It’s great to see Windows 7 Beta finally released to the world! We're very proud of what has been accomplished over the last months; in many ways, it sets a new quality bar for a beta operating system release. Building on top of the Windows Vista foundation, Windows 7 adds a great deal of polish and refinement to both the user interface and the underlying architecture, while at the same time introducing many new features and improvements that support new hardware, give power users and casual users alike better tools to manage their digital lives, and enable new classes of application experience.
Over future blog entries, I’ll spend time drilling into some of those areas in more detail; of course, there are plenty of articles already out there that dissect Windows 7 in some depth, with the Windows SuperSite and Ars Technica providing notably comprehensive entries. I’d also like to draw particular attention to the series of Windows 7 interviews that Yochay Kiriaty has been posting on Channel 9, which give the inside scoop on the development of many of the most significant new features.
For now, though, I want to focus in on some of “secrets” of Windows 7: the many little tweaks and enhancements that we’ve made in this release that I’ve discovered and collated over the last few months of using Windows 7 across my home and work machines. These are the things that are too small to appear in any marketing document as “features”, but that you quickly miss when you switch to an older version of Windows. There are some who think that we’re arbitrarily hiding functionality to make Windows easy for casual users, but I’d argue that a great deal of effort has been put into this release to satisfy power users. In homage to those of us who enjoy discovering the nooks and crannies of a new operating system list, I’ve put together the longest blog post that I’ve ever written. If you’ve downloaded and installed Windows 7 Beta recently, I think you’ll enjoy this list of my thirty favorite secrets. Have fun!
This side-by-side docking feature is particularly invaluable on widescreen monitors – it makes the old Windows way of shift-clicking on two items in the taskbar and then using the context menu to arrange them feel really painful.
If it’s not obvious by the semi-tortuous steps above, it’s worth noting that this isn’t something we’re exactly desperate for folks to re-enable, but it’s there if you really need it for some reason. Incidentally, we’d love you to really try the new model first and give us feedback on why you felt the new taskbar didn’t suit your needs.
I'd like to third the request for ISO file support, both in terms of mounting and creating. I hate third-party tools since they're almost always adware or buggy; some native support would be really nice, even if it's a downloadable addon.
Also, the Betta joke was pretty funny.
Hey Tim, nice post.
I'm assuming that when 7 goes RTM there will be a picture of a Goldfish as the desktop background ;-)
Betta fish, lol...
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DisplaySwitch command-line switches:
Found this great list of Windows 7 “secrets” via Shawn Wildermuth on twitter . I think my fave is between
The ability to mount an ISO rather than burn it would be a very useful additional feature
"It’s also worth noting in passing that Windows 7 is far better suited to a netbook than any previous operating system"
You seem to be forgetting the miriad of Linux distributions that are tailored specifically for netbook use.
Windows 7 is a great improvement for Windows, but many of the touted features have been standards in Linux desktops for several years. Free download, USB installation, docked windows, running with elevated rights... It's good you're catching up after falling behind with Vista, but the only added bonus I'm really seeing between Windows 7 and a Linux distribution is the Microsoft branding.
One additional comment to my previous one. It doesn't surprise me that the new taskbar tests well, most people's desktops and taskbars are a cluttered mess of icons and running programs. While the new taskbar is actually neater for these people, it is more of a mess for those of us UI neatness freaks. Please give us a choice and allow for even more customization of the UI by power users.
Oh, and add another vote for mounting iso's. Great idea.
Very nice list, some things I knew others I did not.
Nice "betta" fish...heh, got that one when it loaded up....
Brilliant list, even I learned some new stuff that will come in handy. And yes, I just moved my Taskbar to the left side of the screen and will give it a go for a week if I can handle it. When Windows 95 first came out so long ago, I almost wished I could find the person directly responsible for putting the Taskar at the BOTTOM of the screen and beat him or her to a pulp. I still can't understand it... it's basically the first thing I modify on a new installation, right to the top of the screen where it should be.
But this left side position is intriguing, so we'll see what happens.
Thanks for the list...
I think it's safe to say that MSFT learned a great deal from the initial Vista launch and it's
Thanks Tim, I appreciate knowing the secrets of Vista SP2, oops I mean Windows 7.
About time MS decided to add an iso burner, as much as they only recognize that format.
cheers, many improvements I even like the fact the desktop background image rotates.
I was happy with Vista actually and this feels right at home except faster! http://www.flannelplanet.com
I was a side locker for a while, but I converted to a top-side auto-hide task bar. Why top? Top is where menu bars go. If I want to control explorer, I go to the top of the window. If I want to control my PC, I go to the top of my screen. I compliment that with Rocket Dock autohidden at the bottom of the screen.
But on the subject of screen real estate recovery, one feature I'd love to see in 7 is "minimize to preview". What you've done with the task bar is very nice, but it's still a 1D list. Allow me to grab the title bar of a window and "swirl", minimize the window and pop a preview onto the cursor instead which can be moved like an icon, double clicked to restore the window or popped to the taskbar if it's become clutter.
That's it - after 26 hours with 7, all I have is that suggestion so far. It looks like 7 will be to Vista what XP was to CE :)
One hiccup - I changed my theme to Landscape. When I tried small icons for the task bar and then turn it off, the opacity strip didn't regain it's size. Now if I move the taskbar to the left, the opacity strip moves to the top of the screen rather than going vertical.
Only other niggle so far - have to run SharpKeys to get my apple keyboard's alt/command the right way round :)
As a Vista naysayer, may I just say "YAY!" :)