October 22 has finally arrived and Windows 7 has been released to the public! Have you upgraded yet? It’s hard to think of a valid excuse to not upgrade. Running XP on an old machine? Breath new life into it with Win7. Running Vista? Win7 will speed things up and add great new features. Running OSX? Don’t worry, you can still use Boot Camp and get a real OS (commence angry Apple lover comments.) But seriously, many reviewers are calling this the greatest MS operating system and one of the biggest leaps forward. Don’t worry, there isn’t a huge user interface change to get used to, but there are some nice tweaks. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The taskbar by default contains only the icon of the program. All instances of that program are accessed through that single item. You can pin the icons to your taskbar even when they aren’t being used. It turns into a combination of a shortcut bar and a running programs bar.
- Hover over a running program in the task bar and get a preview of all the windows/tabs that are open. For example, if you have four tabs open in IE, hovering over the IE icon in the taskbar shows you the contents of all four tabs. You can then close a tab or switch to it right from the taskbar.
- Many programs allow you to pin shortcuts or recent documents to the taskbar icon. For example, right click on IE and you’ll get a list of the most frequently visited pages. Drag a specific page onto the IE icon and it will be “pinned” to that list.
- Once you have a program opened, hold down the Windows key and press up, down, left or right. Up maximizes, left/right maximizes to half the screen, and down minimizes. I love the ability to maximize to half the screen when I’m using my big 24” widescreen monitor.
- And oh yeah, it’s crazy fast. Win7 will happily run on very old hardware (think 1Ghz 512MB RAM.) Granted you won’t get a lot of the UI beauty, but you won’t be dead in the water either! This is especially great for netbooks.
I could go on and on, but the more you read, the more it delays your purchase. I’ve been runing Win7 on all my work machines for about the last 8 months and all my home machines have been upgraded since then too. I have zero regrets or compatibility issues.