Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Windows Desktop

Introducing Windows 7

Robert Cowart and Brian Knittle talk about what Windows 7 is and is not.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

An Overview of Windows 7

Windows 7 is the successor to Windows Vista. As such, it takes its place as the latest corporate desktop and workstation upgrade, and also sets its sights on the home office and even home entertainment/gaming console, as Microsoft did with its ill-fated Windows Vista. This time, though, Microsoft has gotten it right. In fact, we’re sure you’ll really grow to like Windows 7 as you use it.

The goal Microsoft set for Windows Vista was quite ambitious. That probably explains why it took Microsoft so long to get it to market. During development, more and more features worked their way into Microsoft Vista and the project became increasingly unwieldy. The code kept ballooning, and the process couldn’t be stopped. This pushed out the delivery date of Vista, first to 2005, then to early 2006, and finally to late 2006.

Worse, when Vista did appear, its reception was lukewarm at best, and customers complained long and loud about their preference for Windows XP, even as it remained an older, less-attractive interface with more security problems. Even six months past its January 2007 public release, it was clear that Vista wasn’t attracting widespread adoption. To satisfy a continued desire for Windows XP, Microsoft ended up trying to fix Vista while simultaneously working on XP Service Pack 3 (released in mid-2008).

In an attempt to convince customers that Vista was better than its industry reputation, Microsoft remarketed it as “Mojave,” a campaign that highlighted the many superb features of this system. It didn’t work, so plans for a follow-on to Vista were accelerated. That successor is what has been released as Windows 7.

Think of Windows 7 as “Vista, fixed” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how it compares to both Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Many of the most important improvements in Windows 7 are under the proverbial hood, including dramatic performance improvements and a far greater level of reliability over a similarly configured Vista system. Enough history, though! Let’s talk about what Windows 7 is and is not.

Following in the footsteps of Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition, Windows 7 comes in six flavors (perhaps more, if versions without Internet Explorer are created for the European market as with Vista):

  • Windows 7 Starter (available only pre-installed on netbook class PCs)
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

As with Windows Vista, Windows 7 flavors benefit from being very much the same under the hood. Recall that between 1993 and the release of XP, there were very separate home-oriented (Windows 3.x/9x/Me) and corporate-oriented (Windows NT/2000) Windows versions with drastically different internals. A common core for all Windows 7 versions makes program and device driver development much easier because device drivers and software programs need to be created only once, not twice.

Vista’s design mandate was a tough one: to create a more-secure, flashy-looking, reliable, easy-to-use operating system with functionality ranging from an excellent gaming and home entertainment platform all the way to a full-blown highly secure, mission-critical business networking machine. Vista needed to be more attractive, more capable, and much more robust than XP; incorporate all the latest technologies; and be far less susceptible to attack from viruses, phishing, spam, and the like. Malware has kept legions of IT professionals in business, but it has grown nightmarish for all Windows-based IT departments.

Vista succeeded for the most part, but at the price of performance and compatibility. That’s where Windows 7 comes in. Thus, for example, many of the apps previously included in Vista are now in a separate Windows Live Essentials bundle available online, including Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Mail.

Unlike the completely reworked user interface (UI) that we saw when making the jump from XP to Vista, Windows 7’s UI is quite similar to Vista. Windows 7 adds enough nuances to deliver a better computing experience, but enough basic similarities that if you’ve used Vista, you’ll be ready to go instantly. If you’re coming from Windows XP, however, you might be surprised that many of the menus XP users have grown accustomed to are gone, replaced by a much more web-like view of the computer, with phrase-like links that imply their functions—for example, “See what happens when I press the Power button.”

Vista also included the option of switching to a “Classic” Start menu, but Windows 7 axes that. If you move to Windows 7, you’ll need to get used to the new Start menu, even if it feels a bit odd at first.

Windows XP was designed for application and hardware compatibility with products made for older versions of Windows, even MS-DOS games and graphics applications. Windows 7, like Vista, carries this same compatibility over in its 32-bit versions, but Windows 7 64-bit versions have abandoned that legacy. The time has come to put those old dogs to rest. There are ways around this, using Virtual PC, for example, so you don’t have to jettison your favorite Windows 9x or DOS programs in Windows 7 64-bit versions. We’ll talk about Virtual PC in Chapter 2, “Installing and Upgrading Windows 7.”

If you’ve worked in the Windows XP world, you’ll also be glad to know that Microsoft listened to its customer base and added a Windows XP compatibility mode that you can install into some Windows 7 versions (Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate) to run your favorite Windows XP programs. At some point in the future, Microsoft’s vendors will upgrade these apps and Windows XP will take the Big Sleep, but until then, this will doubtless be a lifesaver for many.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020