The Windows 7 installation is done. You're staring at a fresh, sharp new desktop. Feels good, right? Except now you aren't sure where everything is. Where to go first? What to do?
How about a couple things to keep in mind while you explore? These are 5 reminders on what's new/different in Windows 7.
1. Take time to explore the new UI.
Windows has stuck to the same basic desktop since XP. 7 however takes a few more liberties, mostly under the hood and in the Start menu. For a bit of guidance, Microsoft put up some videos to help you get started on using 7: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/help/getting-started
2. Be aware of the Libraries function while organizing files.
The new Libraries feature lets you group files and folders into virtual "libraries" – a single place for you to access them, even though the files themselves are in different locations.
Microsoft put up a video podcast to explain how to organize files
with Windows 7 Libraries. They also have a Libraries FAQ
and a walkthrough on how to create Libraries
(in case you prefer text to video).
3. There is a backup copy of your data files in "Windows.old"
If you're replacing Vista, Windows 7 will copy the old files into a backup folder. You'll find it at "C:\Windows.old". In there you'll find copies of the Documents and Settings, Program Files and even the Windows folders from your installation.
This is a big help if some files go missing during the upgrade. (You did make a full backup of those files before you upgraded to 7 though…right?) It's also something to note in case your company is very security-conscious. This is a backup that must be protected, or removed once your files are reorganized.
(Upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 is not possible. You have to use the Windows Easy Transfer application to copy your profile settings and files first. Then install Windows 7 from bare metal. Last step is to then use Windows Easy Transfer to import the settings to your new Windows 7 installation. While not a direct upgrade, it's easy and painless.)
4. If Your Windows 7 install Includes XP Mode, Learn How to Use It
Might seem like a no-brainer for long-time XP users. But you have to get into
XP Mode before you can pay dear old XP a visit. And once there, the old "way of doing things" might not exactly match up.
Luckily, there's a great step-by-step guide to setting up and using XP Mode
You'll have to reinstall your XP applications once XP Mode is ready. But those applications will show up in 7's Start menu too, so you'll save a step.
5. Don't forget about BitLocker.
BitLocker encrypts drives – hard drive partitions, external backup drives, even USB drives. So if it's active, every file you work with is encrypted once you hit Save. Great for protecting sensitive files. But there are a few things to remember about BitLocker:
- Don't turn BitLocker on before notifying IT. There might be a policy in effect.
- BitLocker is available in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate versions only.
- When encrypting, you must create a "recovery password" for use if you need to unlock the encrypted drive at some point. Store this recovery password somewhere OTHER than near your computer (with IT is good).
Chances are you'll find most everything the same, in terms of day-to-day use. These are all enhancements that Windows 7 makes available. You don't have to use them…but they're handy!