Nice things coming in Windows 7

I installed the RTM version of Windows 7 this past Sunday. I expected snafus, but what I got was an easy installation and a lot of pleasant surprises.

I’m finding a lot to like about Windows 7. In particular, I like the new functionality built into the applications that are pinned to the Windows Taskbar. Right now, I want to talk about three things I like.

First, they’ve rolled Quick Launch and application shortcuts into a single concept. Notice how there’s just one set of icons on the Taskbar. These are applications that are running as well as applications I’ve pinned to the Taskbar. Notice that some are lighter than others. The ones that are lighter are running.

While the Quick Launch toolbar can still be used, it’s now redundant. I find that my use of the Taskbar is a lot more efficient now.

Second, as an option, each running icon displays clickable previews of open application windows when you hover over the icon with the mouse pointer. Here, I first hovered over the Word icon, then I hovered over the document at the left (the one I’m currently drafting). Hovering over the application icon displays all open windows/documents for that application. Hovering over a preview causes that window to surface—even if it’s buried under a number of layers of other windows. Notice the lines on the desktop—those are the outlines of other application windows temporarily hidden so I can see where the surfaced document window is. It’s not visible in this screen shot because I have two monitors—making “not knowing” where something is at any given time pretty easy.

Third, when you right-click on an application icon in the Taskbar, Windows 7 shows you a list of up to 10 of the most recent documents/files you’ve opened with that application. If you’re a fan of the recently-used-files lists in Office applications, you’ll be delighted to know that you don’t have to wait until the application is open. Click the file you want, and you hit the ground running.

Notice, however, that the list also includes files that you might have accessed during a recent session. Here, for example, a .jpg file is included because I inserted a picture in a document. Word, of course, can’t really open that file. So, if I click on it, I’ll be prompted for encoding information—usually a good sign that you’re opening a file that Word doesn’t know how to open (Word can insert pictures, but it can’t open them the same way it can open documents).

I’ve been using Windows 7 less than a week, and I’m already wanting to install it on my laptop. If I were sure all of the Toshiba devices would be supported, I’d go for it. Stay tuned… If I get brave enough, I’ll give a full report.

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