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I, like no doubt many others, am looking forward to moving to Windows7 from my old and trusty XP. But I would like to hear from those who have been playing with it, what are the biggest changes to the user experience?

Having had XP as pretty much my only OS for the last 10 years, I expect to be confused by this newfangled shininess, and would appreciate any tips about what to watch out for. Thanks!

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closed as not constructive by 8088, Nifle, Sathya Sep 11 '11 at 12:23

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For me, it must be Chess Titans. – Daniel Daranas Jul 29 '09 at 9:24
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Check some similar questions:

Or an excellent Wikipedia comparison.

But to answer your question:

It feels a lot more polished and user-friendly than XP. Some things might take some time to get used to if you've never used Vista, but a lot is very intuitive. There are some nice new features making your life a lot better. I like Windows 7 so much I install it on every computer I work with as my primary OS and I haven't missed XP a single minute. There really aren't things you can do in XP that you can't in 7 (and if there are some you probably won't miss them).

Just make sure your hardware is compatible and your most important applications are support Windows 7!

Plus: I mean just look at the differences in this figure and tell me you like XP more!

alt text

To name some differences I quoted from one of the answers by Svish:

  • Faster startup and shutdown times (Technically not a new feature, but very nice still) Windows 7 Libraries (I really like these ones myself).
  • Desktop enhancements like Aero Peek, Aero Shake, a nice Wallpaper slideshow feature
  • The new and brilliant taskbar with jump lists and previews. Also lets you pin programs so it is like a combined quick launch bar and task bar.
  • A home group feature which makes it super simple to share files in your home network (seriously, I was surprised how easy it actually was to set up!)
  • Better battery utilization.
  • Support for touch and multi-touch.
  • Much easier to connect to wlan hot spots.
  • A very handy Resource Monitor

And specifically if you like gaming: Direct X 11

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+1 For completeness – BinaryMisfit Jul 29 '09 at 9:25
+1 but teeny point: the gadgets coudld always be off the sidebar.... – RCIX Jul 29 '09 at 9:51
It was a quote, but still I fixed it! – Ivo Flipse Jul 29 '09 at 9:52
Is it really faster to startup and dehibernate than XP? Does startup time degrade as much as XP over time, or have they got that under control? – Joel in Gö Jul 29 '09 at 9:53
I hibernate my laptop all the time and it's really fast for me after 1-2 months of intensive use. Though you have to realize it keeps a large hibernate/pagefile in the memory to enable this! It may take some time to wake up, but once your logged it doesn't require additional start ups. – Ivo Flipse Jul 29 '09 at 10:01

From the top of my head:

  1. Hardware should work out-of-the-box, without any need to handle drivers.
  2. Nicer Media Center
  3. Some nice Gadgets and toys on your desktop
  4. Better sharing options
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Actually, for 1., XP kinda manages drivers easily, most is plug and play, if drivers are installed somewhere. It was complicated in earlier versions (95, 98), though, with the inevitable passage on the "tell me which drivers to use" step. – Gnoupi Jul 29 '09 at 9:18
@Gnoupi XP could handle drivers ok but it missed a lot. I remember hunting around for driver CDs a lot when doing clean installs of XP. 7 is truly plug and go though. I can just install the OS and then let, it sit for a while, and after a few reboots it is up to date with all the drivers it needs. XP couldn't do that. :) – Ben Richards Sep 9 '11 at 5:24

One more thing to add to the mix...built in divx codex and dvd drivers. sweeet.

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More memory requirement is probably going to be an expected change.
Unlikely to hit most power users... but, good to know.

Here is a TomsHardware reference on some published system requirements.

  • 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of RAM (32-bit)/ 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit)/ 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 or higher driver

Those who plan to run XP Mode will need at least 2 GB RAM, 15 GB of additional hard drive space and a processor that supports hardware virtualization.

anyone who plans to run the x64 build will have a machine that’s way beyond the minimum (having at least 4 GB of RAM would be a good starting point).

Many of you would have used Vista, so this is just to state what system requirements mean

For reference, Windows Vista’s system requirements are:

  • 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
  • 512 MB of RAM (for Home Basic); 1 GB of RAM for all other versions
  • 15 GB of available disk space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory (for Home Basic);
    128 MB of graphics memory plus WDDM support for all other versions

Bottom line, it would be a good idea to double your RAM with the shift.

Interesting quote.

"It's been a long time since we've had a version of Windows that will actually run better [than the previous version] on the hardware that most customers have," Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows product management group, said during a conference call with reporters, quoted by ComputerWorld.

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Do I really need more than 4 GB RAM if I am using the 64bit build? Answers to my other question… indicate that 4 gig is probably fine. – Joel in Gö Jul 29 '09 at 9:54
You can run it with as little as 2 (i am on this machine) and that way you have room to upgrade if you want to! Plus, it installs on a 16 gigabyte hard drive (netbook SSD) with a couple to spare (although you might want to look at a cheap 80 GB external one for your data at that point) – RCIX Jul 29 '09 at 10:00
What I am trying to point out is, Vista declares a 1 GB system requirement. But, is that good for most people? On those lines, would 2 GB be good for 7? It appears that doubling the memory would be a typical requirement for the same experience. – nik Jul 29 '09 at 10:51

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