Introducing the Windows 7 UI

Update: For more video demos please check out the Windows 7 Demos post.

During the Windows 7 reviewers workshop on Sunday Linda Averett demonstrated the user interface enhancements introduced with Windows 7. Keeping with the trend, Averett described herself as a PC, wearing a red top matching her fall colored desktop with orange and red aero glass tones.

The session was an overview of some new features demonstrated on Windows 7 build 6933.winmain.081020-1842. Unfortunately the build that will be handed out to PDC attendees will not feature most of the enhancements I am about to detail.

First up was the new Windows 7 desktop. The new desktop includes a thicker taskbar, improved system tray and no sidebar. The orb on the start menu also glistens after hover over.

Although the look is similar to Vista, the main changes would be demonstrated next, hovering Window display and Jump lists. Averett described the jump lists as a "very addictive feature".

Jump lists are accessible by right clicking on instances in the taskbar and they give you a list of recent documents using the recent documents API. Jump lists are also available on the start menu.

I got the chance to play around with a more recent build of Windows 7 and recorded the following demo of jump lists and the Window preview:

The new hover over window previews:

Averett went on to demo the new Windows Media player controls from the taskbar. You can skip, play tracks and fully control the WMP experience from the new taskbar control.

Snap to side is the next major UI enhancement meaning if you have 2 windows open you can tile them easily by snapping them to the side. This also works by dragging the window up to the top of the monitor and snapping it to the top (maximising it). Interestingly in the demonstrations we saw when windows were maximised the glass effect was still visible. You can also see some of the latest Windows 7 touch advancements where jump lists are 25% larger than when used with the mouse and flick gestures are evident. When Sinofsky was asked if this violated Apple's patents he said he could not discuss any legal issues.

Another great new feature named in the Windows 7 build as "preview desktop" but described as "peek into desktop", allows you to see through windows and straight onto the desktop. Interestingly Microsoft have decided to remove the Windows Sidebar and simply drop the gadgets onto the desktop.

Averett went on to describe data Microsoft had gathered regarding customising Windows. 30% of people customise their glass colour. Customers and OEMs both care a lot about customisation. Windows 7 boosts what you can do with the glass colour. You can now create theme sets and save them to share with friends and family.

The system tray has also been re-designed allowing users to hide system tray icons if they wish:

Libraries are now included in Windows 7 to help you better manage documents. Libraries is a collection of content like photos, pictures and music. Libraries allow you to add storage and keep the pictures stored locally across lots of drives but have links to the library.

Federated search allows you to search across multiple PCs to pull photos from another photo library on another PC. The new search pane gives you a great preview of documents too within explorer.

HomeGroup is the feature that allows federated search to search across multiple PC libraries. A HomeGroup allows you to easily link Windows 7 computers on your home network so that you can share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices. It also makes them ready to stream media to devices on your home network such as a media extender. You can help protect your HomeGroup with a password, and you can choose what you want to share.

Another demonstration focussed on the new "PlayTo" option that will stream your music from other PCs and other music libraries (including iTunes) to your media receivers or other PCs. Windows Media Player now plays AAC songs that iTunes uses but as Apple does not license FairPlay content Microsoft is unable to provide this functionality. PlayTo also works on pictures and videos.

Device stage was demonstrated next. This is a part of explorer which will demonstrate what a device is and what it can do. It's an opportunity for the device vendor to fully showcase the device and present a photo realistic image of the device. It has a task area at the bottom section where the vendor can provide links to inbuilt applications and device information. Microsoft believes this will transform opportunities for vendors. The entire device stage is an implementation of software + services and devices built inside an XML document.

A new feature in Windows 7 that was not fully demonstrated was the magnifier tool pictured below. This allows users to zoom into specific parts of the desktop.

My first impression of Windows 7 is that it's a great improvement on Vista. It has improved performance, a neat boot screen that fires up devices quicker than before and the improved taskbar and windows management features will help when switching between various applications. Throughtout the rest of PDC Microsoft will be unveiling more information about the Windows 7 desktop improvements. We'll be there so keep an eye out on our PDC section.

For more images and screenshots check out our Windows 7 gallery. Our friends at ActiveWin and Paul Thurrott have some great reviews too so check them out.

View: Windows 7 Screenshot Gallery

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i saw the videos from PDC2008 and was impressed how they managed to improve the taskbar...
but i’m tired of it (not the buttons and the icons from system tray, but the bar)...
it occupies space for nothing (i’m not clicking left or right mouse button on the bar)...
i would rather see my desktop and my wallpaper widescreen...
i would prefer using only the buttons or icons from desktop which give me oportunity to move them all over i want on desktop (it would be quite wonderfull to move the start button and the clock from system tray over the entire desktop)...
furthermore, even the concept of the taskbar, isn’t like a black spot on the name of Microsoft’s OS?...doesn’t have to be only about windows (and tabs)?...
i endured the taskbar because i was a beginner in what ment using an OS and didn’t know what i wanted from it...but now i think i grown up along side the new technologies...
destroy the bar, i want to visualise the windows widescreen

It looks more like a natural evolution from vista than a revolutionary product on its own, in the sense that it seems almost as 2nd edition of vista. I guess it will include some of the features which were supposed to be part of vista initially, thus being the result of the merge of both 'longhorn' and 'blackcomb' existing ideias. 'Windows 7' is a silly name, but maybe no one would buy a product called 'vista something' anymore...

The new taskbar is ace. I haven't been this excited about a Microsoft product since Windows 2000.

Two and a half questions though:

1. Can you guys direct me to a PRECISE LOCATION where I can see the taskbar with small icons?

2. Suppose I have two Word documents open and I minimized them. What will happen when I LEFT-CLICK the Word icon on the taskbar? Will it restore both Word windows, or just display a menu?

2A. Also, if the Word windows are not minimized will a left-click on the Word icon minimize them both or just display a menu?

Thanks

I'll probably be upgrading from Vista when this is released. Look, the under-the-hood-changes are interesting, but for the most part are irrelevant. GIVE ME MORE ****ING (consistent) EYE CANDY!

Windows has run great since Windows 2000. Anyone claiming Windows has been any less than that has not really used it, or has run it on horrible hardware. We need more features. I hope that the next Windows requires a minimum of 4GB of RAM. Seriously. RAM is ridiculously cheep, and there are some great features to be had if the OS would just use it. If you are on a system that is 5 yo, then use the 5 yo OS that was made for that hardware. I have a 5 yo laptop, and I'm not going to upgrade it from XP because that OS was made for that hardware. But I want the juicy eye candy for my quad-core. Give me something to look at, enjoy using and work with.

what I'm wondering is how you can remove the sidebar because it takes up too much space, yet make the taskbar larger at the same time. I know the side bar was larger but it just seems funny to me, never really liked the sidebar anyways though.

I personally use a double thick taskbar anyway, so this is ideal for me. I like having the full day and date displayed next to the time, and the option to have my system tray icons on 3 lines. I understand others don't like the thickness as it steals some of their precious pixels, but for me this new taskbar is a step in the right direction. Good job MS, now gimme a beta so I can play.

Me wants badly

I understand that a lot of companies and people are waiting for windows 7 to upgrade, but a lot of people have upgraded and are using vista at the moment. My question was directed to those people such as myself who already have vista. Also not all companies or organizations are waiting for windows 7 to upgrade, parts of the military and DoD are deploying vista on their computers as we speak.

OS's for business use are vastly becoming a non issue. My company does almost everything web based now even Office. Cloud computing is really the future so it really doesn't matter what OS they're using. Of course the downside to this would be that if the system goes down, you're hosed.

I'm sure that it offers a lot for people that want to upgrade from XP to win7 but does anyone that already has vista think that they'll buy windows 7 if it came out next year? personally Vista runs great on my computer and what I've seen in 7 doesn't impress me that much. Don't get me wrong it looks like it has some good stuff ( don't really like the taskbar and start menu changes, I know you can change things but I hate the OSX/KDE look), but there doesn't seem like there is much incentive for people with vista to upgrade to this.

oliverprescott said,
I'm sure that it offers a lot for people that want to upgrade from XP to win7 but does anyone that already has vista think that they'll buy windows 7 if it came out next year? personally Vista runs great on my computer and what I've seen in 7 doesn't impress me that much. Don't get me wrong it looks like it has some good stuff ( don't really like the taskbar and start menu changes, I know you can change things but I hate the OSX/KDE look), but there doesn't seem like there is much incentive for people with vista to upgrade to this.

A lot of companies and people are not upgrading to Vista. I believe most companies are not even going to touch Vista and are waiting until Windows 7.

For me it would be the new UI (I like shiny new stuff), and the performance and battery life improvements. My desktop runs Vista without any problems, but my laptop lags with it sometimes. From what I hear Windows 7 should help with that.

More formats supported in media center/player is cool, and libraries are definately a welcome feature as well, not to mention the improved search. I'm not so excited about gadgets leaving the sidebar (I haven't really used them in Vista anyway), and I don't plan on getting a touch screen (although a tablet PC would be cool).

I will be upgrading when it comes out - although hopefully I can get in on a free copy from MS like I did with Vista. :-)

Does anyone else think the jump lists could use a little more eye-candy? The full, heavy Aero borders don't seem to fit for a quick pop-up list. I know it's the same thing they used in Vista for the volume control, calendar, power options and network, but I never liked it there either...

I know it's a minor gripe, but something this useful should look as awesome as it is!

I'm baffeled as no-one has mentioned hardware acceleration. In OSX jaguar every draw call is executed on the GPU, but in Vista, and Windows 7 it seems, still run GDI+ on the CPU. That means forget about advanced UI animations going smoothly. Try to resize a IE window in Vista and a Safari window in OSX. Amazingly smooth and no tearing. YES! Vista still tears, but only inside the applications or when window is resized. Moving around windows still is done on the GPU and is butter smooth.

http://arstechnica.com/reviews/os/macosx-10-4.ars/14

GamblerFEXonlin said,
I'm baffeled as no-one has mentioned hardware acceleration. In OSX jaguar every draw call is executed on the GPU, but in Vista, and Windows 7 it seems, still run GDI+ on the CPU.

Er, are you trying to say Vista wasn't GPU accelerated? o_O

Only the desktop composition, as they call it, are GPU accelerated. And new WPF programs. But old programs and Explorer itself are not, henche the CPU usage when you resize a window or a image or explorer creates thumbnails. Really a waste of resources not to have explorer run on the GPU. Try resizing a window in OSX jaguar and it's much smoother.

It strikes me that a $500 PC every five years is all it would take to keep up reasonably well with new releases of operating systems. That's $100 a year, or less than $9 a month. I hear and I understand the complaints from a lot of people that it's too much to expect people to upgrade their hardware for a new version of Windows, but then I think about the other industries that have gotten people--even low-income people--hooked on spending.

Unlimited text messaging plans. Eating out on every lunch break. Seasonal wardrobe updates. Premium cable--or heck, satellite TV (who can drive past a trailer park without seeing satellites?). Anything with an 'i' in front of it. Console video games--sweet jesus a huge expense, and agreeably a lower priority than a productivity tool such as a computer.

It's bizarre to think that making a scrambled egg sandwich, bowl of cereal, toaster waffle, and/or your favorite expression of pork while waiting for coffee to brew, rather than stopping by a drive-thru every morning, would save enough money to keep you up to pace with technology for years to come. It's mildly annoying to hear the 'no time' excuse when so many people are staying up to ungodly hours vegetating in front of a TV or monitor.

Joshie said,
It strikes me that a $500 PC every five years is all it would take to keep up reasonably well with new releases of operating systems. That's $100 a year, or less than $9 a month. I hear and I understand the complaints from a lot of people that it's too much to expect people to upgrade their hardware for a new version of Windows, but then I think about the other industries that have gotten people--even low-income people--hooked on spending.

Unlimited text messaging plans. Eating out on every lunch break. Seasonal wardrobe updates. Premium cable--or heck, satellite TV (who can drive past a trailer park without seeing satellites?). Anything with an 'i' in front of it. Console video games--sweet jesus a huge expense, and agreeably a lower priority than a productivity tool such as a computer.

It's bizarre to think that making a scrambled egg sandwich, bowl of cereal, toaster waffle, and/or your favorite expression of pork while waiting for coffee to brew, rather than stopping by a drive-thru every morning, would save enough money to keep you up to pace with technology for years to come. It's mildly annoying to hear the 'no time' excuse when so many people are staying up to ungodly hours vegetating in front of a TV or monitor.


Fantastic post. Spot on.

So my shoes should be more expensive because they last for several years? There is actually a law here in Norway that say you can't charge unreasonably for a product or service.

Ok, here is the deal....

Win7 is still in beta which means everything is subject to change...including the new UI. So stop complaining that you dont like the new UI and just wait and see how it looks when it finally comes out. Hell, I didnt like the new UI when I switched from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95. After I learned the new interface, I liked it.

And if you are worried about not being able to use Aero...then you need to get out of the stone age and get a decent PC. Or just not upgrade to Windows 7. Everyone these days, or most everyone, should have a decent video/sound/memory/processor in their PCs to run todays apps. I am happy that MS is making the hardware requirements higher on Vista and now Windows 7. I cannot tell you how annoying it is to work on friends/familys/friends of friends....computers and having to deal with Windows XP running only 256mb of memory. AT least all new systems will have decent hardware and systems will be easier to work on...and faster

techbeck said,
Ok, here is the deal....

Win7 is still in beta which means everything is subject to change...including the new UI. So stop complaining that you dont like the new UI and just wait and see how it looks when it finally comes out. Hell, I didnt like the new UI when I switched from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95. After I learned the new interface, I liked it.

And if you are worried about not being able to use Aero...then you need to get out of the stone age and get a decent PC. Or just not upgrade to Windows 7. Everyone these days, or most everyone, should have a decent video/sound/memory/processor in their PCs to run todays apps. I am happy that MS is making the hardware requirements higher on Vista and now Windows 7. I cannot tell you how annoying it is to work on friends/familys/friends of friends....computers and having to deal with Windows XP running only 256mb of memory. AT least all new systems will have decent hardware and systems will be easier to work on...and faster


That is a pretty aragont remark. Not everyone can afford to upgrade their computers or buy new computers just because of the software. Some people just need it to run the internet, movies, or whatever their purpose is.

Firstly, although everything is subject to change if people don't express their dislike for it then how is Microsoft going to know about it? Secondly, there is no need for an operating system to be demanding on systems and I feel the bar was set too high with Vista. Sure I don't have a problem with it but my machine is very much ahead of the curve. It appears Microsoft is trying to improve the performance of Win7 on lower spec machines, not raise it as you suggest, and that can only be commended. Vista should be able to scale to 256MB, even if it does reduce / limit functionality. An operating system is design to facilitate the user's tasks, not to needlessly consume resources.

neoxphuse said,

That is a pretty aragont remark. Not everyone can afford to upgrade their computers or buy new computers just because of the software. Some people just need it to run the internet, movies, or whatever their purpose is.

No, its common sense. If you PC cannot handle the new OS, then dont worry about installing it until you can afford to do so. You do not have to upgrade to the newest OS. Macs have required better hardware for OSX for a long time. If you expect to run a new OS on a 3-5+ year old PC with only standard hardware and expect it to run the same way the PC was new, then you are delusional. A lot of new software required certain hardware specs and a lot of times, those specs increase with new versions of the software.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Firstly, although everything is subject to change if people don't express their dislike for it then how is Microsoft going to know about it? Secondly, there is no need for an operating system to be demanding on systems and I feel the bar was set too high with Vista. Sure I don't have a problem with it but my machine is very much ahead of the curve. It appears Microsoft is trying to improve the performance of Win7 on lower spec machines, not raise it as you suggest, and that can only be commended. Vista should be able to scale to 256MB, even if it does reduce / limit functionality. An operating system is design to facilitate the user's tasks, not to needlessly consume resources.

Express your dislike...that wasnt my point. There was just a lot of complaining about something that hasnt been released yet.

You saying the Windows folder should only be 256mb? OSX required 9gb of HD space and Vista required like 15 I think. In this day and age 15gb install size really is not a lot of space. So I am not really sure why it is such a big deal on the install size. I did read that Windows 7 will eliminate a lot of the hardware requirements and should run smoother. But the install will probably be several gigs worth.

Windows 7 is shaping up to be a good successor to Vista IMO, lets hope they don't screw it up by offering half a dozen unnecessary versions. Two (like 2000/XP) would be plenty, and easier for consumers to make the choice! :)

i think its more of like when you use it, you will know it.....look seems to be much more sleek now and to the point rather than some useless eye-candy of vista........and also they are implementing the usabality fetaures which should have been taken care of in Vista as well........so pity happy and will wait for the public beta

Don't forget that transparency for the taskbar is pretty undemanding as it doesn't move. It's best not to forget that Win2000 supported transparency so there's definitely room for downward movement in terms of specs, plus it's over a year until it's released and it will be on the market for years after that.

By 2009 you'd be hard pressed to come across some integrated graphics chip that can't do Aero. For people with older computers though... you already had three years of advance warning with Vista. :P

But yes, I would also like to see how they're coming along with the basic theme. Vista's blue was a terrible idea; why couldn't they take Aero borders and remove the transparency like some msstyle artists have done?

After watching the Taskbar Demo Video, I absolutely love the new taskbar. It's gone under a great underhaul. Also, finally, we can drag items to the taskbar!

Oh how I hate the fact we can't drag the buttons... I need it! :P

Finally we'll be able to immediately choose exactly what we want to open, instead of first having to open the window and then having to click the tab/file/song/whatever we wanted to open. :)

And the thick taskbar without names is also great: you simply know what each icon stands for, there's no need for long buttons with the full name when you can have a live preview by simply hovering it. More space for the actual programs on the taskbar is a big improvement!

Seems like number 7 really brings good luck...

It would be really cool if they could somehow integrate Windows XP msstyle theme compatibility. For PC's that can't run Aero, Vista's Basic theme looks absolutely terrible IMO and allowing something like Royale or even Luna to take it's place would be so much cooler. After all, they have kept the Windows Classic theme throughout the Windows series, why not allow msstyle compatibility too?

i hope they will make the taskbar resizable, and it is not even beta, so there is a long way to go...definitely it will get better and prettier for sure......

Looks okay so far, but have to agree with a lot of the comments, I don't like the taskbar. I never understood why people always unlocked their 9x/2000/XP/Vista taskbar and doubled/tripled it in size or dragged it from the bottom to the side or the top of the screen.
The theme is nice, but the thickness of the bar makes me a little annoyed! I thought the Vista taskbar was just right size wise.

My Vista taskbar is four bars high. I'm twenty minutes into my work day and have 13 items open; these take up three rows (less one spot) at this point. I want to be able to switch between any of these, using my mouse, with only one click.

What would you suggest?

macf13nd said,
My Vista taskbar is four bars high. I'm twenty minutes into my work day and have 13 items open; these take up three rows (less one spot) at this point. I want to be able to switch between any of these, using my mouse, with only one click.

What would you suggest?

hidden taskbar and a copy of Switcher (free) with a hot corner set up? :D

(not entirely serious, but who knows, you might actually like it)

nice, just last week i was searching for something like the "PlayTo" feature .. guess i'll have to wait some more

Looks great. I like the new taskbar and other features. I graduate next year and a gift to myself might be a Win7 capable computer...

-Spenser

Arg!! I hope they implement a way to keep the taskbar!! I do not like it at all, I like simplicity, not visual awesomeness.

Recon415 said,
Arg!! I hope they implement a way to keep the taskbar!! I do not like it at all, I like simplicity, not visual awesomeness.


Well pretty simple, just add an option to allow 'show text' in taskbar. Not hard.

hot! usually i look to linux for new innovations... or *gasp* macs maybe... but this is good... i really like the taskbar--they just gotta make it faster.. more snappier animations. and all will be set! i actually think the sidebar was a much better idea... im not soo cool with this gadgets thrown all over the place garbage.

I for one love the new task bar, looks awesome! the text is kind of pointless on the taskbar anyway. And if you use osx for example it doesn't have text showing all the time either, this is similar. it looks like a fusion of the win taskbar, the osx dock, and the kde task bar.

Hmm... perhaps it is too Macish for my liking. Or maybe I'm just old skool. This seems so consumer friendly and not corporate friendly though. I can just imagine installing this on a client's PC and getting a million calls thereafter... Obviously it's very early though, but Windows seems to be deviating so much into the consumer spectrum that I feel the OS is becoming less corporate friendly, at least from a ease of use perspective.

Or maybe I'm just averse to change and the ensuing learning curve. Good for home, not for office (from this look anyways). Any thoughts?

LordJTC said,
Hmm... perhaps it is too Macish for my liking. Or maybe I'm just old skool. This seems so consumer friendly and not corporate friendly though. I can just imagine installing this on a client's PC and getting a million calls thereafter... Obviously it's very early though, but Windows seems to be deviating so much into the consumer spectrum that I feel the OS is becoming less corporate friendly, at least from a ease of use perspective.

Or maybe I'm just averse to change and the ensuing learning curve. Good for home, not for office (from this look anyways). Any thoughts?

I fail to see what's so "Mac-ish" about it. I don't see any resemblance between 7's UI and OS X.

FrozenEclipse said,

I fail to see what's so "Mac-ish" about it. I don't see any resemblance between 7's UI and OS X.

Maybe so. But we just don't know how things will play out in the next year. I would not be surprised if they gave you the option to use the regular task bar we're all used to. Maybe options like Windows Classic style, Windows Vista style, and then Windows 7 style. Nobody knows at this point.

I definately like the look and feel - And thank god the sidebar went bye bye. Never used that thing because it was always either hidden behind my other windows or took up too much of my screen.

Loving the Device stage as well.

Tikitiki said,
I definately like the look and feel - And thank god the sidebar went bye bye. Never used that thing because it was always either hidden behind my other windows or took up too much of my screen.

Loving the Device stage as well.


I'm not so happy with the sidebar going because of the amount of gadgets that I personally use. I do like the idea of being able to snap the gadgets to the edges of the screen though as it means I can have a sidebar, well, sort of.

Device Stage is a really good idea as I have a Windows Mobile Phone, takes the best aspects of WMDC and Sync Center and puts them in one app.

Can we say "LOOKS LIKE CRAP" and boy they pretty much have run out of ideas, maybe they should get together with the theming community and change this sorry excuse for an OS. People are tired of the same old thing, like this election coming up we really need change and new innovation, what a pity.

Sillysam said,
Can we say "LOOKS LIKE CRAP" and boy they pretty much have run out of ideas, maybe they should get together with the theming community and change this sorry excuse for an OS. People are tired of the same old thing, like this election coming up we really need change and new innovation, what a pity.

Hah. Nice how you tied those things together. I don't know how they could possible change it to be more original to appease you. And you haven't even used it yet. Also remember it's not even beta yet. : /

Looks AWESOME. I want to install the beta. Does the leaked beta have these features?
AAC support is a dream come true. Does it support MP4 too? If it can x264 files I will be very happy.

It looks quite good, I like the changes, it's a fresh look, image how it will look when it's done, this is not even beta yet.

I dont know why people complain. Windows has the flexibility for your personal customization. Heck they even keep the ugly classic mode in there for you guys!

At work ever since I doubled sized my taskbar (using 19' lcd) I've managed to increase my productivity by overseeing what I have open and such. Mind you a double sized task bar in Windows 2000 allows more apps to be shown than larger icons but this is still at least a year off so I'm sure MS will offer flexibility like it has done in the past.

Judging from the screenshots and the recent news articles, I'm liking this. Especially the options available from the right click and the transferring of the gadgets from the sidebar directly to the taskbar. Now as long as Windows 7 runs decent on lower end systems (unlike Vista), UAC gets toned down, and does not offer as many editions (at least don't offer separate 32 and 64 bit versions), I'm sure Windows 7 will be a lot more successful than Vista was and people would be more willing to upgrade from XP!

MulletRobZ said,
Judging from the screenshots and the recent news articles, I'm liking this. Especially the options available from the right click and the transferring of the gadgets from the sidebar directly to the taskbar. Now as long as Windows 7 runs decent on lower end systems (unlike Vista), UAC gets toned down, and does not offer as many editions (at least don't offer separate 32 and 64 bit versions), I'm sure Windows 7 will be a lot more successful than Vista was and people would be more willing to upgrade from XP! ;)

Why should it run better on lower end systems? People need to stop bitching that the newest software won't run on their stoneage computers and spend the $700 for a half-decent machine that WILL run Vista and 7 just fine.

FrozenEclipse said,
Why should it run better on lower end systems? People need to stop bitching that the newest software won't run on their stoneage computers and spend the $700 for a half-decent machine that WILL run Vista and 7 just fine.


This is something I agree with, why should it have to run better on older systems.

Lets just hope that Windows 7 is 64-bit only!!!

thealexweb said,
The start orb now seems less important somehow in my view.

I agree. It doesn't have a lot of visual weight when standing beside app icons just as large as itself.

This new interface looks awesome also stupid and nonfunctional.

Anyways, after all this screenshots are from a alpha (pre-beta), so the final product can be pretty different in comparison with this screenshot.

Magallanes said,
This new interface looks awesome also stupid and nonfunctional.

Anyways, after all this screenshots are from a alpha (pre-beta), so the final product can be pretty different in comparison with this screenshot.

Wow very detailed comment.

The nice think which I know Paul mentioned in the chat earlier is that all of what we saw today was live coding unlike what we saw with longhorn which was mainly demo related material that was not fully coded. I am starting to see an OS X like esque to the system like explorer taking on some of the media player UI as with Finder and Itunes. However I really do like what they are doing with the system and it feels polished already

They're doing what they should've done a while ago, and more or less what Apple has been doing: taking the good aspects of OS X, tweaking them, and combining them with the technologies they had before. Voila, you have the new taskbar: it's much like the dock in looks, but in functionality, it trumps it.

simon360 said,
It's much like the dock in looks, but in functionality, it trumps it.

The dock is used in conjunction with a lot of other OS X technologies one of them being the menu bar. While I like where Microsoft is finally going with the taskbar, I still like OS X's use of dock and menu bar to convey information and be out of my way at the same time.

Looking REALLY REALLY good . The taskbar definetly needs some tweaking though. Theres something just off about it. Anyways looks like Microsoft has pulled through. Can't wait till this comes out.

P.S: Are the betas stable?

Glendi said,
Reminds me of what people said of Vista. Maybe there will really be a difference this time. Who knows!

Again, this is based on Vista, correct? So that stands to reason that any improvements they've made to Vista since it's release will be included as well. Thus not as many issues pre-sp1? That's just how I look at it, I don't know if that's true though.

C_Guy said,
Hopefully he trolls himself over to a school to learn elementary spelling skills.

At least you're our troll who can spell correctly.

Not liking the taskbar... I'm one of the peoplet that don't like the OSX dock... and I like seeing the title of apps on the taskbar... makes finding stuff easier for me...

Yea im with you on that, i dont like docks at all... I'm sure microsoft will enhance it to a level where we will like using it.. To me having to hover over a window seems like it would waste my time, having the window icon and title in the startbar allows me to see it immediately and click on it. Ill have to get my hands on a build soon and see how it feels, but as i said im sure microsoft will refine it more.

You can probably revert it back to the old style so I wouldn't have any worries in that regard.

If not then there will definately be programs to change it back to that functionality

Did anyone notice the system tray icons are now monotone? They went from using 16x16 application icons for Volume/Power/Network to simplified 'flat' icons to flat icons without colour?

Also what's with the mixing of font rendering techniques in some of those screenshots. ClearType mixed with WPF's font rendering or Photoshopped text.

although the interface improvements are welcome (ie updated taskbar and applets like calculator and paint), i'm not seeing any real killer features to make me want to upgrade from xp, let alone vista.

One icon down there per application and no text in the taskbar? Mac OS X Dock anyone?
MS, push your photocopiers to the limit :O

PsykX said,
One icon down there per application and no text in the taskbar? Mac OS X Dock anyone?
MS, push your photocopiers to the limit :O

This looks a little more robust than the dock in OSX, imo.

Wow, the hypocritical "photocopier" line is so old now it's not even funny. Read the article, then try commenting again.

You know, I've been quite a critic of Microsoft in the past; but, I think they just might be on to something here. I still want to see more however.

If they can remove needless "bloat" and speed this puppy up, I'm game.

Mike Frett said,
You know, I've been quite a critic of Microsoft in the past; but, I think they just might be on to something here. I still want to see more however.

If they can remove needless "bloat" and speed this puppy up, I'm game.

and then you will say it luck features and it sucks !111

I like ...

Especially the Media Center enhancements ... and that task bar I like as well (I use a double line task bar in vista, so having everything organized and iconified like in Win7, I think will help me alot )

i wonder how the installing new font window looks After all to date its been the same since like the 95 era


apart from that i like this look WIndows 7 WIll be my next upgrade for sure... lets hope that the companies bring out drivers ASAP for them make its transition abit smoother...

The x64 version of this should run very well lets hope

brent3000 said,
i wonder how the installing new font window looks After all to date its been the same since like the 95 era


apart from that i like this look WIndows 7 WIll be my next upgrade for sure... lets hope that the companies bring out drivers ASAP for them make its transition abit smoother...

The x64 version of this should run very well lets hope :)

I'm fairly clueless, but since this is based on vista, I don't think drivers will have so many issues as they did going from xp to vista...?

I like the new taskbar though a little too boxy. It's about time they done something with that. Seems Microsoft is hitting all the right buttons. From the screen shots looks like they are really cleaning up Vista and making it a better user experience. About time too as well.

so basically its just a robust version of vista!

its all the stuff that should have been in vista!!!

they should just call it service pack 2

Hmm, I got a feeling Windows 7 is gonna make me switch back away from Mac. OSX looks dated in comparison. did I just say that?

kraized said,
Hmm, I got a feeling Windows 7 is gonna make me switch back away from Mac. OSX looks dated in comparison. did I just say that? :p

lol... i feel you man!

OMG.. Is my eyes playing tricks on me??? Did someone just say that something MS made is worth ditching OSX for.. OMG OMG OMG.. I never thought I would see the day.

+1000

7 is a while off. Between then and now we'll definitely get 10.6 (which will technically speed up/cut down OS X by a huge amount) and most likely 10.7. Could be anyone's guess what 10.7 brings, but bear in mind the Leopard UI overhaul was influenced by Vista, so Apple will come up with something to once again distinguish it from Windows.

PureLegend said,
7 is a while off. Between then and now we'll definitely get 10.6 (which will technically speed up/cut down OS X by a huge amount) and most likely 10.7. Could be anyone's guess what 10.7 brings, but bear in mind the Leopard UI overhaul was influenced by Vista, so Apple will come up with something to once again distinguish it from Windows.

Leopard was released a year, two days ago. Snow Leopard will be available around June 2009. Assuming Microsoft sticks to late 2009 as RTM for Windows 7, Windows 7's release date will sit in between 10.6 and 10.7.

If Apple rushes 10.7 out within half a year, they're being desperate

Actually, most of the really important stuff that Apple wanted in this last release got delayed because they had to pull the entire team off to finish the iPhone code in time. The next Apple release will be what they wanted to put out last year, and then some I imagine.

And yes, I've always thought OSX looked dated with those gummy bear sliders, etc. that they've recently moved away from. Expect Apple to rework their OS look and feel in an upcoming release.

excalpius said,
Actually, most of the really important stuff that Apple wanted in this last release got delayed because they had to pull the entire team off to finish the iPhone code in time. The next Apple release will be what they wanted to put out last year, and then some I imagine.

And yes, I've always thought OSX looked dated with those gummy bear sliders, etc. that they've recently moved away from. Expect Apple to rework their OS look and feel in an upcoming release.


Except it definitely won't happen in 10.6

Interesting new features. Not too fond of the taskbar though, maybe I'm just more used to the traditional Windows XP / Vista style taskbar.

Should be interesting what people think of it when it's released

Very nice. I am really interested by the Device Stage and the Libraries.
The rest of the UI changes are also welcomed.
I am still teething for more changes. What is going to make me swoon in Windows 7 to make the upgrade from Vista really appealing?

I'm liking the look of it so far, and remember this is early pre-beta material and WILL change and improve alot before the beta program ends. Let's just hope it doesn't change too much. We all remember how Vista was looking quite promising back in the early builds, then they did a complete U-turn and started from scratch and it ended up with an OS that delivered very little of what was promised.

TCLN Ryster said,
I'm liking the look of it so far, and remember this is early pre-beta material and WILL change and improve alot before the beta program ends. Let's just hope it doesn't change too much. We all remember how Vista was looking quite promising back in the early builds, then they did a complete U-turn and started from scratch and it ended up with an OS that delivered very little of what was promised.


I doubt it, this was actually working, stable code they showed. Don't forget they have vista as basis, that's a completely different situation than the longhorn one.

XerXis said,
I doubt it, this was actually working, stable code they showed. Don't forget they have vista as basis, that's a completely different situation than the longhorn one.

Correct. There's no mockups or crashy-as-heck code made to work on a handful of computers this time around. This time around all this stuff we see here are running on non-MS-test machines.

Yes, this is built on the Vista core, so their energies are being spent polishing and improving that, not starting from scratch again.

Hell-In-A-Handbasket said,
For 7's " New " feature in XP and probally everyother version, just go to Start/Programs/Accessories/Accessibility/magnifier


if you had seen the keynote you would have known about the new magnifier that works with flag - (+-) and offer seamless zoom

That's not the same. You probably didn't see the demo with the Winkey+ and Winkey- on-the-fly zooming they showed.

It's nothing like the half-assed magnifier in XP.

If nothing else I think based on the screenshots and videos above, it shows how much hardware and programming has progressed. It shows just how much better a computer is over a dedicated computer like a gaming console. The fact that MS has stuck with the same iinterface we have been familiar with since Windows 95 show their dedication to keep it simple. The downside could be some of the features provide very little to know benefit in the latest version. Like the 3D Flip which looks really cool, is really a feature that would have been better if it provided a true benefit versus another way to basically tab windows.

One feature that would be really cool is tabbed windows. Preventing a need to have a new window for common functions like multiple folders. The 'start menu' in either is better then cascading menu's in earlier versions and does actually provide a benefit.

The coolest thing I have always loved about Windows is the ability to make Windows your own as far as customizations. There is almost nothing you can't change unlike on Mac, while Steve claims he promotes choice. Well he does as long as it doesn't conflict with his.


The biggest thing MS needs to work out with this version of Windows is the resources. One of the biggest turnoffs with Vista is it required 3x's the power to run versus XP. When you install XP fresh, it only uses about 100MB of ram...Vista uses a whopping 500MB with adding any application. And CPU usage was always at about 30%-45%. That kind of resource consumption for someone who uses a laptop isn't good. The monitor on laptops is always the biggest power consumer and the Aero graphics wrecked havoc on batteries. And teh 64bit version which provide no benefits doubles the 32bit version.

The device stage looks to be a really nice addon. With no many mobile devices out there, this could be an intriguing feature if developers capitalize on it. It would be ice to just plug in my phone (not an iphone) and just be able to work with it without doing to much. This could definitely give phone develpers a nice invitation to offer additional capabilities for phone to pc interaction.

I think MS just needs to really listen to it user base. Since they own 90% of the computer market and have a gadget in almost every single one, they really need to make thinks more user oriented. I a sure MS won't have back to back OS failures, they never have since Windows 95 and I am sure they won't.

Kudos to MS and thanks for removing the Sidebar. Nice idea, useless at best.


Agreed. And with SP1 Vista got much stabler, and with the SP2 betas it is looking MUCH faster. So, TechieXP, you might want to catch up with the new millennium.

Oh and kudos to Neowin for actually having a technology article that is cool and of value to Windows users! This is what this site used to be about (rather than ad-driving blog/op-ed drivel). Welcome back, Neowin!

Awsome! I love the taskbar. Seeing is that monitors are so big these days, a thin taskbar looks absolutely stupid.
Hopefully Win 7's performance and stability will be better than Vista, until then, I'll stick with XP since XP has always rocked.

It's looking faster right now with the M3 build they handed out. The one with the new taskbar they demoed is build 6933 iirc? But PDC people got 6801 etc.

Still, if they keep making it better into the beta and RC stage, then great.

A different interface may be nice but what real new features will there be that won't have to be ported to vista as well due to support cycles?

excalpius, he's worying that these new features will be backported to vista, and he's asking what new features there are in Win7 that Vista won't get.
I don't think Vista's getting much of this, boyo.

True, almost everything else is easier with a dock, like Stardock's Object Dock Plus. But the libraries will make a difference for people who are starting to spread out over multiple drives...like me!

It'll also make working with media much easier. A centralised location that can be used by any app to tap into the existing array of music

The taskbar with small icons set is the same size as it's always been, but without text.

You get the text on the mouse-over with the thumb view popups now.

I was surprised when he said you can even boot from them as well. I thought you'd just be able to load them and mess around like before.

This is looking really really cool!

Any word if they've fixed up the maze of dialogs and UAC prompts that is the network settings Tom?

Si said,
This is looking really really cool!

Any word if they've fixed up the maze of dialogs and UAC prompts that is the network settings Tom?

they have added a slider bar type feature where u can tell how much of UAC you want to see

holy **** i really like the idea of device stage :D

wow cant wait !


thro i didnt like the idea of ditch the sidebar

Yeah, I can't ditch the sidebar utterly as some of my favorite gadgets turn into 1/4 screen sized behemoths when they are undocked. haha

excalpius said,
Yeah, I can't ditch the sidebar utterly as some of my favorite gadgets turn into 1/4 screen sized behemoths when they are undocked. haha

I believe there is a new button on every gadget to toggle between compact and full mode (on gadgets with both, obviously)

RebelSean said,
I'm already loving Windows 7. Does anyone know what the hardware specifications will be like?


well, he ran it on a netbook with an atom processor and 1 gb of memory. So my guess, about the same as vista

It'll actually use less ram than Vista it seems. They did a lot of work on performance. When he said it was on a netbook with 1GB of ram he also said that it booted with half of that free. That's more like XP's memory usage levels at boot really.

And with more tweaking you should be able to get it even lower.

I really like this. I was just thinking 2 days ago how annoying it was that long titles in the taskbar were truncated now that isn't a problem.

I'm sure we'll see some of the same stuff in OS X though and people will forget they saw it here first.

Oh I forgot Apple copied the Dock, "show desktop" and Libraries from this.

Personally I don't care who thought up the idea. Who implements it in a way that is easiest to use and makes me the most productive. That's the question.

Love the taskbar innovations, but can't stand the thickness. It screams KDE at me, and needs a crapton of polish before I'll be able to stomach it. On the same page, does anyone else HATE having time and date stacked as two lines in their tray? I'm sure it's the sort of thing you can easily change, but leave it out of the demo pics for the love of all things holy.

Really looking forward to what else is to come. Some spiff ideas put to work here. Apple needs to hurry up and cram it into a buggy point upgrade by Christmas so they can claim MS just copied them.

Joshie said,
Some spiff ideas put to work here. Apple needs to hurry up and cram it into a buggy point upgrade by Christmas so they can claim MS just copied them.

Oh lord. Suddenly the dock and active screen corners never existed.

excalpius said,
They can't. Much of Leopard's "new features" were lifted from the Vista betas and vice-versa.

True, but won't stop the Apple fans complaining/bashing about it though :P

Still, the new UI is looking slick, but I'm not sold on the new taskbar yet. Hopefully there will be a public beta like there was with Vista, so I can play with it I probably won't upgrade to 7, but I'm still curious to check it out

I use Object Dock Plus to replace all of this functionality anyway, but it's nice to see MS at least trying to update their UI a bit.

I have to say that the "two windows" side-by-side thing looks like a solution in search of a problem. Like, huh?

excalpius said,
They can't. Much of Leopard's "new features" were lifted from the Vista betas and vice-versa.


Examples, please.

excalpius said,
I have to say that the "two windows" side-by-side thing looks like a solution in search of a problem. Like, huh?

It can be quite handy if you want to compare two files side by side. But I don't see why we need this feature for that.

Just do this in XP or Vista: click on the first window in the taskbar, Ctrl-click on the second. Right-click, select "show Windows side by side" (or similar, I am on a German OS). Both windows will be shown side by side. This also works with 3, 4, 5, ... windows.

I love the device stage!... say bye bye nokia pc suite/ovi/etc.... crap!
Just hope syncs well among contacts, im buddies, cal, pic folders, etc...

Thats what im hoping as well... WOuld be nice to have a simple plugin and auto download window versions of the drivers direct from a windows site... save fishing it out of a Nokia site...

Me wants W7 :P

rm20010 said,
I hope everyone takes advantage of device stage. That includes you too Apple *cough*

Are you kidding? They'll add 20% more overhead to iTunes just to spite us all.

It looks cool, but I thought it was for Windows Mobile devices only? it would be nice if my Nokia N95 would work with it but somehow I doubt it

Xerxes said,
It looks cool, but I thought it was for Windows Mobile devices only? it would be nice if my Nokia N95 would work with it but somehow I doubt it :(

Thought device stage is open to all hardware? Then if there's a hardware device that doesn't have its page configured by its manufacturer, the generic Autoplay dialog pops up instead.

MioTheGreat said,
Are you kidding? They'll add 20% more overhead to iTunes just to spite us all.

See, that's one of my holdbacks to getting a device like the iPhone. Must use iTunes to work with it

I love how this looks! Nokias PC Suite is really horrid and un(user)friendly, bit funny since their phones I've used has served me well.

Hopefully Nokia will embrace this change for the better, for all of us.

giga said,
Don't most people use tabs for browsers anyhow?

Of course. But sometimes you still end up with multiple windows.

This is why windows will never changed, if they move something a pixel people will gripe. You have not used it, so please don't be one to judge so quickly. Looks are not everything, functionality does come in to play.

I'm undecided. The rollover isn't a bad idea, providing it happens quickly - like a half a second fade in/out. Anything else just becomes an annoyance.

Despite that, it is still too "flat" and bulky.

Edit: Just watched the video... seems too slow to initially appear. Once it is up, it is fine though. I'm busy working, I don't want to wait for my OS to wake up.

The stream showed a way of customizing the taskbar to use small icons and the taskbar gets much smaller. Stop freakin out..lol

The2 said,
why does every new version of windows has even more bulkier taskbar?!?!? even KDE did it.

There is an option to use small icons. As Timan said, don't judge befor eyou use.

PureLegend said,
Reminds me a lot of the Mac OS X dock, except I prefer the way this manages windows of applications.

Taskbar + QuickLaunch + Doc + Some magic = new Taskbar.
me wants.

Timan said,
This is why windows will never changed, if they move something a pixel people will gripe. You have not used it, so please don't be one to judge so quickly. Looks are not everything, functionality does come in to play.


I agree. If you all think it is so bad, why waste you're time using it. Switch to Linux or Mac. Just like previous versions of Windows, each is an improvement on the previous version. Then like car manufacturers, you get a complete new one here and there. Windows 2000/XP wasn't a rewrite of 9x, just like Vista isn't a rewrite of XP. Windows 7 obviously is wriiten using Vista's foundation just like Windows Server 2008 is. Even though I still prefer Xp, I boot both XP and Vista on the same system. XP is still MS's best OS to date. If I can squeeze in the look of Vista into XP with the system resource issues it would be awesome. And that is without using skinning tools. I am only praying MS gets it right this time. Vista isn't as bad as Windows Me was, but its darn close. Microsoft can't afford a blunder this time. I see the improvements listed above as cool and functional which is why Windows works. If you feel you can make it look better, then why not apply for a job at MS and show us what you can do. Otherwise, don't be so crtical especially since you aren't being paid to do so.

PureLegend said,
Reminds me a lot of the Mac OS X dock, except I prefer the way this manages windows of applications.

Dock isn't really meant to manage windows, even though it provides the contextual menu for it when your right click on an icon. This was a large problem until 10.3 with the introduction of Expose.

+1

I have to say I'm really not a fan of the new taskbar. It looks clunky and takes up too much space, though I'm not criticising the functionality. I really hope they improve the appearance as I actually like how Vista looks and thought that Win7 was just going to improve upon it.

Timan said,
This is why windows will never changed, if they move something a pixel people will gripe. You have not used it, so please don't be one to judge so quickly. Looks are not everything, functionality does come in to play.

Looks and comfort of use add alot to what a consumer looks in a product. So what if ppl dont like it. I think it looks weird to. But yet, the functionality looks good. However, I still think they can do a better job on the taskbar

The taskbar is exactly the way it should be! Unintrusive! Maybe now people will like sticking to Windows! Nice work! I espcially like the entire application window is a glass!

giga said,
Dock isn't really meant to manage windows, even though it provides the contextual menu for it when your right click on an icon. This was a large problem until 10.3 with the introduction of Expose.

I don't see Expose as a solution. I could assign application Expose to the squeeze buttons on my mouse, but I like being able to see all open windows sometimes. Same goes for the keyboard. Only real solution is to use a hot corner.

Fourjays said,
I'm undecided. The rollover isn't a bad idea, providing it happens quickly - like a half a second fade in/out. Anything else just becomes an annoyance.

Despite that, it is still too "flat" and bulky.

Edit: Just watched the video... seems too slow to initially appear. Once it is up, it is fine though. I'm busy working, I don't want to wait for my OS to wake up.

I think it looks pretty fast. In the video, the first one doesn't pop up anything because Word isn't running.

Same here. It looks even less intuitive, and as others have said I hate that it's even bulkier.

Still, looks like they're making some good progress with Windows 7 - lets just hope the task bar gets some additional tweaking and styling enhancements!

I actually kinda like it, reminds me of KDE or something for some reason ... i like that they've made the start button more "interesting" also ...

PureLegend said,
Reminds me a lot of the Mac OS X dock, except I prefer the way this manages windows of applications.

That's exactly what I thought.

To all those complaining about an "even bigger taskbar".. what resolution are you running at?

I've got my Vista at 1680x1050. I have the taskbar sized to two rows, and it takes up less than a 10th of the height of my screen. The taskbar in these screenshots is smaller than what I'm using now. I just don't see the issue.

I think it looks great - it's more compact and minimalistic, without losing anything. A redesign of the concept was long overdue and I'm looking forward to trying this out!

Aren't computer enthusiasts supposed to embrace new ideas? :P

I have a widescreen monitor, 1680x1050, and I still think it takes up too much space. The taskbar is designed to facilitate your ability to manage programs, not take away screen space from them. Sure it's still less intrusive than OSX but that's not saying much - I just don't see what you gain, whereas it's clear what you lose.

Thats exactly what I'd thought, I;m surprised more people aren't comparing it.

large icons, no text, it's a dock (animations irrelevant really).

It's fine but only as long as it's configurable right back to how it was, text/no text, icons sizes.

Any defaults are fine, but plenty of configuration options is how you keep everyone happy.

TechieXP said,
Just like previous versions of Windows, each is an improvement on the previous version.

XP is still MS's best OS to date.

I am only praying MS gets it right this time.

Vista isn't as bad as Windows Me was, but its darn close.

Why try to convince others when you can't even convince yourself?

Fourjays said,
I'm undecided. The rollover isn't a bad idea, providing it happens quickly - like a half a second fade in/out. Anything else just becomes an annoyance.

Despite that, it is still too "flat" and bulky.

Edit: Just watched the video... seems too slow to initially appear. Once it is up, it is fine though. I'm busy working, I don't want to wait for my OS to wake up.

I just watched it as well and it seems almost instantaneous. Note in the video that the Word icon doesn't have a preview, so don't time it from when he mouses over that. Look when the mouse touches the Paint icon the preview comes up without delay.

giga said,
Dock isn't really meant to manage windows, even though it provides the contextual menu for it when your right click on an icon. This was a large problem until 10.3 with the introduction of Expose.

WRONG! hot down your mouse button on the icon in the dock and a list will appear above it. Stop spreading lies - its making you look childish.

Tell this day I do not understand why Microsoft continues to pump out different versions of windows. Now with that said, as I review the new Windows, I feel certain features in the new version need to be implemented into the exsisting Vista version. Visually, I do not care for the new taskbar, I do not like how the icons appaer on the taskbar - I like the exsisting Vista setup. I do like the new orb though! With all of this said, there is no way I will ever buy Windows 7, because of its visual setup - the features do not matter to me - if it lookes like that, it is enough to turn me away. I suggest buying an apple if you like that look.

Or just turn the feature off. Unlike the Mac, you can easily turn off, change, or modify the entire look of the OS without Jobs' permission.

"Tell this day I do not understand why Microsoft continues to pump out different versions of windows."

Wow, are you ever on the wrong website!

excalpius said,
Or just turn the feature off. Unlike the Mac, you can easily turn off, change, or modify the entire look of the OS without Jobs' permission.


QFT. If you want even more desktop customizable, look towards Linux. But I can't help but LOL when viewing the Mac OS Desktop threads...might as well be a "what wallpaper are you using now" thread.

Shadrack said,
QFT. If you want even more desktop customizable, look towards Linux. But I can't help but LOL when viewing the Mac OS Desktop threads...might as well be a "what wallpaper are you using now" thread.

For a very long while and even up to today, Vista desktop posts were also 'what wallpaper are you using now' posts. :P

excalpius said,
Or just turn the feature off. Unlike the Mac, you can easily turn off, change, or modify the entire look of the OS without Jobs' permission.

Examples, please.