If you skipped over Windows Vista like so many others have, you may be in for a shock when you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. Microsoft’s newest operating system is a major shift in usability, convenience, and overall computing from previous versions of Windows.

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Although not all are earth-shattering changes, listed below are the Top 10 differences between Windows XP and Windows 7. Many of these changes may seem like a big deal because you’ve gotten so used to how things work in XP. If you are considering upgrading from XP to Windows 7, be prepared for these changes.


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1. No e-mail Client

Outlook Express (OE) has been a trusted friend since Windows 95, so much so that many people have never used another e-mail client. OE was removed from Windows Vista but was replaced with Windows Mail. Strangely, Windows does not ship with any email client at all. Users must either purchase an e-mail client such as Outlook, use a free service such as Windows Live Mail or Outlook.com, or download an open source email client such as Thunderbird.

2. 32-bit vs. 64-bit

Although Windows XP did have a 64-bit version (Windows XP x64), many people are unaware that it even existed. When upgrading from XP to Windows 7, you will have to decide whether you want the 32-bit version (x86) or the 64-bit version (x64). Which you choose largely depends on your computer’s hardware and the availability of drivers and other software to make everything work in your PC.

You can download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor tool from Microsoft, which will check your hardware and give you a recommendation on whether or not to upgrade.

3. Aero Desktop

The Aero Desktop is really nothing more than a collection of window and desktop behaviors that make Windows 7 the prettiest version of the operating system to date. Features such as Aero Snap let you quickly organize open windows and transparency makes it easy to see what’s underneath other windows. With Windows XP, think opaque, with Windows 7, think translucent.


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Not much has changed in setting up a home network since Windows NT 4, an operating system from before Windows 95 that you may never have heard of. Marrying simplicity, easy setup, and stable connections, HomeGroup takes the guesswork and troubleshooting out of home networking on any scale.

10. Touch Support

Although touch interfaces have been around for a better part of a decade, touch has not yet replaced the familiar keyboard/mouse combination of navigating personal computers. Still, Windows 7 is the first operating system from the software giant to natively support touch as a computer interface.

If you think that you would like to be on the frontier of this emerging interface paradigm, Windows 7 is your only real choice if you want to run a Microsoft operating system.

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Conclusion

Some people have become so comfortable working with Windows XP that they have avoided upgrading to Microsoft’s newest operating system. The Windows Vista fiasco didn’t help matters, forcing some diehard fans of XP to downgrade to make their PCs functional again.

If you are considering upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7, be prepared for some new things, some missing things, and a few things in between. Also, read my post on which version of Windows 7 is right for you. Still, the stability and usability of Windows 7 has been more or less established, so you can rest assured that you are taking a step in the right direction by leaving XP behind. Enjoy!