In this issue:
Windows 7: What's in store?
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Microsoft provided a glimpse of its next client operating system, now officially known as Windows 7.
The first question people (usually) ask is: Does it look like Vista? Right now the answer is "Yes". But you should remember that the current build of Windows 7 is a pre-beta, so a lot will change between this build and the version that will ship to consumers when Windows 7 will be released.
Another question that comes up regularly: Is this a major Windows Update? You'll get conflicting answers, even when listening to senior Microsoft staff. In a post on the Engineering Windows 7 blog last August, Microsoft corporate vice president Steven Sinofsky wrote: "When we started planning the release, the first thing some might think we have to decide is if Windows 7 (client) would be a "major release" or not. I put that in quotes because it turns out this isn't really something you decide nor is it something with a single answer. The magnitude of a release is as much about your perspective on the features as it is about the features themselves. One could even ask if being declared a major release is a compliment or not. As engineers planning a product we decide up front the percentage of our development team will that work on the release and the extent of our schedule-with the result in hand customers each decide for themselves if the release is "major", though of course we like to have an opinion. On the server blog we talked about the schedule and we shared our opinion of the scale of the releases of Windows 7 client and server. Our goal is about building an awesome release of Windows 7."
So let's take a quick look at some of the features & changes in Windows 7:
User Account Control improvements. Windows Vista's most hated feature is being completely overhauled to be more customizable. Four settings will be available (Figure):
- Never notify me - The user is not notified when a program tries to install software or make changes to the computer. The user is not notified when they make changes to Windows settings or when programs try to make changes to Windows settings.
- Only notify me when programs try to make changes to my computer - The user is notified when a program tries to install software or make changes to the computer, including Windows settings.
- Always notify me - The user is notified when programs try to install software or make changes to the computer. The user is also notified when they make changes to Windows settings or when programs try to do so.
- Always notify me and wait for my response - The user is notified when programs try to install software or make changes to the computer. The user is also notified when they make changes to Windows settings or when programs try to do so.
Updated Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer (Figure) is being updated with a number of new features, including a new toolbar, and a new icon view style called Content (Figure). The search box has also been updated, and is now resizable (Figure).
Extended ReadyBoost. First introduced in Vista, ReadyBoost in Windows 7 adds support for concurrently using multiple lash devices (such as USB keys, Secure Digital cards, and internal flash devices) and for caches larger than 4 GB.
Improved "Out Of Box" experience. Microsoft made several improvements to Windows 7 so a user's first experience when running the OS for the first time will be improved. Windows 7 expands on Vista's setup routine; for example when installing Windows 7 on a PC that includes a Wireless Network, setup will prompt you to join a network during the setup phase.
Multi-touch. Windows 7 will include integrated support for multi-touch displays and support the "Surface" multi-touch technologies.
HomeGroup networking. Windows 7 HomeGroup makes it easier to create a home network where PCs share pictures, music, videos, documents, printers, and other resources with each other. Computers running Windows 7 automatically identify and connect with each other (Figure).
Location Aware Printing. When you change network locations, such as when taking your work laptop home for the evening, the default printer
setting can change to relect the best printer for that new location. When you print at work, Windows 7 will print to your work printer. When you print at home, Windows 7 will automatically select and use your home printer.
ClearType Text Tuner. A ClearType Text Tuner can be found in the Windows 7 Control Panel. In the past, Microsoft Powertoys provided access to a ClearType Tuner which has now been integrated into Windows 7. This will let users configure their display to their personal liking (Figure).
Sidebar Removed. Microsoft removed Windows Sidebar from Windows 7, but the Windows Gadgets infrastructure remains. In Windows 7, Gadgets can only be viewed on the desktop. As such, the Gadget Gallery found in the Windows Sidebar on Vista is now available from the desktop right-click menu.
Windows Solution Center. Microsoft replaced Windows Security Center with a new utility called Windows Solution Center. Besides monitoring Firewall, Automatic Updating, Virus and Malware protection, Internet security settings and User Account Control settings, the new Solution Center will also monitor PC maintenance and performance, backup, troubleshooting, Network Access Protection (NAP), and much more (Figure).