Features coming with Windows 7

Oct 14, 2008
Updated • Nov 28, 2011
Windows, Windows 7

As you now know, Windows 7 is being officially called… Windows 7.

Microsoft has been pretty tight on leaks up to now so we haven’t had a great deal of information about the upcoming OS, however here are some of the features which you will see introduced with Windows 7:

Evolutionary changes.
This means substantial performance improvements, UI changes and security improvements. Windows 7 basically will improve on all of Windows Vista’s real and perceived shortcomings.

Virtual Drives
This is just speculation at the moment although Long Zheng has some good reasons to suggest it. Native support for disc images is definitely coming with Server 2008 R2 and may also come with Windows 7.

Support for contextually aware applications which can detect the location of you and your device.

Windows Credentials
This sounds great and is something I’ve been wanting for ages… a secure ‘vault’ to store logins and registration details for any server, website or program. Windows will be able to log you in automatically anywhere.

Changes to UAC
Windows 7 will introduce a control panel setting which provides a ‘slider’ and 4 different settings for the UAC, essentially ‘most annoying’ to ‘least annoying’. What’s ironic is that Norton Labs have created an alternative UAC which actually does the whole job a great deal better.

Customisable Installation
Bundled Windows application are being removed and replaced with downloadable Windows Live services including Movie Maker, Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer and Parental Controls. There will also be the introduction of a system to control which applications are installed and which aren’t.

Windows Solution Center
Basically an improved Security Center, but with an improved UI and access to all system maintenance and troubleshooting tools.

Home Group Networking
Another Longhorn concept which is now making its way into Windows 7. Easy home networking for sharing files and media.

Updated Applications and UI
Applications like Paint, Calculator and Windows Media Player are all getting a new version and in the case of WordPad and Paint, the office ribbon interface. Paint is now actually pretty decent, a half-way point between the current Paint and Paint.NET.

Unspecified Taskbar Improvements
All that has been mentioned is that a lot of time has gone into improving the Windows Taskbar, and that support for the taskbar over multiple monitors is almost certain.

Improved Games Explorer
Now checks for Game updates and patches which is a great addition.

Virtual Desktops
Finally! Windows gets virtual desktops or ‘workspaces’ which is going to be a huge improvements.

Windows Mobile Device Center
I thought the point was to remove a lot of the unnecessary applications, for some reason the decision was made to include Windows Mobile Device Center rather than as a separate download.

Not custom visual styles unfortunately, but the kind of themes you could make with Windows 95 and 98 – saving the background, sound scheme and colors.

You know this one.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Josh said on October 17, 2008 at 3:42 am

    Yeah it does actually look far worse, but only because it doesn’t use the aero transparency… as far as ‘more intrusive’ goes, I fail to see why? It only pops up when the previous UAC did, however with the difference of having a check-box which can prevent that specific UAC occurance happening again… that’s really what everyone wants.

  2. Joshua said on October 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    “What’s ironic is that Norton Labs have created an alternative UAC which actually does the whole job a great deal better.”

    I beg to differ. I’ve tried this application. While displaying more information, it looks horrible and it is actually more intrusive than the regular UAC, which is perfectly fine.

    Norton UAC Experiment: Failed.

  3. Josh said on October 16, 2008 at 6:06 am

    True… but to be honest… I don’t think that’s Microsoft’s job… rather than filling the OS with a million features 90% won’t use they instead let developers create whatever they want…

    Microsoft takes note of what features are becoming increasingly demanded then includes them into Windows.

    Microsoft moves with the trends, not ahead… and that’s why it’s so successful.

  4. Pietzki said on October 16, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Some nice features, but I find that MS are sort of lagging behind…I would’ve expected half of these features to be included in vista, and was very disappointed when they weren’t. Don’t get me wrong – I like vista, but I just think MS is doing no innovating. They’re just playing catch-up with the many open source add-ons…

  5. RG said on October 14, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    A lot of them are good and can be useful. Strange that most of these seem to be, at least in some form or another, making freeware and shareware obsolete. I realize that the windows version may not be ‘adequate’ (like Windows built in zipping now just to give a current example) but Virtual Desktops? Windows Credentials? Don’t get me wrong, I like these, I even posted about native virtual desktops right here on ghacks recently but are these really improvements on an OS?

  6. garbanzo said on October 14, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    good grief, i didn’t mean to offend :)

    i understand that the vast majority of people don’t even go so far as to change a single setting on their windows machines, but i wasn’t expressing popular opinion – i was expressing my own. the default windows setup just doesn’t work for me. i have changed so much that people sit down i front of my computer and have no idea how to do anything with it. but for me, it’s perfect.

    @Josh – i’m afraid microsoft has nothing to do with the customizations i’ve made. the authors of nlite let me rip ‘uninstallable’ windows elements from my system. the generous author of Emerge Desktop provided me with a flexible, intuitive alternative shell. the team behind Directory Opus gave me a file manager that’s actually worth using. and the kind folks who wrote the uxtheme.dll patcher let me alter the look of what’s left.

    i’m not asking for a paradigm-altering change. it would just be nice to see some features i would use. the only things from this list that appeal are virtual drives and virtual desktops, but i’m pretty sure that if they are implemented, there is freeware out there that would do the job better than a built-in, shiny-blue, talking paperclip microsoft version.

  7. GRTerrero said on October 14, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Sounds to me that if they are finally giving us customized installation capability, we are half way to the “OS we want”, garbanzo.

    The rest should be up to you. So, just like you (and I) did, anyone who wants a customized Windows experience beyond that should TWEAK!

    My Vista OS is nothing like what came out of the box. And personally, I enjoy the tweaking/shell patching process. And I fully understand that I’m a totally atypical Windows user. The majority of Windows users just want one thing: reliability.

    Plain and simple.

  8. Josh said on October 14, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Hah! well said Cucumber Shoot…

    Garbanzo… its because MS gives you the option to tweak that you can have the setup you want.

    Also this myth of a ‘profound’ and ‘paradym altering’ change everyone seems to expect just isn’t reality… OS development is mostly evolutionary and occasionally revolutionary

    Haha @theWindowsFix there are quite a few more I didn’t mention but these are predominantly changes of interest to developers, not end users…

  9. TheWindowsFix said on October 14, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Finally a decent list of new features that makes it plain and simple…Thanks Joshua.

    I like a lot of these.

  10. Cucumber Shoot said on October 14, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    @garbanzo bean

    luckily for the rest of us, you are not a typical user, so MS can safely ignore you.

  11. garbanzo said on October 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    i honestly can’t get excited about any of these changes. they won’t have a significant impact on the way i use my computer. i use a stripped-down, tweaked, alt-shell-bearing XP Pro. it’s the setup i want, not the setup microsoft thinks i should have.

    there will have to be some profound changes before i will to switch to 7…

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