I have been running Windows 7 for a couple of weeks now and thought it was time to share my thoughts on it (besides at the time of writing, Telstra have stuffed up my ADSL Churn so I have no internet. Update : all back up and running now).
As you would no doubt of already seen on the internet, the stability and quality of the build is rock solid. I haven’t really run into many show stopping bugs with day to day use of the operating system, but what I am finding as I explore more and more are the little things that make Win 7 stand out. So in the style of Tim Sneaths post, here are some things I love!
1. Progress is displayed in the taskbar
When you do a file operation that results in a progress bar dialog being displayed, the item in the taskbar will also show the progress (see the copy below)
2. The Common Dialogs now have Search
Not sure if this was there in Vista, but the Common Save As dialog now has search in it. Damn it’s useful!
3. Improved Search Experience
By default each Explorer windows has a Search box in the top right hand corner, just the same as Vista, but the the text in the search lets you know the scope of the search straight off the bat.
Also, when you start to enter a search term, it will autosuggest, and give you the option to filter the search straight away.
Finally, the results displayed via the new Content view are pretty impressive. It shows more information, notice the thumbnail and image size and creation date.
Instead of having to consolidate tens of folders into one folder in one location, through the concept of libraries you can have a virtual catchall that encompasses a number of directories spread out throughout the computer, both internal and externally attached drives. The GUI also looks to let network drives to be included in a library but I haven’t managed to get that to work yet.
In the library you can set one of the included folders as the default directory, so if you are downloading files to the Documents library, they will always be stored in your nominated directory within the library. Pretty neat.
5. Problem Steps Recorder
This isn’t something you would use everyday and certainly most home users would never encounter it. However, I work in the software industry and have been involved in many projects where users have been testing software and gone through nightmares documenting issues they found in the software. Enter the Problem Steps Recorder, the answer to my (and most IT companies) dreams.
What the PSR lets you do is record all the actions you take on the screen, each time you do something it takes a screenshot and highlights what you did. You can also choose to annotate each step manually. The output is a HTML archive that contains all the screenshots and steps you took which can be passed on to the IT dept, or development team with the most detailed steps to reproduce ever seen! Awsome!
Well it wouldn’t be a post from me without something on gadgets. Vista introduced the concept of gadgets, they could exist in two places, either docked in the sidebar, or undocked on the desktop. Windows 7 removes the need to dock them in the sidebar, you can have them wherever you want. Each gadget now has an option next to it allowing you to choose between the docked (smaller) and undocked (larger) version of the gadget.
Microsoft have updated a couple of the gadgets and introduced another new one around the Media Centre. I have to admit, the Media Centre one is good, but it’s too big and obtrusive for me. The weather gadget changes have impressed me, it now uses Windows 7’s location functionality when you configure it to make an educated guess on where you are. If you lose your net connection (as I am experiencing now), it will still show the weather as per when it last downloaded, including a xx hours ago notification in red. Finally, if there is still no connection, it will show the forecasted weather instead of the real up to date info. Nice!
6. Reliability Monitor
Another concept that Vista introduced was the Reliability Monitor. This gave you an indication of how reliable your system was behaving. When you first installed your machine, it would start at 10, and then as an error occurred, either in the OS itself, or an application or driver didn’t behave itself, it would decrease.
With Win 7, the reliability monitor has been given a face lift and now has a much more polished way of showing the issues affecting the machine and provides a mechanism for looking up those issues within the GUI.
On the whole my machine has been behaving pretty well and I reckon the reliability monitor is being a little harsh (as per the above screenshot). As you can see, there are no real Windows failures, but heaps and heaps of Application failures which are mainly cases of the Windows Installer bug and Internet Explorer crapping out. I really hope IE 8 gets better with RC1, because the version in the Beta is letting the side down at the moment.