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To Windows 7 or not to Windows 7

Dan Wons

Dan Wons

The questions I am getting asked a lot these days (aside of course from why is IT trying to ruin my life) are all about Windows 7.  When are we going to upgrade, should I be running Windows 7, what do you think of it, etc.?  When it comes to Windows 7, I am a believer.  From my initial tests, it performs well, is stable, and I like the interface.  The popup preview of open windows on the taskbar is awesome!  There are however, a number of things to consider before deciding if running Windows 7 is right for you.

First of all, if you are still running Windows XP, there is no direct upgrade path.  So if you want to “upgrade” a Windows XP PC to Windows 7, you actually have to do a clean install of the OS and reinstall all your applications.  As part of this process you need to backup your data before the Windows 7 install and restore that once the upgrade is complete.

Secondly, Windows 7 will not run any older versions of Internet Explorer so you will have to use IE8.  This shouldn’t be an issue as IE8 is a very good browser and has compatibility features built in to allow you to view sites that aren’t yet ready for IE8.  However, if you have critical business applications or can’t live without personal websites that will not function on IE8 this is a consideration before upgrading.

Lastly, in addition to having multiple versions (Home, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate) Windows 7 also comes in two different architectures – 32-bit or 64-bit.  The 64-bit version can better handle larger amounts of memory.  The PC world is trending toward 64-bit and if performance is what you are after, it’s the best choice.  However, the software world hasn’t quite caught up with the PC hardware vendors and so you might run into application and driver issues if you run the 64-bit version.  You can learn more about the 32-bit vs. 64-bit choice here.

So what is my recommendation?  Well, I think the old notion of waiting for the first service pack is no longer the rule of thumb.  There is no guarantee that a service pack will itself be a stable release.  I think the proof is in the pudding, and like any new software release, you should thoroughly test how it will function in your PC environment prior to making a decision on upgrading or not.  That being said, I think Windows 7 is a good choice if you are getting a new PC.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an upgrade unless your PC is having issues that would require a rebuild to fix or if you happened to be running Vista.  The longer you wait the more likely 64-bit versions of all the applications and drivers you need will be available.  I chose the 32-bit version of Windows 7 because I didn’t want to deal with any 64-bit driver issues; even so, I haven’t been disappointed with the performance of 32-bit Windows 7.

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