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Windows 7 - Which version is best for computer audio

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With the newest versions of Windows 7 that will be for sale this Thursday, October 22, the question/guidance for computer audio enthusiasts is what to buy. The minimal Windows 7 Starter version may be better in that it minimizes overhead and unnecessary processes. On the other hand, the Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate versions may have some things to provide what Microsoft states is the best PC entertainment experience.


Since the beta versions have be out for some time and in the hands of manufacturers and testers what are the recommendations for superior audio? I had hoped to read some feedback from the RMAF 2009 regarding the new versions of Mac and Windows OS. Any opinions from Lynx, Wavelength Audio, Berkeley Audio, Weiss Engineering, Reference Recordings and other pioneers?


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If you just want the core OS then the starter/Basic edition would do fine.


However the Home Premium and above will add in the Media Centre functionality...but a lot of other stuff too.


If you just want the basic OS for use with other audio software then less is more in my opinion.


Getting hold of the starter/basic editions could be tricky. OEM only I think so online order only.



I got my Windows 7 DVDs three days early so wondering what to do with my three copies.




Meridian 551 amp / Meridian 507 CD / Zune Mk1

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This month's PCPro mag has a useful breakdown on the feature set. From what I can make out there's not much difference between Starter and Home editions with the exception that streaming audio to DNLA devices is not supported in the Starter edition (no 'Extender' support).


Then things get a little geeky - if you think you will need either 'Windows XP' mode or 'Boot from Virtual Discs' then you will need the Ultimate edition. PCPro seemed to think the Professional version was neither one thing nor the other, considering the price differential between Pro and Ultimate.


Most of the, it has to be said very favourable, reviews seem to be concentrating on ease of use. Networking is much better is Win7 than it is in Vista - they've nearly managed to achieve the networking speeds that are achievable in XP! User interaction with the system is much better and the whole thing gets good marks for speed and stability.


None of which counts for a great deal in the arena of music servers, it has to be said! Personally I think the main issue in the future is going to be driver and software support. MS have committed to supporting XP through to 2012, I believe, but after that things might get a little tricky.


The other thing is consumer take up. MS has gone to very great lengths to make sure that Win7 will be the OS of choice on Netbooks and the like. If Joe Public takes to Win7 in a big way then all the software we use will end up being re-written to take advantage of Vista/Win7 's better audio core. IMHO that will be the biggest force for change.


I do plan on switching to Win7 on my home computer and that will mean that I shall have to switch to Win7 on my music server as well, due to the new way in which it handles home networking - only Win7 machines are allowed to be part of the new Homegroups system! So, if networking is important then it may be prudent to take advantage of the new Family Pack upgrades and bring all of your machines up to date.


For a stand alone music server, not networked, I think I would stick to XP/Vista for now and see how the new OS shapes up - plan A, in other words. If change appeals now then I would go with the Home Edition. It has features that are maybe not needed now, as do all OS'es, but the price differential, in my view, makes the Starter Edition bad value for money.


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