Friday, October 23, 2009
What Windows 7 version for gamers?
So Windows 7 was released yesterday worldwide, to replace the much maligned Windows Vista. Now you might innocently walk into a shop to buy a copy of Windows 7, at which point the shop assistant will ask you "Which version?". Your options include Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Each of these might or might not be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit, and might be available as either upgrade or full install version. On some markets there are alternative versions, like the European "N" version replacing the previously planned "E" version, not containing additional Microsoft programs like the Internet Explorer or Media Player for anti-trust reasons. At this point the average computer user is seen running screaming from the store, suffering from being unable to decide due to information overload. So, if you are an average PC gamer, which version of Windows 7 should you buy?
My choice would be Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit full install.
You certainly shouldn't get less than the Home Premium version (and actually in many countries you can't get less if you want the full install and not an OEM version). You might be tempted by the Windows XP virtual machine compatibility mode of the Professional edition, but I doubt you really need that one. Enterprise and Ultimate are just overkill for a home computer. You should definitely take the 64-bit version, because the 32-bit version would limit you to 3 GB of RAM, which might still be sufficient today, but will certainly be not enough in a year or two. Given how often I did complete re-installs of previous Windows versions, I'd recomment the full install, because that will be a lot easier to apply after you formatted your hard drive.
The full install version of Windows 7 Home Premium is sold in a pack that contains both the 32-bit and the 64-bit version, and costs $200, or £115, or €120 on Amazon.
So of course the big question is whether you actually need Windows 7 right now. I'm not convinced. While Vista was a catastrophe at launch, it actually runs well enough now, with service pack 2. To get the full advantages of Windows 7, I would need to go and buy 2 copies, one to replace my Vista, the other for my wife's computer to replace Windows XP. That would make creating a home network very easy, but do I really want to spend 400 bucks on that? The alternative is to keep using what you are currently using, and get a copy of Windows 7 included the next time you buy a new computer. That also saves you the hassle of reinstalling your games after having changed operating systems.
Are you going to buy Windows 7 now, or only later with a new computer? Do you agree with my choice of version for gamers, and if not, what version would you have picked?
(And as we recently discussed comment moderation policy, I think it is obvious that your "Windows sucks, buy a Mac / Linux" comment will go straight to /dev/null.)