Windows 7: This time Microsoft gets it right

In his hands-on review of the Windows 7 pre-beta, Preston Gralla decides that Microsoft's upcoming OS shows great promise.

Those who listen to music or play videos on their PCs will be pleased to see that there is now a built-in way to do both without having to launch Windows Media Player.

Those who listen to music or play videos on their PCs will be pleased to see that there is now a built-in way to do both without having to launch Windows Media Player.

In addition, some Windows 7 applets, such as Paint and WordPad, now sport a ribbon interface, much like the one in Microsoft Office 2007.

Finally, the Windows Sidebar has been dispensed with, but Gadgets remain. They are no longer confined to the Sidebar and can live anywhere on the desktop.

Networking and Homegroup

Windows 7 has improved on Vista networking, overhauled the Network and Sharing Center, and debuted a new feature called Homegroup that makes it much easier to share files, folders and devices with other people and machines on your home network.

The new Network and Sharing Center offers a more streamlined interface with fewer confusing options for setting up sharing. It displays a better-organized set of links for accomplishing network-related tasks and offers a way for you to immediately see the most important information about your network, such as its type, its name, the state of its connection and so on.

Most important is the addition of what's called a Homegroup. Designed for home networks, a Homegroup makes it easier to share files, folders and devices such as printers with computers on your network. Homegroups work only if you designate your network as Home; if it's a Work or a Public network, the feature won't appear.

When you create a Homegroup, you specify which files, folders, and devices you want to share, and create a password so that only people with that password can join the Homegroup. A particularly useful feature is the ability to easily designate which files and folders to share and which to keep private. That way, if you use the same laptop for home and office, for example, you can keep your work files private when you're at home. In addition, when you come home from work, you won't need to fiddle with changing your default printer; when you join your Homegroup, you'll automatically use your home printer.

Document sharing is much improved as well. You can much more easily share files with others. Vista and XP force you to go through menus and options screens to customize file sharing, often forcing you to figure out how to configure permissions -- a task not for the weak-hearted. Windows 7 makes that much easier. Right-click a folder or file, and from the menu that appears, select "Share with." You'll see a menu that offers sharing options, such as sharing with a Homegroup, disallowing sharing, or sharing with specific people.

In addition, wireless networking has been tweaked so that you can connect to a network with fewer clicks. The wireless networking icon in the system tray displays a small star on it when wireless networks are available. Click it, and a list of available networks appears. Click a network, and a small Connect button appears.

Tags Windows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Preston Gralla

Computerworld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?