The overwhelming majority of today's software installation routines is done without ever touching a physical media like a DVD or a CDROM, so much so that the number of devices actually shipped without an optical drive appears to be increasing.
It is therefore not surprising that computer users have been accustomed with the idea of "downloading" software and applications rather than installing them from a pressed CDROM. It is also not surprising that so many of us are looking for ways to download Windows 7, the latest operating system from Microsoft.
But it is not advisable to do so and should you decide to go ahead, just bear in mind the pros and cons.
Many scam websites have been set up to "allow" users to download Windows 7 for a small fee and they have been able to secure some pretty good ranking on popular search engines like Google. One of them even managed to rank just behind Microsoft official Windows 7 download store page.
Worse, Google has allowed a particular website to buy keywords in its popular Adsense program and offer sponsored links at the very top of the page ahead of other brand names like Amazon.
Downloading Windows 7 from there means that you WILL download an illegal version of the operating system and will almost certainly ensure that Microsoft will prevent the illegal copies from downloading critical patches and updates.
The flipside of which means that your computer will be more likely to catch a malware in the wild, thereby perpetuating a vicious circle since infected computers are more likely to offer dodgy, illegal applications like Windows 7 for download.
The same applies for files downloaded from torrent sites; although very popular with the discerning geeks, they are not an advisable option for mainstream users because they technically violate Microsoft's terms and conditions of usage.
Microsoft does offer a download option for users who have purchased Windows 7 (all versions, 32 or 64 bit) from the Microsoft Store.
They will be offered with the option to download an ISO file or a bunch of compressed files which should then be burnt either on a DVD or on a flash drive using Microsoft's Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool which you can find here (ed: we've compiled a "Windows 7 And Solid State Storage : Installation & Configuration" article that looks at how to install Windows 7 from DVD onto a USB flash drive).
Obviously downloading a file the size of Windows 7's ISO, even from the original Microsoft source, means that you're more likely to lose connection or face some hefty download bill if the 4.5GB download pushes your data consumption over your monthly limit. And you must still burn it before you use it.
Perhaps the most compelling reason why it's better to buy a physical copy rather than download Windows 7 is the fact that it actually costs you MUCH cheaper to buy it rather than buy it and download it.
The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium, available as a download, costs a whopping £150 at Microsoft Store UK, which can buy you almost four Windows Vista Home Premium (with free Windows 7 upgrades) from Ebuyer at £40 a pop. So, it might be better to save yourself the hassle and get yourself a physical copy of the real thing.