Friday, September 25, 2009

Windows 7 Kickoff Parties - Free Windows for Hosts, Gifts for Attendees

Windows 7, after many years of discussions,planning, and testing, will be released to the public on October 22. Kickoff parties - house parties - are scheduled all across the country. People have a great incentive to host a party - the host gets a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, Signature Edition, and party collectibles that are intended primarily for decoration, like a table centerpiece and such. And guests get stuff too - the first ten attendees at each party get promotional totebags.

But that's just icing on the cake. The cake is Windows 7, the best version of Windows yet. It has all the security of Windows Vista, but more speed than XP.

Windows 7 has better hardware and software compatibility than Vista (which has GREATLY improved over the last several years), but in the event you still have a problem, the business versions of Windows 7 can actually run a program in Windows XP. The program sees Windows XP (real Windows XP, not just a compatibility mode), but you still get the advantages of Windows 7.

Windows 7 still has the Aero interface, which gives you features like translucent title bars, 3D effects, 3D program switcher, and much more, if you want to use them (some don't like Aero - they think it's too flashy, and granted, it does slow the computer down slightly), but Windows 7 has other interface improvements that don't require Aero.

The taskbar (the row at the bottom of the screen) can permanently dock programs you use frequently, just like Macintosh OS X - If the program's not running, just click to start it. You can use gestures for actions - like dragging a window to the top of the screen to make it full-screen, or drag it to the top of the screen to make it half-screen (great for working on two things at once), and if you have two or more displays, you can "throw" a window from one to the other. You know, like they show in movies, but for some reason you couldn't really do.

Media features are greatly expanded. You've been able to share media with others, but now, with supported devices, you can select something on your computer, say a slideshow, video, or music, and have it play on another device, say a networked media player that's connected to a TV, or a digital picture frame.

For instance, you can have a digital picture frame on the living room mantle, send a slideshow to it and tell the frame to play the show, all from your computer. That way, you don't have to manually load the pictures on a flash card, take it to the, say, living room, plug it in, and tell the frame to start playing. Now, when you have new pictures on your camera and transfer them to the computer, you can update the picture frame at the same time and have it immediately start showing the new pictures.

If you have a stereo (or a media player connected to it) that can access network music, you can tell it to start playing some new music you just bought. After all, the stereo sounds better than your computer speakers.

You can record TV on your computer, like a digital video recorder you could lease from your cable company, only without the monthly fee (your computer will need a TV tuner device that you can buy at any computer store). You could do that with Vista. But now, you can get a device that uses a CableCard (which some TVs and most cable boxes use) and you can watch (and record) the premium channels that you needed the cable box for before. With Vista, you had to special-order the entire computer to be able to do that; now you can just get a USB (plug-in) device. And devices will be available in a few months that can record - in high-definition - four different channels at a time.

And on modern computers, Windows 7 is much faster than Windows Vista, and depending on exactly what you're doing, it's frequently faster than XP. Windows 7 will run well on computers that Vista wouldn't even run on. I've installed it myself on an old (about eight years old) computer that I got as soon as XP came out. And guess what? Windows 7 runs just fine on it, albeit a little slowly. But XP was also a little slow on it as well...

I'm very much looking forward to Windows 7 being readily available. I'm looking forward to the speed. I'm looking forward to the features. And I'm looking forward to the party.

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