Feeds

Windows 7 early promise: Passes the Vista test

Safe, solid - exciting?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

PDC Windows Vista is better than its reputation, but its reputation is pretty bad. During the press briefing for Windows 7 at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC), corporate vice president for Windows product management Mike Nash insisted Microsoft had learned from the Vista experience.

Judging by early Windows 7 code released at PDC, the signs are that it really has.

Microsoft is making all the right noises: everything that works on Vista will also work on Windows 7, it will be faster on the same hardware, it will run longer on the same batteries, it will be more reliable.

In other words, whereas Vista was two steps forward and one step back from Windows XP, there should be no downside to Windows 7 over Windows Vista.

A day spent with a Windows 7 preview build - Milestone 3, running on a laptop loaned for the purpose (Dell XPS M1330, Core 2 Duo 2.3Ghz, with 3GB RAM) tends to confirm that view. Windows 7 feels more polished than Vista, even in the preview, and performance is good.

Unfortunately many of the new features in Windows 7 are absent from the build given to the press, presumably because they are not yet stable, so the following quick tour is partly based on first-hand experience, and partly on Microsoft's demos.

The first thing you notice is the revamped taskbar, with chunky thumbnail icons, full-screen application preview on mouse hover, and "jump lists" - pop-up menus that expose key features directly from the taskbar, provided that the application was coded to support them, and recently opened documents for any application.

Windows 7 Taskbar

First impressions: the revamped Windows 7 taskbar

The system tray area now has a customize option that allows the user to suppress notifications, annoying for developers but empowering for users. It is all about making Windows quieter and less annoying. The same principle is at play in the revised User Account Control (UAC), which offers a simple slider bar that lets the user decide the level of prompting it enforces.

Microsoft has also tried to improve the experience of managing open windows. You can make windows temporarily transparent, in order to see files on the desktop, and when you drag them to a screen border, they snap into place. Vista's sidebar has been scrapped, and gadgets now appear on the desktop itself. Windows Explorer has a new feature called Libraries, where a library is a group of folders which you can search as if it were one location.

UAC Control

Set prompts using UAC's slider

Those few who have a multi-touch display can control Windows 7 with their fingers. Gestures like flicks and pinches perform actions like scrolling and zoom. Although this looked good in the demos, it was also apparent that many icons are too small to work well with finger control, including the close and maximize gadgets on every window.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft refuses to nip 'Windows 9' unzip lip slip
Look at the shiny Windows 8.1, why can't you people talk about 8.1, sobs an exec somewhere
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?