Trying out Windows 7 Release Candidate – Part 2
Part 2 – UI changes and useability
The look and feel is quite familiar if you are used to Vista. It looks clean and modern. There is only a recycle bin icon on the desk top – very nice and uncluttered. The Taskbar at the bottom of the screen shows the main differences. It is larger and initially only has three buttons on the lower left. These represent Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player. They represent both a quick launch type of icon and also the actual instances of the program when it is running. Additional icons appear when you launch programs and you can choose to pin them to the taskbar for quicklaunch if you like (see examples of Spotify, the green icon in the picture)
If you have several windows from one program running the taskbar icon will appear stacked. Hovering over it will bring up a live preview above it. If there are several windows for that program they will appear side by side. If you then move the pointer up to hover over the live preview the main window will change. The program being pointed to will be highlighed and all other windows will be made transparent. This is a neat way of quickly seeing what is going on with other running programs. The live preview mini windows also have a small X to close the window directly.
The notification or “system” tray on the lower right also has undergone some changes. First in order to stop it getting overcrowed with numerous icons all of the Windows system alerts are consolidated into one icon called the Action Centre, This is where you are told that your antivirus is out of date, or Windows Defender needs to run etc. For other programs you have complete control over whether they are allowed to place an icon in the System Tray or just allow pop-up notifications or nothing at all. It keeps it looking much cleaner.
Finally there is a small area just to the right of the clock that allows views of the desktop. If you hover the pointer over it, all current windows go transparent allowing you to see the desktop. If you click it, then all windows are minimised. Why would you want to look at the blank desktop. Well you might just want to see which program icons are there, but also you can places desktop widgets directly onto the desktop. This replaces the somewhat cumbersome “sidebar” from previous versions of Windows (or the Google sidebar for example). I personally wouldn’t want to clutter my desktop with a multitude of widgets but having a clock and calendar seem useful.
In part 3 I will explain about the Virtual Windows XP mode.