only opt for a Custom install. Regardless of how you upgrade, you should always backup all your important files to a disc or USB hard drive first.
Source: TechLiving Magazine: Issue 10 – Updated Summer 2011