Pros: Stable, Pretty, Fun, Powerful, The New Standard.
Cons: I don't love Windows Media Center, which come with it.
How important is your operating system to your PC? I'm no computer scientist or guru, but I know that the operating system forms the foundation or environment in which other programs operate or run. Over the years, since I was a college student during the 1980s, operating systems have evolved from the DOS command prompt to the many versions of Microsoft Windows. (I'm not including all the non-Microsoft versions of operating systems, which include OS for Apple computers, Unix systems, Linux, and even the old Commodore 64). One would expect that, with this latest iteration of Windows, the software would have evolved to be versatile, powerful, easy to use, stable, and offer a multitude of bells and whistles. In this case, one would be totally correct!
I've been running Microsoft Windows 7 on my new notebook computer for about 6 months, now. With its Core I3 processor, 4 GB Ram and upgraded graphics driver, my Sony VAIO notebook runs programs practically effortlessly. Even my graphic intensive ArcMap GIS software and Microsoft Office 2010 runs quickly and efficiently from Windows 7. It's hard to say whether their stability is a result of the program itself, or the operating system, but luckily, no "blue screen of death" has ever reared its ugly head! Since no one enjoys being booted from a program's premature exit, I can report confidently that Windows 7 is by far the most stable operating system I've used on a PC. I rarely encounter instances of windows freezing, processes stalling or other hiccups that require rebooting, or need to start the task manager to kill rogue processes that are "not responding". Needless to say, I still go into super sleuth mode on my Windows XP machine, trying to unstick a program or window that's locked up.
Ease of Learning: When I first got my new VAIO notebook, I worried there would be a learning curve for Windows 7. Nope. It's literally been a piece of cake adapting to the new operating system. It's similar enough to the older versions, having a task dock for launching programs on the bottom left, similar to the Mac OS dock. Bottom right holds icons for system processes you need to keep track of, like your internet connection, battery life, anti-virus program, system messages and more.
Also, similar to previous versions is the Windows Program Launcher, which pops up when you activate the Windows Icon at the lower left (this feature evolved from the "Start" menu in previous versions). A list of your top 10 most frequently used programs appears by default. If I click on Microsoft Word to launch the program, a sub-menu shows my most recent documents to choose from. Click on "All Programs" and scroll through the list to launch your choice. If you can't find a file or program, just type a keyword from the file into the Search box, and Windows 7 will find what you're looking for. It's easy to add icons for your most popular programs to the task bar, for one-click access. You can also add icons to launch any of the accessories that come standard with Windows 7, like the calculator, screen snipper, sticky notes, or other gadgets (see below).
Access your Programs and Files Quickly: All the functionality you're accustomed to, like the control panel to modify settings, is even easier to access and use from Windows 7. The graphics are more detailed and attractive ~ file icons appear slightly open, revealing snippets of their contents; picture and image files like jpgs, appear as thumbnails (miniature snapshots) of their contents; backgrounds change periodically like slideshows, and new, colorful backgrounds like "Nasa Spacescapes" and "Tigers" are easily downloaded from the Microsoft website from within the "personalize" menu. An interesting and entertaining library of computer sounds comes standard with Windows 7. In a nutshell, the desktop environment is more colorful and attractive, more revealing of its contents, and more functional than ever!
Even after 6 months, I realize there are a few functions I have yet to figure out. I heard that windows can easily be arranged to fit side by side, but I can't seem to master the trick for that. I am confident that the Firewall works pretty in tandem with your antivirus to thwart virus or Trojan attacks. However, my first notebook (which I returned) endured a virus that penetrated the firewall and disable the operating system, so it's definitely not perfect. Make sure your anti-virus program, like AVG or Kaspersky, is running in the background before you launch your Internet Browser.
Speaking of Internet Browsers, Internet Explorer is the browser closely associated with, or packaged with Windows 7. Microsoft heavily promotes IE on their Windows 7 website, and I believe some aspects of IE work in tandem with Windows 7 Internet Security features. Despite this close association between browser software and operating system, I'm not at all a fan of Internet Explorer. Later versions of IE are said to be more stable and protective, but I've found it fairly vulnerable to virus attacks. I've had much better luck with Mozilla Firefox.
Games: Windows 7 comes with some standard games that are good for a few hours of pleasant time wasting. My favorites are regular and Spider solitaire, Mahjong, Chess Titans and Mine Sweeper.
System Resource Monitoring: The Computer dashboard makes it easy to visualize basic usage of system resources, such as your Hard Disk space, available drives, RAM memory size, peripherals (like my SD memory card which adds 2 GB RAM with PowerBoost). Control-Alt-Delete still brings up Task Manager, which lists all the programs running and processes with complete descriptions, so you might spot an impostor more easily than every before.
I'm not that fond of Windows Media Player, which is Microsoft's answer to iTunes for organizing and playing your music, podcasts and videos. The program is just not as intuitive for me as iTunes, and I don't quite see the advantage of using two programs, when iTunes works with my iPod and is free.
So, there you have it ~ all the reasons why I think Microsoft Windows 7 is the most stable, enjoyable and versatile operating system I've used on a PC so far. But wait, there's more! The Windows 7 website offers a wealth of information about some other features. I've summarized them in the following list, and added my own comments if applicable.
Windows 7 From A-Z:
64-bit support * Accessibility
* Action Center (tells me when action needs to be taken, takes the action when prompted, and acts as a troubleshooting companion)
* Aero (thumbnails of your files)
* Anytime Upgrade (keeps itself up-to-date by automatically downloading updates and installling them)
* Audio and video
* Backup and Restore (helped me burn my own backup OS disk) * BitLocker * Calculator
* Communications (connects automatically to my wifi)
* Connect Now * Defender * Desktop * Device management * DirectX 11 * Domain Join * Easy Transfer * E-mail
* Engineered by us. Inspired by you. (a motto we should all live by) * Entertainment * Experience Index * Fax and Scan * Firewall
* Gadgets (includes weather, calendar, clock icons)
* Games Explorer * Getting Started * HomeGroup * Internet TV * Jump Lists * Language packs
* Libraries (for organizing files and downloads)
* Live Essentials * Location Aware Printing * Media Center * Media Player 12 * Mobility Center
* More personal * Movie Maker * Multiplayer games
* Paint * Parental Controls * Peek (file thumbnails) * Performance
* Photo Gallery
* Play your media on other PCs, stereos, or TVs around the house.
* Power management (manages laptop battery charging and sends messages before shutting down) * Productivity
* ReadyBoost (converts my SD Chip into 2 GB extra ram ~ so cool!)
* Remote Desktop Connection * Remote Media Streaming * Remote Media Streaming
* Safety & Security * Search * Shake * Snap
* Snipping Tool (takes screen shots)
* Startup Repair (in the unlikely event of an emergency boot) * Sticky Notes * System Restore
* Tablet PC * Taskbar * Touch * Troubleshooting
* Update * User Account Control
* View Available Networks (lets me log on to other networks automatically, if I choose to)
* Windows * WordPad * XP Mode * XPS
* Zippy (as long as you've got the system resources, Windows 7 manages them expertly and quickly).
I hope my review of Windows 7 Operating System was helpful! Feel free to leave a comment with questions, if there's something I left out.