Seven reasons why Windows 7 is better

For Microsoft, today is D-Day.

Er, or make that W-Day, as Windows 7, the company's much-hyped new operating system, hits store shelves and ships preloaded in computers.

It's no secret the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant took it on the chin over Windows Vista, 2006's flawed operating system that caused so much consumer frustration PC manufacturers began offering the older (but proven) Windows XP on their machines instead.

To make matters worse for Microsoft, its No. 1 rival, Apple, leveraged the success of its iconic iPod and iPhone to sell more Mac computers, and began running a highly successful ad campaign to tout the ease of use and stability of Macs over Windows.

So here we are on October 22, 2009, and it's a chance for Microsoft to see if their mojo is back.

Sales might help determine the verdict, but from a software point of view, Windows 7 is a home run.

More on Windows 7:

More on Windows 7:

Microsoft CEO Ballmer calls innovation in Canada
Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts
What's new in Windows 7
Better device management
True multimedia platform
Blog: How to protect yourself online

Here's a fun "before and after" look at how much better Windows 7 is than Windows Vista, in seven key areas.

Speed
It's a fact: Windows 7 runs significantly faster than its predecessor, Vista.

This is true not just while launching and running programs but on boot-up times, as well.

For example, Microsoft Canada's Rick Claus, a senior IT pro advisor, says a two-year-old Dell laptop — with many programs set to load when the computer turns on — took 1:35 minutes to boot up with Windows 7, compared to more than 2:30 minutes on the same laptop running Windows Vista.

"Microsoft has re-jigged the dependencies of certain services and the way programs initiate during the boot-up process, resulting in much faster speeds," says Claus. "Another way to think about it is Windows 7 handles these boot sequences in parallel rather than linearly."

* Video: Windows 7 — going touchy feely

PC maker Lenovo says its Windows 7 machines are roughly 33 to 50 per cent faster than the same hardware running Windows Vista. This is also due in part to Lenovo's own proprietary tweaks to Windows 7, as part of the company's "Enhanced Experience" certification (look for the sticker).

Power management
Windows 7 is more "power aware" of your laptop than Vista, says Claus, and can turn off "routines" that aren't necessary at that time, such as disk defragmentation, which results in longer battery life.

At a recent Microsoft event, two identical laptops were playing the same DVD, but the computer running Windows 7 ran about 20 per cent longer than the Vista machine.