Windows 7 Ultimate from Microsoft is the
long awaited successor to the ubiquitous Windows Vista operating system.
Building upon Vista's impressive feature set, Windows 7 adds many features
which simplify the way you use your PC, as well as the way that your PC
connects to the world.
The Ultimate edition of Windows 7 is designed to
meet the needs of business and home use alike. It omits none of the features
that are found in the Home Premium or Professional editions of the software.
These include improved desktop navigation, improved speed, the Internet
Explorer 8 web browser, Windows Media Center, and HomeGroup networking.
Other carry-over features include Windows XP
Mode, which allows you to run legacy applications in a true virtualization of
Windows XP. You'll also be able to join Domains, which is often a requirement
for connecting to corporate networks. Finally, the Professional edition adds
the ability to backup your system to a home or business network.
The Ultimate edition adds BitLocker, which allows
you to encrypt data on your hard drive and other storage devices. Encrypting
data is critical in environments where it is imperative that sensitive data
does not fall into the wrong hands. You'll also be able configure the OS to use
any of 35 languages, making the Ultimate edition an excellent choice for
Both the 32-bit and 64-bit editions of the
operating system are included on the disc, allowing you to install the edition
which best suits your needs.
User Interface Enhancements
An improved taskbar allows you to launch
programs and switch between them when they're open. You can pin any program to
the taskbar, making it just a click away. Rearrange icons via clicking and
dragging, Icons are bigger than in previous versions, making them easier to
identify. Hover over an icon and view thumbnails of every file or window that
is currently open in that program; hover over the thumbnail and see a
full-screen preview of that window. Move the cursor away, and the preview
There are numerous Desktop enhancements present
in Windows 7. Snaps allows you to quickly grab a window and pull it to either
edge of your screen, automatically resizing the window to occupy half of your
You can also quickly view gadgets, or grab a
file from your desktop. Move your mouse to the lower right corner of your
desktop and all open Windows will become transparent. Need to hide all but one
window? Grab the one you would like to keep at the top and shake it, all other
windows will hide. Shake the window again, and they'll return.
Jump Lists allow you to quickly reach files with
which you've been working. Simply right-click an application icon to see which
files it has recently opened. You can even pin files to a Jump List, ensuring
they always appear on it, allowing you to access frequently-used files with
only a few clicks.
Certain programs, including Windows Media
Player, can pre-populate their Jump Lists with common tasks. You can play all
of your music or resume the most recently played playlist via the Media Player
Jump List. In Internet Explorer, frequently-visited and recently-visited
websites will appear.
Windows Search has been improved since its
introduction in Windows Vista. You'll be able to find files, e-mail messages,
and applications via the search box, conveniently located at the bottom of the
Start menu. Simply enter a word or a string of letters from the file name:
you'll receive an organized list of results.
Search results are organized by file type.
Programs, items in your control panel, documents, music, and photos that match
your search will be grouped together by file type. You can further customize
search results via filters: filter by creation date, document author, and more.
Windows 7 includes Internet Explorer 8, the
latest iteration of Microsoft's popular web browser. Rendering web pages much
faster than previous versions, IE8 includes an address bar, search tabs, and a
Favorites bar to help you better navigate the web.
Instant Search starts returning results as soon
as you start typing your query. In addition to searching the web, the search
also looks through your browsing history, making it easier to locate a
previously-visited page. There is no need to wait for a search to complete if
you see your result beforehand: simply click on the page you'd like to visit
and IE will take you there.
Accelerators allow you to highlight any part of
a web page, and feed it into a frequently-used service as a search. See an
address on a web page? Highlight it, and use an Accelerator to immediately
display a map. You'll have access to Accelerators for e-mail, eBay, Facebook,
blogging, mapping, search, translation, and more.
IE8 also supports Web Slices. Allowing you to
capture only a portion of a web site, you can create web slices for auction
items, sports scores, weather reports, and more. When the content contained in
the slice changes, it will be highlighted in your Favorites Bar.
Device management has been greatly enhanced in
Windows 7. Rather than spreading devices across several different screens, as
had been done in previous versions of Windows, you'll be able to access all of
your devices from one screen. The Devices and Printers screen will allow you to
manage all of your printers, phones, peripherals, MP3 players, and other
Windows 7 also features Device Stage technology.
Use Device Stage to interact with any compatible device that is connected to
your computer. You'll be able to view device status, and run common tasks from
a single window. Device icons reflect the type of peripheral, allowing you to
easily see what is connected.
While most folks with multiple computers already
have a home network setup for Internet sharing, it is often difficult to share
other files between computers. Enter HomeGroup. You'll be able to use this
function to more easily setup a home network, allowing you to share printers
and files among all of the computers in your home.
Joining networks can often cause a headache,
especially for users who have access to different networks in different
locations. Whether it is a corporate network, a VPN, your home Wi-Fi, mobile
broadband, or dial-up, all of your networks are visible in the View Available
Networks (VAN) window. You'll have one-click access to any available network,
and you can configure automatic connection to frequently-used networks.
Performance and Compatibility
Windows 7 is optimized so that PCs start up,
shut down, and resume from standby faster than previous versions. Added
features, including the aforementioned Taskbar and Jump Lists, allow you to
complete common tasks. You'll be able to use the Action Center to control how
the OS notifies you of systems changes. Windows 7 helps you recover from
problems when they occur, walking you through the steps necessary to address
Mobile computers rely on an all-too-often anemic
battery for power. Windows 7 features a number of power-saving enhancements,
designed to prolong battery life. Adaptive display brightness dims a display
when you've been away from your PC, and playing DVD movies requires less power than
in previous versions of Windows.
We all have existing hardware and software, and
it is essential that they work with a new operating system as well as they did
with the old. Most devices that work with Windows Vista will work with windows
7. Microsoft has implemented a "Compatible with Windows 7" program,
which allows manufacturers to place a logo on devices and applications that are
compatible with the OS. You'll also be able to run many productivity and
business applications that carry the Windows XP logo. Additional software to do
so is available as a free download from Microsoft.
In past versions, Windows would notify you via a
pop-up or other message if there was something that needed attention on your
computer. Instead of using intrusive pop-up messages, Windows 7 simply adds an
icon to the Action Center.
Windows Media Center allows you to watch TV,
movies, and other types of video on your computer. When used with TV tuner
hardware, it allows you to record television programming. It features a
streamlined programming guide, which contains both standard and digital HD
With more and more media becoming available in
digital formats, it is often desirable to stream media from your PC to your
home theater. Windows 7 simplifies streaming, making it much easier to send
media to compatible networked media devices.
Windows Media Player features a "Play
To" feature, which allows you to push media to a compatible network
device, while maintaining playback control from your computer. Typing away on
the laptop and in the mood to listen to some music, but not through a pair of
tinny computer speakers? Play To can send music to a networked stereo, Xbox
360, or other compatible device. You'll have full control over playback from the
familiar Windows Media Player interface.
In a perfect world you could keep all of your
movies, music, and photos on every computer you own. However, we all know that
notebook hard drives are not always spacious enough to allow for this. With
Windows 7, you can access media stored on your home computer from your laptop
via the Internet. Simply connect to your home PC remotely and listen to music,
view pictures, or watch videos over the Internet. Both systems must be using
Windows 7, of course.
Windows Live Essentials, a free download for
Windows 7 users, adds several features that were present in Windows Vista, but
have been omitted from Windows 7. It adds supports for multiple e-mail
accounts, digital photo editing, instant messaging, and online security.
Windows 7 adds support for touch-screen
computers, including those that support multi-touch gestures. Larger,
touch-friendly icons are present throughout the OS. Interact directly with the
OS and applications via touch: control media playback, scroll through documents
and web pages, resize windows, and pan and zoom across large photos.
Multi-touch technology allows you to control the
screen with more than one finger. You can zoom in on an image by moving 2
fingers closer together, in a pinching motion, or zoom out by moving them
apart. Rotate an image by rotating 1 finger around another, and right-click by
holding 1 finger on your target and tapping the screen with a second.
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