Windows 7 is Coming

Category: Vista , Windows-7

Windows 7 does not sleep... it waits. Will the eagerly awaited successor to Vista be a winner in the marketplace? Read on for a preview of what to expect in Windows 7...

Windows 7 preview

Windows 7 Preview

Lots of people are interested in taking a look at Microsoft's latest desktop operating system, Windows 7. The beta release of Windows 7 was made available on January 9th and because so many attempted to download it, the site had temporarily crashed.

Windows 7 is being anticipated as more secure than XP and as a newer version of Vista minus the various issues that plagued Vista. The Windows 7 interface is built on the same design as Vista, so it is quite an overhaul from XP. However, there are still some difference between Windows 7 and Vista, some obvious, some not.

One of the first noticeable differences is no Sidebar. Catering to the ever-increasing mobile device and notebook market, Microsoft chose in favor of more desktop space and less clutter. However, you can still add a variety of gadgets such as links to stock quotes or your city's weather, right on the desktop.

User Interface Improvements in Windows 7

Windows 7 Taskbar One of the first things you'll notice is the enhanced Windows Taskbar. Opened windows are graphically represented on the Taskbar as thumbnail images; put the mouse over a thumbnail and a preview of the full window is displayed.

And in an apparent nod to the popularity of the iPhone, multi-finger use on touch screens is also supported. For example, you can use two fingers to zoom in or out of an image or to scroll through Internet Explorer. Vendors like HP are pushing touch screens in the consumer market, particularly in response to Windows 7's release.

Windows 7 Jump Lists Jump lists have been added to the Start menu. These are lists that append recently opened files or web sites to short-cut menus, to allow a user quick access.

Another change is the ability to arrange windows through drag and drop. Want to maximize a window? Simply drag the window to the top of the desktop. To minimize a window, drag it to the bottom. If you have two windows that you want to view side-by-side, drag one window to the farthest left of the desktop and one to the right. The two windows will "snap" into place in a side-by-side vertical alignment.

Even the enduring MS-Paint application has undergone a change. Paint now incorporates the "ribbon" interface of Microsoft Office 2007 programs.

Arguably the most discussed and eagerly awaited changes are less-frequent popups and system messages with a more efficient User Account Control feature, also known as UAC. UAC was designed to make Vista a more secure operating system, but Vista users were not shy to make their displeasure about the constant onslaught of system messages and warnings whenever a system change was made. In Windows 7, UAC is quieted with the help of two new features. With AppLocker, users can tell Windows which programs are OK to install without prompts. And Action Center keeps messages about system changes in a queue, where the messages can be viewed when a user wants to view them.

It is easier than ever to search for files, folders, and images with the Libraries feature. Searchable objects are indexed and organized into library groupings. A user can initiate a
search across a variety of media: the hard drive, a USB drive or a CD for example.

Windows 7 Under the Hood

Other new features are not as visibly apparent. Microsoft is insistent that Windows 7 will have better driver support than Vista. One of the most common problems that Vista users encountered was that some hardware that worked fine on XP would not work with Vista. Windows 7 has been designed to allow manufacturers to create drivers for their devices easier and keep those drivers more up-to-date and deliverable to the computer user than was the case in Vista. That means that digital cameras, external drives, printers and other peripheral devices should install without incident in Windows 7.

Windows Media has been revamped to work with more consumer electronic devices as well. Users can setup a true, digital multimedia home theatre experience with Windows 7 and Digital Living Alliance (DLA)-compliant electronics. DLA is a standard that a lot of electronic gadgets are now designed with.

BitLocker is a feature that was introduced in Vista. BitLocker encrypts data to protect it. In Windows 7, Bitlocker not only can do encryption on the hard drive, but can encrypt data on removable storage media, too.

Windows 7 testing shows enhanced performance over both XP and Vista. The way the operating system handles memory and processes have been streamlined, and even boot up is noticeably faster than previous versions of Windows. There is a crash-resilience feature that makes it easier for Windows to recover from system crashes and freezes.

Will Windows 7 Take Over the World?

Windows 7 - Linux Killer? Some pundits are saying that Windows 7 will be everything that Vista should have been. Others are saying it will be the death of Linux. With the rising popularity of netbooks (small laptop computers) Microsoft has been forced to view Linux as more than a minor annoyance. That's because Linux is free, and runs very well -- much better than Vista -- on machines with limited memory and processor power. But Windows 7 has been designed to run lean and mean on netbooks. If Microsoft is able to significantly drop the price of Windows 7 (perhaps under $50) it could make Linux-powered netbooks less attractive.

But even if Microsoft gives Windows 7 away for free, there are still reasons why some will opt for Ubuntu or other Linux variants. One biggie is the application software. Microsoft Office still costs hundreds of dollars, as do other popular Windows-based applications. Linux offers free office software for word processing, spreadsheets, graphics and just about anything else. Then there's the security angle. Because of its ubiquity, Windows will always be a primary target for virus and spyware creators. And Linux has a reputation for being a more secure platform.

So when can you get Windows 7? Microsoft is not giving a hard date for release as of yet, but the ETA for the final version is late 2009 or early 2010. You can download the Windows 7 Beta version from Microsoft's web site. But Microsoft says the beta download will be yanked sometime "soon", so be sure to take advantage now. Also, the downloaded version is set to "time-bomb" (expire) and won't be usable after July 2009, so get your test driving done before then.

UPDATE: The beta program closed on February 10, 2009. No more downloads, sorry....

I recommend that you read the system requirements before you install, and keep in mind that beta means test. Don't install Windows 7 on a computer that you need for everyday usage, because you may encounter a problem with some hardware or software. Have you tried Windows 7? Post your comments below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Windows 7 is Coming"

Posted by:

parrotbird
03 Feb 2009

Thanks to your article a while ago about using Wubi to install Linux as a dual-boot (& Bob, you kindly answered a query I had about that, thank you) I've progressed to creating a partition myself & have installed Win7 as a dual-boot with Vista as the other OS; really the main thing I have to say is that it's terrific - for the last week I've only gone back to Vista to get a couple of things. I'm running all the applications I had previously & it does seem less CPU and RAM intensive. The theme colours are better (being highly superficial I like my desktop to look amazing)than the colour mixer options available in Vista. IMHO this is going to be the OS that people finally move to from XP.


Posted by:

Fred W
04 Feb 2009

I have Windows 7 beta installed in a partition so I can dual boot on my laptop. It is leaner and even faster than Vista...which I've been running since the day it launched - and have grown to love. When it launched, Vista put users thru driver-hell for about three months, but Win7 so far has been a walk in the park. It even found the Nvidia drivers for graphics display adapter... Vista never did that. It won't take long to love Win7 and you'll never go back to WinXP - it looks "cartoonish" after Vista or Win7.


Posted by:

Carl
04 Feb 2009

I have Win 7 beta 64 bit installed, as well as Vista, Ubuntu 8.10 64 bit, and Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 3 64 bit. Compared to Vista, Win 7 is great, but I am really amazed at the lack of 64 bit software for Windows. I have used Ubuntu 64 bit for about a year and a half and it has much better support for 64 bit software. If I run two 32 bit apps at the same time in Win 7 It max's my Processors out and slows things to a crawl. I really don't think Windows 7 is going to mean the death of Linux. The development pace of Linux is so much faster than the turtle like 3 to 5 yr development pace of Windows that it is leaving Windows behind in the dust. Notice that even Adobe released a 64 bit flash for Linux but not yet for Windows.


Posted by:

Harry
04 Feb 2009

I notice several of the ads at the top of this story were for Registry Cleaners. Will Win7 solve these problems?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think so. There have been cries from the user community to ditch the Windows Registry in Windows7, but that has not happened. Linux and Mac systems get along fine without a registry, but MS seems to be stuck on this concept. Too bad...


Posted by:

Miel
04 Feb 2009

How can you be serious about praising the earliest release of a beta Windows version, and merely mentioning Ubuntu Linux and not the most serious threat -- Mac OSX and the looming release of SNOW LEOPARD!

Now before you go brand loyal crazy that I dare mention the "A" word company...I have been a staunch Windows user and praiser for years. I beta tested Vista and liked it a lot.

But we have to be fair guys, Snow Leopard seems to be a soon coming FREE upgrade to Leopard users and despite the fact that it was announced as a relatively limited new feature product, focusing more on speed and foot print and other such issues, the latest buzz is that there will be more new features than expected.

Sorry for the truth hurts facts, but the real threat isn't that Linux will die, but that Apple will further in-crouch on Microsoft's market share and the various PC makers by extension! ...and they will do it be giving away software "For FREE"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ummm... not sure that Apple is going to put much of a dent in the marketshare numbers by releasing a "free" upgrade to a $169 operating system. Now if Apple comes out with a $400 netbook that runs Snow Leopard, that would be interesting.


Posted by:

longcats
06 Feb 2009

Bob Rankin, your an idiot. Get your information correct, "Watch the calendar. The Beta expires on August 1, 2009." http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx

EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay, I said the beta expires "after July." Doesn't that kind of imply August 1st? Oh, and I think you meant "you're" instead of "your" above.


Posted by:

victor
11 Feb 2009

Thanks Bob ! Nice article. You are a very fair and balanced IT Genius. Hope to grab a copy too!


Posted by:

Stu Taylor
27 Feb 2009

Nice response to the IDIOT 'Longcats' Bob. Well done!


Posted by:

Hector
06 Mar 2009

Thanks Bob for your very interesting article. I tried Ubuntu 8.10 in my machine doing dual boot with Windows Vista Home Basic. Ubuntu is right but I could not connect to Internet since I use a ZTE brand ADSL wireless modem and this Ubuntu release doesn't support this type of Internet connection.


Posted by:

jan connell
20 Jul 2009

Bob, My children want me to buy a new computer ..as mine is 6 years old. Daughter will buy one from Costco for me. I am a simple person.....need basic computer. My friend says to Wait until October for the new Microsoft 7. Do I have to Wait for that if I want a good one? She said that people with Vista are complaining. it is crap they said. What do you think I should do? Thanks so much.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The good news is that you can upgrade for free from Vista to Windows 7. I see no reason to wait if you want to make the purchase now.


Posted by:

ronniebatten
22 Jul 2009

I would like to know if i really have to download windows 7.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ummm, no. Why would you think that?


Posted by:

Wayne
25 Aug 2009

Bob,

I think you are doing a wonderful job. Please keep it up. I learned more on win7 tonight, than I have read or heard, from anyone eles.


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