In the last installment of DailyTech's inspection of the Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) changes, we discussed the changes to the OS's interface. Microsoft has incorporated literally thousands of user suggestions into the RC1 build. These changes affect many aspects of the OS from the interface to Windows software, hardware, and networking. Today we'll look at a few more of these changes.
First up, the multi-touch functionality in the OS has been overhauled with several improvements. When scrolling your finger across the taskbar, the OS now offers Aero Peek previews of programs for touch users. The Show Desktop button also now offers a preview when pressed and held. Clicking causes its usual functionality. On websites with vertical and horizontal scroll, touch users can now user their fingers to select text, something not possible in the beta.
Most important are the right click and touch keyboard updates. Microsoft has invented a way to effectively right click using multi-touch, based on user criticism of its earlier single-finger implementation. The new implementation right clicks an item when you touch it with one finger and click it with another The touch keyboard also has received a significant update, as it can now support multi-touch, allow for key combinations like SHIFT + letter to be typed, something not possible in the beta.
Microsoft has also made some key changes to the Control Panel. The User Account Control, as previously discussed, now supports warnings before having its settings changed, for security reasons. In the beta, locking machines was only possible when a screensaver had been set -- the release candidate now supports screensaver-less locking. A new power options fly-out menu now can also be enabled, which allow faster switching between standard and high performance power modes, an attractive feature for laptop users. A tweak to themes rounds out the Control Panel changes, making it clearer whether a theme has been saved or not.
Windows Media Player (WMP) has been the target for numerous RC1 improvements. One set of tweaks improve the reliability and resiliency of streaming internet radio. Thanks to other improvements WMP can now seek within AVCHD videos from camcorders and has added support for .MOV video files from digital cameras for the first time.
Microsoft has cleaned up the “Now Playing” view and made it lighter and more compact, based on user suggestions. Also, non-compatible content like Apple’s lossless .M4A or .H263 MPEG-4 content will no longer show up in the library, and thus won't confuse users. Resume from sleep has also been added and the jump lists have been improved. Also, the users will receive less annoying messages as the USB sync prompts have disappeared. The user now has to manually select to sync. Access to advanced options has also been improved.
In the realm of hardware, Microsoft has put a great deal of work into improving its promising Device Stage feature. Microsoft is working harder to try to get more IHV and OEM partners to add compatibility for the feature, and Microsoft is adding extra support to make it easier for these partners to do this. Microsoft also fixed a hardware bug involving audio streams not correctly switching from the default speakers to the headphones when the headphones are selected in the audio applet. Another key hardware change is comes in response to complaints of beta installs without any audio support. Microsoft has made changes to ensure at least base-level audio support is provided, and it is working to populate Windows Update with additional audio drivers.
Performance-wise, Microsoft has a few tricks up its sleeve with the release candidate as well. Microsoft has stopped short of giving a lot of technical details, but it says that it has been using its data gathered from the traces on common Windows processes in the beta installs to speed the processes up. What does this mean? Microsoft gives the example of the time it takes for the start menu to pop up after clicking the Windows icon. Based on examination of the traces optimizations were made, which bring the total of acceptable results -- the pane opening within 50 ms -- from 85 percent to 92 percent.
For developers, Microsoft has added new headers to its libraries that will reveal subfolders in a library. It also removed the drag and drop to create a new library feature. This is now available from menu options, but Microsoft is avoiding drag and drop due to complaints that confused users were deleting their libraries, thinking that they were copied. Microsoft also reintroduced Vista's familiar entry points, accessible via the Win+E key. Microsoft has added library support for non-removable FAT32 and NTFS hard disk drives. It has also made even more efforts to enhance its popular arrangement viewing system.
To wrap up this two part summary of Windows 7 RC1, it suffices to say that Microsoft has delivered a lot of impressive changes and appears to be working hard to fulfill the promise of Windows 7. Look for these changes in the final versions of the OS, which will hit stores later this year.
quote: [cutaway to Stewie at Woodstock]Stewie Griffin: Uh, excuse me, it's been brought to my attention that a few bad apples out there are smoking marijuana. Uh, I've got news for you, my friend. Marijuana's illegal. Not cool. [audience starts booing] Alright then. [Begins singing, to the tune of America the Beautiful] Establishment, establishment, you always know what's best...Man in audience: You suck!Stewie Griffin: Learn the rules!
quote: Don't worry I got it nick.
quote: When XP came out it was a drastic change. It offered the multimedia capabilities of 98 with the security and stability of 2000. While it certainly had its share of bugs it was so much better in execution in comparison to what was out.
quote: In other OS, the settings for the software would be in the properties of its short-cut-like icon. Gee, that would be a simple way of knowing how to control how a program work. Rather than digging out dozens if not hundreds of reg keys for a single program.
quote: Anyone who has been in this business since Windows 3.11 or Win95 understands that there are stop gap versions.
quote: Windows 7 is Vista, the end.
quote: Bill Gates stayed up late thinking up that one just to punish us for sure.
quote: You should feel like an idiot if you ramble around message boards posting trash that is based in fantasy about an OS that you know little about.
quote: You don't want to jump on Vista that's great and always has been.
quote: Point 1: Don't buy it. Microsoft isn't going to disable your current copy of XP.
quote: Point 2: This is almost true, except that it was time for a new OS. They can't just keep patching XP forever,
quote: Point 3: Have you used Vista(x86-64) with 4GB of ram?
quote: And finally. The only reason Win7 is where it is, is because of Vista.
quote: Of course people like him/you hate the Constitution.
quote: My point is you twit is everyone pritty much can be a beta tester.
quote: Majority DOES NOT LIKE VISTA.
quote: I don't call people who love vista "idiots"
quote: Vista is crap because a typical low-end $500 PC has 3~4GB of RAM. With many low-end $300~350 having 3gb! Who the hell needs 3GB of RAM to view MySpace, play MP3s or youtube and check their mail? When the previous OS could do the job just as well with .5~1GB of RAM with the same performance? Oh but you get transparent windows...! whoopie-do. XP can do that too.
quote: which there is still plenty of software that IS NOT vista compatible
quote: just to have to re-patch to SP2 or go with Win7 and be done with it.
quote: Vista is simply just Windows ME version 2