by February 1, 2009 0 comments

There has been a lot written about the current Windows operating system
version — Vista. Some people have liked it immensely and others can’t stop
detesting it. However, when the Windows 7 beta was revealed to the public last
year and made available as a download, it has received very rave reviews all
around. We are starting a new series that will delve into the new and enhanced
features in the next major client operating system from Microsoft. In this first
of the series, we will take a broad, overall view of features that would be most
visible and some that have deeper meanings for users.

Windows 7
Part I

The New Taskbar
The taskbar is one of the most recognizable features of Windows ever since
Windows 95. Although there have been changes in each version that has come out,
none have been as dramatic as the one in Win7. Now nicknamed as “SuperBar”, the
new Taskbar comes with a whole new set of features by itself. For instance,
instead of a Quick Launch bar and a separate running tasks area, the Taskbar now
combines both of these to allow “pinnable” application icons. That is, an
application can appear as an icon on the Taskbar — but when launched, the same
icon now acts as the running task — saving a whole bunch of real estate on the
bar. Other abilities include interactive preview thumbnails, Aero based peeking
into other windows and more.

The system notification area too has got a facelift. Instead of being
cluttered with a ton of application icons all vying for the limited space in
this area, Windows 7 allows only 4 icons in this area. All others are available
by clicking an arrow to see them.

Desktop & Explorer
There have been a number of changes made to the Desktop as well. Personalization
schemes include being able to rotate your wallpapers automatically and a number
of other organizational features. The Windows Sidebar is now gone — although
Gadgets have not. You can now drop gadgets directly anywhere on the desktop and
be able to use them.

The new “SuperBar” is larger
and contains a huge number of features by itself.

Windows Explorer has introduced a new data organization feature called
“Libraries”. These are special “folders” that can point to a number of different
folders on your system or network. For instance, the Music library can point to
c:\Users \Vinod \Music, D:\Media\Music and \\homeserver \Media\Muzik. Opening
the Music library lets you see all the different files across these locations in
one view as if they are all in a single folder on your system.

Interactive preview thumbnails —
note the play/pause and navigation buttons in the thumbnail window of Media
The notification area hides all
icons other than 4 pre-defined ones. The other are accessible from the small

Choosing what you want to share
in your HomeGroup.
Libraries organize multiple
folders into categories.

Choosing what you want to share
in your HomeGroup.
Libraries organize multiple
folders into categories.

One of the nice things about networking in Windows 7 is that it’s really easy to
get onto a network with it — especially wireless ones. The Connect to dialog is
now gone and the network icon itself shows you a list of networks you can
connect to.

The humble Paint is one of the
revamped applications in Windows 7 — there is a lot more in there.

The other major feature is something called a “HomeGroup”. This is meant for
non-technical computer users who do have multiple and mostly mobile machines at
home. The HomeGroup allows them to discover each other and use each other’s
resources easily. For instance, if a home computer has a printer attached to it,
other computers in the same HomeGroup can easily discover and use this printer
as if it were installed locally. You can also share files, media and other
devices across machines easily.

Other Enhancements
There are a whole bunch of other enhancements that we will cover in the coming
months. More Aero features, completely revamped familiar applications, nicer
device compatibility and more. Till next time, you can drool over the high
resolution pictures of Windows 7 in action.

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