January 24, 2011, 12:57 PM — Though Microsoft doesn't make a big deal of Windows 7's many networking improvements and new features, they offer a fine reason to upgrade from XP. There used to be many reasons to skip migrating to Windows 7; but as the operating system matures and XP ages, Windows 7 is becoming a worthwhile update.
[ See also: Windows 7: When should you migrate? ]
For starters, Internet Explorer 9--arguably Microsoft's best Web browser ever--will work only on Windows 7. On the other hand, we currently have lots of excellent Web browser choices, so the promise of IE 9 alone may not be enough to tempt you.
Fortunately, Windows 7 has lots of other excellent networking features that you shouldn't overlook. Here's a closer look at what these capabilities mean for consumers and businesses.
Windows 7 Libraries are meta-folders that let you gather files from multiple sources, including network files and directories, into a single folder view. Libraries are also a way of organizing folders to simplify finding, sorting, and manipulating files that have common content sets. For example, you can have one library for all your photos even if they're scattered across your PC, your spouse's laptop, and a network-attached storage (NAS) drive.
By default, Windows 7 comes with four "local" Libraries: Documents, Music, Photos, and Videos. These are its take on the former My Documents folder that earlier editions of Windows used. The key difference is that in a Windows 7 library, the actual files can be anywhere on your computer or network. Once you've entered a photo's locations in the Photos Library, you don't need to worry about it anymore. Photos located in any of the various directories will automatically appear in your Photos Library. The same is true of any other kind of file that you track with a Library