by October 6, 2009 0 comments



We at PCQuest have been covering new features of Windows 7 for more than six
months now. In this story we give you a gist of what we’ve already covered.
Plus, we talk about a lot of new features of Windows 7 that would really help
enhance your productivity.

Sensor Platform-for developers
Sensor platform is a fairly new concept for laptops and personal computers
and essentially provides a unified layer for connecting and accessing different
types of sensors to your computing devices and access them through different
applications at a given point of time. These sensors could be physical sensors
such as GPS, accelerometer and light sensors or they could be logical sensors
such as WiFi triangulation resolvers, etc. The main aim of this platform is to
provide an interface and a set of APIs so that one can use and build location
and environment aware applications. To understand what such sensors do, let’s
take the example of a light sensor which is connected to a laptop. Such a sensor
should automatically be able to decide the ambient light and based on the same,
should automatically adjust the brightness level of the display. Another example
of a location aware application that you can use immediately after installing
Windows 7 is the weather gadget. This gadget is capable of linking to your GPS
device or a GSM module (for GSM triangulation) if present and get your current
location and update it as you move from one location to another.

You might say, this kind of a location based development was even possible
earlier so what’s the great deal now? The answer lies in the fact that most of
these sensors are essentially com port-based (physical or virtual) devices and
as com port is serial in nature you can only connect one application to the
device at a point of time. With the help of the new sensor platform, it’s
possible to unify devices at a logical level so that any number of applications
can use sensors for getting location and surroundings data and automate
processes according to that.

With the new multi-touch feature in Windows 7 now you can
play around, shuffle, rotate and resize images with your fingers.
Remember the good old Calculator? Now it has been enhanced
by providing different views for programming, scientific and statistical
usage.

MultiTouch
After a long wait, finally we have a version of Windows which Supports
multi-touch natively. Till now there are very few hardware devices available
that support this functionality. Multi-touch can’t work with just about any
touch screen based system but requires a special touch hardware which supports
multiple touches as multiple inputs simultaneously. Right now you can get such
machines which support Windows 7 multi-touch functionality from both HP and
Dell. We got our hands dirty on an HP TouchSmart PC. Most of the native
applications that come with Windows 7 now supports multi-touch so for instance
now you can paint in the MS-Paint application using multiple fingers. There is a
multi-touch keyboard which lets you type with both hands as you do on a regular
keyboard.

Microsoft has also revealed the Touch Pack for Windows 7 which comes along
with some very neat software like games, photo viewer and screen server which
can be controlled by multi-touch. This pack should be available for download for
genuine Windows 7 users.

App enhancements
Ever since we’ve been using Windows, we are familiar with some of the
applications that come along with it such as the Calculator, Paint, Word pad,
etc. In the following sections we look at the new enhancements to these tools.

Calculator
This tiny applet that has been around since Windows 1.0 and is amongst the
most used application to do small calculations. Calculator has not seen any
major improvement in all these years but finally it gets a massive makeover in
Windows 7. At the basic level, the Calculator app looks like its earlier
counterparts, but with some color changes. However, even in this mode, there are
changes that can really make a huge difference to how you use this app. The
first change is that Calculator maintains a history of all calculations you have
done. And you can browse through these by clicking on the desired one or by
using the arrow buttons on top of the ‘screen.’ Another major change is that you
can even edit a previous calculation in case you made a mistake in any of the
values you entered by simply double clicking on it.

The basic calculator looks similar to the earlier versions. The history
options let you see earlier results as well as edit the calculation itself. You
now also have a number of new modes other than the Basic and Scientific ones
that have been around. You also get Programmer and Statistics modes. Not only
this, you also get a number of handy tools to perform common calculations.
First, you get a Unit Converter that lets you convert between different units of
different types. For instance, you can select types such as Temperature, Angle,
Speed, Length, Area and many more and select to convert between different units
such as C-F, Meter-Feet, Mile-Km, and more. Next, you also get a nice date
converter that lets you find the difference between two dates or add/remove days
to a date. And finally you get an option to perform some template based
calculations for Gas Mileage, Lease Estimation and Mortgage Estimation. If you
are planning to take a loan to purchase a car or house, this last one can be a
huge timesaver.

Paint
This is another app that has been around for ages without any significant
changes. The user interface now looks like that of an Office 2007 application by
the inclusion of the Ribbon control. This lets you work with a much larger
number of tools and has a number of enhancements to what Paint can do. Although
it is not something that you can use for editing photos or very precise
graphics, this is much better than what was there earlier and can be used for
simple jobs in a much easier fashion.

Word Pad
Always considered a simple word processor, WordPad too gets the new Office
2007 Ribbon interface to make finding and using features easier. Another
enhancement is that it can now open, edit and save in the new DOCX format as
well.

Next –Features
for Roaming & Branch Office Users

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