In case you missed all the commotion, mainstream coverage, and that strange launch party campaign, Windows 7 became publicly available this morning. You should now be able to buy either the new operating system or Windows 7-powered PCs in stores. Or, if you don't feel like getting up, you can order Windows 7 online. Here are the editions available at Newegg:
|Windows 7 Home Premium
||Windows 7 Professional
||Windows 7 Ultimate
|OEM (64-bit) license||$109.99||$149.99||$189.99|
|OEM (32-bit) license||$109.99||$149.99||$189.99|
Retail licenses can be installed on any compatible PC, but upgrade licenses officially require an activated copy of Windows XP or Vista on your hard drive. OEM licenses don't have that limitation, but you can't transfer them to a different system after an upgrade, and you must choose between 32-bit and 64-bit licenses up front. (Retail and upgrade licenses cover both 32-bit and 64-bit software.)
For a breakdown of edition features and more details about the new operating system, you should check out our desktop-centric review of Windows 7. We found that the new OS effectively builds upon Vista with more polish, more sensible feature distribution between editions, fewer compatibility hurdles (when moving from Vista, at least), an improved user interface, DirectX 11 (with DirectCompute for built-in GPU computing goodness), and plenty of little tweaks here and there to make things more straightforward for the end user. It's not perfect, but Windows 7 may well be Microsoft's finest OS to date.