I got hold of the Beta version of Microsoft’s forthcoming Operating System – Windows 7. In terms of looks it is very similar to Windows Vista. The first change you will notice is the new Taskbar which merges the Quick Launch toolbar and gets rid of text labels for the items. When I first heard about the new Taskbar, I didn’t think it would do well because icons might not be enough to recognize the applications. This is where the increase in the taskbar height comes in handy. The larger icons provide easy switching and save a lot of horizontal space.
The taskbar is smart enough to detect an ongoing operation and shows a small progress bar behind the icon. Say you are downloading a file using Internet Explorer in the background and working on a Word document. You don’t even need to switch to the download dialog window to see how much of the file has been downloaded. Just move your eye to the taskbar icon, handy eh?
The taskbar also shows multiple thumbnails of grouped items; all of which can be previewed full screen without even having to switch to the windows (also no clicks or keypresses required).
Another improvement is the desktop preview feature which can be activated by moving the mouse inside the vertical rectangle at the extreme right of the taskbar. Again, no clicks required. To get back to the current screen, just move your mouse away.
Coming back to the taskbar icons, I noticed that unopen taskbar items which are pinned to the taskbar have a whitish glow below the icons. For open windows the background is a gradient based on the color which forms the majority of the icon (looks really cool, I must say).
Speaking of looks, the bootscreen of Windows 7 is what should have been done to Windows Vista.
I guess they rushed Vista’s release and left a lot of things uncompleted. Windows 7 will most certainly address these issues and be what Windows Vista should have been after such a long development period. The naming of Windows 7 seems more of a marketing nature, than technical. If you look at the versioning of Windows, you’ll find the major version has been updated only when there has been a substantial change in the Operating System core. Windows 9X systems (95, 98, ME) where all version 4, 2000 & XP where v 5. So should have been Vista & Vienna as version 6. But, as I read in an article somewhere, Vista is a tainted brand and so Microsoft decided to get the V out. Say bye to Vista/Vienna & hello to Windows 7.