Is a version of Microsoft Windows, a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, and media center PCs. Windows 7 was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009, and reached general retail availability on October 22, 2009, less than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista. Windows 7’s server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2, was released at the same time. Windows 7 will be succeeded by Windows 8, which has no release date as of yet.
Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with applications and hardware with which Windows Vista is already compatible. Presentations given by Microsoft in 2008 focused on multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows Shell with a new taskbar, referred to as the Superbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup, and performance improvements. Some standard applications that have been included with prior releases of Microsoft Windows, including Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery, are not included in Windows 7; most are instead offered separately at no charge as part of the Windows Live Essentials suite.
Windows 7 includes a number of new features, such as advances in touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved boot performance, DirectAccess, and kernel improvements. Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors (Heterogeneous Multi-adapter), a new version of Windows Media Center, a Gadget for Windows Media Center, improved media features, the XPS Essentials Pack and Windows PowerShell being included, and a redesigned Calculator with multiline capabilities including Programmer and Statistics modes along with unit conversion. Many new items have been added to the Control Panel, including ClearType Text Tuner, Display Color Calibration Wizard, Gadgets, Recovery, Troubleshooting, Workspaces Center, Location and Other Sensors, Credential Manager, Biometric Devices, System Icons, and Display. Windows Security Center has been renamed to Windows Action Center (Windows Health Center and Windows Solution Center in earlier builds), which encompasses both security and maintenance of the computer. The default setting for User Account Control in Windows 7 has been criticized for allowing untrusted software to be launched with elevated privileges without a prompt by exploiting a trusted application. Microsoft’s Windows kernel engineer Mark Russinovich acknowledged the problem, but noted that malware can also compromise a system when users agree to a prompt. Windows 7 also supports images in the RAW image format through the addition of Windows Imaging Component-enabled image decoders, which enables raw image thumbnails, previewing and metadata display in Windows Explorer, plus full-size viewing and slideshows in Windows Photo Viewer and Window Media Center.
The taskbar has seen the biggest visual changes, where the Quick Launch toolbar has been replaced with pinning applications to the taskbar. Buttons for pinned applications are integrated with the task buttons. These buttons also enable the Jump Lists feature to allow easy access to common tasks. The revamped taskbar also allows the reordering of taskbar buttons. To the far right of the system clock is a small rectangular button that serves as the Show desktop icon. This button is part of the new feature in Windows 7 called Aero Peek. Hovering over this button makes all visible windows transparent for a quick look at the desktop. In touch-enabled displays such as touch screens, tablet PCs, etc., this button is slightly wider to accommodate being pressed with a finger. Clicking this button minimizes all windows, and clicking it a second time restores them. Additionally, there is a feature named Aero Snap, that automatically maximizes a window when it is dragged to the top of the screen. Dragging windows to the left/right edges of the screen allows users to snap documents or files on either side of the screen for comparison between windows. When a user moves windows that were maximized using Aero Snap, the system restores their previous state automatically. This functionality is also accomplished with keyboard shortcuts. Unlike in Windows Vista, window borders and the taskbar do not turn opaque when a window is maximized with Windows Aero applied. Instead, they remain translucent.
A number of capabilities and certain programs that were a part of Windows Vista are no longer present or have been changed, resulting in the removal of certain functionalities. These include the classic Start Menu user interface, some taskbar features, Windows Explorer features, Windows Media Player features, Windows Ultimate Extras and InkBall. Four applications bundled with Windows Vista — Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Calendar and Windows Mail — are not included with Windows 7, but applications with mostly similar functionality are instead available for free in a separate package called Windows Live Essentials which can be found on the Microsoft website. Although Windows Ultimate Extras was removed, many of the extras are able to be installed. Most popular extras were Microsoft Texas Hold ’em, Microsoft Tinker, and Windows DreamScene. InkBall may also be installed into Windows 7.
Windows 7 is available in six different editions, but only the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions are available for retail sale to consumers in most countries. The other editions are aimed at other markets, such as the developing world or enterprise use. Each edition of Windows 7 includes all of the capabilities and features of the edition below it. All editions support the 32-bit (IA-32) processor architecture and all editions except Starter support the 64-bit (x86-64) processor architecture. The installation media is the same for all the consumer editions of Windows 7 that have the same processor architecture, with the license determining the features that are activated, and license upgrades permitting the subsequent unlocking of features without re-installation of the operating system. This is the first time Microsoft has distributed 2 DVDs (1 DVD for IA-32 processor architecture, the other DVD for x86-64 processor architecture) for each edition of Windows 7 (Except for Starter and Home Basic. However, installation DVD of Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit edition is not included but can be obtained from Microsoft.). Users who wish to upgrade to an edition of Windows 7 with more features can then use Windows Anytime Upgrade to purchase the upgrade, and unlock the features of those editions. Some copies of Windows 7 have restrictions, in which it must be distributed, sold, or bought and activated in the geographical region (One of the geographical regions can be either: Southeast Asia; India; or Latin America and the Caribbean) specified in its front cover box.
Microsoft is offering a family pack of Windows 7 Home Premium (in select markets) that allows installation on up to three PCs. The “Family Pack” costs $259.99 in the United States; it was available at a cost of $149.99 for some weeks when it was first introduced.
On September 18, 2009, Microsoft said they were to offer temporary student discounts for Windows 7. The offer ran in the US and the United Kingdom, with similar schemes available in Canada, Australia, Korea, Mexico, France and India. Students with a valid .edu or .ac.uk email address could apply for either Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional, priced at $30
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