Retail versions of Windows 7 became available in stores (including the University's Computer Connection) on October 22, 2009. In the United States, Windows 7 is available to individuals in four different versions: Professional, Ultimate, Home Premium, and Starter. A page on Windows 7 Editions has more detail and contextual information.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports Windows 7 for its clients, including off-campus students.
ISC recommends this upgrade for systems that have at least 1.0 GB of RAM (2.0 GB or more of RAM will yield a substantially better experience). The clean installation of Windows 7 uses at least 9.0 GB of disk space, depending on the type of system and choices made during the installation.
Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit Professional and Ultimate editions) are supported. ISC does not recommend, but supports the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium. Home Premium is missing important networking, security, and compatibility features, such as domain-based authentication, that are essential to many Schools and Centers in the University. Note that, unlike in Windows Vista's Business edition, Windows 7 Professional includes all the multimedia features present in Windows 7 Home Premium.
ISC does not support any version of Windows 7 Starter or Windows 7 Home Basic. Starter and Home Basic are missing many important networking, maintenance, and security features that are critical to many Schools and Centers at the University.
There are a number of known issues with Windows 7, several of which are especially relevant to Penn's Windows users:
The Supported Products site offers application-specific information on Windows 7.
For those interested in taking advantage of a license for individual use, 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Professional are available from the Computer Connection.
Windows is commercial software that can be purchased from the Computer Connection at an educational discount.
Microsoft software is available to University of Pennsylvania departments through the Microsoft Select Volume License Program. A detailed description of the Microsoft Program including product information and a FAQ has been prepared by the Office of Software Licensing. All purchases of Microsoft Select software are made through the Computer Connection.
Changes in Windows 7
Though mostly an optimization release, Windows 7 does have some new or substantially enhanced features. Below are some changes that may be of interest to the Penn community:
1) Speed, Speed, Speed
Windows 7 has a host of speed improvements compared to Windows Vista. In ISC testing, Windows 7 installs more quickly, boots rapidly, and performs various operating system functions more quickly.
2) Decreased Resource Requirements
Compared to Windows Vista, Windows 7's resource requirements are notably decreased. In particular, aging or inexpensive systems (such as netbooks) that performed marginally or were unusable under Windows Vista are usable under Windows 7.
3) Interface Enhancements
A host of interface enhancements are included in Windows 7. Action Center lets the user decide which Windows 7 alerts they see and which they don't. Improvements to the new Windows 7 taskbar include thumbnail previews of webpages and documents. Gadgets no longer have to reside on the Sidebar (eliminated in Windows 7) - they can now be anywhere on the desktop.
4) Windows XP Mode
Windows XP Mode, which allows a user to run older Windows XP software, comes as a separate download and works only with Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Additionally, Windows XP Mode also requires virtualization software such as Windows Virtual PC. Both are available free on the Microsoft website.
5) Windows Touch
With Windows Touch (only available in the Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, and Home Premium editions of Windows 7) and a touch-sensitive screen, users can perform many interface tasks with their fingers. Touch technology has been available in Windows from third parties for several years, but Windows 7 integrates it into the operating system. The Start menu and taskbar now include larger icons and some Windows 7 programs are also touch-ready.
6) BitLocker Improvements
Microsoft's BitLocker encryption (only available in the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows 7) is improved in Windows 7. Integration with other operating system functions is enhanced and the BitLocker To Go function allows encryption of external media such as flash drives.
For further information
Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Page
Dell's Windows 7 Center page.
Lenovo's Lenovo and Windows 7 Information page.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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