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Getting to Know Windows 7

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This chapter is from the book
If you're a computer beginner, this is for you! Michael Miller walks you through the basics of the Windows 7 operating system.

In this Chapter

  • Introducing Microsoft Windows
  • Working Your Way Around the Desktop
  • Important Windows Operations
  • Using the Start Menu
  • Using the Taskbar
  • Switching Between Programs
  • Using Windows Explorer
  • All the Other Things in Windows
  • Getting Help in Windows
  • Shutting Down Windows—And Your Computer

As you learned in Chapter 1, “How Personal Computers Work,” the software and operating system make your hardware work. The operating system for most personal computers is Microsoft Windows, and you need to know how to use Windows to use your PC. Windows pretty much runs your computer for you; if you don’t know your way around Windows, you won’t be able to do much of anything on your new PC.

Introducing Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is a type of software called an operating system. An operating system does what its name implies—operates your computer system, working in the background every time you turn on your PC.

Equally important, Windows is what you see when you first turn on your computer, after everything turns on and boots up. The “desktop” that fills your screen is part of Windows, as are the taskbar at the bottom of the screen and the big menu that pops up when you click the Start button.

Welcome to Windows 7

If you’ve recently purchased a new PC, the version of Windows on your PC is probably Windows 7. Microsoft has released different versions of Windows over the years, and Windows 7 is the latest—which is why it comes preinstalled on most new PCs.

If you’ve used a previous version of Windows—such as Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Windows 98—on another PC, Windows 7 no doubt looks and acts somewhat differently from what you’re used to. Don’t worry; everything that was in the old Windows is still in the new Windows—it’s just in a slightly different place.

Different Versions of Windows 7

There are actually several versions of Windows 7, each with a slightly different feature set. Which version you have depends on which was installed by your PC’s manufacturer. Table 3.1 details the different versions available in the U.S. market.

Table 3.1. Windows 7 Versions

Starter

Home Premium

Ultimate

Professional

Enterprise

Target Market

Home

Yes

Yes

Yes

Small business

Yes

Yes

Corporate

Yes

Yes

Sold at retail?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Interface Features

Basic user interface

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Aero user interface

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Aero Peek and Flip 3D

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Live taskbar previews

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Taskbar Jump Lists

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Included Applications

Internet Explorer 8

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Gadgets

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Calculator

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Paint

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

WordPad

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Fax and Scan

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Premium games

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Photo Viewer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Media Player 12

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DVD playback

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows DVD Maker

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Media Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Performance Features

Number of running applications supported

3

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Maximum RAM (32-bit)

4GB

4GB

4GB

4GB

4GB

Maximum RAM (64-bit)

NA

16GB

192GB

192GB

192GB

Windows Backup

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

System image-based backup and recovery

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

BitLocker

Yes

Yes

HomeGroup sharing

Join only

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Internet Connection Sharing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Mobility Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi-Touch support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

XP Mode

Yes

Yes

Yes

Most new PCs should come with the Home Premium edition installed; this edition is also best for home users upgrading from a previous version of Windows. Some low-end PCs might come with the Starter edition, although it’s pretty limited—and not available in an edition for 64-bit processors. The Professional and Enterprise editions are targeted at small and large businesses, respectively. And the Ultimate edition is for those users who want it all—and are prepared to pay for it.

Whichever version of Windows 7 you have installed on your PC, you can easily upgrade to another version by using the built-in Windows Anytime Upgrade feature, available from the Windows Control Panel. All you have to do is select the version you want, make sure you’re connected to the Internet, and then give Microsoft your credit card number. The upgrade process is automatic, using files already installed on your PC’s hard drive.

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