With Windows 10 due to be released on the 29th July, and offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users, we look at how the new iteration of the world’s most popular operating system fares against its older sibling in our Windows 7 vs Windows 10 comparison.
For many, Windows 7 has been the benchmark against which to judge all others. Considering how confusing and ill thought out Windows 8's interface was (and still is in many ways), it's no surprise that many are skeptical of the free Windows 10 upgrade.
Well we have good news. Microsoft is back on form, with Windows 10 taking the best bits of Windows 7 and Windows 8 as well as adding some welcome new features. Plus, the upgrade is completely free for Windows 7 owners: no strings attached.
- Windows 10 Hands On review
- Windows 8 Vs Windows 10 comparison
- Will my PC get Windows 10?
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: The Start menuWindows 7 has a straightforward, well-designed interface that is very familiar to Windows users. Click on the Start Menu button in the bottom left corner and you can navigate your PC. When the minds behind Windows 8 decided to supplant this with a touch-focussed approach, it soon become apparent that not many users wanted big icons, charm bars, and menus swiping in from up, down, left and right.
In fact many people we talked to used tools like Classic Shell and Start8 to bypass this completely and revert to the Desktop mode with its simple Start Menu. Windows 10 doesn’t make the same mistake. The Start Menu returns from its brief hiatus, but now it’s been beefed with some useful new features. Live tiles from Windows 8 are now included on the right side of the menu, although if you’d prefer not to have these then they are easily removed. Alternatively there is also the option to run the Start Menu in fullscreen mode. The left side of the menu brings a sense of continuity with Windows 7 in that it contains options for regularly used apps, File explorer, Settings, and a Search bar.
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: Searching the web from your desktopOne area where the changes between the two systems are obvious is in search. In Windows 10 the Search bar not only looks for folders, apps, and files on your PC, but is also linked to the Windows Store and your browser so it can seach the web right from your desktop. No need to navigate to the right tab when you want to look something up, just hit the Windows key, start typing, and your search results will be displayed in a browser window. In addition to this there’s also the rather impressive addition of Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana.
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: CortanaWindows phone owners will already be versed in the ways of Cortana, the virtual assistant to whom you can issue voice commands. Of course Google Now and Apple’s own Siri perform similar duties, but in Windows 10 Cortana has become an integral part of the desktop OS. Clicking on the Search area in the Taskbar opens the Cortana interface and allows you ask her various questions, such as search queries, your upcoming appointments, the weather, directions to the nearest coffee shop is, and many others. She can also schedule appointments, take dictated notes, add tasks and reminders, plus play music on your PC. Microsoft also revealed recently that it is launching Cortana apps for iOS and Android, which hopefully means the notebook that she uses to remember all of your requests will also work on those platforms. This could make Cortana an incredibly useful way to organise your life across all your devices, whatever they may be, and all from your Windows 10 desktop.
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: Virtual DesktopsWhile it’s technically possible to have virtual desktops in Windows 7, via the Desktops v2.0 software available on the Windows Sysinternals site, Windows 10 has the feature included directly in the operating system. Simply click on the Task view icon located in the Taskbar (or use the WIN+Tab key combination) and you’ll be able to quickly add a virtual desktop by clicking on the Plus sign in the bottom right corner. Now you can easily drag open applications onto the new workspace and declutter your various tasks. Navigating between them is easy, and as they all share the same data any changes you make will be universal.
Windows 7 vs Windows 10: Universal AppsWhen Window 7 was first released back in 2009 the smartphone phenomena was only just beginning and the iPad was still just a rumour. The idea then of having software that worked across all platforms was one that really didn’t make any sense. Nowadays, in our increasingly mobile centered world, this is a much bigger issue. In Windows 10 Microsoft has announced Universal apps (or Windows Apps as they’ve now renamed them) whose purpose is to run smoothly across your phone, tablet, PC, and even Xbox One.
This means that when you buy an app, you buy it once and it’s immediately available on all your devices. Of course it isn’t quite that simple, as a full version of Photoshop really isn’t going to run on a £59 budget smartphone, but expect to see trimmed down applications that can do a lot of the basics and sync up with each other seamlessly. Here's how to use Universal apps in Windows 10.
Windows 7 Vs Windows 10: Edge browserInternet Explorer has been a staple of the Windows experience for many, many years. In Windows 7 it is the default gateway to the world wide web, as it comes pre-installed with the OS. Of course there’s nothing stopping you downloading an alternative browser - say Firefox, Chrome, or Opera - but statistics show that many opt to go with what they’ve got.
There’s good reason for this, as IE is a standard that many sites on the web are guaranteed to work with, and it’s a stable, easy to use app. It came as something of a surprise then when Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would ship with a brand new browser - Edge - that it thought was better suited to the modern web. After testing Edge recently we certainly agree, as it is fast, elegantly designed, and features a variety of advanced capabilities including being able to annotate web pages and then send the image to friends or colleagues, Cortana integration, a new simplified reading mode that clears out the clutter on a screen, and a number of under the hood improvements. Here's how to use Edge browser in Windows 10
DirectX 12, PC Game DVR, and Xbox One game streamingOne of the most popular uses for a Windows machine is - of course - games. Windows 7 is a tried and trusted gaming platform that has stood up well to the rigours of time, still delivering excellent performance, stability, and compatibility. Windows 10 builds on this solid base with a few additional enhancements that might make you consider making the leap to the new version. The most obvious is the inclusion of DirectX 12, which has already seen some impressive bench testing results on a variety of gaming sites. Owners of AMD based systems should take note of this in particular as reports suggest that DirectX 12 makes significant strides in improving gaming performance from AMD-powered graphics cards.
Another game related addition in Windows 10 is that of PC Game DVR. This smart upgrade to the Xbox app allows users to record videos of their games in real time and then share it with friends. Users will also be able to play Xbox One games on their PCs by streaming across their local network. This new feature means you can plug your Xbox One controller into your PC, fire up the Xbox One, don your headphones, and play away happily in the next room while the rest of the family watch the television.