The 3 hours Windows 7 Seminar that Microsoft put on was pretty interesting. There was a ton of info on the new OS. A lot of it was geared towards IT Departments, but I got some interesting info that I will pass on.
First off, Win7 is what Vista should have been. There are so many innovations built on what Vista started that it’s clear to me that Vista was only half baked when it was released.
Some cool new things include a Start Up Repair Tool. If Win7 fails to start up, it has a built in tool that will identify the reason and attempt to fix it automatically. It can fix things like missing or damaged system files and MBR’s.
Next the System Restore has been improved dramatically. In Vista when you used the System Restore tool, you picked a previous date when you know Windows working and it would restore the entire volume. In my experience this worked pretty well, but there are many times when restoring everything is not required. Microsoft realized this and now System Restore provides a per file reversion option. You can now restore only the files you want. So for example, if you are working on a file and you accidentally hit save instead of Save As and wipe out a form you did not want to wipe out. You can restore that file to its previous version with System Restore. Bravo!!
The Windows Reliability Monitor that was introduced in Vista is now much more robust and provides much more useful data than before.
You can view when a computer starts to slow down and pin point the reason within the Monitor itself. This will help trouble shooting dramatically. You can easily see when a driver install, program install or whatever event happens that is causing the computer to not function right. The computers reliability will start to fall after the event that affected the computer, thus you can see what caused the problem. Bravo again!!!
The task bar has improved functionality. You can now “pin” websites or programs to icons in the task bar. For example, if you have an Internet Explorer Icon in your task bar, you can pin a website to that icon and then when you hover you mouse over that IE icon, it will show what sites you have pinned to the icon and you can simply click on it and open that page. Same goes for anything on your computer. You can pin anything to an icon on the task bar.
Also introduced in Vista was the task bar preview windows. When you hovered your mouse over a window listed in the task bar, you got a little preview of what that window was. Now in Win7, you can that a step further and hover over the little preview window for a larger, expanded preview.
Win7 introduces an effect where if you grab a window (Left click and hold) and “shake” it, Win7 will minimize all other open windows except the one you are shaking. If you shake it again, it will maximize all other windows. So if you have a lot of open windows and you want to minimize all of them quickly and easily without having to go to each window individually.
And now for what I think it one of the best ideas ever and this shows that MS is really getting back into the game with smart and useful innovations.
If you are like me, you are tech support for all your friends and family and they often call you with a problem over the phone trying to describe what their problem is.
We know how frustrating that can be and for those of you who do the calling, you know the frustration as well.
Well, MS has introduced a tool call the Problem Steps Recorder.
The user simply starts the recorder and repeats the steps to recreate the problem they are having. The recorder takes screen shots and highlights each item the user is doing and packs them into a small file (It will never be more than 2MB’s in size) that the user can then email to you or tech support and you can see exactly what they are doing that is causing the problem. The user can even write notes with each step.
They ran this tool live for us and it ran chills down my spine with how simply it is to use and how awesome it will be to help trouble shoot over the phone.
What is even more awesome; is that you can use the recorder to record the steps you want them to take and email it back to them and they will see step by step screen shots with highlights on what to do.
Freaking awesome beyond belief!!!!
User Account Control has thankfully been revamped with a slider bar to give the user various levels of UAC. The max effect is what Vista has now. But in Win7 you can set it so that it will no longer go off when your trying to delete a desk top icon and other stupid things like that. You can also have the UAC elevation without the darkening of the desktop that locked everything else out and for me at least caused other problems when I was running multiple programs.
For example, I like to run my Sling box on my second monitor while I am doing things, well when UAC would go off, it would freeze the Sling box software and I would have to close it and restart it for it work again…..man I hated that. Thanks you MS for the fix.
MS is also introducing Windows Search Connector. This will allow you to search website databases within Windows Explorer. You can read more how this works here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_Search
People will also be able to make their own search connectors for their websites.
That’s just a few of the features that home users will notice. There are a ton of under the hood changes and Group Policy changes that is going to make Win7 the business choice for IT departments with a ton of more and granulated control.
All in all, I came away very impressed.