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Forget Windows Vista SP1/SP2 and XP SP3; Windows 7 Top 20 Features

“We’ve had a pretty incredible couple of weeks at the PDC and WinHEC. Based on what we talked about you can imagine we are all rather busy as we transition from milestone 3 to beta. We trust many of you are enjoying 6801 (or perhaps we should say 6801+),” revealed Sinofsky. With Windows 7 pre-Beta Build 6801 changes stretch from the surface to under-the-hood optimizations, with the client evolving from both the perspective of the graphical user interface, user experience and interaction model but also in regard to the actual architecture of the operating system, with repercussions on performance, new capabilities and features, as well as compatibility and support.

At the PDC 2008, Chaitanya Sareen, delivered a session in which he emphasized the evolution of the various elements on the desktop from Windows Vista to Windows 7. Sareen was already running a Windows 7 development milestone higher than Build 6801, namely Build 6933, which, of course, is still in pre-Beta stage. The entire presentation packaged as a WMV is available for download.

Windows 7 desktop elements:

  1. The new Windows 7 Taskbar (the Superbar) – the Quick Launch area is gone, the Show Desktop button was moved all the way to the right hand side of the taskbar, and the entire space dedicated to housing opened programs can now be used to manage both launched applications and IE tabs, but also shortcuts to the most used items across the operating system.
  2. Aero Peek – the way to switch windows without actually switching windows. Working in conjunction with the new Windows 7 Taskbar, Aero Peek is designed to highlight a single window corresponding to the mini-window that the user focuses on with the mouse on the thumnail of a specifically opened desktop item.
  3. Windows 7 Taskbar Thumbnails – even in pre-beta Build 6801, the thumbnails for opened programs in Windows 7 are interactive. Unlike Vista, in Windows 7 users will be able to click thumbnails in order to access a specific opened application or window, to sneak (Aero) peek at the content, to close an item on the desktop, and even to run basic commands such as play and pause for Windows Media Player.
  4. The Start menu and the mini Start Menus (Jumplists) – Microsoft has obviously revamped the Start Menu in Windows 7, from the search functionality to simple pin program actions. At the same time, the company will offer mini start menus, also called Jumplists, for each Taskbar item, allowing the user to jump directly to the tasks performed with a certain program, rather than executing the application and only then navigating to the task, be it a web page for Internet Explorer or a document for Word.
  5. Overhauled notification area and the Action Center – those pesky and nagging notification balloons in the bottom right hand side of the screen will be a thing of the past in Windows 7. The successor of Windows Vista will allow end users to control notifications via the Action Center.
  6. AeroShake – a feature locked in Windows 7 pre-Beta Build 6801, which allows users to control opened windows with mouse or touch gestures. Desktop items can be minimized or maximized by grabbing a window and shaking it.
  7. DesktopSlideshow – is a feature designed as a combination between traditional static wallpapers and DreamScene animated backgrounds. It will allow users to have an image slideshow as their background.
  8. New fonts – Windows Vista came to the table with Segoe and Windows 7 will deliver Gabriola, a new font.
  9. Windows Sidebar is no longer a sidebar – the feature continues to exist in Windows 7, but it is no longer associated with the bar placed on the right hand side of the screen. In Windows 7 gadgets don’t have a dock anymore, and, just as in Vista, they can be placed all over the desktop.
  10. The Windows Ribbon graphical user interface – Microsoft is attempting to change the old approach to GUI designs as it has become traditional in Windows, with a move to a new style introduced with the Office 2007 System. The company already introduced the Ribbon GUI in applications such as Paint and Wordpad but it is looking to convince developers to do the same for all third-party applications designed for Windows 7.
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