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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 7

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 Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?