Microsoft Windows 7
Windows 7 gets the basics right. Here's what you need to know about the new OS.
- Windows 7 finally gives you control over UAC, Windows 7's Taskbar and window management tweaks are nice, but its changes to the System Tray are a postive improvement, drive-encryption tool BitLocker (only in Windows 7 Ultimate)
- HomeGroups aren't a bad idea, but Windows 7's implementation seems half-baked, Federated Search, a new Windows Explorer feature, feels incomplete, too.
Should you get Windows 7? Waiting a bit before making the leap makes sense; waiting forever does not. Microsoft took far too long to come up with a satisfactory replacement for Windows XP. But whether you choose to install Windows 7 on your current systems or get it on the next new PC you buy, you'll find that it's the unassuming, thoroughly practical upgrade you've been waiting for - flaws and all.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Compared to the Taskbar and the System Tray, Explorer hasn't changed much in Windows 7. However, its left pane does sport two new ways to get at your files: Libraries and HomeGroups.
Libraries could just as appropriately have been called File Cabinets, since they let you collect related folders in one place. By default, you get Libraries labeled Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos, each of which initially directs you to the OS's standard folders for storing the named items — such as My Pictures and Public Pictures.
To benefit from Libraries, you have to customize them. Right-click any folder on your hard drive, and you can add it to any Library; for instance, you can transform the Pictures Library into a collection of all your folders that contain photos. You can create additional Libraries of your own from scratch, such as one that bundles up all folders that relate to your vacation plans.
Libraries would be even more useful if Microsoft had integrated them with Saved Searches, the Windows feature (introduced in Vista) that lets you create virtual folders based on searches, such as one that tracks down every .jpg image file on your system. But while Windows 7 lets you add standard folders to a Library, it doesn't support Saved Searches.
HomeGroups, Sweet HomeGroups? Closely related to Libraries are HomeGroups, a new feature designed to simplify the notoriously tricky process of networking Windows PCs. Machines that are part of one HomeGroup can selectively grant each other read or read/write access to their Libraries and to the folders they contain, so you can perform such mundane but important tasks as providing your spouse with access to a folderful of tax documents on your computer. HomeGroups can also stream media, enabling you to pipe music or a movie off the desktop in the den onto your notebook in the living room. And they let you share a printer connected to one PC with all the other computers in the HomeGroup, a useful feature if you can't connect the printer directly to the network.
HomeGroups aren't a bad idea, but Windows 7's implementation seems half-baked. HomeGroups are password-protected, but rather than inviting you to specify a password of your choice during initial setup, Windows assigns you one consisting of ten characters of alphanumeric gibberish and instructs you to write it down so you won't forget it. To be fair, passwords made up of random characters provide excellent security, and the only time you need the password is when you first connect a new PC to a HomeGroup. But it's still a tad peculiar that you can't specify a password you'll remember during setup — you can do that only after the fact, in a different part of the OS. More annoying and limiting: HomeGroups won't work unless all of the PCs in question are running Windows 7, a scenario that won't be typical anytime soon. A version that also worked on XP, Vista, and Mac systems would have been cooler.
Federated Search, a new Windows Explorer feature, feels incomplete, too. It uses the OpenSearch standard to give Win 7's search "connectors" for external sources. That capability allows you to search sites such as Flickr and YouTube from within Explorer. Pretty neat — except that Windows 7 doesn't come with any of the connectors you'd need to add these sources, nor with any way of finding them. (They are available on the Web, though. Use a search engine to track them down.)
See security next...
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 3 BlackBerry Priv review: When old habits die hard
- 4 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 5 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- More Dick Smith staff go as $2 million in underpayments is discovered
- Turn a barebones PC into a graphics powerhouse with AMD's new FirePro server GPUs
- Like Chromebooks, thumb-size PCs will bloom
- Apple's Q1: Record $US18.4 billion profit, but iPhone sales are slowing
- Chromebooks are siphoning market share from Windows PCs
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCImmediate iOS Developer RequiredNSW
- CCMid-level DevOps EngineerNSW
- FTOracle System Integration Engineer - CANBERRASA
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (SQL/Oracle/.Net) 160129/AP/vhs-bAsia
- FTVB6 DeveloperNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTFraud AnalystVIC
- FTSoftware Developer - Ruby on RailsNSW
- FTSenior Business ConsultantNSW
- CCSenior PMO Analyst / PMO LeadVIC
- FTSenior Consultant | Project work | National Systems IntegratorNSW
- CCOperations AnalystNSW
- FTServer EngineerNSW
- CCContract System Analyst (SQL/.net) 160205/SA/561Asia
- CCProgram Master SchedulerNSW
- CC.NET DeveloperACT
- FTBusiness Analyst (SCADA / CSI)VIC
- FTSenior Front End Developer Required Working World Leading Digital TeamVIC
- CCSenior Project Manager - ComplianceVIC
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Unified Communications Consultant - National IT ServicesNSW
- FTCyber Security SpecialistNSW
- CCVMWare Horizon View 6.1 roll out & IT support | Short contract | Macquarie ParkNSW
- CCInfrastructure ConsultantNSW
- FTProgram ManagerNSW