Windows 7 is the current release of Microsoft Windows, a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, and media center PCs. Windows 7 was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009, and reached general retail availability worldwide on October 22, 2009, less than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista. Windows 7’s server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2, was released at the same time.
Windows 7 includes a number of new features, such as advances in touch and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved boot performance, DirectAccess, and kernel improvements. Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors (Heterogeneous Multi-adapter), a new version of Windows Media Center, a Gadget for Windows Media Center, improved media features, the XPS Essentials Pack and Windows PowerShell being included, and a redesigned Calculator with multiline capabilities including Programmer and Statistics modes along with unit conversion for length, weight, temperature, and several others.
Many new items have been added to the Control Panel, including ClearType Text Tuner, Display Color Calibration Wizard, Gadgets, Recovery, Troubleshooting, Workspaces Center, Location and Other Sensors, Credential Manager, Biometric Devices, System Icons, and Display. Windows Security Center has been renamed to Windows Action Center (Windows Health Center and Windows Solution Center in earlier builds), which encompasses both security and maintenance of the computer. ReadyBoost on 32-bit editions now supports up to 256 gigabytes of extra allocation.
Windows 7 editions
Windows 7 is available in six different editions, of which the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions are available for retail sale to consumers in most countries. The other editions are not available in retail. The Starter edition is only available preinstalled by OEMs on new PCs, the Enterprise edition only by volume licensing, and Home Basic only to certain developing countries’ markets. Each edition of Windows 7 includes all of the capabilities and features of the edition below it. All editions support the IA-32 processor architecture and all editions except Starter support the x86-64 processor architecture. The installation media is the same for all the consumer editions of Windows 7 that have the same processor architecture, with the license determining the features that are activated, and license upgrades permitting the subsequent unlocking of features without re-installation of the operating system.