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Windows 7 review

Our final and definitive verdict on the best Windows operating system ever

The new interface and technical underpinnings (or at least the improved performance and compatibility they enable) are the most obvious improvements in Windows 7.

But the new release is also crammed with tools and features, including better search, full image backup on every edition, internet media streaming, multitouch, a new font management control panel, burning ISO files, virtualised Wi-Fi hardware, a PowerShell IDE, support for mounting and booting from VHD files, and the ability to encrypt removable drives (both in Enterprise and Ultimate).

fonts

FONT: Show and hide fonts in the Font Control Panel to choose which fonts are used in menus and apps

If you set up both work and home networks, your default printer changes when you connect to one or the other. You can find a way to do some of these things in Vista or XP by installing third-party tools, but Windows 7 has it all built in, ready to use and coherently organised.

More than utilities

The Devices and Printers window gives you the option of automatically downloading photo-realistic icons for devices and drives; there are only a few so far, but it does make it far clearer what a random product number actually represents.

More usefully, you can right-click on any icon with a warning to run a troubleshooter. Windows 7 already has a wide range of these – and it will be updated automatically with new troubleshooters as they're released.

system restore

RESTORE: System Restore is more reliable in Windows 7...

restore

RESTORE:...and you can see which apps and drivers will be affected by rolling back before you do it

So far, there's a trickle of Device Stage support for devices like Sansa media players, Lenovo PCs and Epson printers; this is definitely a useful way of getting at all the features of a multi-function device, from storage cards to software updates, and we're hopeful that manufacturers will find it useful enough to build for the full range of devices.

Backup

Windows 7 is much more insistent about asking you to back up your data, and it lets you create a full system image backup in all editions now. Crucially, it's also easy to restore from an image backup on an external drive. System Restore is more reliable than in XP or Vista, and it warns you about programs and drivers that will be affected by a rollback

backup

BACKUP: You can easily back up files and create a system image that you can easily restore from

You can use Windows Firewall in the simpler control panel mode, or as a full management console with advanced options; you can work with port and IP number ranges, create security rules and set a security profile for different network adaptors (and use them at the same time) – refinements that add up to much more powerful security, but still with a friendly front end.

firewall

FIREWALL: Two views of the Windows Firewall give you the choice of simplicity or advanced control

Parental Controls actually loses some features; you can still use it to control what apps children can use, what the age-rating on games has to be and how long they can use the PC for. However, web filtering is now provided by Windows Live or other third-party security software which can now plug in to Parental Controls to add a much wider range of features.

Tech Specs

Product TypeOperating System
Brand NameMicrosoft
Software Sub TypeClient
Distribution Media/MethodDVD-ROM
Licence TypeLicense and Media
Platform SupportedPC
Language SupportedDanish
Licence Quantity1 PC
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameWindows 7 Ultimate - 64-bit
Software NameWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Licence PricingOEM
Manufacturer Part NumberGLC-00734
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.microsoft.co.uk
Marketing Information

Windows 7 Ultimate is the most versatile and powerful edition of Windows 7. It combines remarkable ease-of-use with the entertainment features of Home Premium and the business capabilities of Professional, including the ability to run many Windows XP productivity programs in Windows XP Mode. For added security, you can encrypt your data with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go. And for extra flexibility, you can work in any of 35 languages. Get it all with Windows 7 Ultimate.