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Summary:

First released in 2001, Windows XP is now somewhat of a dinosaur, yet because Vista never really caught on, it’s the OS that’s installed on most PCs. Today Microsoft made the Release Candidate (RC) of Windows 7, the newest version of the OS, available to download. […]

logo_windowsFirst released in 2001, Windows XP is now somewhat of a dinosaur, yet because Vista never really caught on, it’s the OS that’s installed on most PCs. Today Microsoft made the Release Candidate (RC) of Windows 7, the newest version of the OS, available to download.

If, like me, you stuck it out with XP and skipped Vista, you should consider upgrading. As Martin Brinkmann at gHacks explains, Windows 7 greatly improves on XP in several key areas:

Speed and Performance: This is perhaps the most important reason for upgrading. Windows 7 beats XP in all performance benchmarks.

Security: Windows 7 will provide much better “out of the box” security than XP, while at the same time cutting down on the annoying UAC prompts that plague Vista.

Hardware Compatibility: While it should be possible to continue running XP for quite a while, some future devices might not support the older OS.

Design: Windows 7 features a much more contemporary design scheme, coupled with a huge range of customization options and themes.

There is also some brand-new functionality, including multitouch support — a feature that, at first, I thought was a bit gimmicky. However, having now owned an iPhone for a while, I’m looking forward to seeing the new hardware that will be enabled by this move.

You might be concerned about the ability to run Windows 7 on your hardware. The good news, as ZDNet notes, is that the requirements of Windows 7 are not much more onerous that those of Vista:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of disk space (or 20 GB for 64-bit users)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

If you’re planning on adding XP Mode (a virtualized copy of Windows XP that ensures full backwards-compatibility), you’ll need 2 GB of RAM, an additional 15 GB of disk space and a CPU that supports hardware visualization.

As the RC is not the final version of the OS, you won’t get much in the way of support from Microsoft, so if you’re not reasonably tech-savvy it would probably be better to wait until the full retail release (due out in October, if the rumor on Pocket-lint is correct). You’ll need to be able to burn an installation DVD from an ISO and be able to back up and restore the applications and data on your computer, because if you have XP you have to do a clean install of Windows 7. Microsoft has posted full installation instructions.

The RC should be available to download through July, and you’ll have until March 1, 2010, to buy a full Windows 7 license.

Will you upgrade to Windows 7?

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  1. Simon,
    Great article, thanks for the pros/cons list. Something in your article popped out to me, and I can’t seem to find much information anywhere else. I have Vista – does this mean I don’t have to do a clean install, and my files should remain?

  2. Simon Mackie Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    @Phil Bear I believe so. MS says: “You can install the Windows 7 RC on a PC running Windows Vista without backing up the PC—but we encourage you to make a backup for safe keeping.”

  3. Adam Bradley Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    You forgot one big downside: It’s intentionally crippled to force you to upgrade.

    Because of the smaller size of Windows 7, three versions of the program will come loaded even on lower-end machines. If a consumer on a cheaper PC running the “Standard” version tries to use a high-definition monitor or run more than three software programs at once, he’ll discover that neither is possible. Then he’ll be prompted to upgrade to the pricier “Home Premium” or “Ultimate” version.

  4. I might upgrade my three-year-old XP laptop (Core Duo proc, 2 gigs RAM) out of curiosity if I lived alone, but for my wife’s sake, I’m definitely going to leave it be. I just wiped it and reinstalled XP and it’s running great. Windows 7 might be a little flashier and faster, but that’s hardly worth the risk, time, and inevitable cost on 3/1/2010.

  5. Phil, thanks for asking the upgrade from Vista question and Simon thanks for the answer. :D

  6. WindowsObserver.com » Windows 7 Google Alerts for 05 May 2009 Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    [...] Windows 7 RC Available: Why You Should Upgrade From XP By Simon Mackie First released in 2001, Windows XP is now somewhat of a dinosaur, yet because Vista never really caught on, it’s … WebWorkerDaily – http://webworkerdaily.com/ [...]

  7. @Adam Bradley

    I believe Microsoft has stated that Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional are going to be the vast majority of versions that users will encounter while buying a new PC. The feature sets of these are comparable to Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

  8. thegeniusfiles Sunday, May 10, 2009

    I’ll pass on the Microsoft scam, thanks. Still pissed over vista. Buh-bye microscam.

  9. I have a Dell D610 laptop (1.6 GHz Intel Celeron, 2 GB RAM) which is about 5 years old, and I decided to install Windows 7 Beta on it. I first used Clonezilla to make an exact copy of the disk with the XP OS and my files, then I did a clean install of Win7. I was very impressed with the speed of Win7, along with the fact that it ran quite well on a laptop with older hardware. Win7 is basically what Vista should have been when it was first released, and it seems very polished even in beta form.

  10. I appreciate knowing this info. I hope that this new MS program is better that the XP or VISTA

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