Windows 7, what has changed from Beta to Release Candidate?

As Microsoft unveils the Release Candidate to the world today we take a look at what has changed from the original Beta in January to the Release Candidate (RC).

AutoRun changes

AutoRun for non-optical removable storage devices has been disabled to better protect users against worms and malicious software. Neowin detailed these changes yesterday after Microsoft officially unveiled them.

Windows Touch Support

Microsoft have improved their touch support in the RC. You can now drag your finger across taskbar thumbnail previews and trigger a peek at the related window (thubmail peek). Also, the show desktop button supports a press-and-hold gesture that will expose your desktop. The ability to zoom in on and imagine by using two fingers close together or out be parting them has been added to Windows Explorer. The RC also supports multi-touch for the soft touch keyboard. Right click with touch is much easier in the RC due to simply touching an item with one finger and using another finger to tap to access right click.Multi-Touch Zoom, in the RC, Windows Explorer supports the multi-touch zoom gesture.

Windows Search improvements

Microsoft have improved search in the RC including:

  • Changing content view mode to now include labels for all properties for each item in search results.
  • The text layout and colours have been updated to make each item easier to see and group.
  • Search results highlight words from the search query named "snippets", the RC uses longer snippets and uses them in more places.
For more information on Windows Explorer Search please read our overview.

Device Stage for all devices

Device Stage has been updated to allow for device manufacturers to support older devices in a baseline device stage. This allows for a device image to appear on the taskbar whenever the device is connected and improve the experience for devices which aren't fully device stage enabled.

For more information on Device stage please see our overview.

Windows Media Player improvements

Windows Media Player "now playing mode" has been greatly improved in the RC, it includes a more compact view so it fits into a smaller section on your desktop.

The RC also introduces resume playback from sleep allowing content stored locally to resume playing after an interruption.

Remote Media Streaming (new feature) has been introduced in the RC. You simply associate two or more computers running Windows 7 with an online Windows Live ID and it will allow internet access to your media. Windows Media Player displays and plays the media libraries from remote computers in the same way as any other shared libraries on a home network.

For more information on Remote Media Streaming please see our overview.

Windows Themes

Theme's to customise your desktop have been greatly improved for the RC. Microsoft officials have hinted that they might sneak some more fun bits and themes into the final product but for now a number of new wallpaper and Aero colour combination's are available for those testing the RC.

Windows XP mode

XP Mode is the big RC "secret". The RC allows you to run older Windows XP applications in a virtual Windows XP environment on Windows 7. The feature is an additional download. The feature will allow you to run legacy XP applications in tandem with Windows 7 applications. In the screenshot below you can see IE6 and IE8 running alongside each other. Please read the Q&A session on XP mode for more information.

So what has Microsoft removed since beta?

Company officials have confirmed Microsoft has removed the Bluetooth audio class driver from Windows 7. When installing a Bluetooth audio device for the first time, you will now need to install a 3rd party driver. The company has also changed the library behaviour, the RC has removed the ability to drag/drop a folder into the libraries node in Windows Explorer. Microsoft were concerned users would delete the old folder thinking they had moved it or copied it to the library.

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41 Comments

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I suppose it's okay. Windows 7 is the first operating system since DOS 6.22 that really worx! It's fast, particularly on a big machine - 8GB RAM, DualCore 3.22GHz processors, 2 x 500 GB HDDs etc., it worked nicely. What I object to is once the Beta process is done, Microsoft forgets us, in favor of their "partners" and now we get ACER stating it will be released to the public by them on October 23. Why wait? Today is May 1, June, July, August, September, October ... why? So they can get the "upper hand" with the OS. Are all other Microsoft partners going to release on the same date? Why no fanfare like Windows 2000 in February 2000? Windows 7 is probably one of the best operating systems I have had the pleasure to work with. Why were Beta testers simply forgotten and not allowed to see a Release Candidate prior to release to Partners?

XPM will be a separate download I believe. Can't wait to do a clean install from build 7000 which has worked fantastic for me. I did an upgrade from Vista ultimate (32) and all but one program worked right away. Nice job MS.

If you wish to install XPM, when will it prompt you to do so? On the initial setup of Win7, or available via some sort of download or update?

I was really hoping they would add better dual screen support - Something like Ultramon - Oh well maybe next time

Marty101_uk said,
i installed the beta via connect? but cant see the rc version for download?

You need a TechNet or Msdn abo, otherwise you'll have to wait until 5 May.

Faisal Islam said,
Where's 'Now Playing' feature in Windows Media Player 12???


It only shows up when you are actually playing something.

Vista has a generic drive I believe. Was hoping 7 would be my first 64 bit buy but as drivers are not available for a piece of Microsoft hardware may stick with 32. And some software will not work.

Company officials have confirmed Microsoft has removed the Bluetooth audio class driver from Windows 7. When installing a Bluetooth audio device for the first time, you will now need to install a 3rd party driver.

WTF??? Why the heck would they do that??

It has been working fine with Vista and so far with 7. I don't understand why they would do this considering that most Bluetooth audio devices don't even come with a driver (since this was generally provided by the OS).

But XP and Vista both had BT audio drivers. How am I going to use my BT headphones (no drivers available) now? :S

On further investigation, maybe I'm misunderstanding somthing here. According to the Wikipedia article on Bluetooth profiles, XP and Vista don't actually have this built in. So how the hell have I been able to use my Bluetooth stereo headset with Vista?? I know I've never installed a third party driver for it.

MS only just got Bluetooth audio working well under Vista just this week with the release of SP2 for Vista. I just can't understand why MS hasn't made this ubiquitous technology a MUCH higher priority.

Not having Vista SP2 level functionality in the RTM of Windows 7 would be INSANE.

maybe it had to do with some reports or feedback that the driver was causing a mess as an example in my Dell laptop i was only able to use the first Beta because the other Beta releases used a different Wifi driver which made my internet to stop function, but i can use the RC because i guess the driver either was removed or modified.

Good stuff. Microsoft might have actually gotten this one right. I have Vista Ultimate and love it and was not planning on upgrading but might take the plunge due to all the good stuff I have seen. They seemed to have really gone beyond aesthetics and really focused on providing the user with a better more enjoyable computing experience. Bravo!

Same here. I initially waved off Windows 7 because of the taskbar, but now it's starting to look more and more tasty. To the point of drooling over this loooong download...

yeah I have to agree with you on that one. I am hating windows vista, and W7 has to be better...it HAS to
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why illegal? download it from other source is illegal?
anyway,we do not need to crack it, just install without serial for trial then wait til 5/5 for genuine key, then it can be run for a few months