Answers to Common Questions About Windows 7

Applies To: Windows 7

This article provides answers to common IT Pro questions about Windows 7. For a more general FAQ about Windows 7, see Windows 7 Frequently Asked Questions

For a complete view of Windows 7 resources, articles, demos and guidance, please visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.

Have new features been added since Beta?

Yes. See What’s Changed in This Release Candidate of Windows 7 for details.

What are the interesting new features in Windows 7?

Windows 7 has several improvements to improve the “fundamentals”—performance, reliability, security and compatibility—along with improvements to make it quicker and easier to access information on your computer:

  • Enhancements to the Aero User Interface (UI) helps you organize your open windows and other desktop components for easier and faster access

  • An enhanced start menu and taskbar puts commonly-used resources within easy reach

  • Performance improvements made in Windows Vista SP1 continue with Windows 7, including faster boot times and resume from standby

  • Battery life is extended through improved power management architecture and settings

  • Search Federation in Windows 7 provides results from multiple computers, servers, and Web sites, and delivers these results ranked by relevance

In addition, Windows 7 helps you better manage and secure your computer infrastructure:

  1. Extend data encryption to removable media. News reports are rife with stories about companies losing control over sensitive information. In some industries, this is an issue with grave legal implications, while in other situations the issue is inconvenience. Regardless, smart compliance policy dictates that sensitive information be safeguarded in the event of a lost or stolen laptop. Further, preventing sensitive information from being removed from corporate resources is a pillar of effective compliance management. Windows 7 includes BitLocker™ technology, first implemented in Windows Vista, which now provides full encryption of all boot volumes on a computer, along with introducing BItlocker To Go that offers data protection on portable storage, such as USB flash drives. In addition, BitLocker Drive Encryption and BitLocker To Go can be managed via Group Policy, placing more control over sensitive information in the hands of the professionals.

  2. Automate routine tasks with powerful scripting. To help IT administrators better maintain a consistent environment and improve personal productivity, Windows 7 includes an updated graphical scripting editor, Windows PowerShell™ 2.0—a powerful, complete scripting language that supports branching, looping, functions, debugging, exception handling, and internationalization.

    • PowerShell 2.0 has an intuitive, graphical user interface that helps make script generation easier, especially for administrators who are not comfortable in command-line environments.

    • PowerShell 2.0 supports two types of remoting—fan-out, which delivers management scripts on a one-to-many basis, and one-to-one interactive remoting to support troubleshooting of a specific machine. You can also use the PowerShell Restricted Shell to limit commands and command parameters to system administrators, and to restrict scripts to those who have been granted rights.

    • PowerShell 2.0, with the Group Policy Management Console (available as a separate download), allows IT professionals to use scripting to manage Group Policy Objects and to create or edit registry-based group policy settings in Windows 7. Similarly, you can use PowerShell to configure computers more efficiently, using richer logon, logoff, startup, and shutdown scripts that are executed through Group Policy.

  3. Create, deploy, and manage images more efficiently. Windows 7 includes several tools to streamline the creation and servicing of the deployment image, and to get users up and running as quickly as possible.

    • The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool in Windows 7 provides a central place to build and service Windows images offline. With DISM, you can perform many functions with one tool: mount and unmount system images; add, remove, and enumerate packages and drivers; enable or disable Windows features; configure international settings, and maintain an inventory of offline images that contain drivers, packages features, and software updates. Windows 7 also enables the same processes and tools to be used when managing virtual machine (VHD) and native file-based (WIM) image files.

    • Windows 7 also includes Dynamic Driver Provisioning, where device drivers are stored independent of the deployed image and can be injected dynamically based on the Plug and Play ID of the hardware, or as predetermined sets based on information contained in the basic input/output system (BIOS). Reducing the number of drivers on individual machines reduces the number of potential conflicts, ultimately minimizing setup time and improving the reliability of the computer.

    • When you are ready to deploy Windows 7, Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer enables servers to “broadcast” image data to multiple clients simultaneously, and to group clients with similar bandwidth capabilities into network streams to permit the fastest possible overall transfer rate while optimizing bandwidth utilization.

  4. Provide better support for client virtualization. Windows 7 delivers a richer experience when users are connected to a virtual desktop—much closer to the experience provides by a native Windows desktop. For example, Windows 7 provides multi-monitor support, bi-directional audio to enable Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and speech recognition applications, and access to local devices, such as printers.

  5. Provide enhanced troubleshooting tools. Windows 7 provides rich tools to identify and resolve technical issues, often by the end users themselves. If a help desk call is unavoidable, Windows 7 includes several features and troubleshooting tools to help speed resolution.

    • The Problem Steps Recorder allows end users to reproduce and record their experience with an application failure, with each step recorded as a screen shot along with accompanying logs and software configuration data. A compressed file is then created that can be forwarded to support staff to help troubleshoot the problem.

    • Windows 7 includes a suite of troubleshooting packs, collections of PowerShell scripts, and related information that can be executed remotely by IT professionals from the command line, and controlled on the enterprise basis through Group Policy Settings.

    • Windows 7 also includes Unified Tracing to help identify and resolve network connectivity issues in a single tool. Unified Tracing collects event logs and captures packets across all layers of the networking stack, providing an integrated view into what’s happening in the Windows 7 networking stack and aiding analysis and problem resolution.

  6. Extend the reach of desktop search. Search Federation in Windows 7 provides out-of-the-box support for searching beyond the user’s computer, including network document repositories, search engines, Web applications and proprietary data stores—all from within the familiar Windows interface. IT professionals can publish important search locations through Group Policy, and can deploy up to five search scopes on user’s computers to help them find the information they need more easily. In addition, Windows 7 desktop search supports the public OpenSearch standard, so with a few minor updates, Web developers can take advantage of existing investments in RSS lists to quickly return results to Windows 7.

For more information, see What's New for IT Pros in Windows 7

For more information on improvements for end-users, see What’s New in Windows 7.

Where can I get an RC copy of Windows 7?

Customers can download Windows 7 RC from Windows 7 Customer Preview Program

Do I need a Product Key to activate RC?

No activation will be required for pre-release installs.

Are there any prerequisites for Windows 7?

Yes, the minimum hardware recommendations for this release are:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor

  • 1 GB of system memory

  • 16 GB of available disk space

  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (to enable the Aero theme)

  • DVD-R/W Drive

  • Internet connection (to download the pre-release and get updates)

How do I install Windows 7 RC?

Windows 7 is easy to install. For detailed installation steps on performing a clean installation or an upgrade, see How to install Windows 7.

Can I dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows Vista?

Yes, you can install Windows 7 on a computer that’s already running Windows Vista in a dual-boot configuration. You must install each operating system on its own partition. For step by step instructions, see Install more than one operating system (multiboot).

How do I deploy Windows 7 RC to multiple computers?

For detailed step-by-step information on deploying Windows 7, see Step-by-Step: Basic Windows Deployment for IT Professionals.

Is Windows Server 2008 R2 RC also available?

Yes. Windows 7 Client and Windows Server 2008 R2 are built on the same code base and both RCs are being released at the same time. For more information on Windows Server 2008 R2 RC, see Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Technical Library.