Microsoft Windows 7 is the next release of the Windows client operating system, built on the secure foundation of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Performance, reliability, security, and compatibility are core tenets of this release as we collect your feedback to meet our engineering goals of making Windows 7 the best-performing and most stable Windows operating system to date. New innovations in the product are designed to augment your ability as an IT professional to better provision and manage increasingly mobile PCs, protect data, and improve both end-user and personal productivity.
Windows 7 includes a number of new features, such as advances in touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved boot performance, DirectAccess, and kernel improvements. Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors (Heterogeneous Multi-adapter), a new version of Windows Media Center, a Gadget for Windows Media Center, improved media features, the XPS Essentials Pack and Windows PowerShell being included, and a redesigned Calculator with multiline capabilities including Programmer and Statistics modes along with unit conversion. Many new items have been added to the Control Panel, including ClearType Text Tuner, Display Color Calibration Wizard, Gadgets, Recovery, Troubleshooting, Workspaces Center, Location and Other Sensors, Credential Manager, Biometric Devices, System Icons, and Display. Windows Security Center has been renamed to Windows Action Center (Windows Health Center and Windows Solution Center in earlier builds) which encompasses both security and maintenance of the computer. The default setting for User Account Control in Windows 7 has been criticized for allowing untrusted software to be launched with elevated privileges by exploiting a trusted application. Microsoft’s Windows kernel engineer Mark Russinovich acknowledged the problem, but noted that there are other vulnerabilities that do not rely on the new setting.
Internet Spades, Internet Backgammon and Internet Checkers, which were removed from Windows Vista, were restored in Windows 7. Windows 7 will include Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Player 12. Users will also be able to disable many more Windows components than was possible in Windows Vista. New additions to this list of components include Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Search, and the Windows Gadget Platform. Windows 7 includes 13 additional sound schemes, titled Afternoon, Calligraphy, Characters, Cityscape, Delta, Festival, Garden, Heritage, Landscape, Quirky, Raga, Savanna, and Sonata. A new version of Virtual PC, Windows Virtual PC Beta is available for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. It allows multiple Windows environments, including Windows XP Mode, to run on the same machine, requiring the use of Intel VT-x or AMD-V. Windows XP Mode runs Windows XP in a virtual machine and redirects displayed applications running in Windows XP to the Windows 7 desktop.
Furthermore Windows 7 supports the mounting of a virtual hard disk (VHD) as a normal data storage, and the bootloader delivered with Windows 7 can boot the Windows system from a VHD. The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) of Windows 7 is also enhanced to support real-time multimedia application including video playback and 3D games. That means that Direct X 10 can be used in a remote desktop environment. The three application limit will be removed from Windows 7 Starter
The taskbar has seen the biggest visual changes, where the Quick Launch toolbar has been replaced with pinning applications to the taskbar. Buttons for pinned applications are integrated with the task buttons. These buttons also enable the Jump Lists feature to allow easy access to common tasks. The revamped taskbar also allows the reordering of taskbar buttons. To the far right of the system clock is a small rectangular button that serves as the Show desktop icon. This button is part of the new feature in Windows 7 called Aero Peek.
Hovering over this button makes all visible windows transparent for a quick look at the desktop. In touch-enabled displays such as touch screens, tablet PCs, etc., this button is slightly wider to accommodate being pressed with a finger. Clicking this button minimizes all windows, and clicking it a second time restores them. Additionally, there is a feature named Aero Snap, that automatically maximizes a window when it is dragged to either the top or left/right edges of the screen. This also allows users to snap documents or files on either side of the screen to compare them. When a user moves windows that are maximized, the system restores their previous state automatically. This functionality is also accomplished with keyboard shortcuts. Unlike in Windows Vista, window borders and the taskbar do not turn opaque when a window is maximized with Windows Aero applied. Instead, they remain transparent.
If you’ve gone PC shopping lately, you’ve probably noticed more computers with 64-bit processors, and you may have wondered what advantages they offer.
Put simply, a 64-bit PC can handle larger amounts of information than a 32-bit system. Since it can use more RAM—4 GB and up—a 64-bit computer can be more responsive when you’re running lots of programs at once.
Which should you buy? If you tend to have a lot of programs open simultaneously or need to switch frequently between programs—or if you just want to be sure your PC can take advantage of the larger amounts of memory available today—64-bit is a great choice. If you run only one or two programs at a time or have older hardware and software that isn’t supported by a 64-bit PC, a 32-bit system is a good choice.