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Getting Started with Windows 7

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Thinking about upgrading to Windows 7? Let Eric Geier help you get started. Discover the different editions, transfer your files over, and learn how to personalize your computer.
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Want to upgrade to Windows 7—or have you already done so? If so, this is a must-read article. You’ll discover the differences between the editions, see how to get started, and learn how to get around the new desktop and taskbar.

We'll discover the different editions of Windows 7 and see how to move over our files and settings over. Plus we'll discuss other things you might be concerned about, such as getting the icons back onto the desktop, reverting back to the old style taskbar, and installing the Windows applications that were automatically included in Vista.

We'll also look at how to protect your new Windows installation from viruses and other infections.

Comparing the Windows 7 Editions

Microsoft had only two main editions of Windows XP: Home and Professional, which made it easy for consumers and the technical community. However, starting with Windows Vista, we now have four different editions to review and choose from when upgrading.

And now with Windows 7, Microsoft has changed the edition names, which are the following:

  • Starter: This edition is targeted for those simple laptop computers that don't need all the power of Windows. It lacks fast user switching, changeable desktop wallpaper, Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, and other features you might use once in awhile, or even day-to-day.
  • You probably won't see this edition on the shelves; it's targeted toward the OEM market—meaning that it will be preloaded on some computers by manufacturers.
  • Home Premium: Similar to Vista Home Premium, this edition includes what most home computers need out of Windows. It includes the look and feel enhancements of Windows Aero, Windows premium games, and a few other features.
  • Professional: Similar to Vista Business edition, this edition includes several more features that are useful for advanced users at home or when used in the business environment.
  • The Professional edition lets you host Remote Desktop connections, join Windows Server domain networks, and enter the Windows XP Mode when running programs not fully compatible with Windows 7.
  • Ultimate: This edition provides several more advanced features. AppLocker provides more Group Policy settings for better control over application usage on the network.
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption gives you full disk encryption, which was also included in the Ultimate edition of Vista.
  • This edition also includes the DirectAccess feature, a new VPN technology, virtual hard disk mounting, booting, and other advanced features.
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