Everything You Need to Know About Windows 7

The following article will answer the most important questions about Microsoft’s upcoming operating system Windows 7, basically everything you need to know about Windows 7 to be prepared for the upcoming release. We have decided to create the article in a form that resembles faq pages to make it easier to read.

What’s the current stage of development?

The release candidate will be released publicly in the coming week. It will be available for 1-2 months and expire in mid 2010 giving every user enough time to test if they have the desire to do so.

When will Windows 7 be released?

Microsoft has not revealed a release date for their new operating system yet. Most experts think that it will either be released in the fourth quarter of 2009 or at the latest in the first quarter of 2010.

What are the hardware requirements?

Microsoft has published hardware requirements for Windows 7 Beta. It is expected that the same requirements will be valid for Windows 7 Final. It is generally accepted that computers that are running Windows Vista will be capable of running Windows 7 as well.

Which editions of Windows 7 will be released?

Microsoft will release six editions of Windows 7. Not all of them will be made available worldwide though:

  • Windows 7 Starter - Designed for low end computer systems like netbooks, comes with severe limitations.
  • Windows 7 Home Basic - Designed for emerging markets only.
  • Windows 7 Home Premium - Worldwide available, one of the main end user systems that comes with a solid feature set.
  • Windows 7 Professional - Worldwide available, aimed at small to medium sized businesses, professionals and enthusiasts.
  • Windows 7 Ultimate - Will only be available online
  • Windows 7 Enterprise - Same as Windows 7 ultimate but only available to organizations and large companies.

What are the differences between the six Windows 7 editions?

Each version builds up on each other: Windows 7 Starter -> Windows 7 Home Basic -> Windows 7 Home Premium -> Windows 7 Professional -> Windows 7 Ultimate / Enterprise

All 32-bit editions will support a maximum of 4 Gigabytes of computer memory. The 64-bit editions will support the following amounts:

Starter / Home Basic: 8GB
Home Premium: 16GB
Professional / Ultimate / Enterprise: 192GB

What are the major changes to previous operating systems like Windows Vista?

Windows 7 feels in many regards like an optimized version of Windows Vista. It runs on the same computer hardware and combines better performance across the board. Some of the major changes are:

  • Improved interface
  • Better performance, i.e. startup times, system load
  • UAC improvements
  • Evolved kernel
  • Virtualization
  • Touch support, hardware sensors
  • New and improved software programs
  • Homegroup networking
  • Better Troubleshooting, Windows Solution Center
  • Better Customization, e.g. custom themes, wallpapers
Will Microsoft provide upgrade opportunities?

Microsoft will provide upgrade opportunities both for Windows XP and Windows Vista users. Free upgrades are provided for users who purchase a computer system with Windows Vista after July 1, 2009. Not all versions are however eligible for the upgrade. Upgrades are only available for systems of the same language and the only allowed upgrade paths are

  • Windows Vista Home Premium -> Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Business -> Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows Vista Ultimate -> Windows 7 Ultimate

There will be no free upgrade for all other versions of Windows Vista that are purchased after July 1.

How are the updates installed?

Windows XP users need to perform a clean install. This is the only way to upgrade to Windows 7 except for the possibility to first upgrade to Windows Vista and then to Windows 7 if copies of both operating systems are available. Windows Vista users can perform the upgrades right away. The upgrade paths are the same as for the free Vista to Windows 7 upgrades.

  • Windows Vista Home Premium -> Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Business -> Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows Vista Ultimate -> Windows 7 Ultimate

Every other combination has to be installed doing a fresh install.

How much will Windows 7 cost?

Microsoft has not revealed any information about the pricing of Windows 7 yet. It is likely that prices will be in the same range of Windows Vista and that the prices for Vista will drop a bit to reflect that. Expected prices will therefor be in the following price ranges.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium: $100-$150
  • Windows 7 Professional: $200-$250
  • Windows 7 Ultimate: $300-$350


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