Windows Seven is Microsoft’s latest creation which is expected to be released by the end of 2010. I’ve been doing a little bit of messing around with it lately, so here is what I have seen. (Click on the screenshots to view them in their original size.)
The Installation (Screenshot1)
The installation was as easy as normal. All it requires you do during installation is select your language, keyboard layout, and time zone. Also, it sets up the user accounts and it asks what the desired computer name and partition layout is.
Over all, the installer interface looks nice and doesn’t take too long. The longest part of the install is copying and expanding the files that are used during the installation. After that, it is pretty fast. The only thing I have to say about the installer is that the window border doesn’t match everything else, perhaps having a full screen installer would look nicer.
First Boot (Screenshot2)
The first boot up of Windows is automatically done right after the installation finishes. Once the default user account is logged into, you see the new Windows Seven interface. If the product key isn’t put in during the install, the desktop looks just like Windows Vista until the product key is activated.
The start bar of the new interface is a nice gray color with a slightly lighter area for the task bar and has a “show desktop” icon on the quick launch bar and a button to do the same on the right side of the start bar.
The Start Bar (Screenshot3)
Altogether, the start bar’s default content has not changed at all since it’s creation. Finally, though, Microsoft has decided to change it up! The minimum default height of the start bar is now 42 pixels (Edit: There is a “Use small icons” setting in the start bar properties that allows it to be smaller if checked), and the Windows Vista styled start menu is used. Along with the new minimum size, the only other change to it is the task bar. As you can tell in the screenshot below, it is clear that four windows are open, but there are only three task bar entries. This is because now the task bar items are grouped by program.
As in the picture above, I have two instances of Firefox open. When the Firefox task bar entry is clicked, a menu is shown so that the desired window can be chosen. (Screenshot4)
Also, each item on the task bar has another menu. (Screenshot5) This menu gives you the option to pin the program to the task bar and also makes it easy to quickly open another instance of the desired program. Pinning the program is basically like adding something to the quick launch tool bar but instead the icon stays on the task bar.
Finally, one last feature that has been added to the task bar is the ability to rearrange windows. This is done easily by dragging the icon to a different location on the task bar.
The Control Panel (Screenshot 6)
I’m not sure that the Control Panel has changed any, but I haven’t ever used Windows Vista so I couldn’t say. Basically there are two views: Categorized and List. The categorized view was introduced in Windows XP.
Small Things (Screenshot 7)
There are some changes in how some of the minor programs look. For instance WordPad and Paint both have the ribbon styled menus, and there is a new scheme to the way things like documents, music, and pictures are organized. They are all stored in the “Libraries”. This is a location available in the sidebar of the file browser and in the sidebar of the save/open dialogs. On the actual hard drive, the libraries are located at “C:Usersusername”. Also, there are some fairly useful desktop gadgets available by default and they look pretty nice. These desktop gadgets are not in any kind of sidebar so they can be freely moved around the desktop.
Over all, I would have to say Windows Seven looks pretty nice. It is a good concept and works pretty well. Some of the things I liked are the ability to pin items to the task bar, rearrange the task bar’s contents, and how the control panel looks. There are a few things, though, that I don’t really like. First off would have be that it takes a while to start up (almost two minutes for me). Now the machine I was testing it on was a virtual machine but everything else ran pretty well so I don’t think it is the fault of the VM.
I have mixed feeling about the new task bar concept. I don’t really like how it groups everything by program. This can make it slower to switch between windows, but a nice thing about it is that it looks clean with everything grouped up. Also, the ability to pin windows to the task bar and move the task bar items around is quite nice.
The start menu is also nice except the fact that you have to click to get anywhere. Unlike the classic menu, you have to click to view all of the programs, and then you have to click to expand the folders on the all programs list. Having to click on every menu item slows me down, and I depend on my computer to be quick and ready so that I can get things done fast. One last thing with the start menu is that when the shutdown button is clicked, there is no confirmation in case the button was clicked on accident.
Personally, though, I am sticking to Linux. Which reminds me, before I tried out Windows Seven, I heard that it looks a lot like the KDE desktop environment and I had to agree. I think the things that really make it look like KDE are the way that the desktop gadgets are managed, the fact that the start bar is larger than previous Windows version, and the task bar items look like they are little applets on the start bar and not the task bar.
If there are any programs that anyone wants me to write about, email me at [email protected] and I’ll look into it! More screenshots of Windows Seven can be found at http://tan-com.com/tyler/screenshots/Windows7.