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The Windows 7 Power Management Menu
Improvements? You bet!

Windows 7 Release Candidate is finally up for download from Microsoft. If you're one of the brave that ran the Beta and don't want to or don't care enough to do a clean install, you've got some tweaking to do in order to install the RC over the Beta build. Microsoft has kindly provided directions on exactly how to do this, and for anyone it should take just a few seconds to make the change and start the installation process. Skip the first 9 paragraphs and go straight to the step by step directions if you want to skip the "We don't recommend doing this" warning.

One of the new features I was hoping to see in the RC build was the addition of XP Mode or XP Within Windows 7 through the Virtual PC software that some of us have been using for several years now. Unfortunately, this does not come with the RC, but is available as an optional download here. It’s designed to be the successor to Virtual PC 2007, although as far as I can tell there haven't been many changes aside from the application pass-through and splendid USB support.

Aside from XP Mode, Windows 7 testers finally have the complete IE 8 build with the Release Candidate. The caveat is that as of this morning, the compatibility sites list hasn't been completed and should be released as an update in the next day or two. Some sites may or may not be set to compatibility mode by default, worst case is you will simply need to click it yourself. Regardless, it’s good to have the final copy of IE 8 on the system for testing.

With IE 8 final and Windows 7, Microsoft decided to add some new features. One is the response recovery feature to tabs that seem to lock up forever and generally required you to nuke the IEXPLORE.EXE process. How well this works remains to be seen, but so far I had to recover two tabs and it seemed to fix the problem. We'll see if that success rate continues as we approach the Windows 7 release in October of this year. It should be noted however that it took me a solid 2 minutes of a non-responding tab to trigger the prompt.

Aside from that, most changes I've seen so far seem to be visual only. Remote Desktop, Control Panel, and many other Icons have been changed so they no longer look like the ones we saw in Vista, likely another move by Microsoft to distance Windows 7 from Vista regardless of how similar they are under the covers.

I did see a few new items such as the "Location and Other Sensors" within Control Panel, but without hardware to use it it's not readily apparent what it does exactly. Given its name I assume it might have to do with netbooks, or other portable device with GPS support or perhaps biometric style devices go here as well. The details are a little vague on the menu itself.

Update 06/2009 3:45 PM EST
Last but not least is the new dimming option. Under Windows 7 there is a new "Dim the display" setting in addition to the standard display and sleep mode turn off timers. This allows an inactive panel to dim to save power while not in use without completely turning it off. The dim is gradual and once it starts takes about 10 seconds to completely dim from full brightness. Any action or input will cause the screen to resume its maximum brightness setting instantly. To expand on this option there is a maximum brightness slider available at the bottom of the power management page as well. It is unclear how widespread support for this feature is but what is clear is that most if not all laptop LCD panels are supported, with desktop LCD's likely getting widespread support as well.

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Some Things Different
By Starcub on 5/6/2009 4:54:09 PM , Rating: 2
Initial impressions:

I haven't noticed any more responsiveness with 7 over vista thus far on my Gateway P6860-FX laptop with 4GB RAM. However, indexing seems to be much faster, so the computer seems useable earlier for me. Opening and closing apps doesn't seem to be quite as smooth, but this could be an issue with Aero Peak and the rather new NVIDIA driver.

Defragmenting now gives you progress feedback on how much has been completed.

The taskbar is now transparent like normal app windows are.

The gadgets that used to be on a sidebar are now unbound. There is no sidebar. By default the gadgets stack in the same place, but they exist in a background state. They can also be positioned freeform anywhere on the screen.

There is an interesting feature where your app window will maximize after you drag the window to one of the screen edges.

I've tried to run some apps that I installed through Vista which Window 7 won't allow me to run, but perhaps if I re-install them through 7...

So far I'm liking it.

RE: Some Things Different
By RamarC on 5/6/2009 5:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
i put win7 rc-1 on my low-end toshiba laptop that i got when vista debuted in dec 2006. it works so much BETTER now even though i did an upgrade rather than clean install.

login is faster, and i no longer wonder what the heck is going on behind the scenes. before, i'd regularly open the performance monitor to see what the heck was chewing up my cpu and disk i/o.

visual studio 2008 opens much faster. all of the office 2007 apps open faster.

and i found the sidebar in vista to be so sluggish that i dumped it. but the new gadgets work much better.

and the taskbar previews are actually useful now!

the only thing that the upgrade warned me about was sql server 2008. a 250MB+ service pack is waiting to be installed so that should fix that issue.

win7 has made my laptop so much better, i'll probably keep it another year.

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