Windows 7 will be available in two primary editions: Home Premium and Professional. In addition there will be an Ultimate version, but it is not expected to receive as much press as the two primary editions and might only be available as an upgrade through Microsoft.
Current Windows XP Users:
Windows XP users will be able to purchase a discounted upgrade license for Windows 7, but the pricing structure for Windows 7 has not yet been released. The upgrade will need to be installed as a clean installation which means you will need to back-up your settings, documents and important files yourself before performing the upgrade. The installation will wipe the drive in order to avoid conflicts and will install the full version of Windows 7 on your hard drive without saving any previous programs or settings. Rumors are circulating that Microsoft will provide tools to help with the backup and restore process for those upgrading from Windows XP (we'll have to wait and see).
Current Windows Vista Users:
Those already running Windows Vista will have the choice of performing an in place upgrade (that will save and transfer their settings and installed programs) or to perform a clean install (in which case they should manually back-up their settings and files prior to installing Windows 7).
Buying a new PC this year?
There are unconfirmed reports that PCs purchased after July 1st running Widows Vista will receive free upgrades to Windows 7 once the new Operating System is released.
Microsoft is currently beta testing Windows 7 and has a spiffy new website to showcase it's latest Operating System.
New features being touted:
- A new larger task bar with larger thumbnails and the ability to show full-screen previews.
- The ability quickly open recent files by using Jump Lists which are available when right-clicking program icons in the task bar.
- Faster performance and numerous security improvements.
- New theme packages to keep your eyes happy while working.
If you're curious to see Windows 7, Microsoft has a few Windows 7 preview videos for your viewing pleasure.
Windows 7 is looking very promising and I for one am keeping a close eye on it's development. As always, I will share updated developments as I come across them.