EXTRA: Will Windows 7 be a trick or a treat?

Welcome to a special IT Blogwatch EXTRA: as Richi Jennings watches a week's worth of blog posts about Windows 7. Not to mention Cat Face 11...

In case you've been living under a rock, Yardena Arar and Harry McCracken will fill you in:

Windows 7 logo
What if Microsoft waved a magic wand and everything people hated about Windows Vista went away? You might have an operating system that you liked — and that's what Microsoft appears to be striving for with Windows 7.

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Microsoft has said all along that Windows 7 would refine (but not rewrite) the Vista kernel. However, some of the anticipated changes depend on support that Microsoft may not be able to control. For example, a number of cool network features will work only if your employer installs Windows Server 2008 R2 ... other changes involve slimming down the code by offloading applications ... Of course, some of the promised features are things that Microsoft has pledged — and failed to deliver — before.

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But the operating system that remains tries very hard to please users by addressing some of the biggest gripes people had about Vista, and by generally making everyday tasks accessible and easy to perform.
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Don't step on Wilson Rothman's blue suede shoes:

Like Elvis in '68, Microsoft is itching for a "comeback," and Windows 7 is the perfect excuse. In fact, this week in LA at the Professional Developers Conference, Windows 7 officially shoved Vista aside. Having suffered through the often deserved criticisms of that ill-fated OS installment, Microsoft's people are thrilled to tears to be able to talk about something (anything!) else.

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Windows 7 feels like a fast, stable environment. There's a lot going on behind the scenes to make the OS more usable, one monumental improvement being how video memory is allocated for unseen windows. (Hint: It's not.) The result is a highly responsive machine that gets decent battery life.

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Choosing a Wi-Fi network now takes just one click, straight from the system tray. How much of a no-brainer was that? Instead of the clicking on the insulting "networks are available" pop-up, you actually get the available networks.
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Stop the press. Preston Gralla actually likes something from Redmond:

One of Windows 7's most subtle changes may, in fact, have one of the operating system's greatest impacts on the way you compute -- the way in which files and documents are organized. It finally fixes the way that Windows forces you to organize your entire life under the Documents folder.

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Windows 7 changes things. Now there's an overall "Libraries" folder under which your other folders live ... You can easily include folders from other locations in Libraries as well --- and that includes even network locations. So you can include folders from servers, for example.

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At first glance, this is far from earth-shaking. But it's a great productivity booster.
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Peter Bright agrees:

Each Library presents its content in a style that's most appropriate; the downloads Library, for example, lists the URL that each downloaded files came from (or at least it will; currently the column doesn't get populated correctly), the contacts Library shows e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and so on ... [It's] a whole lot more useful than mere search folders, because it lets me have one way of filing that works as well for creating files as it does opening them.

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The Libraries are also used throughout Windows 7. Prior to 7, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center both had their own distinct library concept. In Windows 7, however, both of these programs use the Libraries visible in Explorer. This results in a far more consistent view of the media stored on the PC.

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Even at this early stage, features like this show that Windows 7 is really shaping up to be a must-have release.
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Meanwhile, Joanna Stern performed an unnatural act with her netbook:

Here is a confession: I am getting pretty tired of netbooks running Windows XP. So when we got our Windows 7 Beta disc at PDC earlier this week, I couldn’t wait to get it running on a netbook ... an ASUS Eee PC 1000H. And just as Microsoft said: it works. The Eee PC running a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM handles the new operating system pretty well.

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Things are pretty smooth in terms of performance ... in my use of the Eee PC 1000H for the entire evening I didn’t have any hang ups while simultaneously chatting on Skype, writing this post in Wordpress, editing pictures in GIMP and uploading video files using Filezilla.

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Two thumbs up for the new wireless manager and the new visual cues that are incorporated throughout the OS.
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As did Kevin C. Tofel:

My poor MSI Wind. The hard drive has to be suffering from MOSPD or Multiple OS Personality Disorder. If XP, Vista and OS X weren't enough stress for the 80 GB drive, wiping it this morning to play with Windows 7 likely put it over the top.

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Although we shouldn't draw any major performance conclusions from a test build, I'm sure folks will ask about sleep and resume. Sleep is taking about two seconds and resume is about one second.

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The entire OS seems less in the way. Notifications and system messages are far more configurable and I don't feel like I'm getting nagged. I see four notification levels for UAC, in fact.
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Tom Yager phones home:

Poll the public at large about what it wants from a client operating system, and you end up with a lot of data that can't be parsed definitively. I've put that too kindly. It's like trying to diagnose a hypochondriac's true ills based on self-reporting of his perceived ailments.

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For Windows 7, Redmond is telling the rabble to put a sock in it, and is instead wiring Windows 7 for more of what it calls "telemetry." Telemetry is the data that unmanned sensors like satellites, planetary rovers, and weather instruments send back to a place where the data is stored and analyzed. When you click the check box in Media Player, Office, or Windows that invites you to help Microsoft make better products, your PC becomes a highly detailed recorder and reporter of your system's state and your usage patterns.
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Kurt Mackey takes Win7 to task...bar: [You're fired -Ed.]

It's not a surprise that the most disruptive Windows UI change in 15 years comes under the watch of the man largely responsible for the Office ribbon. The ribbon was a jarring change for many users, yet there was no option to turn it off, which made sense to most of us ... [Microsoft] told us that there will be no ability to enable the old taskbar since ... the new taskbar's leap in usability negates the need for a "less-able" option ... The Office change seems to have given Microsoft some insight into how its customers will react to disruptive changes, and made the company a little bolder with Windows itself.

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Current and previous versions of Windows don't really have a good mechanism for the sort of unobtrusive interaction that jump lists could provide ... With jump lists, developers can just make the window, minimize it, and do everything in one place, leaving the notification area for... notifications only.
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And finally...

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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