Using Windows 7 in a Stock Trading Computer
After using Windows 7 and having previously used almost all of Microsoft's operating systems from MS-DOS to Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 to Windows 98 to Windows ME to Windows 2000 to Windows XP and finally to Windows Vista, this is indeed the fastest, most stable and best looking Windows version yet! The million dollar question now is: Will Windows 7, in its current form, be good and irresistible enough to make traders, who are happily running WinXP, upgrade their current trading PCs, or will they adopt a wait and see attitude until their next hardware replacement cycle?
Will Traders Upgrade Now or Wait For Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1)?
Financial traders need stability in the tools they use i.e. their stock or futures trading software and the computer hardware they use to trade with. Any downtime, due to system hardware and software crashes, have to be minimized or totally eliminated. Currently, almost 70-80% of traders still use Windows XP as the operating system of choice for their trading PC. Many even went to the extent of downgrading their new Microsoft Vista loaded computers to XP to maintain stability and confidence in their computer systems.
As Windows XP will be officially supported until 2014 by Microsoft, naturally, many prudent traders will not be immediately jumping to upgrade their old PCs to Windows 7. If you're still looking for a Windows XP system, ToshibaDirect.com has laptop specials with XP still available! Most traders will only use Windows 7 when they buy a new trading PC or laptop. Unlike the Vista fiasco, where many customers requested downgrades to XP for their new computers, it is doubtful that the majority of traders will do the same with Windows 7. Although Vista SP2 has solved almost all of Vista's teething problems, its reputation has been battered and the brand name Vista is now heavily tainted and viewed with distrust. The same however cannot be said of Windows 7 as it has started off on the right foot and done most things well. They have fixed all the performance issues that Vista had, so it's very fast, even faster than XP and best of all, it doesn't require high hardware specifications like Vista.
Which Version of Windows 7 Is Ideal For Stock Trading?
Unless some traders require specialized protection of their data using BitLocker that the Ultimate version offers, the Professional or even Home Premium versions (if advanced networking features are not required), should suffice for most average day traders (compare editions). Desktop computers like the trader favorite Dell Precision T3400 and mobile stock trading workstations like the HP EliteBook 8730w and ThinkPad W700 will have options to ship with either the Ultimate or Professional version in 32-bit or 64-bit mode.
Using Virtualization to check compatibility with existing software
For those traders bold and eager enough to try out Win7 now, it is highly recommended to test your current trading setup using virtualization before you take the upgrade path. What you need is to download and install the free VMware Server and install it to run virtual-machines. Then you will need to use the free VMware Converter to capture and virtualize your existing trading computer setup. You can then test by upgrading the virtualized machine to Windows7 and see how it runs your trading applications and if it breaks anything.
If you are currently in the market for a new trading computer, this is a very good time to buy and take advantage of a shiny new OS as Windows 7 is very stable and will potentially not have the same problems as Vista. Read "Choosing a Stock Trading Desktop Computer" or "How to Choose a Laptop for Stock Trading", to be better informed before committing to your new trading hardware.