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Microsoft Reveals New Windows 7 Changes

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 53 comments

With the millions of downloads of the Windows 7 public beta in the hands and on the hard drives of PC enthusiasts, the upcoming Microsoft operating system could be the most eagerly anticipated yet.

Most of those testing Windows 7 find many things to like about it, with some saying that it’ll finally give them a reason to start anew after running Windows XP for many, many years. Some are even running the Windows 7 beta as their main OS on their main machines. But the operating system isn’t done cooking yet.

The latest entry on the Engineering Windows 7 blog details some of the changes that the team has made to for the upcoming Release Candidate (RC) since the last public beta.

“We’ve been quite busy for the past two months or so working through all the feedback we’ve received on Windows 7. It should be no surprise but the Release Candidate for Windows 7 will have quite a few changes, many under the hood so to speak but also many visible,” wrote Steven Sinofsky, senior VP of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group. “The goal of having a fully functional Beta was to make sure we received reliable feedback and not a lot of ‘hey this doesn't work at all sorts of reports. This has allowed us to really focus on delivering a refined RC where the changes we made are all the reflection of feedback we have received.”

Sinofsky then turned the blog content over to program manager Chaitanya Sareen to explain some of the more notable interface tweaks made to Windows 7 since the beta.

The most immediately appreciable feature of Windows 7 is the new taskbar. With Aero Peek, users can preview or “peek” at all the windows open for a particular program. This goes a long way in making life easier for those who work with multiple windows open of the same program. Microsoft has now implemented the same sort of “peek” behavior when using Alt-Tab for scrolling through windows. While the Alt-Tab menu itself brings up a small preview box like it does in Vista, the change for the RC now makes the full window appear by itself on the desktop after a short timed delay.

Of course, those with many windows open will find Alt-Tab a bit too laborious. For that reason, the upcoming RC will feature an upgraded version of a shortcut that is presently in the beta. Holding the Windows key with a number in the will launch that corresponding program (i.e., if Internet Explorer were first in the taskbar from the left, hitting Windows key + 1 would launch it). For the RC build, doing the same key command would also switch to that program if it were already active – and repeatedly hitting the number key would cycle through the window. Other new functions are also opened when the Shift, Ctrl and Alt keys are added into the mix, which will launch new windows, jump lists, or switching back to the last active window. Sareen says, “Think of this as per-program ALT +TAB shortcut for the first 10 items on the taskbar,” – and it’s one of the keyboard shortcuts that we can already picture ourselves using on a very regular basis.

Microsoft is also changing the way a program will alert you if it requires attention. The RC will have a changed flashing animation with a bolder orange color; and instead of flashing just three times, it will flash seven times as a nod to the Windows version designation.

To even further beef up the taskbar, Windows 7 will better scale the number of large and small icons, resulting in a 24 to 39 percent increase in icon quantity before the taskbar scrolls. Sareen adds, “We believe customers will find more than enough room to pin their common programs.”

Those are just some of the more notable changes that caught our eye (you can see a much longer list with descriptions here). Furthermore, Sinofsky pointed out that this is just a “sampling” of just the more visible changes since the beta and that we could expect even more before the final version.

Of course, Sinofsky didn’t shed any light on any shipping date, saying only, “We’re still on the same path working towards the release candidate and of course we know everyone is anxious for the next phase of our path to RTM. In the meantime, our full time machines are still running the Beta build.”

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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    Cuddles , February 27, 2009 5:30 AM
    When Apple can actually be truthful and not be dishonest with their adds then I may give them a try but I doubt that will ever happen.
    I run Vista on year old hardware and 4 GB of Ram and it runs awesome.
    We can get into Apple is better than Microsoft debate but we all know how well Apple did without Steve Jobs the first time so it's just a matter of time.
    I would bet more on Linux than OS.
  • 10 Hide
    Efrayim , February 27, 2009 3:51 AM
    I don't know why everyone hates Vista so much I love it. I have no problems with it. I been using it for a year now its wonderful. Win 7 looks awesome but I might wait a couple of months before upgrading to it.
  • 10 Hide
    Master Exon , February 27, 2009 12:59 AM
    Also, native .mov support.

    I guess there is no longer a need for QuickAlternative ;) 
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    kvruhere , February 27, 2009 12:57 AM
    The Windows desktop pictured above reminds me of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Herring--it is complete even with the golden sunrise or sunset. Even the Start Icons at the bottom as they line up across the screen. Microsoft programmers are smart people but they generally lack ingenuity--that is--they only have talent for perfecting what someone else has invented.
  • 10 Hide
    Master Exon , February 27, 2009 12:59 AM
    Also, native .mov support.

    I guess there is no longer a need for QuickAlternative ;) 
  • 6 Hide
    captaincharisma , February 27, 2009 2:02 AM
    even better the majority do not have to pollute there systems with apples quicktime. as for the comment that it looks like Linux then you anal linux people always find something to bash windows for. get over it linux will never replace windows and will always be for the nerds of the world
  • -1 Hide
    bydesign , February 27, 2009 2:37 AM
    I'm no Linux fan but it's just as easy as windows to learn. I'll go a step further in that Ubuntu is more intuitive than Windows 7 with more useful utilities and apps out of the box. It doesn’t game so well so it’s rather useless to me personally.

    I’m still in awe of this Windows 7 love though. To me it’s just Vista with a new UI and some services disable or rearranged. I liked Vista and Windows 7 is a very subtle improvement. The main difference is driver support is there, thank to time and Vista.
  • 1 Hide
    Supertrek32 , February 27, 2009 2:37 AM
    Still no word on the classic start menu - rather disappointing.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , February 27, 2009 3:20 AM
    can't teach my grandma to use linux? she is using linux, and so is my brother, and just about everyone that I help with computer problems, Ubuntu is extremely easy to use, much much easier than windows, and they don't have to worry about Viruses. Besides, linux users don't want it to replace Windows, that isn't the point of linux. However, Ubuntu could very well become mainstream. What you are talking about is linux 10 years ago, get with the times.
  • 0 Hide
    echdskech , February 27, 2009 3:44 AM
    demonhorde665linux is a super nerd's OS and requires more understanding beyound "click here for my documents, then click there for my pictures"


    just curious, which distro/version did you use that you couldn't access your docs/pictures by clicking?
  • 10 Hide
    Efrayim , February 27, 2009 3:51 AM
    I don't know why everyone hates Vista so much I love it. I have no problems with it. I been using it for a year now its wonderful. Win 7 looks awesome but I might wait a couple of months before upgrading to it.
  • 2 Hide
    tayb , February 27, 2009 4:00 AM
    ByDesignI'm no Linux fan but it's just as easy as windows to learn. I'll go a step further in that Ubuntu is more intuitive than Windows 7 with more useful utilities and apps out of the box. It doesn’t game so well so it’s rather useless to me personally.I’m still in awe of this Windows 7 love though. To me it’s just Vista with a new UI and some services disable or rearranged. I liked Vista and Windows 7 is a very subtle improvement. The main difference is driver support is there, thank to time and Vista.


    Ubuntu is more intuitive than Windows? Wow. That is a first. Less viruses, sure. Less footprint, sure. Easier to learn? Hell freaking no.

    Try walking someone who isn't computer literate into updating drivers in Ubuntu.


  • 1 Hide
    echdskech , February 27, 2009 4:45 AM
    taybUbuntu is more intuitive than Windows? Wow. That is a first. Less viruses, sure. Less footprint, sure. Easier to learn? Hell freaking no. Try walking someone who isn't computer literate into updating drivers in Ubuntu.


    I thought that actually happens automatically when they update their system...

    alternately, you can do 'apt-get update' on console...

    how would you guide someone who isn't computer literate into updating drivers in windows? graphics drivers for example?

    or did you mean compiling their own drivers?
  • -1 Hide
    afrobacon , February 27, 2009 5:01 AM
    7 will be my second attempt at upgrading from XP; hopefully this time that up doesn't turn into a down. I'm going to try and it out on my thinkpad 21 first.
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , February 27, 2009 5:06 AM
    Quote:
    since the last public beta.

    Might wanna fix that.
  • 4 Hide
    Efrayim , February 27, 2009 5:07 AM
    V8VENOMThat's why we have OS X - it gets the job done, doesn't prompt you every other seconds.Why is it the same dorks chirp in on how great Vista is and how great Windows 7 is?? Why do you freaks do that? If Vista is so great, why was it a complete sales disaster?Vista is worse than ME and it's slower than ME. Man you bone heads would vote for the return of Microsoft BOB.Anyone read this article? I mean seriously, what's in Windows 7 that you gotta have that you don't have now in WinXP? Let alone Vista.Do you Vista fan boys and girls work for Microsoft, are you being paid by them? What's the real deal -- nobody in their right mind would pay yet again another $200+ to upgrade and get nothing new out of it.This if f'in retarded.

    Man your a very angry person...
    I didn't say Vista was the greatest OS out there. I just said its not all that bad. The reason the sales are doing so bad is because companies like E machine and Compaq insist on building computers with Vista that only have 512 or 1 Gb of Ram. Thats way to low for Vista. It runs better with 2 Gbs RAM or more. So people that own these piece of shit computers think Vista suxs. I used OS X and its ok. I have no problem with it. Trust me Vista Runs beautifully with the right Hardware.
  • 6 Hide
    seboj , February 27, 2009 5:22 AM
    Quote:
    I don't know why everyone hates Vista so much I love it. I have no problems with it. I been using it for a year now its wonderful.


    Quote:
    Trust me Vista Runs beautifully with the right Hardware.


    +1.

    Quote:
    Vista is worse than ME and it's slower than ME.


    I wasn't sure if you were a moron when I started reading your comment, but now I'm positive you are.

  • 9 Hide
    Tindytim , February 27, 2009 5:26 AM
    V8VENOMThat's why we have OS X - it gets the job done,

    If 'the job' is surfing, and making youtube videos about your favorite Ska band.

    V8VENOMIf Vista is so great, why was it a complete sales disaster?

    Yeah, because quantity = quality. I mean, just look at Halo 3. Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil were horrible games.

    But wait, Vista has %22.25 of the market share, and Apple only has %8.5
    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=11

    I guess than means Vista is approximately 3 times better than OSX.

    V8VENOMThis if f'in retarded.

    Oh the irony.
  • 10 Hide
    Cuddles , February 27, 2009 5:30 AM
    When Apple can actually be truthful and not be dishonest with their adds then I may give them a try but I doubt that will ever happen.
    I run Vista on year old hardware and 4 GB of Ram and it runs awesome.
    We can get into Apple is better than Microsoft debate but we all know how well Apple did without Steve Jobs the first time so it's just a matter of time.
    I would bet more on Linux than OS.
  • 8 Hide
    aznguy0028 , February 27, 2009 5:37 AM
    if people want to pay a crapload more $$$$ to get an apple, which has crappier specs compared to a same priced PC, and then to run OS-X. i say let them, darwin's doing his job, filtering out the gene pool :) 
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 27, 2009 6:25 AM
    I worry a bit that adding all those 'default shortcuts' they'll break the feature they invented in vista, where you can add shortcuts to programs. On my vista box +++ would launch winamp, and replacing with would launch wow ... at some point there may not be enough available key shortcuts to use now that microsoft has decided to use all 3 modifier keys at once as well.
  • 3 Hide
    eddieroolz , February 27, 2009 7:07 AM
    V8VENOMThat's why we have OS X - it gets the job done, doesn't prompt you every other seconds.Why is it the same dorks chirp in on how great Vista is and how great Windows 7 is?? Why do you freaks do that? If Vista is so great, why was it a complete sales disaster?Vista is worse than ME and it's slower than ME. Man you bone heads would vote for the return of Microsoft BOB.Anyone read this article? I mean seriously, what's in Windows 7 that you gotta have that you don't have now in WinXP? Let alone Vista.Do you Vista fan boys and girls work for Microsoft, are you being paid by them? What's the real deal -- nobody in their right mind would pay yet again another $200+ to upgrade and get nothing new out of it.This if f'in retarded.


    You know, you'll do a favor to the world by just going back to your OS X world and just shutting up there.

    Just because someone says that Vista was great for them, does not make them a fanboy.

    By the way, if you haven't noticed, this is a computer enthusiast site - and that does not include Apple. So do us all a favor by getting outta here.

    Thanks, and have a nice day.
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