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Wizard's review on Windows 7 [Part 2]
Moving swiftly on add on devices, many computer users now possess several devices they can link up to their computer, a digital camera, music player or even a video camera. Using these devices with Windows XP and Vista has not always been as simple as it should be. The Autoplay tool was not sufficient for all the functions built into these devices, so many manufacturers wrote their own software to look out for them and pop up lots of options when the device is plugged in.
With Windows 7 Microsoft has streamlined the process. Plug in almost any device and a special windows tool will pop up with information about the product and options for what to do with it. Remove photos or sync music files. This window, known as the Device Stage, can be customised by the manufacturer to include suitable tools and options, and Windows 7 automatically looks online for information on new devices when they are connected.
It's hard to miss the Device Stage, as the moment you first plug in a peripheral it will pop up automatically. One more subtle, but no less useful, improvement in Windows 7 is Aero Snap.
Modern computers can run dozens of programs at once, with each one often using several windows on the screen, so keeping them all organised can be a pain. Aero Snap is a hidden tool in Windows 7 that can help.
To use it, grab the top of a window using the left-mouse button and, holding that down, move it to the top, right or left of the screen. Moving it to the top maximises the window, while moving it to the left or right edge resizes it to fill half the screen, handy if you have a widescreen display. Once a window is maximised you can grab it and drag the top down a little to shrink the window back to its old size.
Alternatively, to clear the screen and focus on just the window you are working with, grab the top of it and shake it from side-to-side, all other windows will be minimised. Pressing the Windows and Home keys together has the same effect with no shaking required.
So far so good but to finish this review off there is one more key factor to consider and that is the age. Many of the problems that were encountered by Vista users when it launched were related to the devices that worked with Windows XP but did not work with Vista. This was one of the main reasons I didn't get Vista for nearly a year after it launched.
This was a particular problem since Vista worked in a radically different way to Windows XP. There are two reasons I think this is less of a problem with Windows 7. Firstly, Windows 7 is built on the same technology as Vista, so this time round manufacturers will not have to make radical changes to their drivers to keep products working with the latest Windows.
Secondly, the same manufacturers have now had years to bring drivers up to date with post-XP Windows technology. Although some old devices, whose manufacturers refused to support Vista, are still incompatible with Windows 7 so if you come across an old esoteric product that was made lets say almost a decade ago you'll find it will work fine on Windows 7.
Although Windows 7 is built on the foundations as Vista, it has been tweaked to a significant extent. It starts up faster than Vista, avoids Vista's bad habit of pausing at length for no obvious reason when you ask it to do something and runs impressively even on the tiny, low-powered netbook computers that were previously sold with Windows XP.
So gang, will Windows 7 succeed where Vista failed and convert XP fans? Only time will tell. After just a few hours of using the new system at my workplace I.T department I was impressed, and after a week I was missing some of its features while working in XP at home.
So, whether you loved or hated Vista, I recommend giving Windows 7 a go. Go to your nearest library or try it out at college before you install though. Really get to grips with it before you rush out and get a copy, if you do consider getting a copy, I'd buy the Ultimate version if you can stretch you're budget that far, if not get the Pro version.