Friday, January 21, 2011

Windows 7–Should you upgrade and What Version Home or Professional or Ultimate?

I have been using Windows since before there was Windows, including GEM Desktop, BASIC and DOS, Windows1, 2, 3.0, 3.1, ME, 2000, NT, XP, Vista. Anyone remember Microsoft Bob??

I have to say after seeing and using Windows 7 for over a year now, it is the best operating system that Microsoft has come out with. That also includes the best released version, as most of the time when Windows comes out there are a ton of problems.

Not with Windows 7. Microsoft did the thing all us geeks wanted for a long time. Beta Testing. Beta testing put the software in thousands of experienced (and sometimes not so experienced who dared try it) for quite a while to test and use and report problems before it was released to the general public.

Many companies do this with their software, but for some reason Microsoft has always thought they know best, and we know they don’t know best most of the time.

So now it has been out, you have heard all the great things about it. Should you upgrade?

I would look at two main factors. What operating system (version of Windows) did your computer come with, and is your hardware compatible with Windows 7.

If your system is more than about 3-4 years old, I would probably say your machine will be on the borderline. If it came with XP it is this old and it came with XP, there is a pretty good chance it might not be worth it. Anything older, I would not even try it.

If you have Vista, it is definitely a consideration. If the computer came with and can run on Vista, usually it will run with Windows 7 pretty well. Some of the older Vista machines might need a RAM upgrade, which it should have with Vista also.

Many early Vista models came out with too little RAM with Vista running on them.

One thing you can do is download and run the Windows 7 upgrade advisor. It will check your hardware to make sure it is compatible, and it will also advise you if you need updated drivers for certain items on the computer.

You can download and run the advisor from Microsoft here.

Ok, so let’s say you have a machine that is not too old, and passes the upgrade advisor without any problems, now what version do you choose?

There are 4 main choices, Starter, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. For almost everyone, the home premium is the ticket and all you need.

The Professional is a bit more for higher end needs, such as business or power users.

Ultimate is for those people who need the top of the line of everything, and there are very little extras that it includes.

The things that Home Premium do not have are very few and usually not needed. With all the work I do, and networking here in the office, I still use Home Premium on all the office computers.

Some of the few things Professional has that Home does not have: The ability to join a domain, (more advanced networking most folks do not do).

There is a Full blown XP mode for running special applications that require XP. There is a backup and restore for the entire network (home allows you to back up each computer individually.)

The other feature that some people need is the ability to get onto that home computer while they are somewhere else, and this is called Remote Desktop.

That is about the only differences and for about 97% of people, Home will do just fine. The ultimate add options for 35 languages and bitlocker security which is a higher form of security for a whole drive volume, again, not something most people want or need.

Here is a nice comparison list to show you the different versions.

If you are in the market for a new computer, you don’t really have a choice any more, Windows 7 is the OS that is available.

So if you have a system that is a bit older, and you are not ready to buy a new one just yet, you might wait on upgrading to 7, and getting yourself into a new system when you can. The move to a good computer running Windows 7 is really a nice move.

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