Windows 7 is Microsoft's latest operating system and chances are that you will have already downloaded it when it was available as a release candidate or in its Beta version. All things considered, Windows 7 is a vast improvement over Windows Vista and Windows XP on a number of aspects, making it a compelling buy.
Believe it or not, Windows 7 should perform better than Windows Vista across a range of computers. Tests carried out by technology website Gizmodo show that although Vista and Windows 7 are neck to neck in benchmarks, Windows 7 still "feels" snappier and more responsive, something that we concur.
In addition, Windows 7 has run on a number of "old" PCs including an ancient Pentium III computer running at 500MHz with 256MB memory that was launched in 1998, an excellent performance given that the minimum requirements are 1GHz and at least 1GB RAM.
We ran Windows 7 on an old Pentium IV clocked at 1.5GHz with 512MB and a dedicated video card (albeit a vetust one) and found it to be responsive beyond reproach. Arguably, adding other resource hogging applications like Chrome might choke the system.
Windows 7 will come with DirectX 11 as standard. This means that it will be ready, out of the box to handle the latest graphics from the dozens of hit game titles that will appear on the market before Christmas.
Obviously, you will need a fully compliant graphics card, like the AMD Radeon 5x00 series to get the best out of the technology. Games website Firingsquad released some pictures of a future game called STALKER Call of Pripyat in DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 as a comparison and the latter looks better.
Windows 7 introduces a number of new security features like DirectAccess, Applocker and BitLocker To Go. DirectAccess allows remote workers to access their computers seamlessly but without having to go through a virtual private network. AppLocker allows administrators to specify which software is allowed to run on a user PC while BitLocker To Go extends encryption to removable drives.
According to Paul Cooke, director of Windows Client Enterprise Security, Microsoft's latest operating system has nearly 30 percent less User Account Control (UAC) prompts than Windows Vista had. UACs are dialogue boxes appear every time the operating system requests the user to give permission for a particular tasks like installing an application.
Ultimately, while Windows 7 doesn't look cosmetically different from Vista, many of the dozens of improvement to the operating system are small but significant tweaks that happen under the hood. Libraries for example help you organise your documents, pictures, photos and music in a more logical fashion.
Home group makes it easier to share files and printers across several computers in a household while the Jumplist simplifies access to pictures, songs, websites, and documents, straight from the taskbar.
Speaking of the latter, the user interface has been rehauled to introduce improved taskbar previews, bigger icons, a pining feature as well as something called Snap which allows you to resize your application Windows in a breeze (and is something I use everyday on my laptop).
Note that some of the features described in this article are not available on all versions of Windows 7.