<firstimage=”http://main.makeuseoflimited.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/winlogo.png” />Windows 7 was received with open arms both by bored Windows XP and plagued Windows Vista users. After Vista was a fail, it seems that 7 is catching on with the crowd.
Haven’t we all been craving for the sleek look of a Mac OS, combined with what we’re used to? So are you ready to make the move?
Here is a quick overview of Windows 7 requirements and installation tips and resources that will make the switch a breeze.
Minimum Windows 7 Requirements
Before you consider buying Windows 7, you should make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements. In case you’re already running Windows Vista with 1 GB RAM, you’re safe. Generally your computer should have at least the following specs:
- 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
If you are unsure how to manually check whether your computer meets the above Windows 7 requirements, you can use a program called Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. Download, install, and run the program. Follow the instructions on-screen and wait patiently while the program is checking compatibility. On my computer it took a couple of minutes to finish. Excerpts from my exemplary results are shown in the screenshot below.
As you can see, the tool not only checks your system specs, but also installed devices and software. Furthermore, you can switch between a 32-bit and 64-bit report, which is useful if your processor allows you to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system.
Varun also discussed the Windows Upgrade Advisor in detail in his post How To Make Sure Your Computer Can Run Windows 7.
A central question, of course, is to decide which Windows 7 edition is right for you. You can use the simple comparison table provided by Microsoft, which reveals the main differences.
Basically, you’ll want to get the Professional edition if you require Windows XP Mode and extended network support, i.e. inbuilt VPN (Domain Join), and backup to home or business network solutions. The Ultimate edition comes with BitLocker and you can work in up to 35 different languages.
32-bit Versus 64-bit
If your system supports 64-bit, you should definitely get the 64-bit OS, unless you :
- have a legacy device, such as a scanner or printer, that do not have 64-bit drivers.
- are not going to upgrade to 4GB RAM anytime soon.
- want to run 16-bit applications.
Mahendra has written a very good article which he explains How To Choose Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows 7 Operating Systems. He also explains what 32-bit and 64-bit actually is.
Upgrade From Windows XP
An upgrade from Windows XP requires a custom installation. Here are the things you need to prepare in that case:
- Backup your personal data.
- Make sure you have the original installation discs or setup files of programs you wish to continue using under Windows 7.
To launch the custom installation, either start the installation file you have downloaded or insert the disc and run setup.exe. For the rest of the installation, follow the instructions on screen.
In his article How To Upgrade From XP To Windows 7 In 4 Easy Steps, Varun explains the essential installation steps.
Tips & Troubleshooting:
- Maintain an internet connection during installation, so that you can directly get important updates.
- When you’re going to upgrade from Windows XP 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, use a Windows 7 installation disc or USB flash drive and reboot your computer with the installation source inserted or plugged in.
- If your hard drive is currently formatted with FAT32, you will receive an error message when attempting to install Windows 7, as it requires NTFS.
How To Convert From FAT32 To NTFS Before Installing Windows 7?
- Log into Windows XP as user with Administrator rights.
- Click > Start > Run.
- Without the quotes, type “convert <drive>: /fs:ntfs” into the command prompt and press Enter.<drive> typically is C, i.e. the letter identifying the drive at which your system is installed. So if your system was installed on C, you would type (without the quotes) “convert C: /fs:ntfs“. Note that there is a space between “C:” and “/fs:ntfs“.
- To force a dismount on this volume, type Y and hit Enter.
- To schedule the drive to be converted the next time the system restarts, type Y and hit Enter again.
- Close the command prompt and shut down (do not reboot) your computer.
- When you turn on your computer, your hard disk will be converted to NTFS.
- Proceed with the custom installation after your computer boots back into Windows XP.
The most detailed guides to installing or upgrading to Windows 7 are provided by Microsoft. Besides providing great step by step descriptions and screenshots, you’ll also find troubleshooting guides and information on how to install external devices. An added bonus: the site is available for different countries in the respective languages, for example in TürkÃ§e, PortuguÃªs, Deutsch, FranÃ§ais, Nederlands, and many more.
Below are the links to the English installation guides, which you can also download and print. Look for “Print this tutorial” and the XPS and PDF links in the sidebar.
Also have a look at the following articles on MakeUseOf:
Mahendra covered 15 Best Windows 7 Tips and Hacks and 12 More Windows 7 Tips & Hacks.
Karl compiled The Only Windows 7 Reviews You Need To Read.
If you have any specific questions regarding Windows 7, please use MakeUseOf Answers.