WINDOWS 7 REVIEW

Microsoft Windows 7 shipped in October and we have had a reasonable amount of time to put it through its paces. While still not quite perfect, it is faster and more streamlined than Vista and should satisfy most users who may have been considering switching to a Mac. The user interface is definitely improved as evidenced by the new Windows Explorer. It also maintains a better balance between keeping your computer secure and annoying you with repetitive questions like Vista did.

Most users will likely be introduced to Windows 7 on a new computer, but it can be loaded on any computer capable of running Windows Vista. We did a clean install rather than an upgrade on an existing Windows Vista based computer. The general consensus suggests that this is by far the best route to go if you donít want to inherit any of the existing quirks of your older Vista computer.

To run Windows 7 effectively you need a fairly up to date computer with at least 2 gb of Ram. You will also need lots of available disk space. A capable video card will complete the Windows 7 experience. It will compute an experience index that tells you how well your computer is running Windows 7. This grades your computer on a scale from 1 to 7.9. The higher the index, the better your performance.

Windows Aero features Peek, Snap and Shake definately make the handling of multiple windows a little more user friendly. These features allow you to view and compare windows in interesting ways.

WINDOWS 7 COMPATIBILITY ISSUES

The main things to keep in mind if you are considering a Windows 7 computer or an upgrade are compatibility issues. Most hardware and software that runs under Windows Vista will run under Windows 7 as well. Still, some older hardware and software may not work under Windows 7. In my own case a Hewlett Packard Laserjet 2420 printer experienced a few temporary problems. Even though Windows 7 had a driver for this printer it malfunctioned shortly after installation. After downloading a Windows 7 specific driver directly from Hewlett Packard, all was well.

There are many well known compatibility problems with older MS-Office versions and Novell File Servers. On the other hand many older DOS based programs seem to work quite well which is actually something of a surprise. It should be noted that older DOS and Windows programs may only work on the 32 bit version of Windows 7. Windows 7 is marketed in both a 32 bit and 64 bit version.

64 bit versions create a whole new realm of possible incompatibilities. Windows Vista was primarily marketed in 32 bit versions with 64 bit as an option. Windows 7 computers are advertised more and more with 64 bit versions installed and this can make life more difficult. Many programs cannot operate under a 64 bit environment and older hardware, printers and such may not have the necessary 64 bit drivers available to allow them to be used.

A 64 bit computer will perform slightly better than its 32 bit equivalent computer as it can move data a little faster. As files and programs get larger, this can be of benefit, as long as youíre not losing something else in the process. Libra in particular will not run on 64 bit computers but can be located on 64 bit servers as long as the workstations are 32 bit. Windows Vista and Windows 7 also require that Libra is run in a Window since Full Screen support is not available in these new versions.

Windows 7 may be worth considering on your next computer but we would recommend that you discuss it with us first to avoid any major problems. We can also recommend computers that can be easily downgraded to Windows XP if problems arise. Dell and other companies will still ship Windows XP as well.