Windows 7: The essential guide

The Oct. 22 official release of Windows 7 will likely be anticlimactic, given the new Microsoft OS's months-long availability as a public beta and the thousands of stories about the Windows that Microsoft hopes will make the world forget the debacle that was Vista.

But now that Windows 7 is real, most people will get serious about deciding whether -- or, more likely, when -- to adopt it. Whether you stuck with XP, braved the move to Vista, or use a competing OS such as Mac OS X or desktop Linux, now's the time to decide what to do about Windows 7. To that end, InfoWorld has created the definitive guide to Windows 7, from the InfoWorld Test Center's exhaustive benchmarks to determining the ROI of a Windows 7 investment.

[ Take InfoWorld's free online class on installing and working with Windows 7. Sign up for the Windows 7 Boot Camp on or by Oct. 25! ]

Follow the links below to the articles that will help you decide when and how to make the move to Windows 7. We've categorized them to make it easier to tackle each of your questions and needs one at a time. For easy access to these Windows 7 resources, we recommend you bookmark "Windows 7: The essential guide."

Windows 7: An overview of what's new

  • InfoWorld's Windows 7 Deep Dive PDF report: Get the inside scoop on the newest Microsoft operating system, and see how well it performs, how to tune up its security, and how to migrate from Windows XP in this 21-page PDF guide from InfoWorld's editors and contributors.
  • InfoWorld's Windows 7 Quick Guide PDF: InfoWorld's J. Peter Bruzzese takes you on a tour of the essential Windows 7 technologies to help you prepare for your migration.
  • Hands-on video guide to Windows 7: Take a tour through 10 areas in which Microsoft has revamped its venerable OS' workings.
  • Video: The 20 top features in Windows 7: A 10-minute InfoWorld video guide to the best of Microsoft's newest OS.
  • Windows 7 touch: Dead on arrival: Integrating touchscreen technology into the OS sounds revolutionary -- until you try to use it.
  • How Intel Nehalem processors and Windows 7 work together: The result is better performance, improved power consumption, or both, depending on the number of threads in your application.

Windows 7: How it performs and how it rates

  • Windows 7 on multicore: How much faster? Microsoft has been touting its superior handling of threads in Windows 7. InfoWorld's tests show that speed isn't the only benefit, or necessarily the main one.
  • Windows 7 RTM: The revenge of Windows Vista: Windows Vista lacked the right stuff to unseat Windows XP. Does Windows 7 really have what it takes?
  • Test Center benchmarks: Windows 7 unmasked: Measured by runtime specs and performance benchmarks, Windows 7 M3 looks like Vista, and it runs like Vista. Welcome to Windows Vista R2!
  • The 7 deadly sins of Windows 7: Lust, gluttony, greed, anger, envy, pride, and sloth -- Microsoft's new OS suffers from each deadly sin. Here's what you can do to minimize the toll each sin takes.
  • Windows 7 'XP Mode': Right idea, wrong technology: Why Microsoft's decision to implement a VM-based legacy compatibility solution is a dumb move.
  • Flame war: The great Windows 7 debate: InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy and OSNews' Thom Holwerda go head to head in assessing Windows 7's changes.
  • Why Windows 7 may still fail: How the new OS' reliance on Windows Update may prove to be its Achilles' heel.

Windows 7: How to deploy it

  • Find out if your PC can run Windows 7: InfoWorld releases a free tool so that you can check your system's Windows 7 compatibility, as well as monitor your PC's performance in other areas. You should also run Microsoft's beta compatibility checker tool, which provides component-level analysis of your system's Windows 7 capabilities.
  • Ready for Windows 7? How to deploy it right: From hardware to licensing, you need to make the right choices to smooth the transition and get the most out of Windows 7.
  • Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: Joined at the hip: Microsoft's client and server platforms are coming out at the same time, designed to work better together. Find out what that really means.
  • Seven steps to securing Windows 7: Windows 7 comes with important safeguards out of the box, but it isn't hard to make it even more secure.
  • XP users: How to upgrade to Windows 7: Upgrading from XP will be harder than upgrading from Vista.

Windows 7: Assessing ROI and adoption timelines

  • Is Windows 7 really worth the investment?: ROI trumps "cool" features every time in the business world. Can Windows 7 bring both to the table? Yes, though not immediately.
  • IT pros prefer old XP over new Windows 7, survey says: Of those polled, 72 percent say they're more concerned about the cost and overhead of migrating to Windows 7 than they are about continuing to support the 8-year-old Windows XP.
  • Windows 7 user rollouts could come in pieces: Corporate users are more likely to move to Windows 7 on a piecemeal basis.

Windows 7: How it affects your other technologies

  • Windows 7 may mean fewer bargain netbooks: The Windows 7/netbook connection depends on whether netbook users will be willing to pay more for the Windows 7 experience.
  • Windows 7 drives RAM capacity explosion: Real-world usage data also suggests that the popularity of multicore CPUs will soon hit critical mass for developers.

Windows 7: How it stacks up against the competition

  • OS deathmatch: Snow Leopard vs. Windows 7: Our reviewer put both operating systems through their paces, selected categories for a head-to-head competition, and then chosen a winner in each category.
  • The UI challenge: Windows 7 vs. Mac OS X: Find out who wins, and who loses, in each of 10 key areas.
  • Top 10 features that Apple stole from Windows: In the battle between Mac OS X and Windows, here's a reminder of where Microsoft supplied the innovation first.
  • Top 10 features Microsoft stole from Mac OS X: In the battle between Windows and Mac OS X, here's a reminder of where Apple supplied the innovation first.
  • Desktop Linux: Ready for the mainstream: Organizations can adopt Linux for many users and save the high upgrade costs of Vista or Windows 7.

Windows 7: Ongoing resources

  • Windows Sentinel and OfficeBench: Tools to benchmark and monitor your Windows 7 PCs: InfoWorld and the deliver the Windows Sentinel set of monitoring tools you can use to assess Windows desktop, laptop, and server performance, application usage, memory utilization, and other key attributes via a handy Web dashboard, as well as through desktop widget and mobile versions. Windows Sentinel can also assess your PC's Windows 7 compatibility. Windows Sentinel members can download the OfficeBench tool that provides a real-world assessment of Microsoft Office performance on their PCs and lets them compare their performance to that of the overall's.
  • Windows Pulse: The real-world state of Windows: The real state of Windows: Use this set of dashboards to track key trends in Windows systems. Discover which apps are most popular, what PC configurations people really have, and more.
  • Randall C. Kennedy's Enterprise Desktop blog: Analysis, tips, and unrivaled punditry around Windows 7 and other desktop computing concerns.
  • J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog: Expert advice on using Windows, Windows Server, and other Microsoft server technologies in business.

Windows 7: Context and what's next

  • Predictions for Windows 8: Windows 7 is yesterday's news. It's time to start thinking about Windows 8 and what it holds in store for IT.
  • Microsoft's roadkill on the journey to Windows 7: From the very beginning of Windows, Microsoft has copied others' ideas, and moved to put many out of business. Relive the dark side of the journey to Windows 7. And watch the companion slideshow.
  • Was Windows 7 worth saving XP for? Nearly one-quarter million Windows users petitioned Microsoft to save Windows XP. Has its worthwhile successor finally arrived? NOTE: This link will be active on and after Oct. 22.

This story, "Windows 7: The essential guide," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in Windows 7 and Windows in general at

This story, "Windows 7: The essential guide" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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