Fast and uncomplicated: Windows 7 on netbooks
Nov 22, 2009, 11:24 GMT
Munich - Windows 7 is here. One of the ways the new operating system from Microsoft stands out is that it doesn't need powerful hardware to run well. This makes it suitable for use in netbooks, which typically come preinstalled with Windows XP.
'Windows 7 runs well on netbooks because we classified them as a target platform during the development process and optimised it for them,' says Microsoft's Daniel Melanchton.
Users can install Windows 7 with confidence, Melanchton says. 'Each edition up to Ultimate runs perfectly on netbooks without requiring any special manual adjustments by users,' he says. Wolfram Gieseke, author of the recent book 'Windows 7,' agrees. All versions of the operating system, he says, possess the same core, meaning there is no difference in the speed at which work is performed.
Gieseke nevertheless suggests a few modifications that can help with the small displays and relatively weak processors provided in netbooks. He recommends changing the resolution of the display to improve readability: 'Test out what works for your needs and produces readable results,' he advises.
The attractive graphical bells and whistles in Windows 7 strain the processor and increase the power consumption, which has a negative impact on battery life. The effects can be switched off in the expanded control panel to save power.
What benefits does Windows 7 offer netbooks when compared with XP? 'It runs a bit better and contains new and better drivers,' says Thomas Rau from Germany's PC Welt magazine. And it is less demanding on batteries when not working hard. That said, Windows 7 will drain a battery a bit faster than XP if the processor is running at full load.
Windows 7 has additional benefits as well. One of them is significantly easier integration with networks. The library function has its charm as well. It can display files from disparate locations centrally in one location.
Libraries make it much easier to search for photos or music files. There's no need to upgrade a netbook's RAM for Windows 7 either, Rau says - 'only if many things are going to be running at once.'
How does one install Windows 7 on a netbook that has no CD or DVD drive of its own? The easiest way is with a DVD and external drive. If none of those is available, installation using a USB stick is another alternative.
A bit of preparation it required to make it work: the user must either download a disc image (ISO file) of Windows 7 from Microsoft's online store or else create an ISO image from the Windows 7 installation DVD. Most burning software can handle the task of creating an ISO file.
USB sticks to be used for installation should contain no other data and be formatted with the FAT32 file system. The ISO file is then decompressed onto the stick, such as using the free 7-Zip software.
Until recently, Microsoft itself offered a free downloadable program to transfer the Windows 7 installation files onto a USB stick with as little fuss as possible. While the software itself is still easy to find on the net, Microsoft has deleted it from its servers. Problems arose with the software that needed fixing, the company reports.
It's also possible to have a computer shop install the operating system or to buy a new netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed. Remember, though, that cheaper netbook models in particular usually come with the Starter Edition.
While just as quick as the other variants, it has less functionality. That includes the Aero userinterface. It's also not possible to customise the desktop, says Wolfram Gieseke, and 'that includes things like the background image, the colour scheme, and the system sounds,' he adds.