Why are we not supporting Windows 7?
Windows 7 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for desktop and notebook computers, while Windows XP is the version of the operating system installed on all the machines managed by the ITDS department. This naturally leads to a few questions.
Q: Is the ITDS department investigating Windows 7?
A: Absolutely, and has been from the early beta days, many months ago.
Q: Will the SFU managed machines be upgraded to Windows 7?
A: Probably not. While the investigations continue, there has been nothing discovered so far that absolutely mandates the university go to the quite considerable expense of a mass upgrade, to say nothing of the attendant upheaval as we all learn to use the new system.
Q: Will new machines have Windows 7 installed?
A: Not initially; we plan to stay with tried and true XP for as long as we can. The support staff have gone through a time where there were two operating systems in common use (Windows 2000 and Windows XP) and it wasn’t pretty; there was always some difference between the two to be overcome.
There will come a day when running XP on a new machine is no longer possible but we’re hopeful that when that day comes, we’ll have had enough time to sort things out.
Q: Then I shouldn’t buy Windows 7 for my personal use either?
A: The decision tree for personal use and institutional use are two very different things.
If you’re buying a new machine and Windows 7 is an option, Windows 7 should unquestionably be the choice. It’s significantly more secure out of the box than Windows XP and in these days of identity theft and other badness, that’s reason enough. But there are also a number of other compelling features included, from better power management to a more intuitive interface that also make the decision an easy one. And it is the future of Windows machines.
If you simply wish to upgrade an existing machine to Windows 7, the decision is less clear. As with every new operating system from every vendor for the past 30 years, it is important to keep the computer and the O/S in reasonably close chronological sync. Not every computer can be upgraded and the older it is, the less likely it is than it can be upgraded. Even newer machines that can be upgraded may be poor candidates; they may have just enough RAM or just enough disk space or a video card that just meets the necessary criteria. Microsoft does make available on their website (microsoft.com) a tool to aid in the decision to upgrade; it is strongly recommended that this tool be used before the credit card comes out.
Q: So if Windows 7 is so much more secure, why aren’t we getting it on campus.
A: It’s more secure out of the box. Windows XP can be made very secure as well, but it takes some specialized knowledge to do so, knowledge a typical user likely does not possess but knowledge that is available on campus.
Q: If I upgrade my existing machine to Windows 7 at home, will my files and programs transfer over.
A: If you are an XP user, no. There is no good way to do this in any automatic manner. If you are a Vista user .. probably. Again, the Microsoft web site should be consulted for some specific “gotchas”.
Q: If my home machine is Windows 7 and my office machine is something older, will my files be compatible from one to the other?
A: Probably. An exact answer is difficult because it is not actually the operating system that creates the files, it’s the programs that are installed that creates them. If you use the same programs on all machines, the files will be compatible.
It should also be stressed that the basic “7″ interface differs substantially from the XP interface; things like starting programs and managing files are done quite differently. There is a bit of a learning curve involved and you should expect to have the odd “finger failure” for a while as you move from one system to another.
Q: Can I use all my old programs with Windows 7?
A: Maybe; most programs compatible with Windows XP can be used with Windows 7 but older programs may not run. If you have older programs that are mission critical, an investigation into their compatibility is strongly advised, the Microsoft site again being the first place to go.
Q: If I upgrade to Windows 7 and I’m not happy, can I go back.
A: Only by erasing everything and starting again. Therefore, a backup of anything you cannot lose must be done before performing an upgrade.