Windows 7 at PDC

In January 2007 Microsoft released Windows Vista, only to be met with mixed reviews when compared to the king of operating systems at the time; Windows XP.

For the regular user, Vista added only ‘shine’ to the Windows experience at the cost of performance, start up time and memory usage –since its launch most of these problems have been fixed or their impacts reduced through a magnitude of updates yet the underlying concerns remained.

On the other hand for the technical audience Vista was a great breakthrough; the introduction of the Windows Presentation Foundation for improved desktop application composition, better 64bit support, and stronger security yet again these improvements faded as some of these functionalities were bridged across back to XP. Now for some power users such as myself; we use Server 2008 as our desktops, effectively turning it into a workstation powerhouse –clear of the clutter of unneeded applications, unparalleled performance and reliability matched with improved security and usability, this was what we and most people wanted from Vista.

-Thankfully it seems our minority have been noticed when designing the next version of Windows.

Recently at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference over in the US Microsoft showed off early pre-beta versions of Windows 7 – the next version of Windows after Vista to much rejoice and excitement. At first glance not too much looks different but when we go under the hood do things get exciting – Microsoft won’t be rewriting Vista into Windows 7, only refining it and trimming the fat.

The desktop remains and so do the common things you would expect; the start menu, the taskbar and system tray yet each has been refined on user’s experiences of Vista.

Now these changes coming to Windows 7 are being built on everyday; not all of the functionality is present at the moment but they hopefully will be there eventually. When I say they are getting built on everyday; I mean quite literally –they compile and build a version of Windows everyday for testing and verification in one of many of their build labs...

Big changes are coming to the taskbar; the text for applications docked in it has been removed to be replaced by a better thumbnail rendering system which hopefully will remove problems when large numbers of windows are open – the usual amount of windows open averages between 6 to 9 at any one time for most people.

In terms of installed applications, Windows 7 will be light on the ground, with more services being able to be downloaded or run directly from the cloud. This means less clutter for users and less unneeded applications, but do not fear, our faithful friend – Windows Paint remains and thankfully updated at last, taking a leaf from the Office Ribbon interface.

Now Microsoft got a lot of grief about performance, and they have listened; Windows 7 is designed to be faster and more efficient with memory than Vista. Being based on Vista as well problems with device compatibility should be minimised.

If you are interested in learning more about the technical internals of Windows 7 and how it’s getting developed I think the best place to go at the moment is the Engineering Windows 7 Blog

Although this was only a developer Pre-Beta tester... or even teaser, it lays down the concepts for the things to come and I like many stand watchful over the future successor to Vista; the King is dead, long live the king!