I’ve been using Windows 7 Professional for a short time now, but I’m already very much impressed.
Not only is Windows 7 faster and more responsive than Windows Vista, it’s also a lot better looking!
Windows Vista had a sorry excuse of an update for the Taskbar, but in Windows 7 the Taskbar has been dramatically improved. The ability to re-arrange programs and icons in the Taskbar freely as well as pinning frequently used icons to the Taskbar is a major enhancement that I now won’t be able to work without!
While many past reviews from others have related and/or compared the new Taskbar to the pre-existing Mac Dock, I beg to differ. While skin deep the Taskbar and Dock appear to have a great number of similarities, they are far from the same.
One of my favorite features of the new Taskbar is the way the application icon appears to be stacked when multiple windows are opened. The thumbnail view of applications and windows is also a very nifty feature, especially when you have several multiple windows open that you can choose from.
Windows 7 has an awesome new focus feature that basically makes every application that isn’t in question become transparent. In the image below, I’ve hovered over the Taskbar thumbnail for Opera. The effect is that only this window will appear and others will fade away, as seen by the translucent appearance of the Windows Media Player window.
If you want to view the desktop, there’s still a button to do that. However, the button is no longer just a quick links shortcut and is now a built-in part of the (end of the) Taskbar. Clicking this button will minimize all open windows. Clicking it again will restore those windows to their original state.
The cool new feature, however, is that if you hover this button for a few seconds, the open windows will fade out so you can see through to the desktop and not actually move any windows.
For some reason with Windows Vista I never found the Desktop Gadgets to be useful. Somehow they always managed to be, or seemed to be, in my way. With Windows 7 the Desktop Gadgets can be very useful and have thus far seemed to be completely out of my way.
There are a great number of other enhancements to Windows 7, but the updated Taskbar is by far the most useful for me. After using Ubuntu for so long and developing a pride in Linux, it’s amazing how quickly Windows 7 has won my support!
The visual effects found in Windows 7 can be implemented fairly completely in Linux using the KDE environment. I’m personally not a big fan of KDE, preferring Gnome much more instead. To me, KDE is a great environment in concept, but the icons and graphics in general seem to be off very poor taste and KDE feels overly complicated for such a shiny interface. This is where Windows 7 has done a great job with a clean and simple interface as well as a nice set of icons and graphics.
One very useful program that I highly recommend is UltraMon. Another alternative application for this is DisplayFusion, though I’ve never tested it. I’ve been using UltraMon for a few years now as a way to extend the Windows Taskbar across multiple monitors for XP, Vista and now Windows 7 (with the latest beta).
I’m still unsure as to why Microsoft refuses to implement the ability to stretch the Taskbar across multiple windows by default. This is very easily accomplished on most other platforms.
I’m sure others have found Windows 7 to be a major improvement. I’d really like to hear some opinions on Windows XP vs Windows 7 since there is still such a large group of Windows XP supporters. I’d especially like to hear some views of XP being better than 7. 😀