Windows 7 was released earlier this week, and I am very pleased with it. This is a pretty big milestone for Microsoft, because it might be the best OS currently available on the market. Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should have been from the get go. I am currently running Windows 7 on my Mac through Bootcamp & VMware Fusion 3.0 and I am very pleased with Microsoft’s latest attempt at the Windows OS. Below I am going to cover 10 things that I am loving about Windows 7. Some of these are Vista features, but since Vista never caught on, I am going to discuss them as Window 7 features.
Windows 7 has revamped the taskbar or the start bar as some might know it. First, you can pin programs to it for easy quick launching. I find this very useful especially with programs you use daily. Second, on a crowded desktop covered with windows, using the new “Aero Peek” feature, you can preview individual windows from taskbar application icon, and even close documents from the thumbnails themselves.
Windows Media Center
Windows 7 is now bundling Windows Media Center with it. Not only is it free with every copy of Windows 7, but it has also been revamped a bit. Windows Media Center has really turned into something amazing. You can now get Netflix Watch Instantly, and all kinds of other Internet based content right from inside Windows Media Center 7. It also will take all your local media and will organize it and download cover art and meta data. It also has some Tivo like DVR functionality built right in, but I have not had a chance to explore this yet.
I am actually working on building a Media Center PC right now, and Windows 7 with Windows Media Center 7 is going to be my software of choice. Here is a great review of Windows Media Center 7.
Jump Lists are secondary menus that are built into the taskbar. You can access the application specific menu by right clicking on an application on the taskbar. The Jump List consist of options, recently accessed files, bookmarks, top visited sites, tasks, emails, and more! The different Jump List content depends on the application. The developer of an application can choose what type of content they want to put in the Jump List, along side a few Window default items.
Being a big fan of Apple’s OS X, I have grown to love how they offer areas for Pictures, Sites, Music, Movies, Documents, and Downloads. New in Windows 7, we have seen Microsoft adopt this concept with Libraries. Libraries group similar content together, even if they live in different folders. Not only can you organize folders and other content inside the different Library types, but you can also create libraries from other remote sources with Homegroup sharing. So I can view my music collection from my home media center PC and view them and search them right from my music library.
Aero was introduced in Windows Vista but has been revamped a bit in Windows 7. Aero is what allows you to see the outline of windows on your desktop with out actually viewing the window. If you mouse over a taskbar tumbnail popup, you can see the outline of the window with out actually exposing the window. This is a very minor feature, but I find it very useful when moving and organizing content.
Window Resizing & Snapping
This might be my favorite feature of Windows 7 and it is so simple. Say you want to view your browser window along side your text document when you are researching content for that mid term paper. In the past you would have to resize the windows and drag them to either side of the desktop. With windows 7, you just grab the window, and drag it all the way to the left or right, and it will resize it to 50% of the desktop and snap it to the side you dragged it to. I use this all the time when I am writing blog post.
Better Overall Performance
Windows 7 boot up and shut down times have improved greatly over previous versions of Windows. Memory usage, searching, wake up and sleep, USB device detection, and battery consumption have all improved greatly. I find Windows 7 to be overall much quicker in all aspects.
Microsoft has finally gotten the overly obtrusive “User Account Control” features in check with Windows 7. One of my biggest complaints with Windows Vista was the consistent pop up security checks. Everything your did almost anything that could result in a security issues, you had to confirm, that you still wanted to do it. It was very annoying. With Windows 7, you have better control over this, and by default it is not as obtrusive as before. It mainly only pops up when you are installing a new application. They have also improved BitLocker, Windows built in encription technology which will allow you to encrypt files, folders, or entire disks. You can also encrypt USB keys which is a good idea considering how often the average person loses their USB key.
Overall Design Enhancements
Windows 7 is beautiful. The total redesign of the taskbar, the alt+tab application switching, the new icons, the new control panel design, the transparent windows, the kick butt backgrounds, the fancy new desktop widgets, … Overall, Windows 7 is just one sexy OS. I find the design very easy on the eyes and most of the visual features aren’t obtrusive. I hate it when something is beautiful but the beautiful features make it almost unusable, well, this is not a problem with Windows 7, everything is beautiful and functional. Overall, I find it to be a very productive friendly OS.
I can't take credit for these images. All images were gathered from public sources: http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/web-roundups/10-reasons-why-you-should-upgrade-to-windows-7/ http://lifehacker.com/5254211/windows-7s-best-underhyped-features