Join Steve Fullmer for an in-depth discussion in this video Windows 7 versions and features, part of Learning Windows 7.
As you get ready to select a edition of Windows 7, you need to make some decisions regarding the functions that you want to install on your system, so let's talk a little bit about the various versions. There are six versions of Windows 7 from what you can select. There's two that you're less likely to see, so we'll discuss those first. One of them over here, we have the entry level PCs, Windows 7 Starter. Windows 7 Starter is provided for OEMs.
It's typically what you're going to find in notebooks or low profile systems. It's only available in a 32-bit image, so it says here, entry level edition in all markets. Primarily, that is going to be any place across the globe. The other, less common edition that you're going to see is called Windows 7 Home Basics, sometimes just called Windows 7 Basic. It's the version that's available in 141 countries around the world as a basic edition.
It misses the media content. The media version's not really in there. It's stripped down. It doesn't have some of the enhanced or advanced encryption features that might not be exportable outside of North America. You might see either one of those versions if you were to purchase a computer that is assembled and then the operating system's pre-installed, either by an OEM or from another country and imported back into the United States. Other than that, you won't see Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, so we're going to focus most of our time on the primary four versions or editions of Windows 7 that you'll see.
We're going to start with Windows 7 Home Premium. That's the standard consumer edition. It allows you to have access to the internet. It's going to give you the ability to build small home networks. Almost use small office, home office networks as long as you're not trying to connect to a dedicated server environment, so it doesn't really include any of the features that you would need to hook up to, for instance, a Microsoft domain controller or any of your network shared printers, etc., so most of those devices not available to you that would exist in a large enterprise environment with some minor exceptions.
The versions that most of you who are business or enterprise users are going to consider are either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise, and we will talk about the differences between those, too. The entry level version for Enterprise is Professional. Professional will allow you to fully hook up to a domain, have entire domain control, all of your group policies, etc., available for that. Windows 7 Enterprise will add some of the additional new features and value of Windows 7 that we'll talk about.
Windows 7 Ultimate. The sixth edition of Windows 7. In feature, performance and function, it's exactly like Windows 7 Enterprise. Truly, the only difference between Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate is the licensing. Windows 7 Ultimate is only available through retail or single key, while Windows 7 Enterprise supports both Microsoft activation keys and key management servers, so lots of the Enterprise license support goes with either the Enterprise or Professional versions.
When you get the Home version, this is what comes with it as a basic functionality. The ability to do home groups. Home group means that the security is on one box, and that security can be used to share files with any other systems inside your environment, allowing, essentially, one Windows 7 system to operate in the sharing of files and folders with other devices inside your home network. Windows 7, as we'll talk about in future lessons, has a lot of additional navigation features, including the arrow desktop.
Arrow is the term for the multi textured, multi layered, almost three dimensional or transparent layering features of the Windows 7 desktop. The Home version comes with IE 8. As soon as you get service pack one, you're going to be prompted to install IE 9. IE 8 was introduced with Windows 7 Home version. Media Center's default. There is no custom Media Center version as was provided with prior versions of the Windows operating system. You have the enhanced security that was introduced in Vista, so let me stop for a minute and talk a little bit about what's different between Vista and Windows 7 on a very high level.
Vista was a grand experiment. In 2003, Bill Gates issued a company-wide memo suggesting that some of the emphasis of Microsoft Windows operating systems should shift from very, very user friendly to put greater emphasis on security, and that resulted in a true redesign of the infrastructure of the operating system that was introduced with Vista, and I prefer Vista as the grand experiment. It was a wonderful idea, but not all the features were worked out, and so it has not been a terribly popular operating system, certainly in terms of global deployment.
Nine to ten percent of computers in the world had Vista. Most recently, Windows 7 clearly 40-45% of the computers in the world have Windows 7 on it today. Windows 8 is just beginning to replace that as we capture this class in the studio. So we have enhanced security. It was introduced in Vista. Windows 7 took all of those enhanced security concepts and did it right. They really implemented elements like user account control, so that it's configurable, rather than single configuration options.
Back up and restore greatly enhanced. That's the Home version. If you buy the Home version, or you get the basic version of Windows 7, all these features will be in it. If you are a business user, you really don't want the Home version. You want to move yourself to Professional. I have expanded the options here. Everything available in the Home version is available in the Professional version, so the features that we have here are in addition to the foundational features or functions of the Home version of Windows 7.
Here we talked about before, your ability to add the Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise versions to a domain. We have Windows XP mode. Microsoft Windows 7 will allow you to incorporate the Microsoft virtual PC into the desktop, install a fully licensed copy of Windows XP into that virtual environment, and seamlessly integrate the two into your desktop so that you can install Windows XP applications into that XP virtual space, and the icons and the configuration can be handled seamlessly through your Windows 7 desktop experience.
You have some enhanced networking features. Associated with that is dual stacks for both IP version four and IP version six as well as enhanced quality of service features built into the network stack for Windows 7. You have additional network back up and local back up features. Back up is a very robust solution now. You have additional remote desktop, including remote assistance features that are built into the Professional edition, allowing any of you who are working from laptops to talk easily with one another.
Anybody, actually, at Help Desk, is what I should mean, anybody at Help Desk has better access to support all of your corporately distributed systems, and location aware printing. The network configuration on Windows 7 has three profiles, typically referred to as a home profile, or a private profile, so it can home or private, similar label synonyms for one another, a work profile, and then a public profile, so for instance, if you're out at your favorite coffee shop or public library, public network, you don't want the same kind of functionality or access in terms of firewall, and you don't have access to printers.
You can configure the printers so that they are associated with a profile, so rather than having a single default printer for your system configuration, you can configurate default printer for each of your different network locations. That way, it's aware of where you are connected and therefore what your default printer configuration is. All of those are additional features added to Professional on top of the functions of the Home version. Finally, Enterprise and Ultimate, as I said, they are essentially identical, other than licensing features, adds the new functionality that's been introduced in Windows 7, and we won't go into these in detail here, but features like app locker that allow you to filter both from a white list or black list perspective, which different applications can be launched on your system based on either user or group profiles or even local access controls.
Bit locker. The ability to fully encrypt either your hard drive or removable USB devices so they're protected, particularly valuable for mobile devices. Direct access. A new feature particularly for the Enterprise environment that allows seamless remote management of all of your mobile devices using the Windows 7 platform. Branch cash is essentially another way to do remote file sharing without having to mirror entire server structures. The ability to actually boot directly into a virtual hard drive.
We'll talk about the new Windows 7 boot processes as we move through additional lessons, and then, an enhanced virtual desktop, so the ability not only to load that XP mode, where you have an XP instance seamlessly in your desktop, but truly the ability to launch multiple virtual instances of systems on a Windows 7 client desktop limited only by the amount of hard drive storage and/or installed RAM on your operating system, and by default, Enterprise and Ultimate are configured with more than 35 languages.
This isn't just the ability to support additional fonts inside a Microsoft Office features or solutions, it's really the ability to have your entire desktop and all of the graphics on that desktop be in a totally separate language and font set. Totally integrated into the solution as installed. Alright, so we've talked about the six versions or editions of Windows 7. We talked about how to tell the difference between Home, Professional and Enterprise or Ultimate.
The other decision you need to think about is, do you want to use a 32-bit or a 64-bit platform? Well, obviously that has something to do with your processor, but many people have processors that are 64-bit but they're running 32-bit operating systems. If you've got the hardware, why not go to 64-bit and get the additional speed and functionality of a 64-bit operating system? Well, there are a couple of considerations that you might want to make before you make that migration decision or that purchase decision.
If you're using 32-bit versions of Windows 7, I'll point out that they'll support up to four gigabytes, but just four gigabytes, of RAM. Any additional RAM won't be used by a 32-bit operating system. Now, if you did install virtual machines on that box in a virtual environment, you could use additional RAM to support those, but base operating system, you'll need four gigabyte. We'll talk more about driver signing, but I want to give a basic introduction to the concept of driver signing now.
All of the Microsoft application components that are part of the operating system as well as all of the hardware drivers, including printer drivers, are now digitally signed. They don't get loaded into RAM at all if they're not digitally signed. That's the default in the 32-bit instances of Windows 7. However, it's not fully enforced, or at least you can reduce the enforcement, so if you have non-signed drivers, they might be accepted or loaded, depending on what component of the system they are, on a 32-bit system.
When we move over to the 64-bit system, I'm going to underline here the fact that driver signing is fully enforced if you go to the 64-bit version of Windows 7. What that means is, if you have any device driver that is not digitally signed and recognized by the Windows 7 operating system, any of the editions in 64-bit, it will not get loaded into RAM, so if you have a really old printer driver, for instance, and it's not digitally signed, that driver will not work in 64-bit edition.
If you have operating system components from legacy applications, and you're expecting them to be loaded, and they're part of the operating system that has to be checked, and they're not digitally signed, they won't get loaded, so you could have driver compatability that might also be old nick cards or old nick devices that you've got plugged into your system, so any of those, if they're got special drivers and they're not digitally signed and recognized by Microsoft, they will not load on a 64-bit system, so while the speed, the performance of a 64-bit is phenomenal, you may not be able to do that simply because of some driver signing issues.
That's something you want to look into before you migrate into Windows 7 and select 64-bit. If you have the various versions of Windows 7 and you go to the 64-bit version, you have the ability with the starter of Home Basic version, those are the ones you're typically going to find by own, they will only support up to eight gigabytes of installed RAM. Home Premium, the typical retail version you'll find for home use, will support up to 16 gigabytes of RAM, and Enterprise and Ultimate, while if we say two to the 64 is a theoretical 18 billion gigabits of information, Enterprise and Ultimate support up to 192 gigabytes successfully as a client system, it can support up to 192 gigabytes of installed RAM.
The other consideration you want to make when taking a look at migrating to Windows 7 is, the 32-bit instance of Windows 7 will support up to 16 bit apps, so you can do it but not back to eight bit apps, so you can support 32 or 16 bit apps on the 32-bit version of Windows 7. If you migrate to the 64-bit, you can support 16 bit apps or 64 bit apps but you cannot support 16 bit apps, so if you have some legacy 16-bit applications that you need to operate in your environment, that would prevent you from migrating to the 64-bit version of Windows 7.
You now have an overview of the editions and the basic features, performance or configuration of Windows 7, at least enough to get an idea of which version you might want to migrate to or which version you might need to avoid because of legacy applications or hardware. What next? You need to consider upgrade paths. Windows 7 has a very different boot and hard drive configuration; therefore, most of the time you cannot upgrade to Windows 7. You might need to migrate.
You need to pull all of your content off of your system, partition your hard drive and start with a fresh installation. That's where you might want to look next before you make your decision to install or upgrade to Windows 7.