We are approaching the release of Windows 7, which will be close to three years after Microsoft released the seemingly unpopular and annoyance-stricken Windows Vista.
Vista is a love-it-or-hate-it type of operating system. Don't get me wrong; Vista included many new and useful features, such as improved networking functionality, better search capabilities, and more bundled applications.
However, as you probably know too well, features such as User Account Control (UAC) can be a bit annoying ("You opened the XYZ settings; just to make sure you want to really open it, click Continue," Windows says).
To sum it all up, it seems like Vista never surpassed the love and appreciation of XP.
Has Microsoft removed the "Vista annoyances" from Windows 7, or are there more? We're about to find out, thanks to the beta version that was available to the public. We'll analyze some of the major changes, interface and feature wise.
Now let's get started!
The Very Different Taskbar
The very first revamp you'll notice—at least the first time you minimize an application—is that of the Windows taskbar. The taskbar program buttons as we've seen since Windows 95 have changed.
The program or window text titles have been removed—my first gripe. The icons are now what we use to distinguish between the applications and windows we have opened/minimized. This takes some getting used to.
Figure 1 shows an example of having several windows/applications minimized: Computer, Network, Documents, Notepad, Paint, and Calculator.
The taskbar icons are always grouped by default. For example, as Figure 2 shows, if you were to open Computer, Network, and Documents from the Start menu separately, you'd access them from the same folder-looking icon on the taskbar. Though Vista does something similar if the taskbar is filled up, the grouping in Windows 7 seems confusing, at least to me.
My last grumble about the taskbar is that the Quick Launch toolbar has been integrated into the other buttons. It's hard to differentiate between programs pinned to the taskbar (Quick Launch icons) and the icons of opened/minimized windows and programs.
The taskbar will be one of those love-it-or-hate-it features. Personally, I don't care for the change. It may make for a prettier and more organized taskbar, but the major change will take some getting used to.