Windows 7 was released generally on October 22, 2009. Windows 7 extended support which will expire January 14, 2020.
In 2016 when we installed Windows 7 on a laptop, it now downloads over 300 updates. Updates will generally install overnight if the machine is powered up and idle.
The updated Windows 7 upgrade assistant has limited game support. This tool can assess your rig drivers as well as the games installed. Expect this program to take a while as there is a huge range of hardware to consider. There are also many thousands of games published that work with Windows XP or Vista.
In February 2013 Microsoft released a platform update for Windows 7. This requires Windows 7 SP1. The update is now on Windows update.
See the list of games incompatible with Windows 7.
Windows 7 has the same system requirements as Vista. It will install on a machine with 512 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz processor. Realistically a much better outcome will be seen with 2 GB or more memory. A faster multi-core CPU will also be a big benefit.
Using a machine with 8 GB of memory shows that most of the time, more than 50% of the memory is not being used. Windows has been designed to minimize memory use as most computers in 2013 still have 1-2 GB of memory. We have used 4-8GB of memory with XP and higher primarily to minimize hard disk requests which slow the system considerably.
Microsoft actually began working on Vista back in 2001.Vista was originally intended for release in 2003 but the following version and Vista were merged which is the reason for the longer development cycle. Windows 7 is the second release from this new code base.
Vista introduced a new hardware driver model than caused many early adopters to complain over the lack of drivers. Vista now has become the least common denominator for devices for Vista, 7 and 8. Some driver installers continue to be problematic.
Many of the old game issues we have identified for more recent versions of Windows also plague XP. This is due to the dropping of 16-bit installers which were used with Windows 95 through Windows ME.
Windows 7 comes with a 32-bit and a 64-bit disk in the distribution. Using the 64-bit disk will be advantageous as the memory support is much better. We are using 8GB of memory and this is clearly more than 32-bit Windows can recognize.
Vista is now the least common denominator for games. Vista was updated to DirectX 11 following the released of Windows 7 SP1.
Windows 7 will work with an older PCI Express video card, but its prudent to purchase a new gaming video card when performance lags unacceptably.
When DirectX 10 games hit the streets, the new API gave users marginal improvements in image quality alongside huge performance decreases. DirectX 11 deals effectively with the performance problems in DX10 as found with Vista. DirectX 11 includes numerous improvements. It’s designed to be more efficient, leverage the power of today’s multi-core processors, and provide support for sophisticated shading and texturing techniques such as tessellation. The result: smoother 3D animation, and graphics more lifelike and nuanced than ever before.
The old tessellation seen in DX9 has been redesigned with DX11 to take advantage of more powerful video cards. Ambient Occlusion is also now supported by DX12 which will bring much better shadows for games generally.
Adding effects to rendered frames first began to show up with DX9 games. We’ve seen increasing use of post processing effects in DX10 and now, DX11 titles. Games use decals and other ideas to try to improve the games imagery. Some of these effects can be used to add realism to a scene. Heat distortion above a fire or hot desert sand is a good example of that. Other effects actually make the game less realistic, but more cinematic. Examples of these include depth of field, film grain, and blur effects.
So far there have been very few games released that support 64-bit natively. This is mainly due to the game using the video card to operate the game. As games become more demanding however the demand is for more GPU performance.
Using a 64-bit version of Windows does provide for better performance. All games that work with the 32-bit version work fine with the 64-bit version.
Many modern gaming video cards now are equipped with 2 GB or more VRAM. Such cards will not work with a 32-bit operating system at all. The trend for video cards is towards more VRAM so a 64-bit platform is obvious.