Home Users Rejoice, Microsoft Has Finally Got and OS for You!
Oct 3, 2010
Pros: Far less resource intensive than Windows Vista; loads quickly.
Cons: None so far
The Bottom Line:
Windows 7 Home Premium 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, the now much maligned Windows Vista Operating System (OS)in all of its forms. I was after all a Beta tester for the OS and while testing I did noticed little niggling things about it, 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 (I eventually handed the computer over to my wife with an RTM version of the OS installed) 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 Home Premium Upgradeand I have to say after working with the OS over the last year or so, on several personal computers, I am impressed! I know, I know the Vista thing again, but this time Microsoft has gotten it right. No really, Windows 7 Home Premium is impressive.
Not only does Windows 7 Home Premium runs much quicker than its Vista counterpart, but it manages to do so while consuming fewer resources; i.e. Ram. Microsoft has put the OS on a diet and it show in quicker boot times, much faster performance, and far less end-user frustration.
Windows 7 Home Premium will run on a gigabyte of Ram quite nicely; I know because I have done it on several different workstations and, or laptops. 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, but here too the OS is resource stingy routinely eating up a little less that 1.5GB of RAM with multiple programs open on the desktop. Imagine, if you will what Windows 7 Home Premium can do with 4GB of RAM!
Why Windows 7 Home Premium? First of all the upgrade: price is set at a somewhat reasonable $119.99; prices vary. This the beginning of the Windows 7 family and as such it is stripped of many of the features one might find with Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate. Gone are Windows XP Mode (virtual desktop); the ability to join a domain; BitLocker (drive encryption), and; on-the-fly multi-language support.
32-bit vs. 64-bit
Windows 7 Home Premium is 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 Home Premium 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 Home Premium 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 Home Premium: in-place upgrade from a comparable 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 Home Premium? 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.
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 Home Premium. Like the installs before it this (clean) installation of Windows 7 Home Premiumwas pretty seamless and took about 30 minutes to complete.
Once the install process was complete Windows 7 Home Premium 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 Home Premium 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, albeit in stages of security. Windows Defender is still present, but I ditched it in favor of Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 2010. McAfee also offers a Windows 7 64-bit anti-virus program called McAfee Security Center.
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.
Another (very) pleasant surprise after I finished loading Windows 7 Home Premium 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 doesstill 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.
Overall I would say Microsoft has a hit on its hands with Windows 7 Home Premium; it is everything Vista,in all of its incarnations, should have been, but never was. Windows 7 Home Premium loads quickly from start-up, is as stable as Windows XP, uses far less memory than Vista, is visually appealing, and is far more user friendly. Today I have Windows 7 Home Premium running on one Virtual Machine and a workstation, a Dell with 4GB of RAM, runs very smoothly. The workstation is in our guest room. Whereas Vista routinely consumes a little over 1GB after start-up, Windows 7 consumes a little under 800MB; your usage may vary of course.
The most important aspect of Windows 7 Home Premium 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 Home Premium is just what the computer doctor—and millions of customers worldwide—ordered in Vista, but Microsoft failed to deliver.
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About the reviewer
Vincent Martin (vemartin)
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Windows 7 Home Premium makes it easy to create a home network and share all of your favorite photos, videos, and music. You can even watch, pause, rewind, and record TV. Get a stunning entertainment experience with Windows 7 Home Premium.