I’ve been using Windows 7 Enterprise (RTM) for about a week now, and I must say, I really see the benefits of working with it. Although you might consider it “Windows Vista +”, I’m sure that there’s still plenty of new features I haven’t noticed yet.
But for the end user (like me) there are a couple of things that I’ve used now (whether it’s desired or not). Here is an overview of these features for those who are thinking about using this new OS.
For those who didn’t know yet, Microsoft changed the way the “start-bar” works. It’s now called Taskbar and it has combined the Quick-launch and the Active-programs part.
When you’re working with it the first time, you kinda get to used to it first. But after you’ve configured it, it’s working just fine. Although I sometimes miss a quick overview of all my open windows (especially explorer-screens), the preview mode you see when hovering over the group is pretty neat (Seeing all your Internet Explorer tabs in the taskbar). But I wonder if it is faster when switching between screens, because you first have to see the group, then selecting the window. On the other hand, your Taskbar is now much more organized.
If you want to read more about the new Windows 7 Taskbar you can view this blog post.
A feature I’m using frequently is the docking feature. This allows you to drag a window to the side or top of the screen where it will be resized to a specific portion of your screen. (you can also use the Windows-Button in combination with an Arrow-key)
Especially when trying to copy file’s between two explorer windows you can dock each to a side of the screen. Or when you’re writing a document where you will use different resources (other documents, internet browser, tooling, etc.).
This feature is something I’ve missed in previous versions and I’m very happy that this is implemented in Windows 7.
When using Alt-Tab, hovering over a screen in the Taskbar or hovering over the Desktop button, the active windows become transparent.
Maybe this is not really useful, but more a “pretty” feature. Tough with alt-tab or the hovering in the Taskbar it comes in handy to let you focus on the particular window. Be aware when on large monitors, because when hovering quickly over different windows, all these fast changes can make you dizzy!
The desktop-button (or Windows-button in combination with D) is not really something new. But the change is they’ve now placed it in the right-bottom corner.
I used the “show desktop” function very often in the XP and Vista, but always with the shortcut, because finding the button with your mouse took too much time. Now they’ve changed this, and that’s a good thing. Just throwing the mouse to the corner is a lot easier.
The transparency kicks in when hovering above it, so you can see what’s on your desktop. Now you can see the icons and (sidebar) gadgets. By the way; this is also what happens when using the Windows-button with the Spacebar. In Vista this showed the Sidebar. Now it makes all the active windows transparent.
Integrated fingerprint reader
As the Windows OS evolves, additional functionality becomes a standard part of the OS. This also applies the the fingerprint support.
Instead of using 3th party software, you now can use your reader directly with Windows. And I must say, It works quite well. It’s faster and more stable then what I used to have on Vista. Although I first had a little issue with the Ctrl+Alt+Del when logging-on which I explain next.
When using your computer in a Domain like I do for my work, you have to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del for entering your username and password.
Although this isn’t really a problem, I did not have to do this when I used Vista. It’s annoying in combination with the fingerprint reader. Because it’s not possible to scan when you haven’t pressed the Ctrl+Alt+Del yet (this also applies when locking your computer). And when you’re fingers are already on the keyboard, it’s just as easy to enter your password.
After a bit of research I found out that you can actually remove this extra action through Local Security Policy (run “secpol.msc”).
There you can find the option “Interactive logon: Do not require CTRL+ALT+DEL” in “Local Policies” > “Security Options” . When setting this to Enabled you’ll remove it.
Early adopters = Driver problems.
When you’re an early adopter, you will encounter the problem with missing or incompatible drivers. But just after installing I’ve encountered only 2 problems. Video-card drivers and the Card-reader drivers.
I were able to fix the Video-card drivers by installing the Vista-drivers and then using Windows Update because it could now identify the Video-card.
The Card-reader doesn’t have downloadable drivers, because in Vista it was installed automatically by the OS. It’s quite odd that now with Windows 7 it didn’t install by default.
Fortunately I don’t need the reader now, but I do hope that in time drivers will be made available by the manufacturer.
For the time I’ve worked with this new OS I think I made the right choice for switching to Windows 7. It certainly has benefits that I use. And with the driver problems… Well, I expect it’s just a matter of time. You can always try using the Vista-drivers.