Retail versions of Windows 7 became available in stores (including the University's Computer Connection) on October 22, 2009. In the United States, Windows 7 is available in five different versions: Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate, Home Premium, and Starter.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports Windows 7 for its clients, including off-campus students.
ISC recommends this upgrade for systems that have at least 1.0 GB of RAM (2.0 GB or more of RAM will yield a substantially better experience). The clean installation of Windows 7 uses at least 9.0 GB of disk space, depending on the type of system and choices made during the installation.
Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions) are supported. ISC does not recommend, but supports the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium. Home Premium is missing important networking, security, and compatibility features, such as domain-based authentication, that are essential to many Schools and Centers in the University. Note that, unlike in Windows Vista's Business edition, Windows 7 Professional includes all the multimedia features present in Windows 7 Home Premium.
ISC does not support any version of Windows 7 Starter or Windows 7 Home Basic. Starter and Home Basic are missing many important networking, maintenance, and security features that are critical to many Schools and Centers at the University. Windows 7 Home Basic is only sold in emerging markets while Windows 7 Starter is extremely limited in feature set (in many cases Windows XP Home SP3 is more capable).
There are a number of known issues with Windows 7, several of which are especially relevant to Penn's Windows users:
- Symantec Endpoint Protection versions 11.0.4 and below do not function as expected with Windows 7. Symantec has released a fully compatible version (11.0.5), which is available from the Symantec Endpoint Protection product page.
- Internet Explorer 8.0 is integrated into Windows 7. It can be deactivated but it cannot be replaced with earlier versions of Internet Explorer. Thus, users whose web applications require older versions of Internet Explorer should not transition to Windows 7 until those applications are upgraded to run with either Internet Explorer 8.0 or the current version of Firefox.
- FileMaker Pro 10.0.x is compatible with Windows 7, with some relatively minor issues. Neither FileMaker nor the University have yet done extensive testing with FileMaker Pro 9.0.x. Please see FileMaker's Windows 7 and FileMaker 10.0.x compatibility page for more information.
- Dimension4 time synchronization software is incompatible with Windows 7 and will not be supported. Instead, internal Windows time synchronization should be used.
Changes in Windows 7
Though mostly an optimization release, Windows 7 does have some new or substantially enhanced features. Below are some changes that may be of interest to the Penn community:
- Speed, Speed, Speed: Windows 7 has a host of speed improvements compared to Windows Vista. In ISC testing, Windows 7 installs more quickly, boots rapidly, and performs various operating system functions more quickly.
- Decreased Resource Requirements: Compared to Windows Vista, Windows 7's resource requirements are notably decreased. In particular, aging or inexpensive systems (such as netbooks) that performed marginally or were unusable under Windows Vista are usable under Windows 7.
- Interface Enhancements: A host of interface enhancements are included in Windows 7. Action Center lets the user decide which Windows 7 alerts they see and which they don't. Improvements to the new Windows 7 taskbar include thumbnail previews of webpages and documents. Gadgets no longer have to reside on the Sidebar (eliminated in Windows 7) - they can now be anywhere on the desktop.
- Windows XP Mode: Windows XP Mode, which allows a user to run older Windows XP software, comes as a separate download and works only with Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Additionally, Windows XP Mode requires Windows Virtual PC virtualization software. Both are available at no additional cost on the Microsoft website here. Note that Windows XP Mode runs in 32-bit whether the version of Windows 7 is 32-bit or 64-bit.
- Windows Touch: With Windows Touch (only available in the Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, and Home Premium editions of Windows 7) and a touch-sensitive screen, users can perform many interface tasks with their fingers. Touch technology has been available in Windows from third parties for several years, but Windows 7 integrates it into the operating system. The Start menu and taskbar now include larger icons and some Windows 7 programs are also touch-ready.
- BitLocker Improvements: Microsoft's BitLocker encryption (only available in the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows 7) is improved in Windows 7. Integration with other operating system functions is enhanced and the BitLocker To Go function allows encryption of external media such as flash drives.
University-Centric Windows 7-Related Documents and Resources
The Supported Products site offers application-specific information on Windows 7.
ISC has the release version of Windows 7 Ultimate available in the Standards Lab. Support providers can contact the Provider Desk to reserve time in the Standards Lab for Windows 7 compatibility testing.
ISC Technology Training Services will have Windows 7 training available as soon as possible.
For further information
Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Page
Microsoft's Windows 7 Support, Deployment, and Resources page.
Dell's Windows 7 Center page.
Lenovo's Lenovo and Windows 7 Information page.
Apple's support article on Windows 7 Boot Camp installation.
Windows 7 is available in five different editions in the United States: Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate, Home Premium, and Starter (Home Basic is only being sold in developing countries). This University-centric document compares the various editions and offers contextual advice on which editions are appropriate for various University-affiliated user populations.
Comparable to Windows Vista Business and Windows XP Professional, and aimed at the business market, this edition supports domain-based authentication, Encrypting File System (EFS), and Windows XP Mode, all features which both Starter and Home Premium lack. It also includes features such as support for Tablet PC and multi-touch functionality and scheduled backup. In a notable change from Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 Professional includes all the multimedia features available in Windows 7 Home Premium. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) views Windows 7 Professional as the best choice for most University constituents. $300 full retail price/$200 upgrade retail price/$39 University-negotiated Microsoft Select license price for eligible individuals
This edition is aimed at the enterprise segment of the market and is an enhanced version of the Professional edition. It adds a technology called BitLocker that supports encryption of the system volume and also includes support for simultaneous installation of multiple languages and support for UNIX-based applications. This edition is not available through retail or hardware vendors. Requires Software Assurance (two licensing options - Select Licenses with Software Assurance or Campus Agreement).
This edition is quite similar to the Enterprise edition, but is available to users without a Software Assurance agreement. The Ultimate edition is targeted at high-end PC users and enthusiasts, gamers, and media professionals. $320 full retail price/$220 upgrade retail price/$79 University-negotiated Microsoft Select license price for eligible individuals
This edition is comparable to Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows XP Home and includes features aimed at the home market, such as support for support for Tablet PC and multi-touch functionality, Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Center. It also includes some infrastructure-related features such as scheduled backup. Nonetheless, ISC does not recommend, but will support Home Premium. Home Premium is missing important networking and security features, such as domain-based authentication, that are critical to many Schools and Centers in the University. $200 full retail price/$120 upgrade retail price. There is no reason for an eligible Penn affiliate to install the full or upgrade version of Windows 7 Home Premium when the University-negotiated Microsoft Select license for Windows 7 Professional is only $39.
This edition is an extremely limited version of Windows and is intended for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) selling to extremely cost-conscious users. Multi-touch support, Windows Media Player, the Windows Aero visual style, and many other features are not included with this version. ISC will not support Starter. Starter is missing many important networking, maintenance, and security features that are critical to many Schools and Centers at the University.
Advice for Providers
- ISC will initially support the Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate, and Home Premium editions of Windows 7 for its clients, including off-campus students, only on new systems that ship with Windows 7 pre-installed. ISC strongly recommends that all other University users adopt a "wait and see" approach, continuing to use previous versions of Windows (including Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP1/SP2) until the initial bugs in Windows 7 are identified and fixed.
- ISC believes that most Schools and Centers will be best served by deploying the Professional or Enterprise editions (depending on whether or not they are Campus Agreement participants).
- Home Premium and Starter will ship on many consumer-oriented desktops and laptops that will be purchased by University-affiliated individuals. ISC believes that Starter devices should be upgraded to Professional.