PDC 2008 : The dish on Windows 7, Office 14, Live Mesh, and other stuff

I’m quite sure by now, you’ve heard of all the news and fanfare about Windows 7 if you’re a Microsoft fan, or even a regular techie. So here’s a brief sum up (sans most screenshots you can catch up on other blogs) of notable changes or features talked about at the Professional Developers Conference (NOTE: Any aspect I mention can change – this is just a brief sketch-up on the details of the current development shown during PDC 2008 and the testimony of other beta users that attended):


Windows 7

1. Modified TaskbarLink

  • Taskbar is bigger by default (10 pixels) – Though you can make it smaller to the original Taskbar size
  • Icons not Program Titles on Taskbar – Instead of the often long title bars that appear on the Taskbar, now you have simple icons of the program to represent that window. Labels are turned off by default.
  • Better hover – Now you can get a better live preview thumbnail, as well as seeing individual thumbnails for titles or multiple windows of the same program. You can also close a program right from it, and hovering over the thumbnail itself will let you see the actual window, thought it’s just a preview.
  • Right-click launches Jump Lists – Right-clicking launches Jump Lists for the program.
  • Notification Area is locked from other 3rd parties by default – Only the basic notifications show up, and you can choose to grant other software to allow their icons into the Notification Area.
  • Orb glows – The Start menu Orb button now glows.

2. Jump Lists – Right-click on either an Active program or Quick Launch icon on the Taskbar, and tasks related to the program show up as a quick shortcut to get there.

3. Windows Explorer

  • Libraries – Part of the changes in Windows Explorer. Replaces “Documents” in Vista. There’s Personal (files related to just the computer you’re at) and Public (files shared and available throughout your HomeGroup).
  • HomeGroup – Allows much easier sharing and accessing among computers in your home network. Searchable via Windows Explorer.
  • Extendable search box
  • Better search filters such as “Type:” and “Tag:”

4. Scenic UI Ribbon – It’s a modification of the Ribbon UI in Office 2007. It’s present in Paint and WordPad.

5. WMP 12Link

  • More codec support – H.264 video, AAC audio, DivX and Xvid video, as well as of course formats accepted in WMP 11.
  • Play To – Ability to stream media to your HomeGroup, and other devices easily
  • Now Playing and Library are split – Separate library management
  • New Taskbar player and Jump Lists support
  • All media types can be viewable at the same time (instead of being split off into separate sections)
  • 15 second preview when you hover over audio

6. Media CenterLink

  • More streamlined start menu as well as remembering the last spot of the start menu you were on
  • New Now Playing view – Album Art in the background (similar to the Zune software)
  • Turbo Scroll – You can scroll across your collection, and transition by with alphabetical chunks (ie Ma to Me) more easily
  • New slideshows – Ambient Slideshows, zoom in animations, etc.
  • More pivots in Library view – like Ratings, Slide shows, etc.
  • Better detail panes – Displays more info, but takes up less space
  • H.264 playback
  • Onscreen keyboard

7. Device Stage – An easier way to manage Plug and Play devices in Explorer. Gives users all the options they might need to help manage their device, like updating firmware, syncing media, adding ringtones, whatever.

8. Personalization

  • Ability to create your own themes – Ability to create your own custom themes, and maybe the ability to share and download from Windows.com
  • Gadgets no longer need the Sidebar – They can now be plopped on the Desktop. You can still easily align them to the right side, where the Sidebar was before

9. Wireless Networking – Instantly access and connect to a wireless network right from the System Tray. Much more easier and intuitive

10. Action Center – Replaces Windows Vista’s "Windows Security Center”, monitors security state and PC maintenance, and aggregates notifications from many Windows components.

11. Renewed UAC – Less annoying by default, as well as a slider to control the amount of security you would like it to offer.

12. Multi-Touch – Support for multi-touch input. Better interfacing designed for touch.

13. Aero Snaps (AKA mouse gestures with windows) – If you pull the title bar of a program to the top, it instantly maximizes. Drag it to either the left or right side, and it takes up half the screen on the side (useful for comparing two docs). Something called Aero Shake where you might have a bunch of open windows, and you can rigorously shake the title bar of one window, and all the other apps will minimize, or you can make them all open again.

14. Improvements to system applications

  • Calculator – new makeover, calculation history, unit conversion, calculation templates, and date calculations.
  • Notes – Simpler interface
  • XPS View Application bundled – Ability to view any XPS document
  • Paint – New Scenic UI, and a little more functionality
  • WordPad – New Scenic interface
  • Windows Live Essentials – Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, among other previous apps built into Windows, now will come through Windows Live for more functionality, getting rid of unnecessary bloat, and the ability to update often.

15. Aero Peek – Ability to peer beneath all open windows, onto the rest of the desktop.

16. Light sensors support – Natively supports light sensors to provide a better experience with adjusting the lighting on the OS and third party applications. Link

Office 14 (No official name yet):

  • Web version – A simplified web version of Office. There’s still a ribbon, and provide the necessary feature you’ll need. Link
  • Collaborative editing – You and a friend/colleague can now work on the same documents remotely, and changes appear almost instantly. There’s even a simple IM built-in.
  • Visio, Project, OneNote to have Ribbon interface

Windows Azure:

  • Cloud-based operating system that will host the Azure Services Platform – It’s really a developer thing, not really for your average consumers. People who might want to make services, could use Azure, similar to

Microsoft Surface –

    • Release of SDK
    • SecondLight demo (link)

So this is just a quick brush-up of what came up at PDC or with bloggers so after. Anyway, Windows 7 seems really interesting, and I can’t way to see it when it’s finalized.


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