Windows Vista never quite caught on the way that Microsoft had hoped. The User Account Control (UAC) feature, which was supposed to enhance security by prompting users before allowing many programs to open, instead proved such an annoyance that users simply shut it off – leaving them more vulnerable than when they started. The “simplified” User Interface (UI), with its ribbons and tabs, mystified die-hard devotees of the old drop-down menu system. And the System Tray’s myriad of unused applets that acted, as one reviewer put it, “like belligerent squatters,” only added to the frustration (http://www.pcworld.com/article/172602/windows_7_review.html).
The Windows 7 OS, in contrast, has had a much more favorable public reception. Here are a few key changes that have reviewers cheering:
- Faster feel. Users find that applications in Windows 7 open more quickly, and they don’t spend as much time waiting for processes to complete.
- Libraries. It’s much easier to find documents in Windows 7. The new Libraries function in Windows Explorer lets you create a virtual location that can aggregate content from several locations at once. You can put network folders, SharePoint documents, and regular folders in your Documents Library, giving you quick access even to documents that are tucked away under several organizational layers.
- Easy switching between Wi-Fi networks. Just click on the Wi-Fi adapter in your system tray to bring up a menu of available wireless networks, select the one you want to connect to, and you’re done.
- User Account Control (UAC) without annoyances. You can now tweak UAC so that it’s actually helpful. Instead of just an on/off, where your choice is to be forever pestered by repetitive prompts or leave yourself open to the perils of the Internet, you can adjust the level of security you want. Two intermediate levels now exist between the “Always notify” and “Never notify” settings.
- A simpler System Tray. The big problem with the System Tray in Vista was that software installers could just dump applets in there without your approval. This led to cluttered System Trays and flurries of word balloons every time you accidentally moused over the area. In Windows 7, applets (except for the clock) don’t go directly into the System Tray; they land in a holding pen and have to be dragged to the System Tray. And they can’t float word balloons unless you permit them.
These are just a few of our favorite features in the new Windows 7. Which ones do you like best? Any improvements you hope to see in the next release?