Windows 7

With all of the great features in the upcoming Windows 7, it is understandable articles are pouring on to tech blogs like an avalanche. Today we look at several perspectives to gather our own hits and misses in Windows 7.

The Beta

The break through beta was released to developers at the WinHEC convention in October 2008, and shortly leaked to torrent networks shortly after. Software pirates have since unlocked many features considered to be hidden, as well as reporting of incredible tales of rich features, stabilities, and improvements over XP and Vista.

Windows 7 Tech Upgrade

Microsoft is planning a Windows 7 Tech Guarantee Program which will make it possible for Windows Vista owners to upgrade their operating system to Windows 7. They have not released much information yet, but not all editions of Windows Vista will be eligible for the upgrade

Release Schedule

Microsoft originally stated that the next generation Windows operating system would be available about three years after Windows Vista’s January 2007 release. But one manufacturer indicate that Windows 7 could be released to as early as Summer of 2009.

Where to start?

Overwhelmed with great insights about great features, sometimes it is hard to find a place to start. So lets just make a Pandora’s Box styled article this time.

System Resources

Windows 7 has been designed to start up and shut down more quickly than Windows Vista, which comes in handy if you happen to be doing some light work on your PC while waiting at an airport and you need to slam your notebook shut and run for the gate once you realize you missed the final boarding call. Microsoft is accomplishing the quicker boot speed by reducing the number of services that launch at startup and loading drivers in parallel instead of sequentially. Windows 7 also includes improved window management that will let you load more windows without running out of memory.

Power Management

There are also a many improvements to power management that will result in an 11% or better battery boost. These include better management of wireless radios (like WiFi and Bluetooth), and some tweaks that will let the CPU run slower or spend more time idling.

Features Removed from the Windows Family

Microsoft will stop bundling Windows Movie Maker, Windows Mail, and Windows Photo Gallery with the operating system. Those applications will still be available as free downloads, but you won’t have them out of the box. Instead they’ll be part of the new Windows Live suite.

Networking

Windows 7 has received feedback for improved wireless and networking support, as Wireless connections have been simplified.

The system tray icon now provides a full list of APs with a single click, and you can right click any entry to connect to it.

One user has also detected three more access points near their home than with XP or Vista. User reports also indicate that connections to routers resume instantly when their systems wake.


The Aero Theme and Themes in General

Keeping with the visual theme, display settings have returned to the desktop right-click context menu, also keeping the personalize option in tact. Once again Windows features quick access to adjust resolution. The Aero interface has been refined, and it’s leaner and meaner than before. Visual effects looks superb and are silky smooth, even on less powerful hardware with integrated graphics.

Aero Shake

Aero Shake which basically provides a way to hide all but the active windows from the screen or revert that process. This is done by left-clicking a window and shaking it left and right. All other visible windows will automatically get minimized after doing so. The process can be reverted by shaking the window again which will reopen the minimized windows in the same position again.

Windows Superbar

Apart from adding even more visual pop to the improved Desktop Window Manager, it adds some long-absent functionality. Apart from better visual task tips with smooth transition effects, it’s fixed another minor annoyance. At last you can click and drag taskbar buttons to re-order them. Windows Media Player’s tip view even provides basic playback controls automatically – no need for a special taskbar mode. The icon only mode is also a welcome change as it helps reduce taskbar clutter and pinning simplifies access to your favorite apps.

Screen Docking

Screen docking is popular feature that is currently only available by installed third party software to previous versions of Windows. The feature basically docks and displays a window in a certain way depending on the side of the screen that it is moved to. A window will be displayed on half of the screen if the user moves it to the left or right side of it. That’s comfortable for viewing two windows that use the same amount of screen estate next to each other and should be a good option for users with large monitors.


PC Safeguard

Windows 7 has taken restricted user accounts to the next level: by enabling PC Safeguard, you can force all changes a user makes to be discarded at log off. That means shortcuts, downloads, documents, temp files – everything just disappears. It’s easy enough for the average home user to configure, and provides an additional layer of defense against malware and reckless computer use. Second, you can simply run a command as an administrative user and the changes will persist. For example: right click the Firefox installer, run it as the administrator, enter the password, and it’s there to stay. Safeguard can also lock any hard drive you specify to prevent write access with just a couple of mouse clicks. There’s a bit of startup delay when logging in a protected user, but it’s barely noticeable.


Desktop Slideshow

is a new setting hidden away in your Personalization settings that allows you to select multiple images to create a fading slideshow on your desktop.


Device stage
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Right now, Windows treats multifunction devices like separate entities.This really doesn’t make much sense: is your all-in-one three separate pieces of hardware? No?

With device stage, you’ll see only a single device in the control panel which you can then explore to access its multiple capabilities.

Device Stage will improve integration with cell phones, PDAs, personal media players, cameras, and more.

Improved UAC

Vista’s UAC was so brutally nagging that it scared simple users from using Vista, and techies ended up disabling it entirely. UAC in Windows 7 is much smarter. Manual initiations do not prompt most of the time. Once an application is marked as trusted, that’s it – no more nags.

Ready Boost
Microsoft will extend Readyboost support in Windows 7. Readyboost was introduced in Windows Vista and was used to add flash drive caches of up to 4 Gigabytes to the system. The main intention of Readyboost was to provide lower end systems running Windows Vista with better performance by utilizing those additional flash caches. The updated Readyboost will see several advancements. The 4 Gigabyte restriction will be lifted which essentially means that flash drives with larger capacities can then be used as additional cache. The limit to one Readyboost device has also been removed which gives users the possibility to use multiple flash drives as additional caches in Windows


Power Shell v2

Masters of command prompt will be all over the new Powershell V2. It’s an amazing tool for administrators, programmers, and tweakers. Apart from adding tons of new scripting features, a graphical interface has been introduced making script creation even easier. For more information about what it does, check the team blog at MSDN.


Windows Complete PC Backup

Windows 7 will finally provide a built-in advanced backup solutionfor PCs. It is a simple way to back up your system to a networked or external hard drive. Windows will even create a bootable restore/rescue disc and it will remember the location of your last backup – making the restore process efficient and dead simple.

Font Management

The options to install, uninstall and manage fonts has not been changed in Windows since Windows 95. At least not in a remarkable way. The fonts manager was overhauled in Windows 7 and provides a preview of every installed font of the computer system with the option to hide fonts based on language settings.

ClearType Tuner
XP and Vista provided users with an on and off switch for ClearType but no configuration options. Powertoys provided access to a ClearType Tuner which provided access to a wizard that would walk the user through the process of optimizing the ClearType display. It seems that this wizard has now been integrated into Windows 7.A new entry with the name ClearType Text Tuner is available in the Windows 7 Control Panel. The Wizard will display several screens with 2-6 identical text displays that make use of different ClearType settings asking the user to pick the one best suited for their monitor.


Miscellaneous Additions, Removals, and Changes

  • Wordpad now features the much talked about Ribbon Interface similar to Office 2007.
  • MSPaint now features the much talked about Ribbon Interface similar to Office 2007.
  • Windows 7 includes an integrated ISO burner.
  • Sticky notes are integrated. Notes can be posted around your desktop and then gathered to a virtual corkboard.
  • Windows Firewall has been improved a lot in Windows 7. Now its more customizable and provides more security.
  • Calculator has also been re-designed. It provides 2 new options: Programmer and Statistics.

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