TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Here Comes Windows 7!

Here Comes Windows 7!

By Robert McMillen, Koin’s Tech Guru
Thursday, October 22nd is the official launch date for Windows 7. Many stores like Best Buy have been without a PC for the last few weeks while they replace the old pumpkin squishy Vista computers with shiny fresh Windows 7 ones.  
You may have read previous articles about difficulties we had in our lab while trying to implement Windows 7 in a business environment. Problems do persist, but for home users, Windows 7 is ready for mass consumption.
Real estate is said to be all about location, location, and location. The goal for computers is stability, stability and less bugs. Previous versions of Windows have had a whopping 50,000 plus documented bugs in them upon release. That should be criminal, but when you break the seal on any computer, you should probably read the tiny print to see that you have already agreed you won’t blame them for it.
I’ve thought of some catchy phrases Microsoft could use for this release, but so far they have rejected them. “Microsoft, the house that bugs built,” and even a movie called “Microsoft, A Bug’s Life.”  I’m not saying Apple is any better, but we have been trained to lower our expectations when it comes to commercial software for decades.
Many readers have asked me if there is a compelling reason to make the switch, and I say, “Yes.” But, if you’re happy with your Vista computer’s performance I think you should stay where you are. The reason is because the changes are mostly in the background, and Windows 7 has a lot less features than Vista. The stability of Windows 7 definitely there, and you can take any computer (according to Microsoft) that is three years old or newer and upgrade it to Windows 7. 
There are lots of versions of the new operating system, but they are similar to the confusing amount of Vista versions already out there. So let’s break down versions and differences in features.
Versions- The home versions come in Starter and Home Premium. You can just forget about Starter for anything other than a netbook, but Home Premium is great for home and costs $120. Business versions come in Professional ($200), Ultimate ($220), and Enterprise. I don’t see a compelling reason for Enterprise, but for businesses I do like Ultimate over Professional if you have the extra money to do so. Pro and Ultimate will allow you to do a complete backup of your computer to a network location, while Professional and Home Premium only allow you to backup locally. In general, Windows 7 does offer more backup location options and choices than Vista. Upgrades cost about 1/3 less than the full versions, but remember that if you have a crash, you have to have the old install disc to get back to where it was before it crashed.
What you gain with Windows 7- Of course, a more stable computer as mentioned before. I am also crazy about the new toolbar. With the Aero feature turned on, higher end models will be able to see all the different documents and programs as little pictures when you hover over the program icon. Vista’s Aero wasn’t quite as sophisticated. With the Pro version on up you also get a free XP license so you can run a virtual XP version for software that may not be compatible with Windows 7. The operating system is more secure, and with Ultimate you can encrypt all the data on the hard drive, instead of in just a few folders. Ultimate also allows you to use Windows in any of 35 languages. Better backup choices and options. There are even more medium choices to backup data onto. The parental controls are so much better than with Vista. You can control when a child can access the computer and it has better built in web filters. Media player is more graphical and easier to use. If you’re thinking of using your computer as a DVR, you’ll like it better than any previous version. You will need Home Premium or Ultimate for this. Right click on any program and you have the option to launch it, or the most recent files you opened with that program. It will also search out files for you. Pinning programs to the taskbar is cool. It replaces the Quick Launch, but it’s far easier and more useful to use. It boots and shuts down faster. Previous versions hung up on shutdown and are now mostly just a bad memory.
What you lose by moving away from Vista- Business users joining a Windows domain will have lots of problems to overcome. In some ways, it’s so much more secure than previous versions because it won’t let you do anything. It’s reminiscent of when Symantec’s former antivirus program thought that the Symantec antivirus files were a virus and wouldn’t allow it to work or update. You have to manually make some changes to get it to work right to communicate with a server. I’m sure this will be the first thing they fix in the first service pack that will undoubtedly come out very soon. You can no longer edit photos natively. That feature is gone, so you will need a third party app. Gadgets have to be turned on manually. Dreamscape is gone along with Windows Mail. Many video cameras that were supported in Vista no longer work in Windows 7. Many printers will have problems printing, or not work at all. Some of these can be fixed by a driver update, but many manufacturers apparently have never heard of Windows 7 so there is no update. There is also talk that if they don’t make a Windows 7 driver, you will have to buy the device all over again, but it’s just an unconfirmed (but very true) rumor. 
So should you upgrade? Yes, in most cases. Even businesses will move to Windows 7 after having skipped Vista altogether. Microsoft is ending XP updates and bug fixes shortly so there won’t be any choice. Otherwise you will have computers that may no longer be secure while accessing the wild and wooly internet, and that’s not just me talkin’ sheep dip.
To buy my latest book “How to be an IT Administrator,” go to http://howtobeanitadministrator.com 
For more great tips, check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK and at 10:00 AM on KOL in Seattle, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.
If you would like your technical question answered here, just email rmcmillen@koin.com. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column, I will always answer by email.


Published Monday, October 19, 2009 3:20 PM by Katatkoin