I could not resist and took advantage of the kind offer from Microsoft to test the beta version of the new Windows 7 operating system Because Vista is still disappointing. I am not one of those users who are fiercely fierce with Vista (except for situations when Vista is forcibly installed on sickly laptops), however, after working with it for a couple of months, I still rolled back to XP. And this was done almost exclusively for performance reasons. I was somewhat depressed by the fact that on a powerful computer with 4 gigabytes of memory there were situations when the operating system did not have enough resources – it looked just ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that I often have to work with virtual machines, and if Vista was taken away at least one gigabyte, performance problems became almost constant (of course, is about the Ultimate version). So I spat and returned to XP, and Vista began to live on a second work machine, which solves much more modest problems.

Windows 7

First I installed Windows 7 under a virtual machine (VMWare). I gave her two gigabytes of RAM. But at the same time, for some reason she slowed down terribly. Then the knowledgeable people (thanks to Serg Inc.) suggested that you need to enable the Disable memory page trimming option in the virtual machine settings and reduce the memory to one gig. I did just that – the brakes stopped. However, under the virtual machine in Windows 7, not all interface capabilities are available, so I eventually put this system on a separate disk of the second working machine. There it was already possible to get acquainted with the new operating system from all sides. All this was tested on the following configuration: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz processor, 2 GB of memory, NVidia GeForce 8500 GT video card.

So, Windows 7 Ultimate beta, build 7000. (When you click on the thumbnail screenshots, the full size opens with the original resolution of 1680 × 1050.) Contrary to expectations, there have been no revolutionary changes in the interface. This is the same Vista, only noticeably modified and improved.


Improved taskbar

The main and most interesting innovation in Windows 7 is the improved taskbar. The old taskbar has actually been merged with the quick launch bar, the icons have been enlarged, and when the application is launched, its icon appears in the taskbar, and not a button, as before. Moreover, if several copies of the application are running (or several windows are open in it – for standard applications), this is reflected in the taskbar: in the screenshot below, three sites are open in MSIE.

If you launch an application that does not have an icon in the taskbar, this icon appears there. After closing the application, the icon disappears. However, you can pin the icon to the taskbar – and it will remain there permanently.

Running and grouped tasks can be seen if you move the cursor to the corresponding icon. At the same time, you will be shown a very convenient preview window, and when you hover the mouse cursor over one of the previews, this application will be activated without any click on the desktop – this is very convenient! Previews, like Vista’s aero mode, dynamically reflect what is currently happening in the application window.

Another cool new feature is the Jump List. When you right-click on an icon on the taskbar, a menu of application launch history (for example, sites in MSIE) appears, as well as commands for launching the application (another copy), closing the application and pinning or pinning the icon on the taskbar.

Moreover, for example, in the case of a media player, this list can be quite advanced: you will be given a history of frequently played songs, recent songs, offered to continue playing the last playlist, play in random order.

The taskbar at a resolution of 1680 × 1050 contains 22 application icons. Usually this is quite enough, especially considering that if there are several windows in one application, then they are grouped under one icon. If another application is launched, whose icon no longer fits on the panel, a second line of the taskbar is created and you can switch between the lines using the navigation bar. In addition, if you undock the taskbar, you can move it apart to accommodate two or more rulers for icons.

The taskbar can be customized in any way: placed on the left, right, top, bottom, automatically hide, and also include small icons there. Pressing Alt + Tab brings up a familiar list of running tasks with a preview – almost the same as in Windows Vista. Three-dimensional scrolling, like in aero mode in Vista, remains here – it is also called via Win-Tab.


Notification area

The notification area has also been updated. First, a small strip appeared in the lower right corner, when you click on it, all open windows are minimized and a clean desktop appears. (Analogous to the “Minimize all” icon, which is no longer in the Quick Launch, that is, tasks.) This is a very convenient innovation.

Moreover, if you just hover the mouse cursor over the strip, the Peek function will work, which will make all open windows completely transparent so that you can see the gadgets (widgets) on the desktop. Secondly, now by default there are only three icons in the notification area – volume, network and Action Center (all sorts of system messages appear on this icon).

However, as before, you can set which icons to show in the notification area all the time, which to show in the drop-down window, and which to hide altogether. And, which is very correct, when a certain program adds its icon to the notification area, it turns out to be in the overflow area by default.

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