Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is a polished piece of work, ready for prime time

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Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Pros

  • Early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista

Cons

  • Too soon to make a proper assessment of the operating system

Bottom Line

It's way too early to make a proper assessment of Windows 7, but Microsoft has made its intentions clear: Windows 7 is intended to right the wrongs Vista wrought, but retain that operating system's good points. And at this point, we can't argue with that. Our early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista, which can only be a good thing. We'll be updating this review as we get more information on and time with Windows 7, so be sure to bookmark this page.

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Windows 7: the magic touch?

One major area of change in Windows 7's interface won't mean much to most PC users at first blush: only a handful of current machines, such as HP's TouchSmart PC and Dell's Latitude XT laptop, support multitouch input; but in theory this feature would let you operate a touchscreen-equipped Windows 7 computer as if it were a massive iPhone, using your fingertips to launch applications, shuffle windows around, and enlarge and shrink photos by grabbing them with both hands. Not surprisingly, Microsoft hasn't yet enabled all of this functionality.

Using a TouchSmart PC at the Windows 7 workshop, we could fingerpaint with two fingers in Paint, but we couldn't perform two-fingered photo manipulations that would be a lot more useful in real life.

Microsoft promises that Windows 7 will ship with more touch features. The company is also working to make the OS smart enough to figure out whether you're using a mouse or your fingers so it can adjust itself accordingly. For example, if you tap the Start button with your fingertip rather than with the mouse pointer, you'll get a slightly larger Start menu that requires less finesse to navigate.

And you don't get a mouse pointer when you touch the screen with your finger — which makes perfect sense, since your finger servers as its own pointer. Instead, you get a momentary puddling effect to indicate that you've made contact with the screen.

Will the touch interface that makes the iPhone cool work on a notebook or desktop system? We're skeptical, but Windows 7 lays the software groundwork that will allow PC manufacturers to give it a try, at least.

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