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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This being an early beta release, we won't get too picky about the performance issues and minor functionality glitches we experienced during our first days with Windows 7. Let there be no doubt, however, that in the weeks and months to come the PC Advisor Test Centre will continue to put the new OS through its paces to see what it's made of.

Back in late October of 2008, we took an early look at some of the new features you can look forward to in Windows 7. Rather than reprising that, we'll delve into the question of how Windows 7's new features work, and we'll take a look at some other enhancements that struck me during my early hours with the OS.

Windows 7: Interface Enhancements

Windows 7's Desktop interface is even glassier than Vista's. So if you're not a fan of Aero, prepare yourself for Aero overload. That said, the new glassy Taskbar simplifies your view of running apps by using a unique icon — instead of the program's name — to represent each one.

The revamped System Tray is as unhelpful as ever, unfortunately, but having the option to hide some icons and turn off notifications from apps and utilities that you don't care about certainly reduces the aggravation factor.

One interface tweak we already love is the elimination of Windows Sidebar — a resource-hogging nuisance that we routinely disabled on every new Vista machine we encountered.

Without more extensive performance testing, we can't say for sure that the Sidebar-free gadgets in Windows 7 will be less detrimental to system performance than Sidebar was, but our first impression is that they're not quite as bad. Of course, they're no more useful than the old gadgets were, either. In fact, they're the same.

One striking interface update comes in the included Paint and Word Pad apps, both of which now sport a Ribbon interface à la Office 2007. Although the jury is still out on whether the Office '07 Ribbon menus constitute an improvement over previous menu layouts, the Ribbon format works exceedingly well for minimalist apps like these, putting all of the most useful features within easy view.

For instance, as we were grabbing and snipping screenshots for this article, we found Paint infinitely easier than Snipping Tool to work in because the selection, resizing and cropping tools were readily accessible from the Home menu bar. Thanks to the Ribbon, many users may discover that these two throw-away apps have gained a new lease on life. You work it out.

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