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Win 7 - more reactions

Some days back I had written about my Win 7 RTM migration and about my experiences with the issues Naveen had faced. In this blog, I will capture some of the things that I noticed and most of them are those that I liked.

You will surely find lot of details about new features on Win 7. Via this entry I am only capturing the things that I noticed and have started to like.

1. The initial look i.e. Windows booting (with a cute animation) and login screen was very pleasing to the eye. The default background also looks good.

2. The background supports a concept of series of images that will run as slide show and some very cool new images are available.

3. The action center is very useful. Post my anti-virus setup, I immediatly got notified about updates for the anti-virus not happening. The issue was fixed as I have already mentioned in my earlier blog.  

4. Win 7 continues to have UAC. One good part of it now, is that it disables some obvious mistakes that one can commit. You can no longer just right click on C:\ or C:\Windows and create new files. The option just doesn't appears. The only available option is to create a new folder. If you disable UAC, this behavior obviously changes and you can then do the things the routine way. This did catch me by surprise initially. With UAC enabled, you will have to do something like, open notepad, write your text file and then do a save as into C:\Windows folder.

5. Another very interesting feature as seen in the figure below is the progress bar that is seen right in the taskbar buttons itself. I was doing some file copy operations and the explorer button in the taskbar shows the percentage (you should be able to notice the green colored bar roughly till midway in the button) 


6. Win 7 also seems to have done away with the quick launch concept and instead introduced the idea of pinning applications to taskbar. There are interesting features related to this.

  • The applications that are pinned appear as normal icons on the taskbar, while those that aren't and are opened explicitly, appear are 3D buttons
  • The pinned applications if opened, also start to appear as 3D buttons, thus distinguising between only pinned applications and those that are pinned but also running currently.
  • Another point visible in the figure above, is the additional buttons behind the IE (1) and Explorer (2) buttons. These indicate the number of additional such application windows open and happens when you group similar task bar buttons options enabled
  • By default Win 7 doesn't displays the labels also for the applications, thus saving on space on taskbar.

7. While these pinned buttons works pretty much like quickly launch, it offers few additional benefits that I noticed.

  • On right clicking pinned buttons, they show the "Frequent" list. So for Browser it is frequently visited sites, for explorer it is frequently visited folders etc.
  • Since applications opened using pinned buttons aren't additionally added to taskbar (like it used to happen with quick launch), it saves space on the taskbar.

8. The pinning however has a little side effect also that I found a bit difficult. I cannot open multiple applications using pinned buttons by just a click. I need to right click and select suitable option. See figure below that shows this for the IE button. If an instance of IE is already running, I will have to right click and then select IE again to open a new window.


9. The thumbnail effect for taskbar buttons on mouse hover introduced with Vista is still available and with a smooth animation as you move across buttons. This animation is only noticeable if you have only single instances running.

10. If there are multiple instances of an application running and you have the group similar taskbar buttons option checked, as you hover over the button, you will see the thumbnails for all instances and can then select the appropriate instance. Of all that instances the one currently in foreground (if any) is highlighted with a different color for easy identification.

11. In continuation to previous point, as you move between the thumbnails of different instances, or different applications, the one on which you are currently hovering is brought to the front and other windows are made transparent with only their edges visible. This helps easily identify the right window.

12. Windows that need attention like Calendar alerts from Outlook cause the taskbar button to get highlighted.

13. Another interesting feature is that if you shake any particular window a bit, all other windows are minimized.  

14. So much for various explorer/taskbar related features. Interestingly the Shutdown option is now available directly on the start button. You can click on the arrow next to it to get additional options like log off, restart etc, but shutting down is a click faster now.

15. There is a small rectangle right on the edge of the taskbar besides the system tray. Clicking this minimizes all windows and takes you to the desktop. And if you hover over it, you can easily take a peek at your desktop, as it makes all other windows transparent

16. Finally, gadgets no longer need Sidebar and can be directly dropped on the desktop.

These are by no means all the interesting features that Win 7 has added, but just those that I have noticed in my few days with Win 7. I will share more as I explorer Win 7 more.

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