Microsoft Windows 7

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Windows 7
Version logo: on the left the Windows “window” in the design of Windows XP, but with a lightening gradient towards the middle (“dazzling” window cross);  to the right of it the lettering "Windows (R) 7" in sans serif font ("Windows" bold than the "7", but the entire lettering in thin lines)
Windows 7 desktop
Microsoft Windows 7 desktop
developer Microsoft
License (s) Microsoft EULA ( Closed Source )
First publ. October 22, 2009
Current  version RTM : 6.1 Build 7600
Service Pack 1: 6.1 Build 7601 (October 22, 2009 / February 22, 2011)
ancestry Windows NT
Architecture (s) x86 and x64 ( 32- and 64-bit )
Others Development discontinued
Support discontinued on January 14, 2020

ESU (Extended Security Updates) probably end of support: January 10, 2023

Microsoft Windows 7 is an operating system from the US company Microsoft . It was released on October 22nd, 2009 and is the successor to Microsoft Windows Vista . The global market share of Windows 7 among Windows desktop operating systems was 20.0 percent in July 2020 . Support for Windows 7 and thus the delivery of security updates was discontinued on January 14, 2020.


Development history

While the company was developing an operating system version with the code name Longhorn , which was later published as Windows Vista, Microsoft began developing the subsequent version under the code name Blackcomb , from 2006 as Vienna . In October 2008 the manufacturer announced "Windows 7" as the name for the successor system to Windows Vista.

Version number

The internal version number of Windows 7 is NT 6.1 . Microsoft justifies the strange numbering with the fact that you have to refrain from the internal version number 7.0 so that programs written for Windows Vista can still run on Windows 7. Since Windows Vista and 7 are very similar, apart from numerous bug fixes and a new interface, the number in the product name can also be interpreted without any connection with the version: According to Microsoft, it was decided on the one hand because of the number symbolism for seven , and also for the reason that Windows 7 is the seventh Windows product series according to the company's own counting system:

Windows 1
Windows 1.0
Windows 2
Windows 2.0
Windows 3
DOS line: Windows 3.0 , Windows 3.1
NT line: Windows NT 3.1 , Windows NT 3.5 , Windows NT 3.51
Windows 4
DOS line (integrated): Windows 95 (4.0), Windows 98 (4.10), Windows ME (4.90)
NT line: Windows NT 4.0
Windows 5 (now NT line)
Windows 2000 (NT 5.0), Windows XP (NT 5.1), Windows Server 2003 (NT 5.2)
Windows 6
Windows Vista (NT 6.0) and Windows Server 2008 (NT 6.0)
Windows 7
Windows 7 (NT 6.1) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (NT 6.1)

Software releases and discontinuation

The first pre-release was distributed on September 28, 2008 to the participants of the Professional Developers Conference ( PDC ).

On the occasion of the Consumer Electronics Show 2009 , which began on January 7th, a beta version was officially made available to MSDN and TechNet members and then made available to the public for download on January 9th (Build 7000).

Due to the great interest, Microsoft had to shut down the download in the meantime due to server overload in order to expand the technical infrastructure. The download limit of 2.5 million downloads was then lifted and the software was available until January 24th. One day before the end, the period was extended, so the beta download could begin until February 10th and end until February 12th, 2009.

In the first beta phase only the Ultimate edition, which contains all the functions of the operating system, was offered for download. MSDN subscription holders and Microsoft Connect members also had access to other editions, such as Home and Professional . The duration of an (activated) beta version was limited to August 1, 2009. After Beta 1, there was no further public beta version.

This was followed by the release candidate , build number 7100, which was released on April 30th for TechNet and MSDN subscribers and on May 5th, 2009 for the public. The running time of an (activated) release candidate was limited until March 1, 2010. After this date, the operating system automatically shut down every two hours. Since the beginning of June 2010, the release candidate has definitely refused to start.

On July 15, 2009, Windows 7 Home Premium was offered in a pre-sale campaign at a special price of 50 euros in a strictly limited number; in Germany it was mostly sold out within a few minutes.

On July 22, 2009 the completion of the operating system was announced, which was already compiled internally at Microsoft on July 13, 2009 and on July 22, 2009 after successful completion of all tests at Microsoft as the final RTM ( Release To Manufacturing ) edition with the build Number 7600.16385. Large customers with volume licenses have had access to the RTM version since the beginning of August, and since mid-August it has also been available in various languages. In the meantime, various license keys for all editions of Windows 7 are available on the Internet with which Windows 7 can be activated illegally ; these make use of the integrated option that Microsoft's partners use for mass activation of pre-installations (OEM preactivation).

By October 22, 2009, the international sales launch, all language packs ("Language Packs") for Windows had been completed.

In the fall of 2014, Microsoft announced that it would stop delivering new Windows 7 licenses to OEM partners from October 31 of that year. Windows 7 Professional should not be affected by this deadline, however.

Since January 13, 2015, Microsoft has only offered extended support. This means that there were only security updates and updates for critical gaps in the system. Since then, no extensions, new programs or improvements have been released for Windows 7. The security updates were discontinued on January 14, 2020; This means that support for Windows 7 for private users has been completely discontinued.

With the ESU ( Extended Security Updates ) program, which is subject to a fee , support for bulk buyers can be extended through the volume licensing program up to a maximum of January 10, 2023. For Windows Embedded Standard 7 systems, support ends on October 10, 2023 and for Windows Embedded POSReady 7 systems, support does not end until October 14, 2024.


The operating system is available in six different editions at tiered license prices:

  • Starter Edition (for growth markets and netbooks ),
  • Home Basic (for emerging markets ),
  • Home Premium (including media center - for the broad market),
  • Professional (for smaller companies and more experienced users),
  • Ultimate (combines all functions of the other versions, except starter) and
  • Enterprise (scope as Ultimate; sales only with volume licenses to companies and organizations; version of the 90-day test version).

The differences lie in the range of functions, the scope of the license and the duration of support. The versions mentioned are also available as an upgrade from Windows XP, but each requires a new installation.

Windows 7 starter

This edition is the only version that is only available as a 32-bit version and in which the RAM is limited to a maximum of 2 GB. In addition, there are only the Aero-Basic interfaces and the pre-installed Windows Media Player is limited in its functionality. For example, DVDs cannot be played in Windows Media Player. The restriction that, in addition to system-started processes (such as the desktop), a maximum of three user processes can be executed at the same time has been lifted compared to the starter editions of Windows XP and Vista. In addition, the desktop background cannot be changed. The surface can be displayed on another monitor, but the display area cannot be expanded or enlarged using a second monitor. This version is only available as an OEM license (mostly pre-installed on netbooks) .

The reason for these restrictions, as with the starter editions of Windows XP and Vista, is the prevention of large-scale piracy in developing and emerging countries.

Windows 7 Home Basic

Home Basic is a reduced version of Home Premium. It offers basic functions and does not contain Windows Media Center . For that is Windows Media Player included. Home Basic and all higher versions support multiple monitors and quick switching between users is possible, but this edition supports a maximum of 4 GB of RAM in the 32-bit version. The 64-bit version supports 8 GB.

Windows 7 Home Premium

This version is designed for the private market, the memory limit is 16 GB. Compared to Home Basic , it has a few additional features such as HDTV support and DVD playback and writing . The Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center as well as some games are included from Home Premium.

Windows 7 Professional

This version of Windows 7 is aimed primarily at the corporate sector and professional users such as intensive players with built-in RAM memory over 16 GB or users with extensive computer experience. It contains all the functions of the Home Premium Edition and, like the other Ultimate and Enterprise editions, has a memory limit of 192 GB. It supports Windows Server Domains . The XP mode allows the execution of programs that would otherwise not work under Windows 7. In the professional version, games such as Minesweeper , Solitaire or FreeCell must first be activated in the Windows functions. Game Explorer, on the other hand, is activated by default as it is just a special folder in Windows Explorer. Microsoft offers an extended support phase for the editions Professional and Enterprise after the mainstream support phase has expired.

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Ultimate contains the functions of all other versions and is aimed at small business owners who use their PC for private and business purposes, as well as private users who operate their computer both at home and in the company network. Ultimate also offers BitLocker hard disk encryption and the starting of virtual hard disks in VHD format . It also enables the user to change the system language at any time.

Windows 7 Enterprise

This version is basically a Windows 7 Ultimate that is distributed under volume license . In the Enterprise version, however, as with the Professional version, games such as Minesweeper, Solitaire or FreeCell are not installed by default.

N editions

In the N editions of Windows 7, Windows Media Player has been removed according to the requirements of the European Commission . However, this can be installed later using a Media Feature Pack .

New and changed components

With Windows 7, Microsoft has revised the user interface of the operating system and some applications to improve usability . System security and support for alternative input methods (for example with tablet PCs) have also been improved. Compared to Windows Vista, Windows 7 feels faster, although objectively it often, but not always, works faster.


Optical changes affect, among other things, the design of the geometries and topologies of the taskbar and desktop . In the standard setting, the taskbar is higher and larger than in earlier Windows versions and not only shows open windows, but can also be used to store applications (similar to the dock known from Mac OS X ). The function of the previous quick start bar is thus integrated into the taskbar (internally referred to as "Superbar"). The display of the windows in the task bar has become narrower, since only the program icon is displayed, but not the name or window title. In addition, several windows of the same program are combined as one icon, the button edge of which is then displayed several times, which is intended to imitate a stacking of the icons. The symbols can be rearranged by clicking and dragging. However, these standard settings can be changed so that the previous concept with a labeled button per window remains available.

The revised taskbar in Windows 7
Thumbnail view of the open windows

If the mouse pointer is moved over a program icon of a running application in the task bar, a miniature view of the window is displayed. In addition (as with Internet Explorer 8, for example ), all open tabs can be displayed as a single preview. This preview can contain smaller functions (for example “Back”, “Start / Pause” and “Next” with Windows Media Player 12 and VLC media player ). If several windows are opened by an application, all windows are shown side by side as a preview when you point to the program icon. This feature must be supported by the respective program. The preview function is part of Aero in all Windows 7 versions except for the Starter Edition and is known from other desktop environments .

New in Windows 7 is a function called "Aero Snap", which allows you to quickly arrange windows by dragging them to different edges of the screen. The windows can be placed half-way on the right or left (right and left edge of the screen) or maximized (top edge of the screen). The principle has meanwhile been taken up by several programs which make the function available for the older Windows operating systems 2000 , XP and Vista or even expand the functionality.

Windows Explorer

The Windows Explorer was new virtual folder called Libraries adds together the media files from any folder of the file system and connected via network computers as virtual collections. There are, for example, the Music and Pictures libraries , which contain audio or picture files from the entire hard drive or from the home network. In order for a network storage to be included in a library, it must be ensured that the storage is indexed by Windows Search .

In addition, the Explorer search can be expanded with its own data sources such as web services and databases (so-called federated search ). Like files, these can have previews and thumbnails.

The so-called gadgets ( called mini-applications by Microsoft ) could still be placed in a sidebar in the previous version, with which the gadgets could be docked more easily on the edge of the desktop. This sidebar has been removed.
However, due to serious security vulnerabilities, Microsoft has been recommending deactivating the gadgets since 2012.

Burning ISO files is also supported by default.


The security center of Windows 7 has been restructured and renewed compared to its predecessor. The program, which has been renamed the maintenance center , can monitor the status of the virus scanner and the firewall and create new system backups. From Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, Windows supports biometric authentication with fingerprints as standard. This can be used to access the operating system or to log in, or to increase the rights for user account control.

The user account control (UAC), which was criticized in the predecessor because of its many inquiries before changes to the system, can be set gradually in Windows 7 and is set to a lower level by default. As with Windows Vista, after installing the operating system, the user works with a restricted user account by default and is only given temporary higher rights for administration tasks. By default, the UAC works with a whitelist of system programs that are automatically assigned higher rights when they are executed. Since Windows can recognize from the digital signature whether it is actually an original file that has not been changed by malware, a compromise has been made here. However, malware can gain administrator rights through DLL injection in system programs without triggering a UAC query. Only the highest level of user account control ("Always notify") corresponds to the standard setting of Windows Vista, since the whitelist is deactivated here. Alternatively, separate accounts can be created for administrator and standard users.

The Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate versions contain the AppLocker program , the use of which is recommended by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) for workstation PCs. With this program it is possible to prohibit the execution of all programs, whereby fine-grained rights and exceptions (digital certificate, path, file hash, publisher name, product name, file name, file version) can be specified.


Windows 7 has more codecs pre-installed than any previous version of Windows; Among other things, H.264 , MPEG-2 , MPEG-4 (for example DivX and Xvid ) or AAC are now supported without third-party drivers. The same applies to the MOV and MP4 container formats . This means that manual installation of a corresponding codec is no longer necessary for many formats. Support for color profiles with color depths of 30 and 48 bits is also new.

Windows 7 is shipped with Windows Media Player version 12.0. This has a revised surface in which the library and the playback window are separated.

The Windows Media Center has been revised.

Input methods and devices

Windows 7 supports multi-touch . For example, Paint can be operated with several fingers.

The device stages are a new functionality for devices : A window corresponding to the device is displayed which offers frequent actions for the device (for a mobile phone, for example, organizing contacts and synchronizing media files) in a central location.

Paint, WordPad and Calculator

The revised WordPad with a ribbon surface

The two Windows components Paint and WordPad have been revised. They were equipped with a ribbon surface like in Office . Furthermore, WordPad can now open and save documents in the DOCX and ODF formats, instead of the DOC format. The image editing program Paint, which in Windows Vista had almost the same structure as that in Windows XP , has been expanded and can buffer more intermediate steps in order to undo incorrect changes, and simple stickers such as arrows, geometric shapes or speech bubbles have been implemented.

The calculator integrated in Windows has been visually revised and now supports, among other things, units of measurement and financial mathematical calculations.

Windows Photo Viewer

The redesigned Windows Photo Viewer

The program Windows Picture and Fax Viewer , introduced in Windows XP, has been improved especially with Windows Vista and has been renamed Windows Photo Gallery . In Windows 7 it was visually revised again and got its third program name. Most of the changes are in the look. For example, the menus have been arranged in a slightly different order. In addition, the icons have been removed from the menus. As in Windows XP, the Windows photo display is opened again via DLL files and not - as in Windows Vista - via an Exe file.

DirectX 11

With Windows 7, DirectX 11 was released as a new version of the DirectX programming interface. DirectX 11 includes the functionality of the older versions, but is not itself completely downward compatible with programs that have already been optimized for DirectX 9, for example. DirectX 9 can be installed alongside DirectX 11 for such programs.

Further innovations at a glance

One of the new features is the error recording program psr.exe (Problem Steps Recorder) . After its start, it logs all mouse clicks and other information relevant for programmers and support staff and saves them as an MHT file. According to Microsoft, this should make it easy to create detailed problem reports.

Windows PowerShell is preinstalled in Windows 7. This feature provides a development environment for command line - scripts . It thus offers an alternative to cmd.exe and is similar to UNIX shells such as Bash .

Removed components

Some programs and features that were part of the previous version are no longer available in Windows 7 or have been outsourced.

The classic start menu , some functions of the taskbar , Windows Explorer features, Windows Media Player functions, some Windows Ultimate extras and the game InkBall have been removed . Four well-known applications, such as Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker , Windows Calendar and Windows Mail , were moved to a separate package in Windows 7 as Windows Live Essentials, which is available free of charge on the Microsoft website.

System requirements

Windows 7 sticker on computers with Windows 7 preinstalled

Windows 7 tends to require slightly fewer resources than Windows Vista, but the officially recommended minimum requirements are a bit higher. The graphics card requirements depend on the three graphics modes (visual designs) and the resolution. There are no further requirements in the "Classic" mode, but further requirements must be met in the Aero modes .

Minimum hardware requirement for Windows 7
architecture 32-bit 64-bit
processor 1 GHz 32-bit processor 1 GHz 64-bit processor
random access memory 1 GB 2 GB
graphic card DirectX -9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 ( Aero )
HDD free space 16 GB of free hard disk space 20 GB of free hard disk space
optical drive DVD drive (only for installation using DVD / CD media)

Windows 7 is more usable on netbooks than Vista if they have at least a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. However, it is slower than Windows XP, which is eight years older .


According to Microsoft, Windows 7 should be compatible with almost all hardware and software that could run under Vista. Compared to earlier Windows versions, there are no longer “mandatory” and higher “recommended” system requirements, but only one value. This corresponds to the "recommended" requirements of Vista. Microsoft provides a free application that checks programs and devices for compatibility and notifies you of any necessary updates. In February 2010, Microsoft also released an update that improves compatibility with numerous mostly older programs.

Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate contain a so-called XP mode. This is a virtual machine with a specially adapted Windows XP Professional. It is operated with Windows Virtual PC, a version of Virtual PC that has been further developed for Windows 7 . XP mode was developed for programs that do not work even in compatibility mode. Communication with the main computer has been significantly simplified compared to Microsoft Virtual PC. The main computer drives are available as network drives by default. New drives that are connected to the main computer are automatically recognized in XP mode and the clipboard can also be used by Windows 7 and XP mode at the same time. USB devices are also recognized by the virtual machine. Older USB hardware for which there are no new drivers can still be used within the virtual machine. In 3D , however, waived acceleration must be within the virtual machine. The Windows XP mode is therefore not suitable for 3D games or 3D CAD . In order to use the XP mode, a main processor with AMD Virtualization or Intel VT was required until an update in March 2010 .

For the first time, Microsoft allowed owners of certain single-user licenses to use not only the direct predecessor of the new operating system generation, but also the predecessor. This downgrade option was no longer available with the provision of the first service pack for Windows 7.


Even before the official market launch on October 22nd, 2009, Windows 7 received a predominantly positive media response. Microsoft achieved a market share of around 1.8 percent with Windows 7 by the time it was officially launched, and five weeks later Windows 7 had a share of 5 percent. Three months after its publication, Windows 7 was more than 20 percent widespread in Germany and 10 percent internationally, which is more than its predecessor, Windows Vista, had ever achieved. The global market share of Windows 7 is 38.5 percent (as of February 2019) and thus very significantly above that of its successor Windows 8 with only one percent market share and also significantly above the market share of Windows 8.1 with 4.9 percent.

In the first quarter of sales, Microsoft was able to sell over 60 million licenses of Windows 7, making it the fastest-selling operating system to date and increasing company profits by 60 percent compared to the previous year. By early March 2010, over 90 million licenses had been sold. According to Microsoft, Windows 7 was sold around 240 million times in the first 365 days of sales. Windows 7 had been sold over 670 million times by October 26, 2012, the day the successor was launched.

Support and updates

Originally, support for Windows 7 was planned to be provided by Microsoft by the beginning of 2015 up to and including the Home Premium and Ultimate editions (so-called mainstream phase ) and by the beginning of 2020 for the Professional and Enterprise editions (so-called extended phase ). This means that the editions aimed at private customers would only have been supported a little longer than those of the predecessor Windows XP, the end of which was significantly postponed. On February 20, 2012, Microsoft announced an extension of Extended Support with security updates. Support was finally discontinued on January 14, 2020. Since then, monthly update rollups are only available against the purchase of an ESU license (Extended Security Updates). Microsoft only makes this option available to corporate customers; the trade press cites prices of around € 200 per computer. The support will then be extended until 2023. Occasionally, crackers managed to install the updates without a license.

Service Pack 1

Service Pack 1 (SP1) was made available to members for download by Microsoft on February 16, 2011 via its developer platforms MSDN and TechNet. The service pack has a size of up to 538 MB (32-bit) or 903 MB (64-bit) and mainly contains the patches published up to its publication, but also several small stabilizations and optimizations. The SP1 reports with the build number 7601.

The SP1 was made available to all users on February 22, 2011 via Windows Update. The SP1 file for manual installation can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft website.

Since March 19, 2013, the service pack has been distributed automatically and without request via Windows Update. This does not apply to computers that are managed by the System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or WSUS server.


Web links

Commons : Microsoft Windows 7  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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