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Microsoft Windows 7 review

Verdict

It's hard to find fault with Windows 7: Microsoft's latest OS delivers on ease of use, performance and features - a far more impressive effort than Vista

Review Date: 22 Oct 2009

Reviewed By: PC Pro

Price when reviewed: £100 (£115 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

We've poked and prodded, ruminated and cogitated, we've debated its worth, and benchmarked it to within an inch of its life. We've installed it on a huge variety of machines, from netbooks to luxury laptops, low-powered PCs to gaming rigs - and now, we're ready to deliver the PC Pro verdict on Windows 7.

Without giving too much away, you'll be happy to discover the news is good. We like Windows 7 a lot - so much so, that the disappointment that was Windows Vista has already become a distant memory - and during the course of this extended review we'll be detailing exactly why.

Over the coming pages you'll find detailed analysis and ratings of Windows 7's ease of use, its new features and how it performs. More importantly, we deliver our final verdict on whether Microsoft's new baby is worth the upgrade.

Use the links below to jump straight to the various sections of the review:

EASE OF USE
Jump Lists, HomeGroup and an improved search tool give Windows 7 a huge usability boost.

FEATURES
Touchscreen technology, new media features and more - but are the new features worth paying for?

WINDOWS LIVE ESSENTIALS
We see how Movie Maker, Mail and Photo Gallery have changed, and welcome a newcomer.

PERFORMANCE
A change in Windows 7's display driver model means it's the most responsive OS since XP.

OVERALL
Should you upgrade? Will businesses take the plunge? And which version should you buy?

To return to this index at any point, just hit the Page 1 button, below.

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User comments

64 bit upgrade?

So much review (thanks), but no a mention of 64 bit Windows7?
I am using XP Pro 64 - lovely system but driver problems all over the place (my all in one won't scan, my digital recorder won't download etc. etc.) Will Windows 7 work see and use 6GB of Ram or do I still need a 64 bit version? What will this cost and will it solve my problems or multiply them by 7?

By PeterMcIntyre1 on 22 Oct 2009

@PeterMcIntyre1

I use XP64 on my development workstation at work and its fine. But I could never conceive of using it in a 'home' environment - there is just too much that wouldn't work!

Good news is things have changed hugely in the Windows 64-bit world in the past couple of years. I've used 64-bit Vista at home for a year now with no problems and having used the 64-bit 7 RC for a few weeks things are just as good if not better. There are still a few 64-bit problems - getting a 64-bit version of my VPN client was painful and just a beta, Sony don't have 64-bit drivers for my phone (not too fussed though) and Canon don't make a 64-bit RAW image plugin to preview RAW photos in explorer (again not that fussed but would be nice).

So check for drivers first - old kit may be an issue - but if there is a Vista 64 driver then you should be OK. Windows 7 64 is the way ahead and it really does make sense for nearly everyone now - its the only way you'll be able to use that 6GB of RAM!

By shaunb on 22 Oct 2009

There's a bit of an echo in here - moral: don't refresh after posting a comment!!!

By shaunb on 22 Oct 2009

Real world difference to Vista

Good review. After using Win7RC version I notice far quicker boot times and an end to the constant hard drive churning found with Vista. PC runs as quiet as a mouse. RIP XP and Vista,

By quadling on 22 Oct 2009

64-bit Windows

@PeterMcIntyre1
We've covered the 64-bit question in a previous feature:
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/350609/why-bother-
with-64-bit-windows

By DavidBayon on 22 Oct 2009

I suppose I must have actually read that O_o

By Klobba on 22 Oct 2009

Thank you David for the link. I read it just after I bought my new system and ground my teeth when I got to the warning about XP64 drivers - just too late! It does not cover the upgrade route (install from scratch or over the top) or how to check driver problems in advance. Is there is a list of Windows 7 64 bit compatible drivers? Don't want to make the same mistake twice.

By PeterMcIntyre1 on 22 Oct 2009

Family Pack price

You quote this is available £65 inc VAT Cheapest so far I can find is is £129.99!!!!

By iaincmac on 22 Oct 2009

Re: Family Pack price

Hi iaincmac - thanks for pointing this out, we've clarified the review (the "latter" in the original review referred to the single-user version of Home Premium, but we didn't make this clear enough).

By TimDanton on 22 Oct 2009

Windows 7 Compatibility Center

You can check for device/software compatibility here:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/win
dows-7/en-us/default.aspx

By shaunb on 22 Oct 2009

enough of the shyte hype!

This is yet another expensive insecure mess that requires constant attention! Myself, family and friends are staying with virus-free Ubuntu thanks....Now to spend my cash on something more sensible.

By minichip on 22 Oct 2009

Who wrote this "review"?

Mike Krozoft?

By zeevro on 22 Oct 2009

@minichip

Nice to see you thoroughly tested Windows 7, before writing your carefully considered view

- You do realise there are Linux viruses out there?

By greemble on 22 Oct 2009

Looks nice but

Had 32 bit Home Premium on a few days. Wouldn't load my SMC pci wifi card even though the compatibility. test said it should. Media Centre looks nice but it doesn't work very well with a Hauppauge TV card which was fine with XP.
Seems like we are paying for an un-service pack to me.

Dave

By dave1152000 on 22 Oct 2009

Windows 7- An upgrade too far?

Every review doesn't seem to have a bad word to say about windows 7, which is a good thing for marketing the product. After the debacle of Vista , microsoft seems to have learned its lesson of taking the consumer for granted. But where does this leave people who have migrated to vista and come to terms with its use? they are now being told to upgrade from what is a fairly new and adequate OS to the Windows 7. They would have little economic inclination to do so- although they are ones who will easily convert.

Windows XP to Windows 7 is going to be a horrendous upheaval in hardware cost and a steep learning curve for many companies. Maybe missing vista and jumping directly to this new OS is going to be painful.

By blackcat on 22 Oct 2009

Trustable Reviews?

My memory is of wow reviews for Vista. Contrived over optimism from well looked after journalists was my feeling at the time. Why should I believe ther is any change now?
In a year or two will I read Windows 8 cures all of 7's woes? It will take patient years of effort and honesty to gain credibility in your reviews.

By Drushmore on 22 Oct 2009

Linux Viruses

@greemble: You do realise there are Linux viruses out there?

Would you care to name them?

By 6tricky9 on 23 Oct 2009

It makes my blood boil!

This is just an upgrade to windows VISTA. I spent alot of money on vista ultimate which did not work properly for nearly 2 years before the majority of bugs were fixed. Now the OS is renamed "7" and they expect me to pay again to get uograded to something that is still not what it should have been!

By xnelmes on 23 Oct 2009

Boiling blood...

@xnelmes

"Calm down, dear, it's only an operating system..."

By JohnGray7581 on 23 Oct 2009

PC Pro? Are you legally bound to provide this OS a positive review?

I think the OS is better than Vista, yes. Better than XP? No.

Why should home users upgrade? According to you article, because a family pack only costs £130. The cost is the reason to upgrade? No other reason is given other than the cost.

You show a meaningless graph, with no indication of whether a higher or lower score is better. Despite the comon theme, repeated at the end, that XP is is the entrenched software that MS want Win7 to replace, XP is not benchmarked against. Other than a meaningless statement that it can be 22% faster.

Win7 will make users more productive than XP??? Simply beacuse if one doesnt shut down a system fully, it can spring to life quicker. Wow. Thats what, a gaining of a minute, perhaps. At the start of the day, when most users grab a brew anyway, or do something whilst waiting for the PC to boot. So, how exactly are users more productiveon a system that is 20% slower than the one it replaces.

A real world benchmark uses a Powerpoint sim with 500 *!!!! five HUNDRED!!!* slides in it! What presentation have you never sat through that has 500 slides in it. Real World my backside.

Guys, Dennis Publishing founded the best PC magazine in the UK, what are you doing to it?

By alan_lj on 23 Oct 2009

Disappointed........

This review is far too positive and reduces my respect for PC Pros opinion. It's better than Vista, but this review is far too positive.

I ran build 7100 for as long as I could bear. Microsoft has stopped making advances with each new OS release. The zenith remains XP.

By Waderider on 24 Oct 2009

Vista Service Pack 3!

PC PRO you said it yourselves (p47 Issue 182); "It's more akin to Vista SP3 than a brand-new OS".

So why are we being charged £150+ for what is essentially the 3rd service pack for Vista!?

My favourite "addition" is the "new" touchscreen technology. By which you mean 'large buttons'.

Brilliant. If you have trouble hitting the right buttons on your touchscreen for Vista or XP then change the resolution.

By Jayce85 on 24 Oct 2009

Wndows 7 compatability

Nothing is being mentioned reqarding the BIOS system requirements. So will it run on a computer with SMBIOS 2.5? Or does it mean having to buy yet again a new computer?

By gerko on 25 Oct 2009

Vista SP3

Using Vista Ultimate 64Bit SP2 - It Works well now after a year of fixing bugs etc.DX11 will filtern back down to Vista in time,as will a few other tweeks.So i am not going to spend another £100 for what is in effect a further Service pack.I see no point.

By Jaberwocky on 26 Oct 2009

family issue

I've been reading these reviews in order to decide if I should fork out for a full install of W7 or just buy the upgrade...I have come to the conclusion that my 4 licensed XP Pro home pcs will remain that way for some considerable time to come. My employer is taking the plunge and going down the 'W7 for all' route and so I will benefit from using it, except that not all software products are compatible with it and replacements have had to be found. I have been running the RC Ultimate version at home on my son's gaming rig - great product but XP Pro works just as well to my mind. I doubt I'll be upgrading the home machines anytime soon.

By k_feldmesser on 1 Jun 2010

Windows 7 32 bit and 64 bit

I have just upgraded our two home computers to Windows 7 32 bit with the option to install the 64 bit version at a later stage. My experience with 32 bit is excellent and I consider it a major improvement over XP even though that is a good system already. But the ease with which it installs and sorts out most compatability issues automatically is impressive. Also setting up email accounts, creating a home net work is now easy for even the less experienced users. It works like a charm! However I also bought a new laptop and you cannot get it with the 32 bit version installed. All new computers in the private sector are coming with the 64 bit version pre-installed and you cannot revert back to 32 bit. That is to put it mildly lunacy. There are still wo many issues with hardware and software incompatabilities with Windows 7 64 bit, that this will surely have a negative impact on the launch of this otherwise marvellous new OS. Who is driving this? Why are computer manufacturers doing this to us?

By gerko on 5 Aug 2010

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