Windows 7 is an operating system developed by Microsoft. It is intended to fix many of the issues users perceived with Windows Vista. Windows 7 has NT kernel version 6.1, making it a minor update to Windows Vista. Windows 7 improved performance on older hardware, while also improving many areas of the Aero user interface. It is one of Microsoft's most popular operating systems, running on 16.55% percent of desktop and laptop computers as of February 2021.
It replaces Windows Vista and was replaced by Windows 8. Mainstream support ended on 13 January 2015, while free extended support ended on 14 January 2020. For Professional and Enterprise users, paid extended support will end on 10 January 2023.
A pre-RTM build, 7600.16384, was speculated to be the final version of the product but had a flaw in Internet Explorer 8 which prevented it from shipping.
This is the last version of Windows that supports processors without PAE, SSE2 and NX; and the last version of Windows that received a Service Pack from Microsoft.
The name "Windows 7" comes from the version number of Windows Vista (6.0) being incremented by one to get 7.0. This was the project's code name and was eventually used as the final name as well.
Common belief is that the previous code names of Windows 7 were Blackcomb and/or Vienna, however, they refer to an earlier effort likewise intended to succeed Windows Vista, which was canceled in early 2007 and replaced with the Windows 7 project.
Windows 7 was shipped in the following SKUs:
- Starter - low-end edition available only through OEMs, who usually preinstalled it on netbooks, tablets and cheap laptops. It does not include the Windows Aero theme and doesn't support changing the desktop wallpaper and visual styles. Supports 2 GB of RAM at most and comes in x86 version only.
- Home Basic - available in emerging markets, such as India, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and others. It includes the Aero theme, but some of its features are disabled. This edition came in x86 and x64 versions.
- Home Premium - standard edition aimed at the home customer segment and is most commonly preinstalled on new computers and laptops. It includes the fully featured Aero theme and Windows Media Center.
- Professional - replaced Vista's Business edition and includes all features of Home Premium. It adds the ability to join a domain and other features commonly used in business environment. It supports activation over a KMS server.
- Ultimate / Enterprise - top-level editions of Windows 7. They are identical with regards to supported features, with both editions including all functionality of Professional and adding MUI support. The only difference between the two is that Ultimate was available directly to end customers via OEM and retail channels and can be activated only by WPA, while Enterprise was only offered to businesses through Software Assurance and supports activation over a KMS server.
All of the above editions are offered in N and KN variants without Windows Media Player in order to meet European and Korean legislation. An E variant was also planned, which would also remove Internet Explorer, but in the end the variant was not released and the Browser Choice ballot screen was introduced as a replacement to satisfy the European Union's demands. Some leaked builds leading up to the RTM are available in this variant.
List of known builds
Release Candidate (RC)
Service Pack 1 Beta
Service Pack 1 RC
Service Pack 1