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, Asus CEO Jerry Shen says he plans to release versions of the Eee PC powered by Windows 7 in mid-2009, including touch-screen models. Windows Vista is too processor- and RAM-intensive to run on netbooks, so expect to see Microsoft push Windows 7 heavily on netbooks.

Microsoft also claims that it's working to improve performance -- but then again, it always says that when it releases a new operating system. Still, I can say that Windows 7 was surprisingly zippy on my machine, even in its pre-beta version -- far faster than Vista was in beta testing, even in later betas. Microsoft claims that it's improving memory management and reducing power consumption on laptops. In addition, the company says it will protect the operating system from poorly written or problematic hardware drivers.

Improved multimedia

Multimedia support has also been improved in Windows 7. 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, which tends to take up considerable RAM. Launch Windows Explorer and turn on the Preview pane, and a small media player appears in the pane. Click on the file you want to play, click the Play button, and the media plays in the media player in the pane. This is just a player, so for other capabilities, you'll have to go to the WMP. But for simple entertainment, it's a handy addition.

In addition, Windows Media Player now features a bare-bones, stripped-down view in a small window that's suitable for playing media but not for managing your library. So if all you want to do is play media, you can use it as a simple player. In addition, Windows Media Player can handle a wider variety of formats, including the high-definition DivX format, popular among video downloaders, as well as the AAC audio format used by Apple's iTunes.

Other notable changes

Windows 7 comes with some nice extras, including a simple sticky-notes applet that mimics the sticky notes you leave around your desk. There's certainly nothing groundbreaking about this little applet -- Macs have included a similar one for well over a decade. Still, it's a nice extra that you might use.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 7

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Preston Gralla

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?