17 Things You Didn’t Know About Windows 7

After the disaster that was Windows Vista, Microsoft course-corrected and released Windows 7. Despite being based on a similar aesthetic to Vista, Windows 7 was immediately more well-liked than its predecessor, featuring many of the improvements and changes that Windows users had clamoured for since Vista’s ill-fated debut. It’s fair to say that Windows 7 was a much more popular and celebrated OS than Vista, and there are still many PCs that use it today. Here are 17 things that you might not have known about Windows 7.

1. It’s not the 7th version of Windows

Whatever Microsoft would have you believe, Windows 7 is very much not the seventh version of its operating system. If we’re being loose with what we include in our list, then Windows 7 is the eleventh version of Windows; if we only count numbered instalments, Windows 7 is only the sixth. Technically, the first ever version of Windows is 1981’s MS-DOS (which stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System). Microsoft has since attempted to backpedal on this by counting Windows 95, 98, and Me as a single release.

2. Windows 7 introduced taskbar pinning

With the introduction of Windows 7, you could now pin programs you used frequently to the taskbar, allowing you to access them quickly and easily. While this functionality wasn’t perfect – some apps would open separate instances away from the taskbar icon, which was somewhat frustrating (and still happens now) – it was an excellent way to improve productivity and convenience for the user. This feature is still available in Windows today.

3. Windows 7 pioneered touchscreen support

Technically, Windows 7 was not the first operating system to introduce touch screen-friendly drivers, as they were present in Windows Vista. However, it’s arguable that 7 was much better-designed for this nascent technology. Using a touchscreen with Windows 7 was just much easier and more intuitive than doing so with previous iterations of Windows, which touch-enabled device owners were happy about.

4. Windows 7 sold 7 copies per second in its first year

In a nice little bit of numerical serendipity, Windows 7 managed to shift 7 copies of its operating system each second during its first year on general release. It seemed that consumers had embraced Windows 7 after the lacklustre reception to predecessor Windows Vista. Indeed, the OS would go on to sell 630 million licenses, although it’s worth remembering that this number includes licenses for PC manufacturers looking to pre-install Windows 7 on their machines.

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5. Microsoft arguably beat Apple in the software race

As of 2011, at which point Windows 7 had been on general sale for two years, around 94% of computers around the world ran Microsoft’s operating system. This left a paltry 6% to be shared between Apple’s Mac OS X and Linux, the latter of which likely enjoys a very small share of the market even today. It’s fair to say that Microsoft’s Windows 7 absolutely dominated the PC landscape.

6. Windows 7 halved Vista’s virus infection rate

According to Softpedia, the viral infection rate for Windows 7 was just 1.2, which compares pretty favourably to Vista’s 2.5 and XP’s 5. Reading these numbers, it becomes even more worrying that many government agencies and institutions around the world are still using Windows XP on their machines, because the security vulnerabilities in that operating system are staggering to say the least.

7. Windows 7 still has 13% of the market share

Despite Windows 7 being several versions old and being discontinued at this point, it still enjoys 13% of the overall global Windows market share. Naturally, Windows 10 is the most popular operating system, with 82.5% of Windows computers running this version. Windows 7, however, is the runner-up, with Windows 8 and Windows XP bringing up third and fourth place respectively.

8. Windows 7 and 8 combined have sold more than Europe’s population

When looking at the combined sales figures for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, they easily dwarf the population of Europe. In 2022, Europe’s population stood at 747.5 million, but Windows 7 and 8 combined have sold at least 830 million licenses, and that’s not including the licenses sold after Microsoft released that figure for Windows 8. Try to visualise that for a moment and you might just blow your mind.

9. Windows 7 demanded 1GB of RAM

Fun fact: most modern smartphones would easily pass the system requirements for a Windows 7 PC. Microsoft’s operating system demanded a single gigabyte of RAM for the 32-bit edition of the system, while the 64-bit version needed twice that at 2GB. You also needed to have around 16-20GB of free space, as well as a GPU capable of running DirectX 9 (which pretty much all commercially available graphics cards and most onboard graphics units could do).

10. Windows 7 introduced the Action Centre

You’ll probably be familiar with the Action Centre, which is the small flag that appears in the notification area of Windows 7 when you need to address something. Usually, it’s telling you that your firewall isn’t running, or that you need to create a backup, or something similar. Windows 7 was the first time this feature had been seen, and it’s a useful little addition that has probably saved quite a few people’s Windows setups.

11. Windows 7 was cheaper than Windows Vista

Despite being the next iteration in the operating system series, Windows 7 was actually a cheaper proposition than Windows Vista. It retailed at $119.99 for the Home Premium edition upgrade, which was cheaper than Vista by about $40. If you wanted to fork out for the full version of Windows 7 and you weren’t upgrading, it would cost you around $199.99, which still beats Vista’s $239.99. Not bad, considering that 7 is undoubtedly a better piece of software.

12. You could recreate problems in Windows 7

Thanks to the addition of the “Record steps to reproduce a problem” button in Windows 7, it was possible to retrace everything you did prior to experiencing an error so that you could show what happened in order to get that error message. Doing so would help technicians to diagnose what was wrong with your PC and hopefully help you to set it right. This was a nifty little addition, so it’s a shame it wasn’t used more widely.

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13. Windows 7 had a God Mode folder

Named for a popular cheat in video games, God Mode was a way to enable all of Windows 7’s configurable settings in a single stroke. You could gain access to this mode by creating a new folder in the desktop environment and renaming that folder to “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. It’s a lengthy string of numbers and letters, yes, but the power it bestowed was unimaginable.   

14. The Windows 7 Cipher feature let you permanently delete data

Using Cipher, you could permanently delete any data you definitely didn’t want on your Windows 7 hard drive. This was distinct from just throwing files in the Recycle Bin and then not thinking about them again; Cipher would irreparably destroy all of your files and wipe your hard drive partition, meaning those files were permanently gone. Perfect for when you were selling your laptop (or when those pesky authorities came sniffing around, of course).

15. Windows 7 came with a bunch of cool new shortcuts

Alongside Windows 7’s overhaul to the core Windows user experience, there were also a lot of new shortcuts that you could take advantage of if you wanted to enhance your personal usage. For example, did you know that the Windows key and Home pressed together will minimise all the windows you have open, except the one you’re currently looking at? It’s true. There are plenty of other cool shortcuts to discover in Windows 7 as well!

16. Windows 7 redesigned the preview window

When you hover over a window in Windows 7, you can see a preview of what that window looks like. In Vista, this feature was present as well, but it was pretty limited; you could see the window, but you couldn’t do much else with it. In Windows 7, however, you can close windows entirely from the preview screen. Not bad, eh? You can also move windows around!

17. Windows 7 was discontinued in 2015

Although it’s technically true that Windows 7 was discontinued in 2015, extended support for the system actually finished as late as 2020. This was part of Microsoft’s plan to support its operating systems for an extended period of time. Windows 7 is still being used on lots of computers, which is worrying, because it means that those PCs won’t be able to take advantage of security updates or other convenient features that more modern versions of the operating systems enjoy.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our collection of Windows 7 facts! Did we miss anything? Do you know something cool about Windows 7? What’s your favourite version of the operating system?                

– Continue Reading This Article Series

17 Things You Didn’t Know About Windows:

– Windows 3.0x
– Windows 95
– Windows 98
– Windows Me
– Windows Vista
– Windows XP
– Windows 7
– Windows 8
– Windows 10
– Windows 11

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