What's New in Windows 7 RC - Part 2
8. Clearer ALT+TAB
Pressing ALT+TAB not only lets you cycle through thumbnails of open windows, but now the highlighted window will appear while other open windows fade into transparency. Having not only the thumbnail to work from but also a preview window makes switching windows that much easier.
9. Parent Folder Button
Tired of clicking back up the folder structure again and again? The Release Candidate pins the Parent Folder in the address bar so you can always go back easily. We say just bring back the 'Up' button from Windows XP already!
10. Easier Search
The Content view mode now includes labels for all properties for each item in search results, and the search results highlight words from your query.
11. More Windows Touch
More Windows Touch gestures are in, including thumbnail peeks (drag your finger across taskbar thumbnail previews), zoom in on an image in Windows Explorer (moving two fingers closer or apart), multi-touch support, right-clicking (touch an item with one finger and another finger to tap), and drag and drop text inside Web sites. Windows Touch looks like an interesting addition, but of course it'll only work with compatible hardware and only useful for certain tasks and applications.
12. Remote Media Streaming
You can now play media from your home while you're out. Associate two or more Windows 7 computers with your Windows Live ID and allow Internet access to your files. Windows Media Player will then display and play the media from remote computers.
13. New Funky Themes
These new wallpapers are so not Microsoft - is this the start of a funkier Windows?
14. Windows XP Mode
Windows 7 now runs Windows XP in a virtual environment, so you won't have to let go of your old software, especially for proprietary software that only worked with Windows XP. You will need a processor with hardware virtualization support so your old Celerons for example will not be able to take advantage of this. In fact, even newer Intel processors may not have the feature (Intel VT), like the Core 2 Duo E7400.
And if you do have, you must have the feature enabled in the BIOS first. Available through pre-installation or via a free download from Microsoft.
15. Starter Edition Only Good for Three Applications
The most surprising news must have been that Windows 7 Starter Edition will only allow up to three applications to run at the same time. Starter and Home Basic Edition are the two flavors slated to be released in emerging markets only, but they're also expected to be used in mini-notebooks which have less processing power and juice.
When quizzed on what kind of applications will be counted, a Microsoft spokesperson told us that some applications that run in the background like firewalls will not be counted, but other apps like IM (Instant Messaging) will be counted as one. The news of such arbitrary limitations sounds kind of contradictory since Microsoft has already gushed over how Windows 7 will be perfect for mini-notebooks and runs faster on less resources than Windows Vista. We can only imagine users' reactions to being restricted by their own OS.
Like Windows Vista, Windows 7 is also coming out in six flavors; Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. According to Microsoft though, the choice will be a lot easier this time round as only Home Premium and Professional will be available in the stores. Starter and Home Basic are for emerging markets, Enterprise is for large organizations buying in bulk, while Ultimate either comes pre-installed or is available as an upgrade.
16. Works till June 2010
Perhaps the biggest news is that the Release Candidate will work all the way until June 1st, 2010, so you can grab your copy of the Release Candidate at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads. (Windows XP mode is a separate download and will also be available at the same URL address) when it's made available to the general public on May 5th and have it run for a full year.
In the words of Microsoft when we spoke to them, Windows 7 Release Candidate's changes are more 'fit and finish' than anything else. From what we have seen, Windows 7 is shaping up quite nicely. It seems that Microsoft - in a remarkably and admirably different development process from Windows Vista - has been open about developments and is making good use of early user and developer feedback to make Windows 7 a more finely tuned product.
The best thing about it is, you don't have to take our word for it. Get it on May 5th and try it for yourself.
Some advice: back-up your files before upgrading Windows 7. Microsoft assures us that the upgrade should go fine, but there's nothing to lose by being extra careful. Also, we believe that you should backup your files regularly anyway.