Like previous versions of Windows, Windows 7 has a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to interact with items on the screen using a keyboard and mouse. However, Windows 7 is also includes a feature called "Windows Touch" that supports touchscreen input and multitouch functionality. For example, you can right-click a file by touching it with one finger and tapping it with another. You can also zoom in on an image by touching it with two fingers, then spreading your fingers apart. Windows 7 is bundled with several touch-ready programs that are designed for touchscreen use.
Windows 7 also includes several new multimedia features. One example is "Play To," a program that allows you to stream audio and video to different computers or devices within your house. The "HomeGroup" feature makes it easy to share media files and other data between computers. It also makes it possible to share printers on a home network. The "Remote Media Streaming" feature allows you to access the music, video, and photo libraries on your computer from remote locations.
The search feature in Windows 7, called "Windows Search," allows you to see results of searches as soon as you start typing in the search box. Windows Search categorizes the results by file type and displays text snippets that indicate where the search phrase was found in each result. After the search results are returned, it is possible to narrow the results by filtering them by date, file type, file size, and other parameters. You can search local drives, external hard drives, and networked drives all using the standard Windows Search interface.
Windows 7 is available in the following editions:
- Windows 7 Home Premium - the standard version installed with most home PCs and includes all of the features listed above.
- Windows 7 Professional - typically installed on business computers and includes all the Home Premium features as well as additional features such as Windows XP mode (XPM) and Domain Join.
- Windows 7 Ultimate - the most complete version, which has all of the Professional features as well as BitLocker data protection and additional language support.
- 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- 1 GB of RAM or 2 GB of RAM for the 64-bit version
- 16 GB of available hard disk space or 20 GB for the 64-bit version
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Updated: February 17, 2010