We're pretty psyched about Windows 7 for a few reasons. Firstly, the beta has left us fairly impressed and secondly, Microsoft finally seems to be doing a decent job of communicating its software to its users.
Aiding that communication is Microsoft's engineering Windows 7 blog, which since August '08 has been providing a close look at the software giant's forthcoming operating system. Last month, Microsoft senior program manager Chaitanya Sareen detailed 36 changes that had been made to Windows 7 since the public beta.
Late last week, Sareen followed up with news of a further 27 changes that go beyond basic bug fixes. The entire detailed list is available over at the e7 blog, but here are the changes that caught our attention:
Improved taskbar thumbnail overflow
"Our customers are enjoying how windows are grouped and revealed on the enhanced taskbar. Some enthusiasts who have a significant number of open windows for a program encounter our scaling mechanism; the thumbnail view turns into a list view. Although this UI is virtually identical to experience in XP and Vista, customers still want to enjoy new functionality of the thumbnail view. Bentronic wrote, “It's nice that there's a little close button on the thumbnail previews--why not have a similar button for when it's showing as a list? Being able to run down the list clicking the close button instead of right-clicking would be great.” For RC we’ve made the list view architecturally the same as the thumbnail view, just sans thumbnails. Customers will now enjoy close buttons and the menus open on hover (in Beta one had to click to open them)."
Right-click in Windows Explorer
"For RC we’ve changed the behaviour when right-clicking items in the view to address concerns customers were reporting with the Beta. We heard feedback that it was too hard to find space and get to the view’s background context menu for items such as New and Paste. Previously if one right-clicked over any portion of an item she would get the item’s context menu. We now show the view’s context menu when one clicks on any large white space, including the space between a files name and its properties."
Trimming sound schemes to help performance
"We know our customers care about performance. We discovered that by just trimming the shutdown and logoff WAV files, we could save up to 400 ms. Every little bit counts."
USB device reliability on resume
"We got feedback from a number of customers that their USB devices (e.g. keyboards, mice and drives) stopped working after a suspend/resume cycle. We worked with a number of customers to get traces and isolated the causes to address them post-beta builds. The work around in Beta was to unplug and replug the device to get it functional again—easy for external devices but not possible for internal devices. This workaround will not be needed on RC builds."
Dual Boot partition drive letter assignment
"For a dual boot configuration for the Beta, the other Windows OS wouldn’t get a drive letter and therefore wouldn’t show up in explorer. We heard overwhelmingly from Beta customers that the lack of a drive letter was confusing and even caused some to believe that their secondary OS was lost. Assigning the drive letter makes it visible in explorer and aids in navigation across OS installations."
All welcome improvements to what's shaping up to be an impressive operating system. Here's hoping the one-and-only release candidate is on track for its rumoured April 10th launch.