Windows 7 will begin appearing as the default operating system (OS) on the Dell PCs leased for St. Thomas faculty, staff and labs during the summer replacement cycle of 2010.

Roughly one-third of the PC computers on campus will transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 over the summer, with the remaining two-thirds following over the next two years. Windows 7 represents a major change to the PC operating system, and will likely be somewhat foreign to those who have been using XP for a number of years.

Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint will not be affected by the change in the OS. Whether the PC is running Windows 7 or XP, the Office software is still “Office 2007” and will function as it has in the past; however, there are some software applications that do not function in Windows 7, and IRT is testing all of the current applications in use at UST in order to ensure their continued functionality on the new OS.

From a usability standpoint, one of the most obvious changes is that the “start” menu will look very different from how it looks now. In fact, you may find it is easier to utilize the “search” feature in the “start” menu to access your frequently used programs rather than trying to navigate to them; otherwise, programs can easily be added, or “pinned,” into the start menu and “quick launch” toolbar by simply right clicking on the application icon and choosing either option.

Other changes range from how the computer can be restarted (choosing “shut down” in Windows 7 actually shuts the system down, rather than prompting for a choice of “log off,” “restart” or “shut down” as it does now in XP), to a new organizational feature called “libraries.” (Libraries allow for a broader organization and grouping of documents and  folders, and can be arranged by features such as “Author,” “Type,” “Date Modified,” or a “Tag” of your choosing.)

In order to help ease the transition to Windows 7, IRT will conduct “brown bag” overviews throughout the summer; also, IRT has set up a Web page featuring links to Microsoft online training videos and downloadable training documentation, as well as recommendations for upgrading personal computers to Windows 7. As always, additional questions are welcomed at the Tech Desk.