Microsoft Windows 7 beta
What if Microsoft waved a magic wand and everything people hated about Windows Vista went away?
- Looks like some of the frustrations with Windows Vista will be addressed
- Still a beta
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. We'll be updating this review as we get more information on and time with Windows 7, so be sure to bookmark this page.
What if Microsoft waved a magic wand and everything people hated about Windows Vista went away? You might have an operating system that you liked — and that's what Microsoft appears to be striving for with Windows 7.
We checked out an early beta of Windows 7, and though at this point many features are either missing or works in progress, the improvements to everything from user interface to memory management look highly promising.
Along with several dozen other reviewers and analysts, we got our first real look at the OS, preinstalled on loaner notebooks, over the weekend at a workshop on the eve of the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.
Of course, some of the promised features are things that Microsoft has pledged — and failed to deliver — before. Wasn't Vista supposed to be faster than its predecessor? We won't be able to test performance (and other under-the-hood features) for some time, obviously, but we can share with you what Microsoft is saying to back its claims.
On some details, Microsoft has said very little. As of Monday, the company had offered no new word on when Windows 7 will ship — the official target date continues to be early 2010, but some insiders say that the actual date may move forward by a few months. Likewise Microsoft hasn't said anything about editions (and pricing) other than to indicate that they probably won't mirror the Vista lineup.
Microsoft has said all along that Windows 7 would refine (but not rewrite) the Vista kernel. However, some of the anticipated changes depend on support that Microsoft may not be able to control.
For example, a number of cool network features will work only if your employer installs Windows Server 2008 R2. Other new features require cooperation by hardware vendors, though this time their contribution won't extend to rewriting drivers. Still other changes involve slimming down the code by offloading applications (such as e-mail and photo management) that were once bundled with the code. With Windows 7 you'll get them either as downloadable apps or as web services.
But the OS that remains tries very hard to please users by addressing some of the biggest gripes people had about Vista, and by generally making everyday tasks accessible and easy to perform. To the extent that these efforts are visible in our early beta, they look pretty good.
Windows Vista's interface makeover emphasised style over substance: among its most-hyped new features were the Aero user interface's translucent window frames (woo-hoo!) and the Flip 3D window switcher (flashy, but not particularly useful). It didn't do much to repair Windows' reputation for being annoying; in fact, the in-your-face tactics of the new User Account Control security feature made Vista more aggravating. And much of what was new in Vista, such as its desktop search, amounted to Microsoft playing catch-up with Apple's OS X.
Windows 7 takes a strikingly different approach. Its interface contains plenty of tweaks, but they're relatively subdued and they emphasize everyday efficiency rather than sizzle. Several of the changes aim specifically to get the OS out of your way so you can work without distractions. And virtually none of what's new feels like warmed-over OS X.
The changes start with the Windows Taskbar, a core component of the Windows experience that has changed very little since it debuted in Windows 95. With Windows 7, it undergoes its biggest remodelling job ever: the familiar bars containing the name of a running application and a tiny icon are gone, and in their place are unlabeled, jumbo icons that represent running applications.
The icons look like gargantuan versions of the tiny icons in the old Taskbar's Quick Launch toolbar — as well they should, since they supplant Quick Launch in W7. (The new Taskbar also looks a bit like OS X's Dock, though it doesn't behave like the Dock.) Vista's Taskbar introduced thumbnail-size previews of windows that would appear when you hovered the mouse over an app in the Taskbar. They were fairly handy, but if you had multiple windows of an application open — say, several browser windows or several word-processing documents — you could see only one of them at a time. In Windows 7, thumbnails for multiple windows appear onscreen simultaneously, in a ribbon-like horizontal strip. Hover over a thumbnail, and you get a full-size preview of the window; you can also close windows from the thumbnails.
Click on an icon in the Taskbar — or on a program in the Start menu — and you get a "jump list", a new Windows 7 feature that's a twist on the context-sensitive menus that the OS has had for years. Jump lists provide one-click access to various tasks associated with an application — Play All Music for Windows Media Player, for instance, or a list of recently opened files in Word or Excel.
Not every jumbo icon in the Taskbar represents a running application, however. In Windows 7, the Taskbar can include icons for devices you've attached to your PC, too. Hook up a digital camera, for example, and an icon for it will appear in the Taskbar; click its icon, and you'll move to the Device Stage, a new control centre for activities involving peripheral devices.
Unfortunately, most of what makes the new Taskbar intriguing isn't yet ready for beta — let alone prime time. The preview version of Windows 7 has the old-style Taskbar. Still, judging from our brief hands-on time with the new Taskbar, it could make life in Windows more pleasant in meaningful ways that Vista's splashy effects never did.
Join the newsletter!
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Apple iMac Pro
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Ballistix Sport AT
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Smart Security Premium
ESET Internet Security
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Technology is revolutionising the way we do things and that includes in the kitchen where a wealth of must-have gadgets and appliances are the making life easier for home cooks.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 3 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 4 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 5 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
Latest News Articles
- CBA capitulates, will support Apple Pay next year
- Intel unveils the Intel Neural Compute Stick 2
- Fetch TV expands with Aussie Broadband
- Adobe announces next generation of Creative Cloud
- Logitech announces Logitech Rally
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?