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Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade Version for PC (GLC-00184)

1 rating: 5.0

Windows 7 Ultimate is the most versatile and powerful edition of Windows 7. It combines remarkable ease-of-use with the entertainment features of Home Premium and the business capabilities of Professional, including the ability to run many Windows XP … see full wiki

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1 review about Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade Version...

Guess What? This is What Windows Vista Should Have Been

  • Sep 7, 2009
  • by
Pros: Far less resource intensive than Windows Vista; loads quickly; Windows XP Mode.

Cons: None so far, no really.

The Bottom Line:

Windows 7 Ultimate is just what the computer doctor—and millions of customers worldwide—ordered in Vista, but Microsoft failed to deliver.

Okay, I'll admit it; I was one of the computer geeks who were (very) excited about Microsoft's much hyped follow on to Windows XP, Windows Vista.  I was after all a Beta tester and while testing I did noticed little niggling things about the Operating System (OS), but I was sure they would be addressed by Microsoft before the final release of the OS.  I was only partially right!

So when Microsoft announced the replacement for Windows Vista, to be called Windows 7 (scratching my head), I was skeptical to say the least.  But like any loyal Microsoft Kool-Aid drinker I dutifully downloaded my Beta 2, and then RC1 release copies and installed it on a Dell Latitude D820 with an Intel Centrino DuoT2300 processor @1.66GHz, 4GB of Ram, and 40GB hard drive.

I was recently afforded the opportunity to install the Release to Manufacture (RTM) version of Windows 7 Ultimate and I have to say after working with the OS over the last year or so, that I am impressed!  I know, I know the Vista thing again, but this time Microsoft has gotten it right.  No really.

Not only does Windows 7 Ultimate run much quicker than its Vista counterpart, but it manages to do so with fewer resources; i.e. Ram.  Microsoft has put the OS on a diet and it show in a quicker boot time, faster performance, and far less end-user frustration.

Windows 7 Ultimate
will run on a gigabyte of Ram quite nicely; I know because I have done it.  At 1GB of Ram you will need a hearty Virtual Drive space, but the OS will function without complaint.  But of course this was the 32-bit version, and 1GB is what Microsoft recommends; the 64-bit version requires at least 2GB of Ram.

Why Windows 7 Ultimate?

First of all the upgrade, Pre-order price is set at very expensive $219.99; pretty steep for an upgrade.  Here is what you get for those 219 dollars over above Windows 7 Home and Professional: BitLocker and Multilanguage switching; that is the ability to switch between 35 languages.  Does this make a compelling case for Windows 7 Ultimate?  Only individual users and or companies can make that determination.

32-bit vs. 64-bit

Windows 7
Ultimate will be offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  The 64-bit version of the OS can address over 4GB of Ram, while the 32-bit version will only address 4GB and below.  And the 64-bit OS will run quicker, but may have issues with some 32-bit applications.  In my experience the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate ran almost seamlessly with 32-bit application designed for both Windows XP and Windows Vista, so it you have a multitude of legacy 32-bit applications the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate is probably for you.  Of course you will need a 64-bit processor in order to run the 64-bit version of the OS.

Upgrade Path

There are two ways to install Windows 7 Ultimate: in-place upgrade from any version of Windows Vista, or a clean install.  Unfortunately, an in-place upgrade will is not an option from Windows XP to any version of Windows 7; you will need to do a custom install; i.e. install Windows 7 side-by-side with Windows XP and then migrate your setting.

Need to know for sure whether or not your PC is ready for Windows 7 Ultimate?  Download, install, and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta from Microsoft's website.  The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta will analyze your PC and spit out a report "telling you if your PC can run Windows 7 and if there are any known compatibility issues. If an issue can be resolved, you'll get suggestions for next steps.  For example, it may let you know that you need an updated driver for your printer and where to get it."

I ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta on my HP Pavilion dv9000 and it informed me that I did not have enough disk space to install Windows 7; the OS will need at least 20GB to install properly, but that otherwise my notebook passed.

First Impressions

Using the same Dell Latitude D820 with an Intel Centrino DuoT2300 processor @1.66GHz, 4GB of Ram, and 40GB hard drive, I install the RTM version of Windows 7 Ultimate.  Like the installs before it this (clean) installation of Windows 7 Ultimate was pretty seamless and took about 30 minutes to complete.

Once the install process was complete Windows 7 Ultimate booted for the first time rather quickly.  And that is the first thing you'll notice about the OS, it boots much quicker than Windows Vista.  Unlike Vista the resource hogging but utilitarian Windows Sidebar does not start automatically.  In fact the bar itself is gone, but the gadgets that rested upon it are still available and can be anchored to the right side of the display.

The familiar Task Bar is still available at the bottom of the screen, but Quick Launch is (regrettably) gone, replaced by something far less functional.  Icons of open programs now take far less Task Bar real estate than in the last two iterations of Windows.  There are subtle changes to the Start Menu that will not take much time at all to use get used to.  Windows themes have been greatly expanded and there are now a number of themes to choose from.

When Windows 7 Ultimate first boots the desktop is empty except for the recycle bin, just like Windows XP.  And like Windows XP, you'll need to go fetch the icons and place them on the desktop; the procedure is a little different, but the end result is the same. 

The annoying Account Access Security piece is still in place, but like Vista it can be turned off.  Windows Defender is still present, which is a good thing, because there is only one third-party vendor-Symantec-that offers a non-beta anti-virus, anti-spam solution for Windows 7.


The background graphics are high resolution images that are best viewed at display resolutions surpassing 1280x1280; those of you lucky enough to have wide screen displays will appreciate Windows 7's graphics complete with new themes and rotating wall paper.  The effect on a flat screen LCD monitor with an adapter that can handle the resolutions is stunning.  The colors are rich, deep, and sharply defined, but soft on the eyes.  The round 3-D smoothness of the Windows Vista desktop that permeates all windows, icons, and menu/task bars has been retained in Windows 7.

Those who are already using Internet Explorer 7.0/8.0, Windows Media Player 11.0, or Microsoft Office 2007 on Windows XP, will be familiar with this new rounded 3-D effect, because Microsoft, as is the company's usual practice, has standardized the new look and feel of Vista across its entire line of products as newer versions are introduced.  So expect the same graphical interface on the up-coming Office 2010.

Hardware Compatibility

Another (very) pleasant surprise after I finished loading Windows 7 Ultimate was the fact that the OS found ALL of my hardware components!  No yellow exclamation marks; no hardware drivers to download and install!  From wireless NIC, to graphics card, from integrated modem, to USB Hub, Windows 7 found them all and installed the appropriate drivers.  How is that for ease of operation?


One of the niggling hold-overs from Windows Vista is the built-in enhanced security out of the box.  But the security model built into Windows 7 it is not as onerous as Vista, but the OS does still ask for permission to do (some) things.  Gone is the incessant nagging for permission to open everyday programs.  Speaking of security, Windows 7 of course ships with a firewall and Microsoft saw fit to bundle its Defender application with it as well.

Windows XP Mode

One of the-dare I say coolest things-Microsoft incorporated into Windows 7 Ultimate is a Virtual environment (Virtual PC) in the guise of the Windows XP ModeWindows XP Mode is a virtual desktop space in which legacy applications that ran fine under Windows XP and applications written for Windows XP can be installed and run seamlessly.

The installation requires Microsoft Windows Virtual PC as well as a processor that supports Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT) or AMD's AMD-V.  This feature will need to be turned on within the BIOS of your computer.  While just about all of AMD processor family supports AMD-V, Intel's support of VT is its vast processor line is spotty, so due diligence is needed to make sure the Intel processor in your computer can run Windows XP Mode.

Not all versions of Windows 7 will run Windows XP Mode; the functionality is limited to the Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise versions of the OS.  Hardware requirements also vary from the norm; you will need an additional 1GB or Ram and 16GB of hard drive space.  Windows XP Mode will run on a 1GHz or faster processor; 32-bit or 64-bit. 

You can download both Virtual PC Beat and the Windows XP Mode file from Microsoft; go to the Microsoft website and type in "Windows XP Mode" into the Windows Live search box and click on the "Windows Virtual PC: Download" link and follow the instructions for downloading the two files.  Once downloaded install Virtual PC first.

So how does it work?  Quite nicely thank you!  I loaded Windows XP Mode on a Dell OptiPlex 960 with 4GB of Ram running Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit; Windows XP Mode worked flawlessly.  Once loaded and booted the Windows XP virtual PC, shares the host PC's resources, including DVD, Network Interface Card (NIC), and any mapped drives, including network drives. 

By default the virtual PC's NIC uses a private IP address (192.168.x.x) and Network Address Translation (NAT) to provide the virtual PC with Internet access.  However, if you want to add the virtual PC to a domain you will need to share the Host NIC directly in which case the virtual PC will be assigned an IP from the network DHCP server if one is available.

Using the host PC's DVD player and attached drives I installed several 32-bit Windows XP applications and all ran flawlessly.  For instance, I was able to install and run the 32-bit Exchange 2007 Management Console and Exchange 2007 Management Shell, both designed to run under Windows XP, from the virtual PC.  Not only did the virtual PC perform well with the 1GB of Ram I allocated to it, but the host PC continued to perform at the same level it did before I brought up the Windows XP Mode PC!  Sweet!


Overall I would say Microsoft has a hit on its hands with Windows 7; it is everything Vista in all of its incarnations should have been.  The OS loads quickly from start-up, is as stable as Windows XP, uses far less memory than Vista, and is far more user friendly.

My Dell Latitude D820 with 4GB of RAM runs very smoothly, but I have run computers elsewhere with only 1GB of RAM that run the OS just as effortlessly.  Whereas Vista routinely consumes a little over 1GB after start-up, Windows 7 consumes a little under 800MB; your usage may vary.  And there will be 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the OS.

Businesses will need to closely examine deployment software scenarios-including virtualization-in order to determine how the OS integrates into their existing environments, as well as its ability to work well with third-party/legacy software.  But, Virtual PC w/Windows XP Mode makes this chore much, much easier.

The most important aspect of Windows 7 Ultimate to note at first glance is that it has much more of that unobtrusive Windows XP aura than Vista ever did.  While Vista felt and move like a beluga whale, Windows 7 appears as nimble as a school of dolphin swimming at the bow of a schooner under sail.

In general, this performance indicates that Microsoft has spent a lot of effort with Windows 7; this time they got it right and delivered a solid OS that can be mixed and shaken for a broad cross-section of users and will satisfy all-yes perhaps even some MAC users-on a much deeper level than Vista ever could.  In other words, Windows 7 Ultimate is just what the computer doctor-and millions of customers worldwide-ordered in Vista, but Microsoft failed to deliver.


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