This section of this website provides detailed information on the versions of Windows 7 (Win7) and Windows 8 (Win8), with the emphasis placed on information likely to be most useful to the home user, such as the most useful features, the new features and those that are missing compared with Windows Vista and Windows XP, the available methods of installation, recovery and repair, etc. There is too much information on the two long pages of this article to provide a brief index, so please just scroll down both pages slowly and read the headings. That way you should be able to find what you are looking for in particular and get a good idea what the other coverage is - and you'll probably find a lot of interesting and very useful information on Win7 that isn't made widely available by Microsoft or on the web. A separate section of this website called Fixing Windows 7 Problems provides solutions to the problems that users have encountered. If you only want to know what the various ways of installing or reinstalling Win7, click How to install, repair and recover Windows 7 to visit that section of this website.
Click here! to go to the section of this website that deals with diagnosing and fixing problems with Windows 7.
Essential information on using Windows 8 and upgrading to Win8 from Windows 7, Vista and XP -
Windows 8 problems: How to diagnose and fix problems with Win8 -
That latest versions of Windows are called Windows 7. The main versions for the home user are Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows Professional (the equivalent of Windows Vista Business for home and small-to-medium-sized business use), and Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows 7 Enterprise is the version designed for large business enterprises. The forerunners of these versions are called Windows Vista.
February 9, 2011 was the release date of the first Service Pack. The easiest way it to update to Windows 7 SP1 is via Windows Update. If you haven't updated, opening Windows Update in the Control Panel should provide it as an optional update.
November 4, 2012. - The version of Windows 8 for the home user is the version called Windows 8. The Home Premium designation used in Windows Vista and Windows 7 has been dropped. There is only one other version available to the home user - Windows 8 Pro. (Windows 8 Enterprise is for big business. Windows RT is a cut-down version of Win8 preinstalled on tablet computers and not available for sale. Windows 8 for tablets is to be made available early in 2013.) Both versions do not provide the Windows Media Center that can be used to access TV broadcasts using a TV tuner card or via the web and play music and videos. Not many people use it, but Windows 8 users who want it have to purchase it separately, currently for a stiff £49.99/$69.99 in the form of the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which converts Windows 8 into Windows 8 Pro. Microsoft plans to charge Windows 8 Pro users $9.99 for it, but it is available free of charge until 31 January, 2012...
Visit the following page on this website to read the rest of this article:
If you are visiting this webpage to find out how to install or recover Windows 7 or perform a no-reformat, non-destructive repair installation of it that keeps your installed programs and data files intact, click here! to go to that information on a separate page of this website.
Windows Easy Transfer [Windows 7] -
All of the versions of Windows from Windows XP to Windows 7 and 8 come with several very useful Administrative Tools that can be accessed under their section in Windows by that name.
Here is where that section is located:
Windows 7: Start => Control Panel => System and Security => Administrative Tools
Windows Vista: Control Panel => System and Maintenance => Administrative Tools
Windows XP: Control Panel => Performance and Maintenance => Administrative Tools
Click here! to go to an article on this website on the Administrative Tools.
The free Microsoft email program/client that can be used with Windows 7 is called Windows Live Essentials, a package of software that provides Mail and several other programs such as Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer (web publisher), Movie Maker, Windows Live Mesh (access your data from almost anywhere) and Family Safety that can be downloaded and installed if it is not already installed on your computer. [ Download link] Note that if you are using a computer running Windows XP to obtain Windows Live Essentials, you will be taken to the page offering the version for XP, not Win7. To download it for Windows 7, you must be using a computer using that version of Windows.
It is very easy to set up the email client, which can also be set up to display a webmail account such as Gmail and Hotmail. Your Internet Service Provider (AOL, BT, TalkTalk, 02, Plusnet, etc.) or webmail provider will have the incoming and outgoing server addresses (which can be the same server) that you have to enter and probably also provides a tutorial. The other settings are explained by the program itself, which brings up its setup window as soon as it is run for the first time. If you want to access your Gmail or Hotmail email using it, it is easy to do, just use a search term such as: using gmail with windows live essentials. It is a good idea to use it to access your Gmail email, because Google's personalised ads that are produced using the information that Google has on you in your Google profile and by reading the content of your emails for keywords, can't be displayed.
At long last Adobe has made a 64-bit vserion of the Flash Player available. Why it took so long to do so is anyone's guess. The beta Flash Player 11 was available for a long time, but now when you update a 64-bit operating system (Windows, OS X or Linux) that uses a 64-bit web browser, the update is an official 64-bit version.
Note that if you had created a backup of the system or a master image of the system, you could just restore it if you were to run into a seemingly irrecoverable software problem (backups and images can't solve problems caused by failed hardware). Visit the Backup section of this website for the various methods of creating backups and system images.
If you have deleted a file or folder and you need to get it back but cannot recover it from the Recycle Bin, there is no need to restore it from a backup, because Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide a Restore Previous Versions (RPV) feature, which is linked to the System Restore feature, which can only create as many daily restore points as it has been allocated reserved hard-disk space. Windows deletes old restore points to create new ones when the reserved disk space runs out, so you can only recover a previous version of a file or folder if a restore point exits that contains the version that you want to restore. System Restore allows you to set the amount of reserved disk space it can use. The more disk space it has, the more daily restore points it can create. In fact, the main reason that System Restore and Restore Previous Versions fail to work is because not enough disk space has been reserved for them to function properly.
Click here! to go to the information on System Restore, including RPV, on this website.
How much disk space does System Restore require? [Win7] -
Previous versions of files: frequently asked questions -
You can also use your web browser's search facility, which in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox is under the Edit menu (Find on this page and Find respectively). For example, enter the term Windows XP Mode to locate information on the feature on this page that allows Windows XP programs to run in Windows 7.
The versions of Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7, are a marked improvement over the equivalent versions of Windows Vista and Windows XP.
Information on how to install (and repair) the Windows 7 Upgrade versions on a desktop or laptop computers running Windows XP and Windows Vista is provided on this page, including information on how to create a dual-boot system with Windows XP and Windows 7, which many users may be interested in doing given that some of the software and hardware that they are using with Windows XP may not run on Windows 7.
Windows 7 is available in four versions for the home user - Windows 7 Home Premium - Windows 7 Professional - Windows 7 Ultimate - Family Pack (three user licences for Windows 7 Home Premium).
October 4, 2010. - Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack is available again -
The Family Pack that provides three user licences for Windows 7 Home Premium is available in the UK again, having been discontinued after a few months of availability when Windows 7 first became available in October 2009. It is currently selling for L120.99 on amazon.co.uk with a three-copies-per-user limit. The Upgrade Edition, which can be used to upgrade Windows Vista or replace Windows XP, with a single user licence is selling for £89.91 and the Full Version is selling for £95.99, so considerable savings can be made by buying the Family Pack even if you only use two of the licences. Apparently, the offer is once again time-limited without an end date being given.
Visit amazon.co.uk or amazon.com to find out if the Windows 7 Family Pack is still available in the UK and USA. If amazon.co.uk can't sell it, it is no longer available in the UK. There is currently a sale of the Family Pack just before Windows 8 is released on 26 October 2012.
Windows 7 Family Pack discount deal returns [Provides US price] -
You can purchase cheaper OEM versions of Win7, which are tied to being installed only on the first computer that they are installed on. But if you bought, say, the Family Pack, which is now available again (for a limited unknown time period) having been withdrawn from sale, if one of those three computers is removed from use, you can install the unused licence on another computer. If all three of the original computers are no longer in use, you can install this retail version on another three computers. In short, you can install a retail copy of Win7 as many times as you like as long as only the number of computers that its licence covers are being used. Read the details of the OEM versions in these articles:
There is a version called Windows 7 Starter Edition, but it is available only when preinstalled on a new netbook computer. The desktop wallpaper can't be changed, the screen size is limited to 10.2 inches, Windows Media Center is not available, the multiple monitors feature is not supported, so expanding the desktop to a external monitor from the netbook is not possible, hard disk drive support is limited to disks no bigger than 250GB, the processor has to be single-core below 2.0GHz and fitted RAM memory is limited to 1GB. Otherwise , it is completely usable.
Another version is called Windows 7 Home Basic, which is not available worldwide, because it has been specifically created to be sold only in emerging (third-world) markets.
The following webpage provides a good video introduction to Windows 7.
Windows 7 first look [Video] -
To access the main Windows 7 support pages, visit the following page:
Windows 7 Support Centre -
April 6, 2013. - The following free tool improves Windows Explorer in Windows 7.
xplorer2 Free Lite -
Only available as a 32-bit version, but it works just fine in 64-bit Windows 7. It can be used instead of File Explorer, the new name for Windows Explorer in Windows 8. The Professional version costs $30. You can try it for a limited time before making a purchase. Note that the free version installs software that you probably don't want unless you disable its installation.
Better Explorer - Provides both a Ribbon user interface and tabs for multiple folders -
Autoruns for Windows v11.5 -
The supreme startup monitor that stands on the shoulders of the standard Windows msconfig utility.
If you want better copy controls than the mediocre ones offered by Windows 7, here is a good tool, which is free for personal use:
TeraCopy - http://codesector.com/teracopy
This useful free tool skips bad files and you can pause copying and it doesn't keep interrupting transfers with messages, as Windows does, asking for permission to continue. The Pro version with more features costs $20.
AnVir Task Manager Free - replaces the Task Manager in Windows 7 and adds many of the features of the magnificent Task Manager provided by Windows 8. The Pro version with additional features costs $49.95. -
Now that Microsoft has advised that all Gadgets be disabled due to security vulnerabilities (Windows 8 doesn't provide them for that reason), you shouldn't be using the processor (CPU) and RAM memory meters that can be installed by right-clicking an empty space on the Desktop and then clicking Gadgets. MemInfo is excellent free alternative memory meter. Find out how it can inform you of malware infections that affect the use of memory by reading the introduction on the following page of this website:
If you are a user of Windows XP, when using Windows Vista and Windows 7 you'll soon notice that Vista requires permission to install software, and, if you have a utility such as the free CCleaner installed and set to clean the system at startup, Vista asks your permission to allow it to perform its cleanup during startup. Vista's User Account Control is responsible for those security measures.
User Account Control (UAC) improves the security of the system it is running on by limiting software to standard user privileges until an increase in privilege level is authorised by a user with administrator privileges. In this way, only applications that the user trusts receive higher privileges, and spyware and viruses are prevented from installing themselves. In short, a user account can have administrator privileges assigned to it, but software that the user runs do not also have those privileges unless they are approved beforehand, or the user authorises it to have those higher privileges. Application software that has been installed will run without interference, but if it attempts to make unauthorised changes to the system, Vista asks the user for permission.
If you are logged into a Vista computer as administrator, and you wish to make a configuration change, a message pops up from the UAC asking 'If you started this action, continue'. You must click on that 'Continue' button before Vista completes the configuration.
You can turn UAC off if you find its nagging annoying, but it is advisable to tolerate it and to learn how to distinguish between what is safe and what is potentially dangerous. What you should never do is just click the Continue button without finding out which application brought the UAC into action, because that is how viruses and spyware can be installed.
Turning UAC off disables the protection provided by the program. The authorisation messages no longer appear, but at the price of far less security and much greater vulnerability to malware. With UAC disabled, Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer, can't operate in its Protected Mode.
Windows 7, due for official release on October 22 2009, provides a greatly improved UAC that is much less annoying to the user. Unfortunately, there is no way to upgrade Vista's version of UAC to the one used by Windows 7, but you can obtain the most useful of Windows 7's UAC improvements by using a free utility called TweakUAC, which provides Vista users with a third UAC option. In addition to being able to turn UAC on and off, TweakUAC can run it in a less intrusive "quiet" mode.
TweakUAC for Windows Vista and Windows 7 - http://www.winability.com/tweak-uac/
Here are some webpages that provide additional information on UAC, including how to turn it off:
User Account Control - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_Account_Control
Understanding Windows Vista's User Account Control -
User Account Control Overview -
Taming Vista's User Account Control -
How To Tame Microsoft Windows Vista's UAC -
"Are all those Windows Vista User Account Control warnings driving you nuts? Here are seven ways to make Vista's UAC less intrusive, while keeping legitimate security threats at bay." -
If you have disabled UAC on in Vista, yet every time the computer is started or restarted a window opens above the tray telling a user that UAC is off and to "click here" to turn it on, here is how to stop that from happening: launch Security Center and click the link called Change the way Security Center alerts me in the left side of the window. Then, choose Don't notify me and don't display the icon from the resulting dialog.
Explore the features: Windows Security Center -
You can find many other relevant webpages by entering vista user account control as the search query in a search engine.
Most parents with young children are aware of the highly undesirable material that can be accessed by anyone from a computer that is connected to the web.
Windows 7 makes it relatively simple for parents to limit the ways in which their children access the web. The parental controls are under the User Accounts and Family Safety heading in the Control Panel. Time limits can be set for web access, access can be restricted to certain websites, games and programs, but first a user account for each child has to be created by clicking Add or Remove User Accounts in User Accounts and Family Safety.
You are the Administrator for those user accounts and so Windows makes you set a password so that only you can make changes to the settings. Even young children can be very computer savvy, so you can't leave any settings open so that any user can change them. Then setting the controls is simply a matter of clicking on the user account that you want to set. The links provided for Time, Games and Allow and Block Specific Programs settings provide the settings that are simple to understand and set. To change the settings for a user account just visit the same area of the Control Panel and click on the user account that you want to alter.
Click here! to watch the video on the Win7 parental controls on Microsoft's website.
February 22, 2011. - Today, Microsoft's spokesman, Brandon LeBlanc, stated this in a post on the Windows blog: "Starting today, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 [SP1] will be available to everyone via the Microsoft Download Center and [will] start rolling out via Windows Update."
Microsoft has repeatedly stated that Windows 7 SP1 does not include new features; that it is mainly an accumulated collection of the security patches and non-security fixes that have already been issued via Windows Update. Microsoft's advice is to have Windows Update set to update automatically and then to wait for SP1 to be installed in a process that takes about 30 minutes and requires a system reboot. For my Win7 computers, SP1 wasn't installed automatically, I had to open Windows Update in the Control Panel (enter windows update in the Start => Search programs and files box to be presented with a clickable link that opens it) where it was listed as an uninstalled update that I chose to install manually. It is a small 70MB download when downloaded and installed by Windows Update, but a much larger file when downloaded as a file from the Service Pack Center. Validation of Windows 7 is required for the download. You can't install the file on any other computer than the one that received it. If you choose to download the update as a file, make sure that you get the correct bit-Version (32-bit or 64-bit) for your version of Windows 7. You can find out which bit-version you have and if SP1 has been installed by entering system in the Start => Search programs and files box and clicking the link with that name under the Control Panel heading.
Windows 7 users in the US and Canada can order a Windows 7 SP1 installation DVD from Microsoft. The disc itself is free, but shipping costs $5.99. This option will no doubt become available worldwide later on.
How to uninstall Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) - "Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains many updates to improve Windows 7, but if you encounter a problem with hardware or a program after installing the service pack, you might want to temporarily uninstall it to troubleshoot the problem." Note that SP1 cannot be uninstalled from a computer that comes with the SP1 edition of Windows 7 preinstalled on it. -
"This article describes how to start your computer by using a minimal set of drivers and startup programs so that you can determine whether a background program is interfering with your game or program. This kind of startup is known as a "clean boot." This article also provides information that you can use to o troubleshoot application or service conflicts." - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/331796. Applies to Windows Vista, but you can use this information in Windows XP and Windows 7 to start up with a clean boot if you know how to access what is required in those versions of Windows, which isn't particularly difficult to do because the method is more or less the same in all of those versions of Windows.
This person who posted the following forum topic has a PC which has an SATA hard drive with Windows XP installed on it and he wants to install a second SATA hard drive and install an Upgrade version of Windows 7 on it and wants to know if he will have a dual-boot system. The replies answer all of his questions. - "Last year I was doing an Open University course and I was able as a student to buy a very cheap copy of Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. I am at present running Windows XP Professional and have been a bit nervous about changing to Windows 7. I now thought that if I were to buy a new hard drive, I could install Windows 7 on that and have a dual boot PC and try out Windows 7, while still keeping XP running." - Has anybody any thoughts on this as a strategy?" - http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,91546.0.html
Windows 7 provides several troubleshooters in its Control Panel that is accessed by clicking on the Start button. The default view of the Control Panel (View by: Category) has a System and Security section. You click on the Find and fix problems link to open the page that provides the troubleshooters, which, when activated, run to fix problems automatically. The easiest way to access them is to type the word troubleshooting in the Start => Search programs and files box (no need to press the Enter key) to be presented with a clickable link. The most useful troubleshooters are under the following headings:
Hardware and Sound - Troubleshoot audio recording - Troubleshoot audio playback - Use a printer
Network and Internet - Internet connections - Shred folders - HomeGroup - Network adapter - Incoming Connections
System and Security - Fix problems with Windows Update - Run maintenance tasks - Check for performance issue
They can also be accessed by entering msconfig in the Start => Search... box and clicking the msconfig.exe link that is presented, doing which brings up the System Configuration window that provides access to plenty of useful settings and most of the tools as shown in the image below - Windows Troubleshooting - Troubleshoot problems with your computer. If you want to force the computer to start in Safe Mode, click on the Boot tabe and enable Safe Boot and reboot. The computer should start up in Safe Mode.
The System File Checker (SFC) utility (executable file: sfc.exe), first introduced in Windows 98, is still available in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. It can detect and replace corrupted system files with sound copies. The utility requires access to original system files on a Windows setup CD/DVD or from some other accessible location. You should read articles on how to use it before doing so, because it is possible to hose a system by replacing files with ones that don't work or by doing so incorrectly.
To run SFC open an administrator-level Command Prompt by clicking Start => All Programs => Accessories, right-click with the mouse pointer on Command Prompt, click on Run as administrator and enter the command: sfc /scannow.
SFC checks the system files for damage or corruption and replaces them with valid copies.
How to use the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7 -
"This article describes how to use the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe) to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7." -
Scannow SFC - http://www.updatexp.com/scannow-sfc.html
Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a useful utility called Reliability Monitor that can be useful to troubleshoot computer problems; for instance, in tracking crashes after software installations and updates. The following webpage provides illustrated instructions on how to use it.
Windows 7 - Reliabilty Monitor -
Backtrack-linux.org's Linux-based security tools package, BackTrack 4, is available free on its download page provided below. Despite being a Linux tool, I have found that BackTrack 4 is the most Windows-compatible (works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7) password-cracking utility and is also the easiest to use.
Backtrack 4 Final Release - http://www.backtrack-linux.org/downloads/
I assume you know how to download, burn, and boot a BackTrack CD. Just remember that the PC's BIOS must have the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device if you want to boot the system from a CD/DVD boot disc. To use BackTrack fully, you need to know a bit about Linux. If you're not familiar with Linux, the two YouTube videos linked to below provide step-by-step instructions on how to reset the password and recover the original password.
Reset Passwords on Windows XP and Vista using Backtrack 4 - Captions and Voice Included - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIeJkjB3okE
Cracking Windows 7 password using Backtrack 4 Live CD -
BackTrack 4 has many other tools. Several tutorials on how to use them are provided on the BackTrack website. For example, almost any file on a failed PC can be accessed, making it possible to recover and back up data files before formatting the boot hard disk drive completely to reinstall Windows.
Click here! to go to more password-recovery information on this website.
Windows 7 Starter Edition is the cheapest version of Win7 that comes preinstalled only on netbook computers that meet certain restrictions. Starter Edition cannot play DVD movies. If the manufacturer of the netbook or the manufacturer of an external CD/DVD/Blu-ray optical drive that you can buy to use with it don't bundle DVD software such as PowerDVD or WinDVD, you could use the highly-acclaimed and free VLC media player. Starter Edition is fine if your computing needs only involve using an office application, email and web browsing, but it is advisable to consider using Windows 7 Home Premium instead, because it may be available on a netbook without adding very much to its cost.
Black Screen of Death hits Windows [NT4, NT5, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7] -
"Windows users have been hit with a problem that renders their PC virtually unusable. The glitch, which is currently affecting all versions of Windows since NT4 (including Windows XP, Vista and 7), occurs when the system is first booted. Users see a plain black screen and the mouse cursor, as well as possibly a Windows Explorer window. Task manager, the Start menu and other toolbars are all unavailable." -
The Security Center in Windows XP and Windows Vista has become the Action Center in Windows 7, where it covers maintenance as well as security. There is plenty of information on it on the web, such as customising it and disabling it, that can be found by entering the search query action center windows 7 in a search engine. Here is an introduction to it on Microsoft's website:
What is Action Center? - "Action Center is a central place to view alerts and take actions that can help keep Windows 7 running smoothly." -
Many home users share an Internet connection wirelessly between two or more desktop and laptop PCs. The sharing is done over a wireless network (which could also be a mixture of a wired and a wireless network). If that is the case, you should investigate what Windows SteadyState has to offer.
"Windows SteadyState, successor to the Shared Computer Toolkit, is designed to make life easier for people who set up and maintain shared computers."
"Parents can use Windows SteadyState to help control and enhance their children's computer experience. They can customize the computer to be safer and easier to use. Internet access can be carefully controlled. Different levels of restriction can be applied for different children. In cases where a single machine is used by children and parents, the parents' configurations, programs, and files can be completely isolated from access by the children."
Time limits can also be set.
SteadyState Version 2.5 supports Windows Vista. Watch the demonstration here:
Microsoft has decided not to provide a Windows 7 compatible version of SteadyState. The following article explores the consequences of this decision.
Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk -
"The company announced it would not upgrade the free application, SteadyState, to Windows 7 compatibility, angering many of the folks who manage public-access PCs. People who manage library PCs say they don't have money to pay for third-party products that protect public PCs from malware and malicious users." -
The pages on Microsoft's website that you should visit if you intend to upgrade to a version of Windows 7 are:
Windows 7 system requirements -
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor -
You have to download the Upgrade Advisor and run it on the desktop or laptop computer that you intend to upgrade. It produces a report telling you which of your hardware and software is or is not likely to be compatible with Windows 7 and what to do if any of it is not.
The following webpage provides a good video guide of how to use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. An old computer was used so that any incompatible hardware and software would be revealed. You should have all of your devices, such as printers and scanners, attached and switched on so that they can be accessed for compatibility with Win7 by the program.
Windows 7 Video Guide: Can You Upgrade? -
Note well that Windows 7 requires a graphics/video card/chip that supports DirectX 9.0. For example, a Dell Dimension 3000 has an Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 graphics chip built into the PC's motherboard, which only has three PCI slots (no AGP or PCI Express slots for an AGP or PCI Express graphics card.) The integrated graphics chip only supports DirectX 8.0, so when Windows 7 is installed it will only be able to start up in Safe Mode, because it won't be able to install usable device drivers.
Safe Mode uses the Microsoft Standard VGA driver that will be used by the Win7 setup in any case until it can install the device drivers for a graphics card that supports DirectX 9 or higher version of DirectX. The standard driver only supports a low screen resolution of 640 by 480 pixels with low 8-bit colour, so everything appears larger and less distinct and colourful than usual on the screen.
To find out which version of DirectX your computer is using, enter dxdiag in the Start => Run box (Windows XP) and the Start => Start Search box (Windows Vista). DirectX 9.0c is the highest official Microsoft version that Windows XP can run (DirectX 10.0 for XP is available as third-party downloads if you search for xp directx 10). Only Windows Vista and Windows 7 can run DirectX 10.0 and, so far, only Win7 can run DirectX 11.0, but an update should soon be available that allows Vista to run DirectX 11.0.
Microsoft DirectX 11 -
Provides information on the new features, such as Tessellation, Multi-Threading (which allows the full power of dual-, triple- and quad-core processors to be used) and DirectCompute. -
This is what the Windows 7 compatibility report says about the graphics on a Dell Dimension 3000 - a desktop PC from 2006:
"Windows Aero. Not capable. Your current graphics adapter won't support the Windows Aero user interface. Contact your PC manufacturer or retailer to see if an upgrade is possible."
Dell used a cheaper DirectX 8 chip in this 2006 computer. That shows the weakness in the compatibility report. It should have said that the graphics chip only supports DirectX 8.0 and that Windows 7 cannot be used unless the graphics card can be upgraded to a DirectX 9.0 card.
Fortunately, PCI graphics cards, one of the oldest standards, that support DirectX 9.0 are still available. Here is a good example of one you can purchase in the UK:
ZOTAC 256MB GEF FX5200 PCI RET Graphic card -
The purchaser reviews on that page provide useful information.
Some of those purchasers had to take extra steps apart from installing the card and connecting the monitor cable to it to get their graphics card to work, but all I did to get out of Safe Mode was open the case with the computer switched off (but still connected to the mains so that it remains earthed), insert the graphics card in a PCI slot, disconnect the VGA D-sub monitor cable from the graphics connection to the computer's motherboard and start up. Windows 7 then started up using the basic graphics driver that it uses in Safe Mode. The computer was connected to its broadband router by an Ethernet cable so that it could go online immediately. Windows 7 went online and obtained and installed the new graphics card's drivers and the drivers for the wireless adapter card installed in one of the other PCI slots. After I had disconnected the Ethernet cable, the computer detected the wireless connection to the router and asked for its encryption key and hey presto I was online wirelessly.
There was no need to disable the graphics chip on the motherboard in order to be able to use the new graphics card. However, some motherboards that have an integrated graphics chip have an option in the motherboard's BIOS to disable the onboard graphics when a graphics card is installed.
Windows 7 could not install the drivers for a DirectX 8.0 graphics card, so, after a PCI graphics card that supports DirectX 9.0 was installed in a PCI slot on the computer's motherboard, when Windows 7 had installed the drivers for the new graphics card, the onboard graphics chip of the Dell Dimension 3000 appeared in the Device Manager under the heading Other devices called Unknown PCI device with a yellow exclamation mark beside it, because Windows 7 could not install drivers that it does not support.
To rectify the situation, I opened the Device Manager by entering device in the Start => Search programs and files box and clicking the link to it that is provided. Then you just have to right-click the mouse with its pointer on the device in question and click on Disable to disable it. After that Win7 stops flagging that you have a video problem in the Action Center (flag icon) in the bottom right notification area.
Note that you have an option to turn off any item that is being flagged in the Action Center, which appears under Notification Area Icons in the Control Panel.
This US webpage provides several suitable PCI graphics cards:
I upgraded a desktop computer that I built in 2005 without any device driver issues. This was no doubt because its integrated PCI Express graphics chip supports DirectX 9.0. When it was installed, Win7 went to Windows Update and downloaded and installed the graphics card and sound card drivers that it knew were required. The following article investigates how far back you can go to have a successful upgrade.
Windows 7: How low can you go? -
"Rejuvenating your 7-year-old PC with Windows, not Linux, can now make technical and fiscal sense." - http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9136192/...
If you are upgrading a brand-name computer (Dell, HP, MSI, Acer, Asus, etc.), its device drivers will have been tested by the Windows Hardware Quality Labs and will therefore be made available from Windows Update, which the installation process visits for missing drivers if you are online during the installation. Therefore, you shouldn't experience any driver problems after the upgrade - if there aren't any incompatibilities in the upgrade report that cannot be overcome. -
WHQL Testing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHQL_Testing
The report on my computer said that the computer's graphics card might not be able to run the Aero feature (that produces windows that have transparent areas around the edges), but it could do so after I just entered the word aero in the Start => Search programs and files box. A link within the Start Menu box was produced which ran a tool when clicked that examined the graphics system. It told me that the integrated graphics chip was set to reserve 64MB of system RAM memory and required 128MB to run the Aero feature. When a computer's motherboard has the graphics chip integrated on it instead of as a separate graphics card, there is usually an option in the BIOS that can increase or decrease the amount of system memory that it can reserve. My computer's BIOS had a maximum setting of 128MB, so I set it at that and ran the graphics tool again. It enabled the Aero feature.
The Search facility in Win7 is now so good that you just have to enter a search term in it to be provided with the links you need to find what you're looking for. For example, you just have to enter dev and Win7 brings up a link to the Device Manager. Gone are the days when you had to follow an elaborate click path or enter a particular search term, which is devmgmt.msc for the Device Manager in XP and Vista. Likewise, just enter disk management in order to obtain a link to Disk Management that provides all you need to manage the hard disk drive(s). Just right-click with the mouse on the graphical representation of a drive or partition to access the available options.
Using Disk Management in Windows 7 and Vista -
Unfortunately, I lost the Hibernate feature on my 2005 computer, which was replaced by a hybrid Sleep and Hibernation mode, called Sleep, that saves the complete state of the computer to memory and can still restore it as Hibernation does, but it keeps the computer in a low-power state instead of shutting the system down as Hibernation does. Apparently, the computer doesn't have the hardware to run the new Hibernation system, so the option for it does not appear. The Dell Dimension 3000 desktop computer with the new PCI graphics card had Hibernation but Sleep mode was greyed out, so Hibernation must be connected to the capabilities of the graphics card. My 2007 laptop PC, which I also upgraded, can use Hibernation and Sleep. I upgraded it from Windows Vista, also without any problems.
The Professional and Ultimate and Enterprise (business) versions of Windows 7 have a Windows XP Mode that allows a user to run programs as if they are running in Windows XP. It is really Windows XP running within a virtual machine within Windows 7. To use it, the computer's processor must support hardware virtualisation (AMD-V or Intel VT).
The Home Premium edition does not have this feature, so the only way to have both versions and run programs that only run in Windows XP is to make use of a dual-boot system.
The following Microsoft webpage provides a download of XP mode for the versions of Win7 that qualify for it:
Note that almost all applications, programs and utilities that run under Windows XP will run properly in Windows 7, including MS Office 2000, which means that there is no need to buy a version of Windows 7 that provides Windows XP Mode.
If you want to use Windows XP Mode in the qualifying versions of Windows 7 read the following articles:
Using Windows 7′s XP Mode — step by step -
PC Specs Eased For Win7 XP Mode -
"Microsoft users no longer need hardware-assisted virtualization to run XP apps in Windows 7... Previously, Windows 7 XP Mode required a PC equipped with hardware-assisted virtualization, such as Intel Virtualization Technology or AMD-V. But Microsoft's update eliminates that need." -
Note also that most programs designed for the 32-bit version of Windows will work on the 64-bit version of Windows. Notable exceptions are many antivirus programs. -
32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions -
Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86_virtualization for a list of AMD and Intel processors that support virtualisation or download and run the Microsoft Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool.
If you don't have one of the qualifying version of Windows 7, such as the Home Premium version, which doesn't provide an XP Mode, try running the program or application in Compatibility Mode. The following webpage provides a tutorial on how to use it.
Windows 7 - Compatibility Mode -
Any software or hardware that can run on a Windows Vista system will almost certainly be able to run on a Windows 7 system, so, for most users, there is not much point in having a dual-boot Vista/Win7 system.
The full product of one of the versions of Windows 7 cannot be used to upgrade and existing installation of Windows XP or Vista; it has to be clean installed on a new computer, hard disk drive on an computer already in use, or on its own partition on a hard disk drive that already has a version of Windows installed on it.
If you are familiar with the ways in which Windows XP and Windows Vista work, then you should have no difficulty adapting to Windows 7, because its features are set up well enough in the Control Panel - the heart of the system. I think that the layout could be improved, but when I look I usually find what I'm looking for sooner or later.
Here is the Windows 7 Control Panel with the View by: set to Category:
Here is the Windows 7 Control Panel with the View by: set to Small icons (Large icons is an alternative) that provides a listed view of the options:
Note that the Device Manager (4th entry in the first column) is now available, a useful Troubleshooting option (itself broken down into several categories) has been added and there is an item called Notification Area Icons that allows you to control how they are displayed. System Restore is available under Recovery. All of the available tools, such as the Memory Diagnostic, are under Administrative Tools. As in Windows Vista, programs are uninstalled under Programs and Features. System remains as it was in Windows XP and Vista. Otherwise, the categories explain themselves.
Here is a webpage showing the Control Panel's various layouts:
There is no Classic View of the Control Panel that reverts to the way the it was displayed in Windows XP, but there is an option called View by: that allows you to view by Category (the default option) and Large icons and Small icons, which both provide a list of all of the items in the Control Panel.
If you need to access a feature, you just have to enter the name in the Start => Search programs and files box and a list of features come up. For example, if you enter just device in the search box, a shortcut to Device Manager is provided plus links to information pages on it.
There is the usual Help and Support on the main Start menu, which can inform you of how to access or use a feature, such as Homegroups, which sets up sharing on a home network that many people use to share an Internet connection.
The main versions for the home user are Windows 7 Home Premium, which is available in a Family Pack [discontinued in December 2009 and made available again in October 2010] of three licences (can be installed on three desktop or laptop computers), the equivalent of Windows XP Home Edition and Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional (the equivalent of Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista Business), and Windows 7 Ultimate, the equivalent of Windows Vista Ultimate.
As with Vista, The Home Premium version of Windows 7 is all that most home users need, so don't waste your money on the higher and more expensive Professional and Ultimate versions unless you need the extra features.
Windows XP cannot be upgraded to Windows 7. In other words, Windows 7 cannot build itself on Windows XP; an in-place upgrade cannot be achieved. You have to use the Custom install that installs itself over an active installation of Windows XP, wiping it out. However, in the process, a Windows.old file containing all of the files and folder in Windows XP is created and can be accessed, making it possible to transfer the files to folders, such as Documents in Windows 7. Note that every time you use the installation disc in a Custom install, even if you are only reinstalling Win7 over itself, it creates a Windows.old file. If you didn't delete the first one, the next one will be named Windows.old.001, etc. The file is many gigabytes in size, so you should delete it if you don't need it. To do so just click Start => Computer and click of the entry for Windows 7. Scroll down the list of files until you find it.
The chart on this page shows which versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista require an Upgrade installation or a Custom installation. The writer has clarified it and produced a better chart.
Microsoft blunders with a confusing Windows 7 upgrade chart -
Although you can't perform an in-place upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, you can transfer your files and settings. The following article tells you how this is done.
Upgrade from XP to Windows 7 -
"The best way to move to Windows 7 is always a clean install, as it ensures everything is precisely how Microsoft designed it to be from the start. However, that can be a real pain if you already have an XP PC set up to your liking. Thankfully, Windows 7 provides an easy way to move your files and settings to the new operating system." -
If you purchased a full version of Win7, it has to be installed on its own partition on a hard disk drive or on a separate hard disk drive. It cannot be used to upgrade a version of Windows Vista.
You can find additional information on any of the programs, utilities or features mentioned above, or in the rest of this article, by making use of the web search engine of your choice.