UK – Windows 7 – Pre-order starts at midnight 15/07/2009

Unless you’ve been living in a remote cave or under a poorly connected rock, you may well have heard a lot of pre-release marketing for Windows 7.

From midnight on the 15th of July 2009 until the 9th of August 2009, UK users can pre-order copies of Windows 7 at discounted prices. Granted the UK prices aren’t has attractive as the $-rate discounted prices were, however they do represent significant savings over what will become the Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

There are two editions available for pre-order at the discounted prices:

At the time of writing, Windows 7 Home Premium was £44.97 via this Amazon link – it may be pulled, it may not work, try it and see! Oh, and Windows 7 Professional was £89.97 via this link!

Now, it’s possible that you are wondering what the ‘E’ is for. Well, Windows 7 in Europe is going to ship without Internet Explorer. Why? Some goon at the European Commission thought that Microsoft was being anti-competitive by shipping its own browser with its own Operating System. We’ll see if the same goon picks up on the fact that Google’s Chrome OS will no doubt ship with their own Chrome browser: will Google ship Chrome OS without a browser? Anyway, that’s a rant for another blog post sometime soon! But if you are interested, here’s a lot more reading in that space.

The ‘E’ also means something else. It means that your copy of Windows 7 is actually a full version, it’s not an upgrade version. This may sound great, however what it does mean is that you will have to install Windows 7 “clean” and you will have to re-install and re-activate all your applications. The Windows 7 install process will place your “old” Windows installation into a folder called WINDOWS.OLD, so your profile information, My Documents, etc. will at least be safe and accessible. Of course, if you choose to format your hard drive during the clean install, your “old” Windows installation is as good as lost.

So, if you are buying Windows 7 for use on your sole desktop or laptop (i.e. you don’t have any other machines available), my advice to you is this: prior to installing Windows 7 visit this page and see if there’s a Windows 7 version of Internet Explorer available to download (make sure you download the whole product, not just the “setup” stub). Alternatively, many of the reputable offline computer magazines (those that still remain) often carry browsers on their cover disks – it may well be worth paying the High Street price if you’re stuck.

Which version do I need?
If you’re prepared to believe Wikipedia, there is a comparison chart available there. Into Windows also have a Microsoft-sourced chart available.

If you have Windows Vista Home Premium at the moment, the chances are Windows 7 Home Premium will be your edition of choice. Windows 7 Home Premium is seen as the “Standard consumer SKU, providing full functionality on the latest hardware, easy ways to connect, and a visually rich environment.”

Windows 7 Professional, on the other hand, is seen as the “Business-focused SKU for small and lower mid-market companies and users who have networking, backup, and security needs and multiple PCs or servers.” If you think you’ll need any of the following features, Professional might be for you: Location Aware Printing, Domain Join & Group Policy Controls, Remote Desktop Host, Advanced Back-up (Network & Group Policy), Encrypting File System or Windows XP Mode.

If you need in-depth information about what’s in Windows 7, you might find this comparison chart interesting. Similarly, this chart also provides some insight into what’s in each edition.

Whilst it is not discounted, if money is no object, there is Windows 7 Ultimate available for pre-order too:

Further information about the UK pre-order scheme can be found here.

Lastly, if you’re in any doubt over the need to move to Windows 7, I can tell you that it’s leaner and fitter than previous versions of Windows: it runs on entry-level netbooks like a charm. If you’re looking for more speed, more reliability, the “solid feel” of Windows XP combined with the freshness of Windows Vista: Windows 7 should be a good investment.

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