Windows 7 offers a lot of features that may not be well known to the average user. A couple of hours’ work searching various blog sites will tell you more than you probably want to know, but I thought I’d try to include some of the most useful features for both average users and power […]
Now that you have Windows 7 installed on your computer, it’s time to restore your backed up files. You’ll also need to reinstall all of your programs that you want to continue using.
Install Essential Programs
Everyone has a different idea of what the “essential” programs are, so I’ll just give a rundown of my bare essentials.
|Adobe Reader||There are other PDF readers that are more lightweight and also free, but as little as I view PDFs, I don’t need the most lightweight and fast PDF reader. I just want one that works and is fully compatible with any PDFs I may download. In my experience, Adobe’s Reader is still the most reliable PDF reader.|
|Windows Security Essentials||AVG was my go-to free anti-virus program for years, but I like how well Windows Security Essentials integrates with Windows 7. It has done well in testing from the reviews I’ve read, and it stays updated regularly.|
|Firefox||This is the best browser for me. It offers tons of add-ons that add functionality such as Personas (a quick and easy way to change the theme, or “skin” of the browser), FoxyTunes (control your media player from the browser – great for listening to music while you browse), and Download Statusbar (view essential information about your downloads such as speed and time remaining, pause and resume, and open downloaded files from the status bar of your browser). Firefox also offers great security and performance when loading pages.|
|Steam||It’s like iTunes and Facebook for PC gaming. Create a profile, add friends, purchase games and download them anytime, anywhere, on any computer. Steam makes it easy to purchase games and play with friends. An achievement system allows games developers to provide additional incentives for gamers as well.|
|ImgBurn||This is a free application that allows you to burn ISO images or rip CDs and DVDs to ISO images. You can also write files on your computer to an ISO file or burn them directly to a CD or DVD.|
|7-Zip||Not all compressed archives are in the .zip format. 7-Zip can open most archive formats, including .zip and .rar archives.|
|Notepad++||This is Notepad on steroids. It offers a tabbed interface for working on multiple files as well as syntax highlighting for many file types, including HTML and CSS.|
All of these programs can be installed using a custom installer from Ninite.com. Ninite allows you to select the programs you want to install, then creates a custom installer for you to download. With a few clicks of your mouse it installs all of your selected programs using default settings without the need for user input. It automatically deselects toolbars and other “junk” software that is sometimes included with free software, so you don’t have to worry about cluttering up your computer.
Windows 7 is here, and it is a wonderful upgrade from Windows XP. I have not used Vista all that much, so I can’t say whether or not it’s worth the upgrade from Vista. However, for most people still running Windows XP, if your computer has 2GB of RAM or more, there is no reason you should wait to upgrade your personal computer. This article is designed to guide you through the initial preparation for your upgrade, including manual backups of your files. If you want to do it the Microsoft way using Windows Easy Transfer, you can follow their guide here.
32-bit or 64-bit
Really, I can’t see a reason to stick with 32-bit unless you have specific devices or software programs that absolutely must have a 32-bit environment due to no 64-bit drivers or no 64-bit version of your software (most 32-bit programs will run in a 64-bit environment).
Upgrade vs. Full Install
Windows XP can not be upgraded in place to Windows 7. You will need to backup your files to a separate hard drive, partition, or external media such as DVD+R discs and then start from scratch. All of your programs will need to be reinstalled, and your personal settings and files will need to be restored from your backup.
The easiest way to backup files is to connect an external hard drive to your computer, create a backup folder on it, and drag-and-drop your files into this folder. If you have a second internal hard drive or separate partition, you can use it as well.
I’ve been using Windows 7 since April 2009 when it was available as a public beta. I am currently using the release candidate (build 7100). For the most part I have not encountered many issues; most of my programs runs perfectly and the improved features in Windows 7 are fantastic! However, I have had some issues with the Homegroups feature. Hopefully these issues will be fixed in the final release version, but for those of you like me who can’t pass up a free OS for a few months, read on for a few tips.
Homegroups – The Basics
Homegroups are a new feature in Windows 7 that allow users to easily share files, folders, and libraries over a home network (libraries are a new feature in Windows 7 as well). The idea is that one computer on your home network creates a homegroup, then all of the other computers join the homegroup to share files more easily.
Homegroups have several requirements that many users may not be aware of. I have listed the requirements that I am aware of below.
- Only Windows 7 computers can join or create homegroups
- Homegroups can only be created on Home networks; Work and Public networks can not have homegroups
- Homegroups require IPv6 to be enabled
- Network discovery and file and printer sharing must be on
If any of the above requirements are not met, homegroups will not work.