I know our usual topics include free software, webware and useful hacks, tips and guides. However considering the importance of the Windows OS to all of the above, I thought perhaps you would be interested in a small preview of what Windows 7 has to offer. Quick look at Windows 7 features and screenshots.
As you may be aware, Windows 7 build 6801 was handed out to 8000 PDC (Professional Developers Conference) attendees. A few days later I got hold of a copy myself.
I’m going to assume that for you the main issues you have with Vista are the following:
- Performance (both perceived and real)
- User Account Control (UAC)
- Bloat and bundled software
Well I can say that all three have been the main focus for the Windows 7 development team and all have received substantial changes and improvements.
The big one. With updated drivers, Windows Vista performance is actually equal or better than Windows XP regardless of what you hear. However Microsoft wanted to do a lot better than that with Windows 7.
I’m finding startup times (from turning the computer on until you get to the login screen) is improved but only by a few seconds over Vista. From the login screen to a usable desktop however is hugely improved, down from around 30-40 seconds to closer to 10 seconds. Shutdown time is similarly reduced, two thirds faster by my estimates.
RAM usage is down slightly, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate any differences in performance. In general the desktops seems slightly more responsive than Vista, although that could also be from other factors such as Windows gadgets not loading up from the first login.
Battery performance is substantially improved as well, in fact my notebook has gone from squeezing one and half hours from Windows Vista on power saver to nearly 3 hours using Windows 7. That’s a huge improvement and Windows 7 running on power saver is also much faster and more responsive than Windows Vista.
User Account Control
UAC never particularly bothered me much, except for when I was trying to delete things and UAC denied access to me, even if I was the administrator.
In Windows 7 the major changes involve UAC prompts no longer graying out the desktop, no longer appearing for basic system tasks like changing the time and date and generally only popping up during software installations.
It’s a huge improvement and one everyone will be happy with. Also included as you can see in the following screenshot is a slider control for no UAC prompts, or even more for extra security.
Bloat and Bundled Software
You may have heard that Windows 7 is going some of the way towards removing the “˜bloat’ which is present in Windows Vista. Well, in many ways this isn’t true. Windows 7 comes with nearly as much as Windows Vista does, perhaps more considering the number of new features.
I personally don’t have a problem with Microsoft bundled software because I actually use just about all of it, however I can see why some people would have a problem.
What Windows 7 does do is remove some of the duplicate functionality which was present in Vista such as between Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery. Instead now we just have Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center and you can choose if you want to download Windows Live Photo Gallery or not.
What is interesting is that Windows Explorer is now almost as good an organizer of media as the dedicated programs themselves. Perhaps this is the way Microsoft is headed? I know they have announced their intention of bringing the concept of an OS back to just the platform between the hardware and the software and this is a way in which Microsoft could achieve this while still retaining many of the same features and functions.
In particular the new displays of music within Windows Explorer is fantastic. You’ll never have to worry about folder hierarchies again for your music collection. Using the meta-data, Explorer can display the files as Artist > Album > Song which is great for instant organization.
Anyway I hope this was interesting as a preview of the upcoming release of Windows 7. You should be able to download a public beta within a few months. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments.