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October 22, 2009 is almost here and with it, the official release of
Windows 7. Fortunately for all of us, the ensuing cacophony won't be
from a million computer users crying out at once in utter despair

No more will the screams of frustration drown out the loudest metal
bands in the land. This time, the heavens will part, the angels will
sing, and the world will be comforted in an eternal blanket of peace.
All right. Maybe the release of Windows 7 shouldn't *quite* be hailed
as the second coming, but gamers around the globe should rejoice
nonetheless and I'm here to tell you why.

The Simple Answer

In a nutshell, the answer is speed, speed, and more speed. Everything
in gaming depends on the ability of your computer to process everything
fast enough to keep you from having to deal with hitching (pauses) in
your game. The more powerful the computer, the better textures,
particle effects, and distances your system can render. Sounds like a
tall order for an operating system (OS) to pull off, but Windows 7 is
ready to step up to the plate.

With the introduction of DirectX 11, default system settings that
don’t bog your system down, and a design built for speed and
efficiency, Windows 7 will give you a better gaming experience just as
it is.

That’s the quick and dirty version of why upgrading to
Windows 7 will improve your gaming experience, but read on, because
there’s oh so much more.

The Current Regime

There are three main types of people using Windows-based PCs these days
(in any modern sense):

Those that are happily using XP.

Those that have lost all sense of hope with Vista and have
"downgraded" to XP (or upgraded to the Windows 7 release candidate).

Those that are happy using Vista.

Types 1 and 2 don't have to give up their operating systems, though
they'll probably be happy if they do, if for the added speed boost if
nothing else (we’ll get to that later). Type 3 is nothing
more than a fairy tale concocted by Microsoft to fool little children,
old people, and advertisers. It wasn't the destruction of Alderaan that
made Obi-Wan nearly faint from a great disturbance in the force; it was
the release of Vista. Like the eventual redemption gained by Anakin
Skywalker (Darth Vader) for the slaying of Emperor Palpatine, Microsoft
is hoping to receive the same with the release of Windows 7.

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Spec It Out for Me

The minimum requirements for running Windows 7 are as follows:

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
    32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit)
    or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk
    space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device
    with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Let's be honest with ourselves here for a minute before we go any
further. If these are the specs of your gaming rig, you have bigger
problems than which OS you’re using. Unless, of course,
you're running Vista, in which case you should just run. I'm sensing a
pattern here, are you? In any case, even at your low end, you should be
running at *least* a 1.6 gigahertz processor though, obviously, the
faster you can afford, the better.

My personal recommendations for minimum specifications:

  • 2+ Ghz (x64) processor
  • 4 GB (DDR2 533) RAM
  • 64 GB available hard disk
  • DirectX 9 graphics device
    with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

The Installation Smoothie

In this particular aspect, no other OS has come as close to delivering
a completely painless installation process as Windows 7 has. Aside from
being asked to adjust the current date and time after choosing (or
adjusting) the drive and partition I wanted to install on, and entering
my wireless network information (*such* a great feature), Windows 7
handled the rest of the installation from beginning to end.

Windows 7 comes with an array of modern day display drivers, so adjusts
your screen immediately upon first booting up for great viewing. The
days of scrolling at the speed of squat as you try to get to your
network connections set has been done away with and it’s
about damned time.

Not only does Windows 7 have a number of useful drivers already built
in, but the update process will also find optional drivers for various
devices. For example, when beginning the update process on my laptop,
it found updated drivers for both my wireless network controller and my
touchpad mouse.

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The Windows 7 installation process is not only a breeze, but is also
far, far faster than both XP and Vista. Where the prospect of doing a
fresh install with an older OS meant clearing your calendar for at
least half a day (driver installs, updates, etc), you’ll now
be amazed at just how quick and smoothly a fresh install can go.

Increasing Your Memory

The question of how much memory an OS can use has been a constant thorn
in my side for a number of years now, so let me give everyone a
simplified overview of why you (as a gamer) want to go with the 64-bit
version of Windows 7 and not even bother with the 32-bit. With the
insane price drop of memory over the last couple of years, you should
be running a minimum of 4 GB of RAM in your system. If you're running
XP, even though your computer sees all 4GB, Windows XP (minus the
disastrous 64-bit release) will only recognize a little over 3GB.

It's not that XP is stupid, it's just mathematically unable to
recognize more than that as a 32-bit OS. There are ways around it, but
I'm willing to bet that less than 5% of the population utilizes them
and even less than that actually understand how they work, so I won't
get into them here.

By going with a 64-bit system you can install all the RAM your
motherboard can handle and actually *use* it. More memory equals faster
response times on virtually everything, especially gaming. No other
argument for it needs to be made, but feel free to shoot me an email if
you want more details and I'll be happy to talk about it.


Tired of getting your MMO accounts hacked? Windows 7 has a number of
security improvements over XP without a fraction of the insanely
frustrating mother hen syndrome of Vista. Windows 7 has the heavy
security of its devil spawn of a predecessor, but won’t ask
you four and a half billion times if you're sure you want to install or
uninstall anything. It won't tell you your children are going to be
kidnapped by rabid coyotes in the Mojave Desert if you open this web
page. It will still ask if you want to allow X program make changes to
your computer when you go to install something, but it will simply ask
once and leave it at that.

While you can adjust the circumstances Windows 7 will ask for various
permissions, it's advisable to leave things at their default setting.
It provides a solid layer of protection for your computer without being
obnoxious about it.

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Say Goodbye to the Word

For me, the biggest advantage with upgrading to Windows 7 is in how it
handles its own resources. Unlike XP and Vista (which is absolutely
horrific in this aspect), if Windows 7 isn't actively using a
particular system service it will automatically turn it off, only
activating it again when necessary. This means more speed for gamers,
all without having to alter any settings. If this new OS had made no
other changes from Vista, it would almost be enough to justify the

Though most gamers may not care about a Solid-State Drive (SSD) or what
it can do for you, the technogeeks among us can finally be excited
about them once again. Not only does Windows 7 interact with them
better than XP or Vista, but also absolutely loves them. I've had
colleagues tell me they've seen a better than 25% increase of speed
after loading Windows 7. Remember… more speed equals better

Setting up your home network, whether it’s cabled, wireless,
or both, is a complete breeze. As I mentioned previously, I set up my
wireless network connection during the installation process, all in
under a few minutes. Windows 7 will save you not only time, but a lot
of headaches as well.

DirectX 11

A new DirectX means new graphical goodness for those that have had the
hardware (or OS in the case of DirectX 10) to utilize it. For games
that support DirectX 10 shaders, the shiny new results can be
staggeringly awesome. Unfortunately, if I were to count the number of
games that use DirectX 10 off the top of my head, I could do it on both

Part of the blame for this oversight lies with Vista and the
unmitigated hatred it garnered in the gaming community in general. As a
result, developers have been lax in their efforts to bring DirectX 10
to both new and existing games. With any luck, this latest version
should not suffer the same fate in the future. I'm hopeful the
favorable reviews of the release client so far will make companies feel
more comfortable about investing in DirectX 11 technologies. If they
do, a new age of graphics could be upon us.

As mentioned in the specification section early, you do not need to
have a DirectX 11-compatible video card to run Windows 7. If you hear
differently from anyone, be sure to ignore any and all further advice
from said "computer guru".


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The Bottom Line

If you have ancient hardware (such as scanners and printers) that
you're worried won't work with Windows 7, check your manufacturer's
website to find out just to be sure. The majority of computer gamers
should not have this issue but better to be safe than sorry.
Personally, I have yet to find a piece of my hardware that
isn’t perfectly happy with the new OS.

In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm all about the release of Windows 7
on October 22nd. I've been using the release client on all my systems
for a few months now and love it. I've got it running on a netbook
(yes, I actually said netbook), a laptop, and my desktop gaming rig. In
the case of all three, it starts up and runs everything faster and
cleaner than either XP or Vista. The speed increases alone make this a
gold mine for gamers everywhere.

Stay tuned next week when Ten Ton Hammer puts Windows 7 to the test.
Which games will come out on top? Will any OS be able to challenge the
new contender? We’re about to find out.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016