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Microsoft releasing Windows 7 this week

October 19, 2009

by Mark Ollig

Microsoft probably would rather have us forget the bad publicity surrounding their last operating system release known as Vista.

Instead, they are hoping we will excitedly run out this week to purchase their latest effort simply named Windows 7.

The Operating System or OS is what “runs” our PC (personal computer); it is the engine under the hood.

The OS manages our PC’s resources. It directs our programs and computer hardware, much like a band director directs the musicians playing their instruments.

The long-awaited and much-anticipated Windows 7 will become publicly available on Thursday of this week.

Did you hear those musical trumpet blasts?

Microsoft is spending a reported $1 billion on the media marketing effort to entice us to upgrade or purchase our next PC with Windows 7.

Queue musical trumpets.

So, why do I still feel hesitant about upgrading my existing OS?

The OS I am using, Windows XP, came out around 2001, and was factory-installed in the new computer I had just purchased that same year. It was slightly different than the Windows 2000 OS I had been using, but once I started using XP, I became comfortable with it.

I still like XP, and really, it is doing pretty much everything I need it to do.

When Microsoft released their Vista OS a couple years ago, I seriously considered upgrading my computer to it – until I started to hear some of the horror stories about existing programs in some of the upgraded XP systems not working correctly in Vista.

My youngest son back then had already bought his new laptop computer with the Vista OS installed and he had no problems whatsoever. Of course, all the new software programs which were bundled in it were pre-installed to work correctly with the new OS.

People back then who bought new personal computers with Vista pre-installed seemed to have much fewer problems than those who upgraded their existing computers from earlier Windows versions.

I stayed with XP because for one thing, I was comfortable with it; two, Vista did not seem to have any new features I desperately needed to have; and three, I worried about Vista’s compatibility with my existing programs and applications. The last concern was based on the problems I was hearing about Vista software program application drivers not working correctly with existing programs installed in previous Windows OS versions.

I remember those Windows “Launch Party’s” when XP first came out and how people were lined up outside stores waiting to purchase the new XP OS like they were tickets to a Paul McCartney, or for my younger readers, a Jonas Brothers concert.

Going to the Microsoft web site, I found features being highlighted for Windows 7 included some new desktop enhancements – like improved taskbar previews, bigger icons and “pinning.”

Pinning is simply adding programs you use most often to the desktop taskbar. This is something like having your most used programs appearing as icons in the taskbar; however, if we pinned, for example, our Microsoft Word program icon to the taskbar, one could right- click onto it and be able to see the latest documents that were worked and go to them with just a click. You would also be able to access a list of your favorite documents here.

The pinning feature replaces the “quick launch” feature of earlier versions of Windows.

To add a new pinned program to the task bar, we would go to the start menu and select a program, right-click on it, and select “save to task bar.”

Also new in Windows 7 is the touch screen interface, which will allow us to open, move, and control applications on our computer screen by moving a finger across it, just like how we maneuver through apps on our iPhone or iPodtouch screens.

I still like using my mouse and am not sure how much I would use the Windows 7 touch screen interface.

For those of you Windows XP die-hards out there, I present to you your 2012 Armageddon date: April 8, 2014.

On this date, Microsoft says that it will no longer take support calls or issue security fixes for Windows XP.

Of course, this doesn’t mean XP will suddenly stop working or self-destruct, it just means you will be on your own. So there, you’ve been fairly warned.

However, if you are still suffering from the effects of “Vistaphobia,” take comfort in knowing Windows 7 has been thoroughly beta tested by computer users with positive results.

When will your Bits & Bytes columnist be making the jump to Windows 7? Well, I am hoping to do so sometime in December and yes, I will be writing a column about it when I do, so keep your fingers crossed.

Of course, I might just get cold feet and wait until 2012 or shortly thereafter, when Microsoft is rumored to be releasing Windows 8.

Microsoft has a YouTube user page and provides some educational videos about the new Windows 7 OS. It is located at: youtube.com/user/WindowsVideos.

The Microsoft Windows 7 web page is located at: microsoft.com/windows/windows-7.