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Aero Peek has been added to the ALT+TAB keyboard shortcut. When selecting ALT+TAB, if you continue to hold down the ALT key, but pause, indicating you can't decide which program icon to pick, the view switch from icons to an Aero Peek view of program thumbnails.  (Source: Microsoft)

Color Hot-Track, which highlights the program icon on the taskbar, now stays active when browsing Aero Peek thumbnails for the program. This should help remind users which button they picked.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft is listening to you, and here's what it's done

Microsoft's Windows 7 team has been pretty quiet for the last month and a half since releasing their beta to the public, and many wondered what, if any, changes were going to show up in the final version of Windows 7.  Microsoft's senior vice president in charge of the Windows group, Steven Sinofsky, this week broke the company's silence, telling about how Microsoft has taken in user feedback from its beta and used it to fix over 2,000 bugs.

Now Microsoft has posted a long Windows 7 blog detailing some of these user-inspired changes that are included in the Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Windows 7.  The changes include tweaks to virtually every area of the OS's operation.  In this first segment, we'll look at some of the interface changes that will affect the user experience in the OS.

First up, one attractive change is the addition of Aero Peek to ALT+TAB'ing through windows.  In Windows, this keyboard shortcut always let you switch through running programs by icon.  Some users inquired, why not use the thumbnail preview of Aero Peek to this feature?  Microsoft complied and after a time delay, the ALT+TAB window turns into an Aero Peek preview that can be tabbed through.

Another big set of changes are tweaks to its Windows Key+<#> launch scheme, a largely overlooked feature in Windows Vista.  In Vista, this shortcut would launch the program that was in the Quick Launch list.  However, it did not switch to the program, but merely started it.  In Windows 7 RC1, this has been tweaked significantly.  The key combination still launches the Window.  However, pressing it again will now scroll through open windows of that type of program, using the above mention Aero Peek additions.  And by clicking SHIFT+Windows Key+<#> you can open new instances of the window.  But the fun doesn't end there, CTRL+Windows Key+<#> allows you to instantly switch to the last window instance, while ALT+Windows Key+<#> will allow you access to the programs jump list --- all without a single finger touching your mouse.

Another nice little tweak is to make "needy windows" -- windows demanding your attention, such as an IM program with new messages -- more visible.  Many users complained that the taskbar button flashing was too subtle and they were missing events.  Microsoft has changed the flashing to a "bolder orange color" and the flash pattern to a more jarring saw tooth wave, as well as increasing the flash rate -- all of which should help get your attention when a window needs it.

One switch which bugged some users was that the drag and drop in Vista's Quick Launch which allowed you to drop a file into a program's icon to open it with that program was replaced by merely pinning the file to a task bar in Windows.  Microsoft, though sounding a bit chagrined about the user feedback on this, consented to adding a SHIFT+drag feature, which allows you to drag and drop files into pinned programs, just like in Vista.

Another key change is that your task bar will now scale based on your resolution.  This means at higher resolutions it can support more icons.  This table comes from Microsoft's MSDN page:

Maximum taskbar button capacity before scrolling


Large Icons

Small Icons

% Increase from Beta (large/small icons)




25% / 36%




25% / 38%




25% / 32%




24% / 39%

Another little tweak is that when scrolling through thumbnails after clicking an item in a taskbar, the item now stays highlighted with its "Color Hot-Track" visual.  This will help the user remember which program the thumbnails are associated with.  One more nice tweak is that after installing new programs, Microsoft now temporarily adds the program to the bottom of the Start Menu to allow for easier pinning and making the program easier to find.

Microsoft has also tweaked its jump lists.  Some people had complained about its lists being too long, so Microsoft, based on its data, decided to limit the list to 10 items.  Enthusiast still can lengthen this maximum length via an easy setting.  Files of non-registered types (i.e. an .html file with Notepad) can be pinned to the program's jump list, now.  When clicking that item in the jump list, it will continue to open the file with that program, if possible.

Rounding out the list of interface changes, the user can now right click on the desktop to hide all icons or to hide all gadgets, allowing the users to easily interact with just gadgets or just icons, in the case of a cluttered desktop.

There's lots more changes, but that's all for the interface update!

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RE: Registry
By Spivonious on 2/27/2009 12:48:41 PM , Rating: 5
MS doesn't write the uninstallers. If anything, blame the application that leaves things behind.

Many new apps (past 2-3 years) don't use the registry as heavily, and instead make use of the user folders. I'd bet that in 5 years the registry will be a non-issue unless you're using old COM-based apps.

RE: Registry
By adiposity on 2/27/2009 1:27:03 PM , Rating: 4
User folders are definitely the way to go, in addition to being easier to uninstall by hand, they are more consistent with Linux and Mac OS for cross platform apps. However, even with the registry, Microsoft could force applications to store their settings in a fixed location. If they had to create keys in the generic locations for COM apps, they should be forced to have a matching lookup list stored in the fixed location for that app.

This won't happen for a long time, since Microsoft has to support legacy apps...


RE: Registry
By Belard on 2/28/2009 12:56:13 AM , Rating: 2
The registry only exisits in Windows.

It won't be going anywhere. It was designed to make things difficult for the end-user. Look at how much crap can hide there. And how big is this "text file" of settings? 20mb, 50mb?

The use of directories (folders) was standard on MAC, Amiga and of course Linux. Want to delete an Amiga AP? Easy, uninstall or delete the folder and its "short-cut" icons.

RE: Registry
By xeroshadow on 3/6/2009 4:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
Does that mean it will be easier for me to completely remove an application? I've encountered programs in the past that always left something behind even when I did venture into the registry. It's annoying when you do not know enough about an OS where some programmer entered some code that keeps the program coming back. If folders help to solve this, I will be ordering this OS asap.

RE: Registry
By VeauX on 2/27/2009 1:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
And what about Windows tracking all the changes done by the app that is installing. then the removal would be easy as just returning to the old status.

On the old windows days (95/98 maybe before) the Clean Sweep utility was doing this pretty well.

RE: Registry
By inighthawki on 2/27/2009 3:37:38 PM , Rating: 1
lol, and they would probably store all of those changes in the registry. Yeah when you uninstall, it clears everything, but while it's installed you effectively have 2x as many keys for that app. Also the windows registry barely affects performance. Thousands of keys and data adding up may affect it just a tad, but overall there's nothing to worry about.

RE: Registry
By omnicronx on 2/27/2009 4:13:42 PM , Rating: 3
And what about Windows tracking all the changes done by the app that is installing . then the removal would be easy as just returning to the old status.
That's what installer registry entries currently do. The problem is Windows cannot specifically choose what an uninstaller must or must not do. MS cannot take out the ability to say leave certain settings in tact, or they will anger a bunch of people. A correctly made uninstaller should do exactly what you are saying, leaving nothing behind in the registry. What more is if you read my post below, MS decided to handle the issue in a different way, while still leaving the uninstaller options up to the developer.

A good explanation of the changes in Vista can be found here :

RE: Registry
By TomZ on 2/27/2009 7:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know who authored that article you referenced, but it really is not consistent with how Microsoft officially explains Registry Virtualization in MSDN. See the link in my other post below.

RE: Registry
By zinfamous on 2/28/2009 10:33:13 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, but I want my Windows to do EVERYTHING for me.

Personally, I'm rather miffed that Windows doesn't make me nice, golden waffles at every boot.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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