Vista’s Seven

After years and years of beta/RC phases and thousands of articles, no “new feature” in a “new OS” ever comes as actual surprise. Most of the time. But everyone still writes those. Why NOT me?
Just to get it out of the way – YES it does FEEL like it’s clearly faster than Vista. YES, the taskbar FEELS like it’s way cooler than the one from Windows 95-Vista. But this is still nothing until the boot screen comes up for the first time, with it’s flying colors instead of the old progress bar! Seriously, this is why people upgrade Microsoft! Boo-yah. Looks very nice.


So what’s different? A few very minor (I fear I will use this term again) additions to the power options, with the most noticeable being the option to dim down displays, after a while of idleness. The huge rest is identical with the rich, trusty options from Vista.
The taskbar. Oh the taskbar… Here they feature one change that’s hard to overlook. I always made use of the quick launch for apps I “worked” with frequently – now they enriched the former program-only bar with this feature and removed the thus obsolete (?) quick launch toolbar. Applications are pinned to the task bar in 7, like links were pinned to the start menu since Vista. With this category gone, it’s necessary to alter the own behavior, because otherwise it’s hard to see which programs are just the icon or are actually running. In the first moment I employed the task manager, just to be sure. This effect occurs especially, when e.g. the first and third icons are active and therefore running (and inactive, “just link” -) applications alternate, when reading through the bar from one side to the other. The next alteration is, that different instances of the same application can now be grouped in the same taskbar icon. So Firefox and the add-ons window share one icon, that looks slightly different if only Firefox is running alone. I disabled this behavior right away, because I didn’t like having to do 2 clicks to get to the add-ons window instead of just one, with separate task bars for everything.
The power action button in the start menu now shows a word instead of an icon, so there’s no guessing which action will be taken after the click. That’s great, it comes in the same tradition as the Vista changes, where menus said save/don’t save over standardized yes/no/cancel.
The notification area enables the user to have control over all visible programs/icons. Annoyances like the action center have no chance. Very good.
The “windows search” formerly known as Windows Desktop Search is now fully integrated and feels no longer like an add-on. The standard explorer has options to configure the indexing behavior. I’m always angered, when the search doesn’t include system folders or hidden files, so this is important, a step in the right direction.
PowerShell 1.0 is now present as default, while it’s installed 2 times after an upgrade, when e.g. 2.0 CTP3 was already on the machine. One can’t have enough POWER, I guess.
Transparency is everywhere, when it comes to the looks of all the windows panes, it’s a little strange at first, when the desktop is always visible, to some part. This can be turned off.
The most useless new feature is without a doubt Aero Peek, or whatever they call it, pointing with the mouse on the rightmost place on the task bar makes (here it is again) all windows transparent, except for their frames. What it could be good for, when win+d gives the desktop at any time, stays a secret.
Some things, as always, were just moved to another spot, like the awesome reliability monitor.
I could only find very few software that wasn’t compatible right away – Daemon Tools doesn’t work, because its SPTD. But with popular stuff like this it’s just a matter of time.
So very little changed for the user, 7 is a Vista with few minor (there you go) improvements in its GUI. 7 however, will probably benefit from the age of XP and the fact, that Vista was often criticized for all the wrong reasons (although there were enough good ones). Users of mobile hardware or cutting edge stuff (touchscreens for monitors) will benefit the most from 7, because this is where the most noticeable changes were made. Although battery lifetime didn’t change at all for me, I really hoped 7 could make a difference.
Anyway, I don’t want to take away from what happened here, after Vista they went with 7 more often in the right direction, than they did not.
Stability, reliability, speed […] are points 7 will have to prove in the months ahead, it’s impossible to evaluate this now.


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