Windows 7 Up Close and Personal

Exploring New Features

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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