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Here we are once again at the Microsoft OS circle where we begin to wonder should I or shouldnt I upgrade. We had a wonderful run with their Windows XP which seems to have been their best OS, for the most part in comparison to their slightly admired, disappointing Vista OS. With all the drama over Microsoft Vista and the foot dragging of many IT shops to convert over to Vista away from XP, Microsoft is now to release an advanced Windows 7 OS. Here we will compare the new Windows 7 to its predecessor. We will look at it safety, dependability, performance, and usability. Microsoft was deeply analyzed over Vista's UI (User Interface) so they made sure these issues were addressed with Windows 7, with mixed results.
"In terms of the complaints about rearranging components, Windows 7 actually does its own share of reshuffling, with some Control Panel items regrouped and others combined or eliminated altogether. Working with hardware devices and printers is now a completely new process, while the search function has traded the clunky toolbar with a sophisticated keyword syntax that is more powerful. The new Taskbar is one giant leap forward for Windows usability, the version 7 Taskbar reinvents the Windows UI, with an embrace of the object-oriented ideas and concepts that inspired so many of today's modern graphical environments. The ability to pin your entire workspace to the Taskbar -- including applications, documents, and utilities -- and interact with them in a consistent, predictable manner makes the Windows 7 UI a revelation for many users." Windows 7 UI is way better than Vista and XP in usability and general operator productivity. (Kennedy)
The intent of this paper is to provide a background of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system development, including when it was developed, how the development process was management, what needs this specific operating systems was developed to respond to in the Information Technologies market. This paper will also analyze the correlation of Information Technologies and Microsoft's Windows Vista position.
Background of Windows Vista Development
Originally announced as Longhorn by Microsoft (et.al.) on July 22, 2005 to journalists and analysts it was released to public distribution use by hardware OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and the general public on January 230, 2007. This is the longest period of time between operating systems releases in the history of Microsoft. There are many factors that contributed to the re-inventing of Longhorn to Microsoft Vista; chief among them was the rapid rise of security as critical unmet needs across all target markets for this operating system. Microsoft's chairman and CEO Bill Gates announced the Trustworthy Computing Initiative in early 2002 which was the direct result of the security shortcomings in Windows XP Professional, XP Home, and previous generation client and server operating systems.
The Longhorn development cycle had begun in May 2001 according to Peter Galli (et.al.), and was expected to fill the gap between Windows XP and the more robust operating system code named "Vienna" within Microsoft. In what was a tumultuous period of Microsoft's development, in 2003 Robert Allchin, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer decided to stop development of the existing Longhorn operating system and revert to use the existing Windows Server 2003 code base as the foundation for Windows Vista. What forced these three Microsoft executives to scrap development of the existing development of Longhorn and begin over was the inclusion of a completely different software development methodology called the Security Development Lifecycle, reducing the number of security-related errors in coding by as much as 50% to 60% according to Michael Howard (ET.AL.) writing in MSDN Magazine. The re-write of an entire operating system in the new development methodology completed changed the development processes within Microsoft as well. It took literally a year for the pace of coding to approach the efficiency levels of Longhorn prior to the decision being made.
Microsoft Windows Vista Key Differentiators
While there are literally hundreds of new features in this operating system, too many in fact to list in a paper of this scope, it is useful to look at the key differentiators, or what makes this operating system highly unique that are its core technologies and those enhancements focused on security.
Starting at the core technology area, the subsystems specifically for audio, print, display and networking subsystems have been specifically designed and developed with the needs of home, small and medium business, and larger enterprises in mind to optimize their performance using this operating system. The inclusion of IPv6, a standard for TCP/IP connectivity and essential for a network architecture, is now included in addition to support for TCP/IP window scaling for better security and higher network performance. Microsoft also focused extensively on core technologies in the wireless TCP/IP implementation to ensure secure access at potentially risky areas including public WiFi locations. In addition, Microsoft completely revamped the video driver and graphics display subsystem with the Windows Display Driver Model. This supports the necessary graphical support to make the Desktop Window Manager and Windows Aero graphical environments as efficient as possible. Microsoft also has been working extensively in their research labs on algorithms so operating systems can learn how to anticipate how people work. The differentiating feature of SuperFetch is a result of this research, and relies on machine learning techniques to anticipate usage patterns. This is in part due to the latent semantic indexing Microsoft is pioneering in Microsoft Research. Microsoft also anticipates the majority of users to rely on USB drives and hybrid hard disk drives. The branding on these optimization techniques is ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive. Highly differentiating security-related technologies includes a bit-level locking algorithm included in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions, enhanced Windows Firewall support including SSL and TLS cryptographic extensions. There are dozens of features for business users and developers, most notably being support for Version 3.0 of the Windows .NET Development Framework.
From the standpoint of Microsoft Windows Vista being suitable as an enterprise desktop, the inclusion of highly differentiated security features and the reliance on the security development lifecycle will be quickly tested and evaluated by CIOs looking for the increased productivity that Windows Vista claims to provide in conjunction with Microsoft Office applications, for example. For those enterprises with a geographically diverse workforce, the inclusion of these new security features will be aligned with their unmet needs today. Microsoft has learned well from previous generations of their operating systems when it comes to enterprise deployment, by including modularization of components including multilingual support, inclusion of Windows Imaging, and Nondestructive Imaging, and the ability of system administrators to complete unattended installations. This has been a long-standing requirement from enterprise users.
Windows Vista's long development cycle is attributable to the decision by Microsoft executives to move towards a security-intensive development methodology, and also design an operating system that was specifically developed to meet the unmet needs of enterprise system administrators who have the daunting task of managing literally thousands of PCs at a time. As evaluations in many IT organizations continue as of today (February 2007) the proof of increased performance by Microsoft of their redesigned subsystems will be eventually reflected in their sales of this operating system.
Buying a Windows OS used to be so simple. A new version appeared, most people agreed it was better than the last one and you'd get a copy for your next PC. Job done.
But Windows Vista changed all that. Despite many years of availability, Vista's poor reception means that computer manufacturers are still selling new systems with XP. It's also common for laptops to be downgraded from Vista to XP, with battery life reportedly improving as a result.
Deciding which operating system is best for you has become decidedly trickier, then, and the arrival of Windows 7 only complicates things further. Is the newcomer just Vista with a facelift? Or has Microsoft learned from its mistakes and delivered a product that will restore its battered reputation? Perhaps you should forget about Vista and Windows 7 altogether, opting for the mature XP instead?
Microsoft: new Vista PCs sold in EU can't upgrade to Windows 7
The choice might be easy. If you have old or extremely basic hardware, for instance, then XP will have a definite advantage: its relatively lightweight core means the operating system can theoretically run with only 64MB of RAM, so there'll be plenty of resources left over for your applications.
However, if you have high-end requirements, such as using a powerful PC to run heavy-duty applications, Vista and Windows 7 come into their own. They're better optimized for multicore CPUs, and Windows 7 in particular includes a number of tweaks to make the best of the latest hardware.
You may well find yourself somewhere between these two extremes, though, and so the 'best' OS to use will be a more difficult decision. But don't worry - help is at hand. We've taken a test PC and laptop, installed XP, Vista and Windows 7 on them and applied a number of testing real-life benchmarks to see which will come out on top. We're aware that speed isn't everything, though, so we've also explored the new features that each OS has introduced. To make life easy for you, we've split our findings over eight categories, with an overall verdict at the end.
So which is best - Windows Vista or Windows 7? Read on to find out what we've uncovered.
It's often said that recent versions of Windows have become bloated, and it's hardly unreasonable to expect each new OS to perform better than its previous iteration. However, when Windows XP first appeared back in 2001, it was designed to run happily on 300MHz Pentium II CPUs with a mere 128MB of RAM. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the lightweight OS runs quickly on today's processors. Newer OSes can optimise for modern hardware and include more powerful features, but is this extra functionality really just slowing us down?
To find out, we decided to test each operating system's performance on an average PC. The system is nothing particularly special by today's standards, consisting of an Intel dual-core E5200 CPU, 2GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon HD4550 graphics card. We installed XP, Vista and Windows 7 in that order (all 32-bit versions) on the machine's 500GB hard drive and ran a number of real-world benchmarks to find out which OS was best.
The boot time test provided no surprises - Vista took the longest time to get started, XP came in second place and Windows 7 was the fastest.
SWITCHED ON: Tired of lengthy boot times? We bear good news. Even the beta of Windows 7 can beat Vista's sluggish start
At first it seemed like our file transfer benchmarks would deliver the same results. Vista produced poor copy speeds in our small file tests, XP again placed second and Windows 7 came out on top. But when we tried transferring larger 1GB files, Vista surprisingly just managed to win out over XP. Both were beaten by the speedy Windows 7, though.
This proved true for our application tests as well. Open a small Excel spreadsheet or PDF file, say, and XP beats Vista, but heavy-duty spreadsheets and PDF files opened faster under Vista than XP. Once again, however, both were trounced by the newcomer.
You might have spotted the theme here. Windows 7 delivered excellent results, beating or coming close to the performance of the lightweight XP in just about every category. It's quite remarkable given that this is an operating system still in beta. When all the drivers are fully finished, we should see even better performance.
If we'd run the benchmarks on a less powerful PC, perhaps one with only 1GB of RAM, then it's possible that Windows XP would have fared better than it did here. But for even a fairly basic modern PC, Windows 7 delivers the best performance around.
Windows 7 is complete, but before we begin, this isn't the exact version of Windows 7 Ultimate that you'll get on a new PC.
That's because there are still content deals for Media Center to lock down and it doesn't have the Windows 7 web browser ballot screen that users in Europe will see when they set up a Windows 7 PC (new or upgraded).
PC builders and laptop manufacturers are also busy creating their own Device Stage interfaces for some PCs and many more peripherals will have Device Stage interfaces by the release on 22 October.
But this is the final code you'll be using from day to day - the last few bugs and the debug code of the Release Candidate are gone - and it's the first time we can tell whether Microsoft has delivered what Senior VP Steven Sinofsky promised last autumn: "Making Windows 7 compelling and easier to get used to."
Windows 7 desktop
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Windows 7 has to woo Windows XP users who have resisted Vista by offering performance and compatibility as well as extra features, and it has to entice Vista users who feel they should have had the performance and compatibility all along by convincing them that it's more than a service pack.
And given how many people have tried out the pre-release versions of Windows 7, the RTM has to dot the i's, cross the t's and feel truly finished.
It's a tall order. Can Windows 7 deliver all that, compete with OS X Snow Leopard and stave off the attack of Android and Chrome OS at the low end? Is it a Windows you'll actually want to use?
From Windows 3.1 to Windows Vista, the Windows operating system has taken many giant leaps. And while Vista received a lukewarm reception from some users, Windows 7 is likely to be remembered for addressing those criticisms.
In fact, there aren't many changes to the overall look of Windows 7 when compared to Windows Vista. Instead, Microsoft seems to have paid attention to the feedback it received and created an OS that is not only stable, but also very capable.
So what is new in Windows 7? Here are 18 cool things Windows 7 does that Vista doesn't.
85 Windows 7 tips, tricks and secrets
Beginner's guide to Windows 7
25 cool Windows 7 interface tweaks
1. Shake 'em away
Ever had 10 Notepad, two PowerPoint and 50 Outlook windows open? Want to minimize all of them except the most important one? In Windows 7, you can grab the top of the window and shake it about to scare away all of the other open windows. Simple.
2. Jump lists
Jump lists are a new feature that gives you the option to view a list of recently accessed files by application, even when the application isn't open, by right-clicking on the application's icon in the taskbar. It also allows you to quickly access a favorite playlist without opening your media player. Jump lists can also be found integrated into the Start Menu.
TIME-SAVER: The Jump list for Windows Explorer - pretty useful
Jump list in start menu
START HERE:A Jump list integrated into the Start Menu
3. A step forward in previewing
In Vista, hovering over a minimized window on the taskbar would provide a preview of the window. In Windows 7, a similar preview pops up which also gives the option to close a window (within the preview), along with a full-size 'peek'. You can also press Win + T to scroll along previews in the taskbar.
PREVIEW PLUS: A smaller preview, along with a full-size 'peek' with the ability to close the window
4. Snap into place
Simply drag your window to the left or right edge of the desktop to snap and resize the window to one half of the screen. Drag the window to the top to maximize it. A pretty neat idea made neater by the use of the keyboard shortcuts (Win + respective arrow keys). No longer do you have to frustratingly position the mouse at the edge of the window to resize it.
5. XP Mode
This time, you do not have to slap your head that same way when Vista would not run an XP application. For those XP applications that do not work under Windows 7, you can download XP Mode free from the Microsoft website and run XP applications in an emulated XP environment in Windows 7. Imagine Parallels on Mac OS X without the need to fish out money on an extra OS.
6. An easier and quicker way to adjust multiple displays
Do you constantly connect your computer to different external monitors or projectors, especially at work? Try Win + P, and duplicating or extending your display to the other monitor takes just a second. Win + P presents you with an Alt + Tab style menu, which is ideal if you give a lot of presentations at work on your laptop.
7. A personalized Stage for your device
With the new 'Device and Printers' button on the Start Menu, devices which are connected to your computer can have their own Stage. This Device Stage presents supported devices with a photo-realistic render and a link to the vendor's website, along with other updates and useful information (such as firmware updates and manuals).
8. (Almost) eliminate the notification area!
What, I can even get rid of the clock and volume icons? Yes. Click the arrow that gives access to the overflow icons in the notification area and click 'customize'. Select each icon and click 'hide icon and notifications' to remove it. Clean.
Tidy notification bar
QUIETER: Stop all those notifications - but you might want to keep the clock there
9. Problem Steps Recorder
The 'Problem Steps Recorder' lets you record a particular problem you are having with your PC so you can send it to someone who may be able to help. Click 'Record', and a screenshot is taken with every mouse click, allowing comments to be added in between if required. These screenshots (and comments, if any) are placed in a well-formatted HTML document that is placed inside a zipped folder on your desktop - ideal to be attached to an email.
10. A brand new Magnifier tool
If you are, or someone you know, is visually impaired, then the Windows 7 Magnifier provides two options for providing a bigger display. One of which is using the traditional dock (which took up a lot of the screen) and the other being a rectangular lens that is stuck to the cursor (meaning there is no loss of workspace).
UP CLOSE:A sleek new magnifier that follows your cursor, without decreasing your workspace
11. A new way to preview your music files
Opening and listening to an MP3 is a lot snappier with Windows 7 due to its new smaller preview player, presenting you with album art, basic music functionality and a link to the full-blown Windows Media Player. This is an obvious attempt to mimic the preview feature of Mac OS X, but it is very well executed.
Windows media preview
MUSIC PREVIEW: The new preview is simple - and loads up very quickly
12. Home group Networking
In Vista (or, frankly, any Windows OS), creating a shared folder over a network at home could be a bit of a pain. In Windows 7, using the 'Home group' wizard, check the default folders you would like to share. This will give you a passcode that will have to be entered in another computer on the same network to share the files. Sounds too good to be true? There is a catch: only a Windows 7 computer can join a Home group.
13. Stream Music directly to another computer
If you do create a Home group, Windows Media Player allows you to stream music directly to another computer. So, instead of listening to music through your measly laptop speakers, you can wirelessly stream to the 7.1 Surround Sound Speakers of your PC in your living room, without stepping away from your laptop. Sweet.
14. Action Center
The Action Center is the new Security Center for Windows 7, along with other notifications such as updates and access to the improved troubleshooting and recovery using restore point facilities. Basically, it is everything windows usually annoys you with, rolled into one place with one icon in the notification bar. If you find the alerts irritating, you can check out this tip to make the Windows 7 Action Center less annoying.
15. Pin just about anything to the new Windows Taskbar
Imagine a blank Mac OS X Dock with the start menu, the notifications bar and the improved 'Show Desktop' button added to it. Drag just about anything on to it and the associated application will place itself on the translucent taskbar, with an option to open the file in the Jump list.
16. Improved Touch Navigation
Windows 7 has much improved touch navigation. The larger taskbar with squarer icons makes it a lot easier to navigate with your fingers, and MacBook-like multi-touch gestures on various applications could change the way you interact with windows. Subtle enhancements such as a larger Start Menu appearing when Touchscreen hardware is detected also help.
17. Native ISO Burner
There are those times when you inevitably have to burn an ISO file (such as when you have to copy a downloaded Windows 7 beta or RC) to a DVD. With Windows 7 you do not need to download third-party software (some of which are pretty confusing to use). Double-clicking on an ISO file will take you to a window that allows you to change the disc burner drive. Click 'Burn'. After a while, your disc is ready. Simple.
FINALLY: Burning an ISO file has never been so easy
18. Native calibration tools
If you tend to hook up your computer to an HDTV or care about getting the highest quality from your monitor, then the in-built basic and easy-to-use calibration tools built into Windows 7 will please you.