First off, a generality about Windows 7: it’s a renaming/re-branding of Windows Vista. No matter what smokescreen/clouds people tell you, it’s really a VERY NICE upgrade to Windows Vista. When Vista came out, it was a completely different operating system, so much of hardware wasn’t compatible, people needed new hardware (like new printers, new computers) and people complained a lot. With Windows 7, all hardware is Vista compliant, so it’s Windows 7 compliant.
If you have Windows XP and you’re generally happy with your system, I recommend staying with current system. More than likely, you won’t have a powerful enough machine for Windows 7.
If you have Windows Vista system, and you’ve been unhappy with slowness of machine, you are a perfect candidate for Windows 7 upgrade.
If you’re buying a new computer, make sure to get a Windows 7 machine. There are still some refurbished Desktops and Laptops with Vista. For Netbooks, I’d stay with Windows XP.
To see how you’re computer will do with Windows 7, I suggest you run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.
The Benefits of Windows 7
Faster Performance – You should see a major increase over Vista.
Digital Hub – You will find it much easier to connect network devices, such as digital music hubs, multiple computers, etc.
Improved Navigation – Strips out much of Vistas bloat and makes Navigation easier. You’ll also see a thumbnail of each open window – when you move your mouse over icon in the bar below. You’ll see a completely new taskbar which has improved functionality.
Better Compatibility – As mentioned, most of the compatibility bugs were worked out in Vista, so Windows 7 should work with most hardware and software products made from 2-3 years ago to present. If you have just 1-2 programs that will only run in Windows XP, get the free (amazingly) windows virtual pc software from Microsoft that let’s you run Windows XP progams separately from Windows 7. Beware: this software could be a bit tricky to install.
Gestures (like iPhone, Macs). This means that if you have a screen you can touch (such as a tablet), you’ll be able to touch icons, move icons and use other hand movements instead of using a mouse.
Music Streaming- From one Windows 7 to another Windows 7 machine is very easy. Only problem – you need to buy another Windows 7 computer to make this work!
Better Security – User Account Control (UAC) which made you approve ever little change, is now highly modifiable. You can have it be much less intrusive.
Need more info: Get a great list of Windows 7 Resource Guides
Great comparison – Windows Xp vs Vista vs Windows 7
Oh, and did you think to yourself, “I think I’ll just upgrade to Windows 7 from my Windows XP system. How hard can that be?” Well, it’s not a simple answer. You’ll either:
a) Have to do a clean install and re-install all your applications and data – thus wiping out your Windows XP
b) Do a “dual boot,” which means you won’t have access to your Windows XP data and will have to re-install all your applications – like Word, Excel, etc. . . .
Bottom line – I would only upgrade from XP to Windows 7 if you have a computer sitting around you don’t mind if everything gets wiped off.
For more details on Windows XP – Windows 7.