Windows 7 Up Close and Personal - HotHardware

Windows 7 Up Close and Personal

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Venturing into Windows 7 we've taken notice of some of the improvements and new features...

The taskbar now shows larger preview thumbnails for minimized windows, and sliding your mouse over the preview thumbnails also reveals the minimized window's previous location and size on the desktop.  If you have multiple instances of an application like Internet Explorer minimized the preview will show thumbnails of all of them. A nice touch is the inclusion of a "show desktop" feature that makes all windows transparent when you slide your cursor to the lower right of the screen beside the clock in the notification area. If you click the thin bar there, all windows are minimized.

Windows 7 Taskbar With Larger Preview Panes

The inclusion of Internet Explorer 8 brings "Accelerators" to Windows 7 Beta. Accelerators allow you to highlight text in a web page then click the Accelerator Icon (Blue icon with double arrows)  and select an action to perform with the selected text. Your Accelerator options can be pre-configured and default ones enabled or disabled as you like for your purposes. We have seen this used previously in Voice Over IP applications, like Skype, that allow you to dial phone numbers from web pages.  

In the following video, a Microsoft rep demonstrates Accelerators and the improved taskbar previews, live for us at CES 2009.

"Jump Lists" are a new feature on the start menu. A jump list appears to the right of an application in the start menu showing you the files you have worked with most or recently in that program.
Windows 7 has a new way of organizing documents, pictures, music, videos, and whatever category of items you may decide to group via the new libraries feature, which is accessible from any explorer window left side navigator pane.

The end user now has an Action Center from which security settings can be adjusted and troubleshooting and recovery tasks may be performed.  If you look to the left of the Action Center, in the task pane there is a link that opens the User Account Control Settings. Here you will find a rather large slider that allows you to set the level of notification or prompts that Windows gives you as you perform tasks. This is where you can turn off the annoying "are you sure you want to do this" feature of Windows 7 that is such a nuisance in Vista. Just slide the control all the way to the bottom and you can go about your tasks, including accessing administrative functions, without being prompted for permission.


Action Center
User Account Control Settings

Microsoft has added a couple of features to make tasks easier as well. The new HomeGroup networking feature allows Windows 7 computers to easily connect to each others' shared devices and libraries. An easy to follow wizard guides you though the process of creating a group with a unique password to give others that want to join. Alternatively you can click join now and enter the password necessary to access an existing HomeGroup. Additionally, one of the goals of Windows 7 is to provide better device management and this is accomplished via a new Devices and Printers screen where you can connect, add, and manage printers,USB devices, etc.


Devices and Printers

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>> Optimizing DRM....uh that is not something done with an OS, that is something done to files in which a program will then have to use special algorhythms to decrypt/encrypt or use keys or whatever to play the file depending on what kind of DRM is being used.

Au contraire mon frere: MS integrated DRM into the OS starting with Vista so that programs could restrict the resolution (i.e. go into low-rez mode if your monitor doesn't support HDCP so that you won't be able to get a high-quality output), and force the audio output path (to stop you from ripping the tracks from the audio card).

Do a quick search on "Windows Vista DRM" and here's the first link you'll find: It's interesting reading.

And they're going to cling to DRM, even as others abandon it:

It doesn't stop any pirates, and it just forces you to buy the same thing over and over for every device you use.  That's why I use Linux and don't buy any DRM'd materials.

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oh and what good is media playback when your computer tries to open a file and blanks everything out and asks you if you really want to open this file, then it BSOD's just cause you took to long to click ok and were ignoring it.  Optimizing DRM....uh that is not something done with an OS, that is something done to files in which a program will then have to use special algorhythms to decrypt/encrypt or use keys or whatever to play the file depending on what kind of DRM  is being used.  Sounds to me like they just got a patch for a media play back software not the actual OS on that one, that or someone is talking about crap they dont understand or know fully about.

Painted crap is still crap, just a diff color.

Actually in 7 you can turn off that annoying prompt for permission with the user account control settings I wrote about. Check the image on the second page.



BA - Accounting - FSU 1988
BS - Economics - Tulane 1996


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Nice write up. I have Windows 7 on my main computer and my Girlfriends and those are the only PCs running Windows right now.

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>> you can turn off that annoying prompt

It looks like you have to turn it off completely, for everything you run? Why didn't they set it up like the firewall so that you can turn it off for that one annoying program from that vendor who won't update their code? Uh.... that idea now patent-pending. :)

I think Microsoft should have stuck to their guns on this one. Too many people will still turn it off for minor apps they run, completely negating the benefit.

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The user account control is not easily accessible for the novice user so this may somewhat discourage them. You really need to be looking for it and understand what it does to want to change it.

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I am on it at the moment and it seems nice. Much faster than Vista, but its also a clean install on its own HD. So its really hard to tell the speed diffrence...

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As far as I'm concerned here is my pro/con list.



  1. Wordpad opens office 2007 .docx files natively and rather than munging the files if you change them it saves as RTF.
  2. divx/xvid and h.264 video opens up in Windows Media Player, you may have to associate .mov files with WMP but they do open.
  3. New taskbar improvements are subtle but nice.
  4. new calculator, well its similar to the Calculator Plus that MS has as a free download for XP.
  5. Problem steps recorder revolutionizes how help requests are sent.


  1. still has too many background processes running like Vista does.
  2. mp3 corruption issue patch if you haven't
  3. Windows installer issues. it seems like its too easy to break it.
  4. software compatibility is better than in Vista but there are still lots of 3rd party apps that need updating.

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Calculator Plus looks like it was created with MS Paint and VisualCobol.

Anyone that wants a really good calculator should try SpeedCrunch (, which is freely available for all OS's and is the default calculator in Kubuntu 9.04.

SpeedCrunch Image

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