As of today, April 8, 2014, Windows XP, the loveable, highly-obedient and loyal OS we’ve come to know and love over the last 13 years, will be taken out back Old Yeller style by its owner, Microsoft. End-users will no longer receive support such as drivers, security updates and various fixes; this could cause compliance issues and sub-par performance, leaving many businesses vulnerable (and that includes their customers!). Let me frame that for you: about 95% of ATMs in the US are running on Windows XP right now. To those of you who have not upgraded yet, I say this: Yikes.
So, in honor of Windows XP’s execution tomorrow, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to highlight some of the best aspects of Windows 7, its immediate successor (can you tell I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones?). I’m not even going to mention that other Microsoft OS.
7 THINGS THAT ARE GREAT ABOUT WINDOWS 7:
1.) Windows Taskbar
This was the first feature that really jumped out to me when I made the switch in 2011. Replete with goodies, the taskbar is now a powerful workstation that contains all your major running programs, represented by a single icon. Hover over a program and *bam* you’ve got a live thumbnail that shows you exactly what’s going on in that window as its happening, which means your Jennifer Lawrence and cat .gifs are still looping for you to peek at. You can even pause and skip tracks on media players from here.
2.) Jump Lists
Another aspect of the redesigned taskbar, the jump list is super convenient. This new addition allows you to perform actions and tasks for another program without having to actually navigate through it. Simply right click on a program and get a list of unique actions, recent documents (which you can individually ‘pin’ into place to always be there), and time-saving controls. It’s the Leatherman of Windows 7.
3.) Better USB Detection
This is a pretty noticeable performance upgrade. Improving on XP’s plug-and-play system, W7 is much better at detecting external devices quickly and loading/locating the proper drivers. For example, when you plug your iPhone in, it doesn’t take much time at all to start charging and letting you open applications via Autoplay.
4.) Windows Search
Windows search works in two ways now: in the Start menu and in any Explorer window. In a manner similar to Google Instant, once you begin typing in the search bar of W7, you’ll start seeing relevant results. Pretty cool how smart technology is getting, huh? This is how Skynet started, folks.
Believe it or not, when I’m at home, I sometimes find myself missing my desk at my office. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of owning dual monitors, so when I’m doing some serious work on my little HP laptop, it’s kind of a pain to jump between MS Word and whatever I’m researching on Chrome. One thing that makes it far more bearable is W7’s smooth UI adjustment, Snap. Snap allows you to drag a window and bring it to one side of your screen, causing it to ‘snap’ into a formation where it takes up only half the screen. Do this with another window, and you’ve got a nice side-by-side view of whatever it is that you’re viewing.
Peek’s pretty cool. Tired of clutter? Me too. Hover over the bottom right corner of your taskbar, and W7 will make all of your windows transparent, so you can take a good look at your desktop widgets or admire your desktop wallpaper of Connie Britton.
If you want a quick glance at, say, your music player to check the name of a song, just hover over the thumbnail preview of any window, and Peek will make everything but that one window transparent, so you can hone in your attention.
I’m saving the best for last here. Okay, maybe it’s not the best in many regards, but it’s pretty ‘neato,’ to quote the ‘60s. Shake is the one feature I only just found out about while working on this list, but when I did find it, I instantly knew it had a place in listicle famedom. Simply grab the top of a window with your mouse and shake the window from side to side like it’s a can of soda and someone is rounding the corner. After doing this, all other windows will suddenly get sucked into a vacuum of space and time, so that you can focus on getting that one thing done. When it’s time to get the band back together, just do the same little trick and everything will be as it once was.
Here at planIT HARDWARE, we have Windows 7 on all of our computers. This allows us to work efficiently as a small team that performs many different roles. Whether we’re checking inventory in IQ Reseller, evaluating the marketplace online or drafting up a blog post, Windows 7 keeps things flowing here. At least on the level of an average consumer, I don’t lament the loss of XP at all. Do you?
If you’re in IT, let us know why you’re more inclined to stick with XP, and whether you’d eventually make the switch to W7 or not…we’d love to hear another perspective!
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