Will Windows 7 Work for You? Find Out in 3 Simple Steps!
Are you planning on upgrading to Windows 7? Are you unsure if it will work for you?
If you’re currently running XP or Vista and you’re not sure if Windows 7 will work on your system then keep reading. We’ll cover all the details of system requirements, compatibility issues, Windows 7 versions and more.
I outlined everything for you into 3 easy steps, so that you’re able to quickly determine whether or not Windows 7 will work on your PC or not.
Step 1: Check the Windows 7 System Requirements
The first step in determining whether Windows 7 will work on your system and whether or not you should even bother moving on is checking the minimum system requirements.
The Windows 7 system requirements are:
- 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
- 1 GB of system memory (RAM) for 32-bit systems
- 2 GB of system memory (RAM) for 64-bit systems
- 16 GB of available disk space for 32-bit systems
- 20 GB of available disk space for 64-bit systems
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
If you’re upgrading a system that is two years or older then you should also take a look at your video memory and make sure that it is at least compatible with Vista.
Additional requirements to use certain features include:
- Internet access
- Depending on resolution, video playback may require additional memory and advanced graphics hardware
- For some Windows Media Center functionality a TV tuner and additional hardware may be required (for versions of Windows 7 that include Windows Media Center)
- Windows Touch and Tablet PCs require specific hardware
- HomeGroup requires a network and PCs running Windows 7
- DVD/CD authoring requires a compatible optical drive
- BitLocker requires Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2
- BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive
- Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM, an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space, and a processor capable of hardware virtualization with Intel VT or AMD-V turned on
- Music and sound require audio output
More information on Windows 7 system requirements can be found on Microsoft’s site. If your PC is able to meet all of the above then you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
To find out if your current PC can run Windows 7, you can utilize the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor — all you have to do is download and run it on your computer.
The Upgrade Advisor will be able to tell you more than if it can simply run Windows 7 on your PC (you can pretty much determine that yourself in first step); the real advantage is that it actually identifies any know capability issues with your USB and other devices, including printers, external hard drives, scanners, etc., that you normally use.
You get a neat little report outlining everything out for you. If you need a driver update it’ll even tell you where to get it.
The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is currently in beta and available in English only, however Microsoft states that it is “a stable and high-quality beta” and I have only heard positive things about it thus far.
Learn more about the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and test it out on your system.
Step 3: Select the Right Windows 7 Version
There are three main editions of Windows 7 that will be available to home users: Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate.
There are also additional versions available including the Starter, Home Basic and Enterprise editions and I will outline what details I have on them as well.
• Windows 7 Starter Edition
Windows 7 Starter Edition has been effectively created for small notebook PCs. OEMs that build lower-cost small notebook PCs can leverage the Starter edition which is available in developed markets; whereas previous releases of “Starter Edition” levels of Windows operating systems were generally available only in emerging markets.
Windows 7 Starter edition used to list a three concurrent application limit but this has been reportedly changed.
The Windows team has detailed that the Started edition of Windows 7 is available worldwide in all markets designed for small notebook PCs and that customers have the ability to run as many applications simultaneously as they would like, instead of being constricted to the 3 application limit that the previous Starter editions included.
Here’s what the Starter Edition of Windows 7 has to offer:
- Safe, reliable, and supported
- Home Group makes it easy to share simple resources across multiple PCs
- Improved taskbar and jump lists
Windows 7 Starter does have some limitations remaining including:
- Aero Glass is not available
- No Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek
- Personalization features for changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, or sound schemes are not available
- Fast User switching (switching between users without having to log off) is also not available
- Multi-monitor support is not available
- DVD playback is listed as not available
- Windows Media Center for watching recorded TV or other media cannot be leveraged
- Remote Media Streaming for streaming your music, videos, and recorded TV from your home computer is not available
- Windows 7 Starter Edition systems cannot be joined to a domain
- XP Mode is not available
• Windows 7 Home Basic
Since Windows 7 Home Basic will only be available in emerging markets, I won’t go into too much detail on it; here’s what it offers:
- All of the functionality listed above in Starter Edition
- Live thumbnail previews and enhanced visual experience
- Ad-hoc wireless networks and internet connection sharing
- Mobility Center is included
- 32-bit and 64-bit mode support
- Home Group (cannot be joined to a domain)
- Windows Internet Explorer 8
- Windows Media Player 12
- Desktop Window Manager
- Windows Mobility Center
- Windows Aero Partial
• Windows 7 Home Premium
As the name implies, the Home Premium edition of Windows 7 is great for home users who want to store and share photos, music and videos. As Microsoft points out, it’s a good choice for entertainment, not work. If you need enhanced security, want to run Windows XP programs then move on to the Professional and Ultimate editions instead.
But if all you need is just a simple home PC, then Home Premium might be the right choice for you (or someone you know). One cool feature that I found in this edition is the ability to watch, pause, rewind, and record TV.
Here’s what the Home Premium edition offers:
- All of the functionality listed above in Starter and Home Basic Editions
- Aero Glass and advanced windows navigation
- Easy networking and sharing across all your PCs and devices
- Improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To
- Multi-touch and improved handwriting recognition
• Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Professional will probably be the most popular choice, as it offers everything the Home Premium edition offers and more — so it’s great for home and work. One big plus is the Windows XP mode that a lot of people have been excited about.
Plus the differences between Professional and Ultimate editions are really minimal. Windows 7 Professional offers Windows XP Mode plus:
- All of the functionality listed above in Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium Editions
- Domain Join which enables simple and secure server networking
- Encrypting File System which protects data with advanced network backup
- Location Aware Printing which helps find the right printer when moving between the office and home
• Windows 7 Ultimate
If you want to have it all, then go with the Ultimate edition of Windows 7; here’s what it has to offer:
- All of the functionality listed above in Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium and Professional Editions
- BitLocker protects data on removable devices
- DirectAccess links users to corporate resources from the road without a virtual private network (VPN)
- BranchCache makes if faster to open files and Web pages from a branch office
- AppLocker easily restricts unauthorized software and enables greater security
• Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 7 Enterprise is available to Microsoft Software Assurance customers. As you probably guessed already, the Enterprise edition offers everything that Windows 7 Professional has, but it does include a few additional features:
Enterprise features that are not available in the Professional edition include:
- DirectAccess: Give mobile users seamless access to corporate networks without a need to VPN.
- BranchCache: Decrease the time branch office users spend waiting to download files across the network.
- Enterprise Search: Find information on network locations, including SharePoint sites, with a simple user interface.
- BitLocker and BitLocker To Go: Help protect data on PCs and removable drives, with manageability to enforce encryption and backup of recovery keys.
- AppLocker: Specify what software is allowed to run on a user’s PCs through centrally managed but flexible Group Policies.
- Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) optimizations: Improved user experience for VDI with multimon and microphone support, which have the ability to reuse virtual hard drive (VHD) images to boot a physical PC.
- Multilingual user interface: Create a single OS image for deployment to users worldwide.
If you’re interested in checking out the Enterprise edition of Windows 7 you can now get a free 120 day trial of the RTM; the offer ends March, 2010.
Bonus: Windows 7 Compatibility Video
Here’s a three minute video on Windows 7 Compatibility from PCWizKid’s Tech Talk that’s worth taking a look at. Enjoy!