Articles from February 2009

Windows 7 RC Enhancements

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:57 PM :: 2408 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

Windows 7

Since the debut of Windows 7, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not Microsoft would listen to feedback from the field. This sounds odd, but the question is a valid one, due to how Steve Sinofsky is running this release of Windows. The major departure from past releases is that the Windows team isn't introducing features into the build until they're "done." Sure, there may be some small issues, but nothing like what we saw in the pre-release versions of Vista or XP. This, along with only 2 pre-release versions of the OS making it out to the field -- beta and release candidate -- will make anyone question how much will really change between the beta and official release. Well, the Engineering 7 Syndicated feed blog lets us know about 36 things we'll see in the release candidate based on feedback from the beta. This is very refreshing, even if a number of them are qute trivial.

  1. Task Switcher (Alt+Tab) now with Aero peek -- excellent enhancement to really bring focus to the app you're thinking about switching to
  2. Win+# will open or launch, not just launch -- I'm very excited about this one; I'll finally have a Win+1 shortcut to open my most important window: PowerShell
  3. Apps wanting your attention will be more obvious
  4. Dragging a file onto an app on the taskbar will now open the file in the app
  5. 25-40% more icons will fit on the taskbar before scrolling
  6. Clearer mapping of what app thumbnails are related to in the taskbar
  7. Newly installed programs will show up at the bottom of the start menu
  8. Increased the number of items in the taskbar app's context menu (aka jump list)
  9. More flexibility when pinning items to an app's jump list
  10. Separation of desktop icons and gadgets
  11. Aero peek now touch-enabled
  12. Multi-touch capabilities added to the virtual keyboard to make it more realistic
  13. Summon the context menu with a 2 fingers -- this isn't quite as simple as it could be, but there are some reasons why a 2-finger tap isn't viable
  14. Touch enhancements to select and drag/drop content
  15. Simplified networking options in system tray and return of the connected-but-no-internet indicator
  16. User Account Control (UAC) tweaks
  17. Auto-lock a machine without applying a screensaver
  18. Return of the high performance power option from the system tray
  19. Clearer communication about preview vs. saved theme changes
  20. Reliability enhancements to Windows Media Player for internet radio
  21. Digital camcorder/camera video playback improvements
  22. Cleaner "now playing" view in Windows Media Player
  23. Content that Windows Media Player cannot play won't show up in the library -- this might be confusing to some, but it sounds like a good option; I'd probably opt for a dimmed color and icon depicting its unplayable status
  24. Changed Windows Media Player to resume playback of content after returning from sleep
  25. Introduction of Windows Media Player sync relationships dialog will be reverted -- classic case of why betas are important
  26. Easier, quicker access to advanced playback settings in Windows Media Player
  27. Windows Media Player's jump list now includes content launced from outside of WMP
  28. Worked with hardware vendors to make it easier to get more devices to support Device Stage -- if you don't know what Device Stage is (I didn't), watch this
  29. Improved headphone experience
  30. Increased audio reliability
  31. Improved Windows Explorer header to enhance new "libraries" capability
  32. Drag and drop enhancements when dealing with libraries
  33. Win+E was opening libraries, but will return to open My Computer, as it does today -- I'm glad to see this because I haven't found a use for libraries, yet
  34. Added FAT32 support for libraries
  35. Arrangement view enhancements for libraries
  36. Performance enhancements abound

There are really only 4 of these that I'm looking forward to, but it's still a surprisingly large list. I'm looking forward to the RC. Rumor has it we'll see a public release in April. Part of me expects it to be sooner, but I have no idea.