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Yet More Improvements for Windows 7 RC

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 6 comments

The Windows 7 team is still at work putting the finishing touches on the highly anticipated operating system.

While the final stretch ahead should be reserved for minor changes and bug fixes, tweaks made to Windows 7 in time for the Release Candidate are ones that will affect user experiences for the years ahead.

Steven Sinofsky, senior VP for the Windows engineering group, posted another blog detailing the latest progress on the upcoming OS as it steams ahead toward reaching RC status.

The most noticeable freshness in Windows 7 is the improved taskbar. We’re now all acquainted with Aero Peek, but one nice little touch just added is the ability to close ‘listed’ windows with a single click. While thumbnailed previews on the taskbar have a close button in the corner, the option was previously unavailable when windows are grouped in a list. In the RC there will be a close option next to each listed item, similar to how we’re now used to having a close button on each tab in our browsers.

Reaching commonly used parts of the control panel are also easier, as now the most recently used items will appear in a jump list. Other parts of Windows joining the jump list party include PowerShell and Remote Desktop.

Besides the taskbar, Windows Explorer has also been improved (or some would say, “fixed”). As mentioned in the blog, “moving up in the folder hierarchy often requires multiple clicks since longer folder names in the address bar often bump the parent folder into the overflow dropdown. For RC, we’ve improved the overflow algorithm so that the parent folder’s button will appear in the address bar at all times and therefore going ‘up’ will always be a single click away in a predictable location. When there isn’t enough room to display the parent folder’s full name, it will appear truncated instead of going into the overflow.”

Those who make good use of “Invert Selection” in Windows Explorer will be relieved to hear that it’ll be back in the RC and for owners of multi-touch trackpads, including MacBooks running Boot Camp, support for such hardware now carries over to Windows Explorer for the zooming and shrinking of icons.

Users of legacy hardware will be happy to know that Microsoft is accommodating them: “The Add Legacy Hardware action was provided in Device Manager on past Windows releases to install non-Plug and Play devices. We removed this functionality for Windows 7 with the belief that this was rarely used.” But users wrote in asking for the feature to be brought back to help add non-Plug and Play devices, and as a result, it’s back in the RC.

Through review of the beta performance data from testers, Microsoft has decided to slim down the pagefile size to match the system RAM. Previously, Microsoft allocated “Memory + 300 MB” for the pagefile, but now it will only grow beyond RAM size if required.

Finally, one change that brought a smile to our faces, as detailed in the writing, “We know our customers care about performance. We discovered that by just trimming the shutdown and logoff WAV files, we could save up to 400 ms. Every little bit counts.”

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  • 0 Hide
    vaskodogama , March 16, 2009 3:06 PM
    that's a good work, all the focus on the details, they listen finally! :D 
  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , March 16, 2009 4:00 PM
    Non PnP devices? How are people getting Windows 7 drivers for such devices, or are there companies out there making new products that aren't plug and play? PnP came in with Windows 95, didn't it?

    Also, Window's by default just needs to not use the PageFile. I know the pagefile can be turned off, but Windows should make every effort to avoid it on its own. As RAM becomes cheaper and cheaper, I can't imagine that there needs to be any data stored in the page file.
  • 1 Hide
    LuxZg , March 16, 2009 4:58 PM
    hellwigAlso, Window's by default just needs to not use the PageFile. I know the pagefile can be turned off, but Windows should make every effort to avoid it on its own. As RAM becomes cheaper and cheaper, I can't imagine that there needs to be any data stored in the page file.


    I agree completely. And yet, they make it 1,5x the RAM. So let's see.. if I get new X58 MBO and i7, and plug in 12GB of RAM I'll have swap (page file) of 18GB? Sooo in the end my computer will be even slower :D 

    I never figured out who made those decisions.. but it's dumb. Instead, Windows should be monitoring user expirience, and set page file to the peak value of that Windows install (ever). So if I have 4GB RAM, and I never used more than 3GB it should stay zero (and force RAM-only). Or if I constantly use 3GB, and once upon a time I've peaked to 5GB, swap should be 1GB.. ok, maybe +100MB to make things safer. Even this is overly generous, but much better than having office computer with 2GB RAM that never gets over 1GB, and yet still having 4GB swap for nothing. Not to forget that somehow Windows uses swap before RAM, instead never using swap untill RAM is filled completely. Dooh!

    I'll go post this to that blog as well :D 
  • 1 Hide
    SAL-e , March 16, 2009 5:15 PM
    hellwigNon PnP devices? How are people getting Windows 7 drivers for such devices, or are there companies out there making new products that aren't plug and play? PnP came in with Windows 95, didn't it?

    Usually those devices are specialized industrial controllers developed in house. The programmers are fixing their drivers, but changing the hardware is very expensive for very small quantities.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2009 8:17 AM
    Page file for the regular windows user (office stuff or gaming) may not be very useful, but there are certain apps where you definitely need extra room regardless of the insane amount of RAM you may have. The swap file is just reserved space which is not used unless you run out of ram. You can also plug a "flash" stick into the USB port to speed up Windows. If you feel your new shiny i7 with 12gb of ram is lacking in the HDD department, invest some money in a decent RAID configuration instead ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2009 10:48 AM
    @luxzg:
    actually, win7 allocates 1.5x page file if you have less than or equal to 2gb ram. over that upto 6 gb it allocates 1x and above that i don't know.