Friday, May 15, 2009

My 7 favourite features of Windows 7 Release Candidate

Let us know what your favourite new features are!

By Matthew Hanson on 08 May 2009

Since the Release Candidate version of Windows 7 was released to the public on Tuesday I have been taking a look at just what the latest version of the Windows operating system has to offer. Unlike the major shift from Windows XP to Windows Vista – where it was the big changes that really grabbed my attention – it is the smaller tweaks in Windows 7 that I’ve really grown to love. Here are some of my favourite features so far:

1. Recent programs and documentsListing the most recent programs you’ve used has been a feature of the Windows Start button since Windows XP, and viewing your recently opened documents goes back even further. A great new feature in Windows 7 is the combination of the two – so if you have used Paint recently to create an image, the program will be listed, and then you can click an arrow next to it to see your recently saved files.

2. Quickly view windows and tabs from the taskbarThe live preview of open windows in the taskbar of Windows Vista was a fantastic addition, and with Windows 7 extra functionality has been added. Since its introduction in Internet Explorer 7 – and when I use Mozilla Firefox – I have used tabbed browsing to quickly navigate between web pages. In Windows 7 you not only get a preview of your programs, but you can even view individual tabs within Internet Explorer, letting you get to your favourite pages faster than ever before.

3. LibrariesFolders in previous versions of Windows used to be rather static affairs that simply contained your files. The Libraries in Windows 7 act as dynamic folders that can ‘watch’ a number of other folders within them. For example, in your Music library you could be watching all the folders on your hard drives that contain music and not just the default My Music folder. You can view all the files in one place in the library, just like you would in a big folder. Any changes to the ‘watched folder’ (such as if you added new files) will be reflected in your Library.

4. Aero ShakeThis feature has been in Windows 7 from the beginning, but it is a really nice feature, that makes using your PC easier than ever – one of the main goals of Windows 7. When I use my computer I usually end up with a desktop full of open windows, and this can be very confusing. In Windows 7 you can use Aero Shake to minimise all the windows except the one you want left open. To do this just click and hold the title bar of the window you want to keep open, then shake your mouse from side to side!

5. Burning disc imagesThis might be a feature with a bit of a niche following, but giving Windows 7 the ability to burn . ISO disc images straight onto a blank DVD is an extremely useful new feature that can save a lot of time when you are backing up optical media.

6. Run Windows XP from Windows 7There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to use a program or play a game that ran perfectly well in Windows XP or an earlier version of Windows, only to find that it is not compatible with the version of Windows you’re currently using. Windows 7 helps fix this problem by introducing a new Windows XP Mode, that lets you run a virtual version of Windows XP within Windows 7, so you can use all your old programs. Try out the beta at

7. Speed speed speedFinally, the best feature of Windows 7 RC is the improvement in speed. From booting up to loading your favourite programs, Windows 7 RC performs noticeably faster than both Windows Vista and Windows XP running on the same hardware.
Having used Windows 7 Release Candidate version for a few days now, I am very confident that Microsoft have reached their goal of making Windows 7 an operating system that will make our PCs easier and quicker to use. Hopefully after a couple of months of using the Release Candidate more great features will be discovered. Let us know if you have found any in the comment section.

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