Windows Forums member, MSherwood spent seven days using Windows 7 and nothing else. In this two-part series, he shares his impressions, likes, dislikes, and recommendations for Windows 7. The first part of this series covers his initial impressions and thoughts on Windows 7. Check back tomorrow for more advice and tips on other aspects of the operating system.
Monday, January 12, 2009
10: 15 AM:
I finally got my license key for Windows 7 Beta! I had a little trouble getting the key on my home PC… probably because I used Safari to navigate to the page.
My university class starts in an hour; I’m taking this opportunity to download the genuine .iso file. I’m bummed that I don’t have a 64-bit processor. Maybe I will for Windows 8…
9: 15 PM:
I’m finally at home, I’ve burned the .iso to a Windows 7 Boot Disk, all my files are backed up, my hard drive is formatted, and I have no partitions. I’m a little scared, but here goes. The installation goes fairly quickly, Windows automatically creates a secondary partition because I have no others (only 200 MB), and it’s time to startup.
9: 45 PM:
That was a really quick installation, only half an hour. 7 prompts me to create a Username and password (with a password hint! Windows has a new trick already!) After that I set up time and date settings, enter the serial and set up Windows Update settings, etc. and get to the networking. I choose our home wireless network and enter the password on the same page and it connects just fine. I choose “Home” for this networks location and Windows spits out a password at me to join the “Homegroup”. I’m the only one on the network using 7, so this isn’t important to me. I choose what I want to share on the network (pictures, videos, etc.) and Windows boots up. Later on I find out that this the “Homegroup” is actually to my disadvantage, as I can no longer connect to our home network’s printer, which is being shared on a machine running XP. When I used Vista this was no problem.
10: 00 PM:
I love the desktop! So clean, so uncluttered. I wonder if Microsoft will let manufacturers infect the clean desktop with all their bloatware links. There a few features that I find especially pleasing.
Full Screen Previews
The first feature is the full-screen previews (see picture). Like Vista, hovering over a taskbar item reveals a screenshot of the program. However, in 7, hovering over the screenshot brings up that window and makes the others transparent. How cool is that!? This is especially useful if you use Internet Explorer, as hovering over the IE icon shows thumbnails for all open tabs. As of right now there is no support for this feature in other browsers. Windows Media Player 12 also has a thumbnail preview that includes play controls so you no longer have to restore the window to pause music.
Open windows are much more easily managed now. Two new features are Windows Aero Snap and Aero Shake, which have been talked about on Mintywhite before. When a window is dragged to the top of the desktop it is automatically resized to full-screen, while dragging it away shrinks it to its original size. The second Snap feature occurs when you drag a window all the way to the right or left, causing it to take up that half of the screen. This is especially useful with two instances of Windows Explorer open, when there is a lot of click-and-drag action. Windows Shake is fun to play with. When multiple windows are open, grab one by the title bar, shake it slightly, and the other windows will minimize. Do it once more and all the windows are restored.
Improve Notification Area
The next thing I notice is the right side of the taskbar. It looks much more organized (although I would like to see color icons), mainly due to the fact that tray icons are now organized in a drop-down menu (or drop-up menu?). It is much easier to connect to networks now, as the network icon, when clicked on, shows a menu of available networks right on the desktop (not in a separate window) where a password can be entered. There is also a small space at the very end that makes all windows transparent when the cursor hovers over it, making the desktop visible (known as Windows Peek). Helpful if you use Windows Gadgets or the new Sticky Notes application. And finally… the calendar is in view by default, right under the clock! So for those of you who forgot what the date is…
The Task Bar and Start Menu
Lastly, most people already know about the taskbar. Only icons for running programs are visible, and they are rather large. I attribute this to the fact that Windows 7 is being designed to be tablet-PC touch-friendly. Try touching just one tray icon in Vista when the screen resolution is 1900×1200. Good luck. These options can all be changed so 7 can look like Vista (but why do that?). Also, pinning programs to the Start Menu and Taskbar is incredibly easy thanks to the links on the right-click menu. Another new feature is that the taskbar stays transparent when a program is maximized, unlike Vista, which is a nice touch. Jump lists are new features that are also helpful. Hovering over a program on the Start Menu or right-clicking its taskbar icon brings up a list of recently opened documents or web pages and different options for the program, depending on what type of program it is. For example, simply hovering over the Windows Live Messenger icon on the Start Menu brings up a list giving you options to visit the MSN Home Page, change your status, log off, and even opening your e-mail inbox. As you can tell from all the bold text, the initial look and feel of 7 is the most changed part of Windows since Vista. Overall, these small changes and the newer Aero GUI (Graphical User Interface) that 7 uses make the operating system that much better than its predecessor.
It’s almost midnight now, and time to sleep.