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 Pty Ltd Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Pty Ltd Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Pty Ltd Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Pty Ltd 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 RC1: Making the jump

The beta of Windows 7 introduced Jump Lists, which are lists of actions or items associated with a particular application. In the beta, to see a Jump List for any application, you right-clicked its icon in the task bar or Start menu.

Typically, you'd see a list of the most recent open files (or websites, in the case of Internet Explorer), as well as options to pin or unpin the application icon to and from the task bar.

Windows 7 RC1 tweaks the Jump Lists by giving you some control over the maximum number of items on the list — you can now limit it to under 10. In addition, if you right-click the Control Panel when it's in the task bar, you'll see a list of the most recently used Control Panel features and applets.

That's mildly useful. It would be better if you could see a similar Jump List when you right-click Control Panel on the Start Menu. Unfortunately, though, you don't.

In Windows 7 RC1, you can also manually pin files to a Jump List for a program that doesn't normally handle that file type — something that you couldn't do in the beta. You can then open the file using the program to which it has been pinned.

But be careful when you use this feature, because it can lead to unintended consequences: when you drag the file to an application's Jump List, that application will now open all files of that type when you double-click the file.

For example, drag an HTML file to Notepad, and Notepad will always open HTML files from then on, rather than, say, Internet Explorer. (Of course, Internet Explorer will continue to open HTML pages on the internet or a network.)

Those who use Remote Desktop Connection to take control of other computers on their networks will have something to be pleased about — when you pin the Remote Desktop Connection to your task bar, it now includes in the Jump List all of the remote desktop connections you've saved. So you can now more easily take control of a remote PC.

Microsoft also claims that now you can change task-bar settings in a more reliable way. In earlier versions, including Windows 7 beta, when you made changes to the task bar, those changes were permanently saved only after Explorer exited at the end of a session.

If there was a crash or if Windows did not shut down properly, the task-bar settings wouldn't be in effect for the next session. Microsoft says that the taskbar changes are now made permanently within 30 seconds of when they are applied, which should eliminate the problem.

Alt-Tab windows switching has been improved; the feature has now been combined with Aero Peek. When you use Alt-Tab to cycle through your open windows, if you pause on any, you'll be able to peek through to the desktop and see the open window as well as the underlying desktop, along with outlines of any other open windows.

I found this new piece of eye candy very useful because I no longer had to guess at the contents of any open window — I could see it immediately.

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