Windows 7 is Coming
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
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 7One 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.
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?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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Feb 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows 7 is Coming (Posted: 3 Feb 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved