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
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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 RC1: Other changes

There are plenty of other changes in Windows 7 RC1. Microsoft claims that RC1 includes faster start-up and shutdown, faster resumption from standby, faster searching and indexing, and quicker recognition of USB devices. I could not confirm all of that, but on my laptop, Windows 7 did resume from standby noticeably faster, and start-up and shutdown seemed quicker as well.

In addition, there has been a small attempt to make Windows 7 greener. When you click the battery icon in the notification area, you'll see only two power plans: "Balanced" and "Power-saver".

The high-performance plan, which generally consumes more energy than the other two plans, doesn't show up. However, you can make the high-performance plan appear by clicking the battery icon, selecting "More power options" and then selecting "High performance".

There are a number of security tweaks, including some minor changes to User Account Control (UAC). Most notably, the UAC prompt now blacks out the desktop. In addition, AutoRun has been disabled when you use USB flash drives and other nonremovable optical storage as a safety precaution, because worms can use AutoRun to sneak malware onto your PC.

Internet Explorer has gotten several minor tweaks as well. You can now launch an InPrivate browsing session via IE's Jump List, and you can open new tabs from the Jump List as well.

Windows Media Player has also received a minor makeover. Previously, Media Player had a "Lightweight Playback Mode" which took up far less real estate than the full-blown Media Player. That mode has been renamed "Now Playing Mode" and is even smaller and more compact.

Windows Media Player also now supports .mov files recorded by digital cameras. There's also a Remote Media Streaming feature that lets you stream media to other PCs.

Finally, there have been some changes of note for enterprise use. RC1 includes changes to the DirectAccess feature for connecting to corporate networks remotely, including adding smart card support. Folders can be deleted and renamed when in offline mode. And AppLocker, which allows IT staffers to control what applications can be run on PCs, has gotten some tweaks as well, making it easier to administer.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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