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Lists of running instances of programs with icons pinned to the taskbar have been improved to have close buttons. Hovering over a specific instance now opens a menu for it as well.  (Source: Microsoft)

The page file size in Windows 7 RC1 has been cut from "Memory Size+300MB" to merely the size of the memory. The Windows System partition has shrunk from 200 MB to 100 MB. And driver support for Atom-based notebooks' hardware has improved. All this means that Microsoft is aiming for Windows 7 to run more smoothly on netbooks like this Eee PC, than any previous Windows OS.  (Source: ASUSTek)
More changes including key performance improvements found in Windows 7 RC1, release dates revealed

Windows 7 RC1, according to descriptions by Microsoft, is shaping up to be very impressive.  Microsoft has fixed close to 2,000 bugs based on user feedback in preparation for what may be the best Windows release to date.  In our first special, we took a peek at the Windows 7 RC1 interface changes.  In the second, we took a look at hardware changes and more.  Now we revisit RC1 one more time to look at a few more changes Microsoft has announced, and we also follow with the release dates for the RC versions.

First up in the latest batch of RC1 changes are some more interface tweaks.  When using the thumbnail overflow menus, accessed when clicking on a thumbnail of a program with multiple instances, close buttons have added. Also, when hovering the mouse, a menu for that item appears.  Another tweak is that the control panel icon, when pinned to the taskbar, now displays a list of your most recently used control panel utilities.  For users looking to make use of a console, the Powershell has been greatly improved with jump lists adding a method to load modules, launch the ISE, and open documentation.

Remote desktop connections are now able to be pinned to the taskbar as well as viewed in Recent Items.  Taskbar changes are also now written 30 seconds after being set, an important change, as past versions of Windows didn't write them until Explorer exited meaning that if an error condition occurred the work was lost.

In the touch realm, you can now use multizoom in Windows Explorer to zoom in and out on icons, switching from small and large icons.  Speaking of Windows Explorer, invert selection has been reinstated in the RC1.  Parent folders, even with long names, stay in the path in the Windows Explorer bar allowing single-click return.  Another improvement is that when searching for music, the confusing "Contributing Artist" attribute which often splits up albums has been replaced by a more logical "Album Artist" attribute which only splits up compilation albums.

Rounding out the interface changes, the New Folder button now always appears in Windows Explorer.  Right clicking the background has also been made easier.  When searching, longer snippets of contextual text are also now available.  The RC1 now automatically re-indexes the specific files affected by new file handlers, taking this time-consuming hassle found in the beta off the user's hands.

For a small performance boost, Microsoft has cut log off and shutdown times by 400 ms by trimming the shutdown and logoff WAV files. 

In the realm of hardware, Microsoft is pressuring device makers to implement at least a “baseline” experience for Windows 7's popular new feature, Device Stage.  Based on feedback from Lenovo and others, Device Stage has also been better interfaced with Devices and Printers.  Ejecting devices is now more convenient as the entire device (i.e. the entire USB drive, rather than a volume) is ejected when this command is selected.  USB reliability has now been improved so that problems are no longer encountered after hibernate/resume.  Streaming video from Firewire cameras -- partially broken in the beta -- now works as well.

Add Legacy Hardware has been reinstated for adding non-Plug-and-Play devices, like a Loopback adapter.  Retrieving lists of printer drivers has also been improved. 

One of the biggest changes is that the partition for the Windows 7 System partition has been cut in half from 200 MB to 100 MB.  The partition is now marked "System Reserved" to prevent confusion or accidental deletions.  On a dual boot system (e.g. Windows XP/Windows 7), the second OS can now be navigated as well.  Another major performance improvement is the reduction of the page file size, which has been cut from "Memory + 300MB" to just a file the size of a current memory.  On systems like netbooks, this can save a lot of space, and for high end systems the page file can still increase as needed.  Speaking of netbooks, the last change mentioned is that driver support for new Atom-based laptops has been improved.

If all these changes have you a little excited, you'll be happy to know that the Microsoft plans to soon release the RC1 build to the public.  News site Neowin says they expect it to be released on April 10, but a Russian site Wzor places the release to testers at the fourth week of April and the release to the public near the start of May.

The same Russian source projects Office 14 will be released as a beta in early July and will not be available for public testing.  A second beta will follow in November and the RTM release will come early March 2010.  The source also says that Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 will see an RTM release in early October 2009.  Wzor uses information provided by Microsoft to its Technology Adoption Program (TAP) partners as a source.



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I'm sooooo glad I managed to avoid Vista!
By drunkenmastermind on 3/16/2009 10:36:31 AM , Rating: -1
I had a very go experience testing Windows 7. I am looking forward to this being released. Go go gadget windows!!




By StevoLincolnite on 3/16/2009 11:02:08 AM , Rating: 2
I enjoyed it to, it's amazingly responsive and compatible with everything, I've been using it for the last several months with minimal issues. (I've had issues, but it's to be expected from a Beta).
I did try Vista for a good 6 months, but I found the experience to be less than compelling for me, so went back to Windows XP, Compile times when compiling my source code took significantly longer while using Vista.

And even though it's not a fault of Vista per-say but Intel drivers seriously lacked for the OS in comparison to XP as well, and because I wasn't willing to buy an entire new Notebook, I "downgraded".

Now all I need is a cheap 17" or larger touch screen to take advantage of some of the Windows 7 Interface changes!


By ET on 3/16/2009 11:12:08 AM , Rating: 2
Had enough problems, so went back to Vista. But the mention of USB fixes means that at least one of the serious problems I had (mouse/keyboard not functioning) is likely solved. I will certainly try RC1.


By danz32 on 3/16/2009 11:15:51 AM , Rating: 5
Skipping Vista, eh? Ever heard of Windows Mojave? I think you'd really like it, sounds right up your alley


By chizow on 3/16/2009 3:35:50 PM , Rating: 1
Ya good for you, you've been missing out on 90% of the improvements Win 7 is over Win XP for the last 14-15 months since Vista SP1.

As good as Win 7 is, I won't be in a rush to upgrade simply because Vista is every bit as good minus a few visual enhancements and slight performance tweaks. Driver support also isn't as good on Win 7 yet, although its in much better shape than Vista was pre-launch.


RE: I'm sooooo glad I managed to avoid Vista!
By jonmcc33 on 3/17/2009 8:07:16 AM , Rating: 2
Most of what Windows 7 is (drivers, application compatibiliy) was set in stone with Windows Vista. If you had a good experience testing Windows 7 it's probably because Windows Vista made it that way. I've been using Vista for about a year and a half with no complaints. I hate going back to work and being forced to use Windows XP.


By mindless1 on 3/17/2009 2:14:54 PM , Rating: 2
Surely after the world's most popular OS (XP) has been out for a number of years, you eventually managed to use it rather well? "Hate" is silly, it's your own fault if you got used to using a different GUI at home by choice, when you have to continue using a different one at work (not by choice).

Don't upgrade the OS, upgrade the user!


"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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