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Windows 7 – what’s all the fuss about?

Alex Christie

21 October 2009

This week is the official launch of Windows 7, the operating system that Microsoft is banking on to minimise the damage done by its predecessor, Vista. I have not received my own copy yet, but I thought I would test-drive it on a friend’s PC. There are numerous changes to the operating system, but I thought I would point out 3 of the most visible changes.

Fast Startup

The first change I picked up was that Windows 7 boots much faster than Windows Vista. I would say it starts up almost twice as fast as Vista does.  This might not seem like a big change to many people, but to feel good about Windows 7 from the start up just tells me that Microsoft has really spent a lot of time and effort on the performance areas of Windows.

Desktop

The taskbar and the system tray is where most of the improvements have been made. The Start button still looks and functions the same as with Vista, but the Taskbar is now wider than it was in Windows Vista, partly to accommodate the new, icon-based buttons which replace those old, text-based items.

Windows belonging to active applications are stacked together by default, and you can see which applications are currently active at a glance, because a shaded glass frame sits over the top.

Windows 7 desktop

Windows 7 desktop

If you were to hover over an application’s icon on the taskbar, you’ll see a thumbnail view of the documents currently being used. Hover over a thumbnail, and all other windows on the screen will go transparent, leaving the window in question still visible (also know now as ‘Aero Peek’). As you would expect, by clicking on the thumbnail the document will become the ‘active window’.

Aero ‘Snap’

Windows Aero 'Snap'

Windows Aero 'Snap'

Another nice feature is the possibility to ‘snap’ windows. Say for example you would like to resize your open windows, you can now just drag them to the edges of you screen.  Depending on where you drag a window, you can make it expand vertically, take up the entire screen, or appear side-by-side with another window. This comes in handy if you have multiple monitors, or you have a large monitor.

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