Today is the release date for Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. You can buy PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled starting today. We put together a demo of some of the new features with screens, a review of the tablet and multi-touch features in Windows and a video walkthrough of the touch features. Update: To read our review of the HP Envy 15 Intel Core i7 quad core notebook with Windows 7: http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/HP-Envy-15.htm
?Taskbar. The go-to spot for launching programs and switching windows, the taskbar has been completely redesigned to help users work smarter, cut clutter, and get more done, with features such as thumbnail previews of Web pages, documents ? even running video.
?HomeGroup. Users can easily share their files and printers with other PCs running Windows 7 in their home.
?Windows 7 Device Stage. This shows the status of all connected devices such as cameras and mobile phones, and makes it easier to synchronize and manage them.
?Photos and videos. Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker (available via download) offer customers great, free options to edit photos and videos and easily share them with loved ones.
?Snap. Users can drag an open window to the screen?s border to automatically re-size it. Snap two different windows to the left and right borders for a perfect comparison.
?Shake. Users can click on a window pane and shake the mouse to minimize all other open windows, then shake the pane again to restore the windows to their original sizes.
?Internet Explorer 8. Microsoft?s fastest, easiest and safest browser ever offers smart new features such as Instant Search, Accelerators and Web Slices to help users get more out of the Web.
Review of the new multi-touch feature in Window 7:
Windows Vista wasn't a pretty story. Sure there were significant improvements in terms of security, handwriting recognition on tablets and stability. But it was piggish-- a resource hog with serious CPU and memory requirements and the user interface was at times good and at others confusing. I was thankful for the alternative Mac OS X and honestly, grew tired of Windows XP which was starting to look pretty dated. So my hopes weren't high for Windows 7-- Microsoft isn't known for great user interfaces or cranking out lean, mean operating systems. Then came the first technical beta, available for only a limited time, and lo and behold-- it rocked!
I've since installed Windows 7 on several machines including the Sony Vaio P, the Acer Aspire One and an HP notebook. Even on the Vaio P and Acer netbooks, speed was very good (pretty much on par with XP) but with a much better user interface and a host of convenient shortcuts that made it easy to manage several windows. These include:
1. [Win+M] - Minimize all open windows 2. [Win+D] :- Toggle showing the desktop 3. [Windows+Up] - Maximize window 4. [Windows+Down] - Minimize windows / Restore 5. [Windows+Left] - Dock window to the left side 6. [Windows+Right] - Dock window to the right side 7. [Win+X] - Mobility Center 8. [Win++] - Zoom in 9. [Win+-] - Zoom out
And there are useful gimics like Aero Shake (grab a window by it's title bar and shake it to minimize all other windows.
Now Windows 7 RC is available to the public in 32 and 64 bit. I heartily recommend giving Windows 7 PC a try (especially if you have a tablet or a netbook) if you're somewhat technical and don't mind hunting for a few drivers that might not be available through the actual install or Windows Update. I also recommend a clean install. Though an upgrade install from Vista retains drivers specific to your hardware, the performance isn't nearly as good. I tried an upgrade install on the Vaio P and HP notebook and it wasn't nearly as fast and stable. Or you could be a new noteboook or tablet and not worry about upgrades if that suits you.
On to the tablet and touch features. We tested this on the HP TX2 1020US. This tablet is available now at most computer stores for around $1,000 after rebates. Dell's XT2 tablet also offers this technology (made by N-Trig) but it costs about twice as much. What makes it interesting is the capacitive multi-touch display that also has an active digitizer. That means you can use your fingers or the EMR pen, and the pen input has pressure sensitivity in some applications. Since it's capacitive, it requires only a light touch with fingers, and since it's multi-touch, it supports gestures like pinch to zoom in Windows 7. Microsoft put a big emphasis on tablet and especially touch features for Windows 7, and it really is a close cousin to Microsoft Surface www.microsoft.com/surface/ . Touch is supported directly by the OS and included applications like Paint, unlike Vista. There's no need to rely on special software like HP's TouchSmart software suite to use touch and multi-touch. Very cool! You can move images around with your fingers, re-size the on-screen keyboard to suit your finger size, scroll using inertia just like the iPhone, rotate with a two-fingered gesture and use touch in most any application (though not always multi-touch). For those who have an HP TX2 or Dell XT2, touch and multi-touch are much more responsive in Windows 7.
Hard to believe? Here's our video walkthrough demonstrating this on the HP TX2 running Windows 7 RC 64-bit. For those who own this notebook, a clean install got us the drivers that we needed except the N-Trig drivers for Win7 RC (download them at http://www.n-trig.com/Content.aspx?Page=Multi_Touch , and HP's hardware buttons (the Vista driver works fine and it's in your SWsetup folder on the C drive and on HP's support website). HP has posted some Windows drivers for the TX2z that originally shipped with Vista and we hope soon all will appear on their support pages.
A video walkthrough of the multi-touch feature in Windows 7:
We will bring you our reviews of new notebooks running Windows 7 in the coming days! Stay tuned.