I got a copy of Windows 7 RC from my MSDN Subscription and installed in on my PC yesterday. I tried the beta versions some time back, and was quite impressed with it. Finally the RC is out, and I couldn’t wait to give it a go. After several hours of backup and installation, hHere’s a screenshot of Windows 7 64-bit on my PC.
Dont’ you just love the Aero Theme 🙂
Not just getting a facelift, there’s been quite a number of usability improvements. I really enjoy using the shortcuts and gestures for docking your window.
- Windows + Left / Right Arrow : Dock your active window to the left or right.
- Windows +Up / Down Arrow: Maximizes / Minimizes window.
- Windows + Home Button: Minimizes all your non-active windows and keeps your active window open, to clear out all the “stuff” on your screen
- Dragging your window to the extreme left or right of your desktop will dock your window to the left or right. It’s pretty handy when you want to dock two applications side by side.
- If you hold your left mouse click on a window and start shaking it, the other windows on your desktop will minimize. It’s quite fun, do give your window a shake and see what happens.
- There’s a rectangular bar at the end of your Taskbar, and when you mouse over it, all your windows temporarily disappear and you get an instant sneak peak of your desktop. Pretty handy when you want to see what’s on your desktop.
- The Vista Sidebar is gone, and you can place your desktop Gadgets anywhere you want. Finally power to the user.
The Taskbar has also been re-designed. Instead of showing all windows that are open, it’s being organized into application-context. For instance, I have a Firefox, Google Chrome, Windows Explorer application “pinned” to the taskbar. If you have more than one instance of Firefox open, you will only see one Firefox icon on the taskbar, but this can be changed via Taskbar Properties. All your open applications will be grouped under each application icon. A handy way to open a new instance of an application (if one is already open) is to hold a SHIFT key and then click on the application icon. This pinning feature has replaced the good old Quick Launch bar and does take a while to get used to.
Another cool feature is being able to attach a Virtual Hard Drive and access it’s contents in Windows Explorer. You can attach or create a VHD from Disk Management, Action file menu -> Attach VHD.
One of the greatest features I feel in Windows 7 is that it allows you to run your old applications in Compatibility Mode. You can change that by selecting Properties of your application, and changing it to run in another version of Windows.
Lastly I also found out that for versions of Windows 7 Professional and higher, it will support a Windows XP Mode, which can use hardware virtualization (an option) to spin up a version of Windows XP via a new version of Windows Virtual PC. You can install any applications you require on the Windows XP Instance and once you turn off the VPC, Windows 7 starts performing some voodoo and creates shortcuts for you to access your “legacy applications” you installed directly. How cool is that, and not to mention the excitment it brings with hardware virtualization coming to home users. I have to try this feature soon… 🙂
Windows 7 may look very familiar to Vista but it’s a whole new beast. It has many hidden gems and features waiting to be discovered, and Tim Sneath has wrriten a great article on Secrets of Windows 7. Be sure to check that out! Mike Swanson has created an awesome Windows 7 Theme Pack, be sure to download that!
At the moment, I’mvery happy with Windows 7, it’s stable, does what it says it does and has not given me any problems yet. At least we know for sure, it’s not just a Vista upgrade.