Windows 7 in-depth review and video: This time Microsoft gets it right
In his hands-on review of the Windows 7 pre-beta, Preston Gralla decides that Microsoft's upcoming OS shows great promise.
Computerworld - Microsoft may call the newest version of its operating system Windows 7, but you may want to think of it as Windows 6.5. In overall look and feel, it mimics Vista, although there are enough changes to make it far more than just a juiced-up service pack.
Anyone looking for massive changes or some kind of paradigm shift will be disappointed. But those who want a better-working Vista with the kinks ironed out and some nifty new features introduced will be very pleased.
Overall, Windows 7 is a more functional, more efficiently designed operating system than Windows Vista, with far more attention paid to the user experience. From revamped a User Account Control (UAC) feature to better home networking, improved search and nice interface tweaks, the entire operating system has gotten an overall polishing. Even Windows Backup, one of the worst applications ever shipped with an operating system, has been turned into something useful.
A usable UAC
Let's start by going straight to the most reviled feature of Windows Vista: UAC.
Video and screenshots
In Windows 7, UAC has been tamed and is actually now a useful security tool. For a start, there are fewer prompts by default. Want to do something really crazy like change the date or time of your PC? Go ahead: Unlike Windows Vista, Windows 7 lets you do it without popping up any prompts. In fact, UAC rarely gets in your way -- you get a prompt only when a program tries to make changes to your PC. If you make them yourself, it allows you to go ahead.
In addition, UAC is customizable. With Windows Vista, it was all or nothing -- UAC was either on or off. With Windows 7, you have some control over how it works.
You tweak it by using a slider. There are four settings:
- Never notify. In this one, UAC is completely turned off.
- Only notify me when programs try to make changes to my computer. This is the default; make a change yourself, and UAC leaves you alone. When a program makes a change, a prompt appears. Otherwise, UAC sits there silently.
- Always notify me. Think of this as UAC Classic. It works like Vista's UAC: When you make changes to your system, when software is installed or when a program tries to make a change to your system, an annoying prompt appears.
- Always notify me and wait for my response. This setting is baffling. Its description is identical to "Always notify me," and it appears to work precisely the same. Either it's not enabled in this pre-beta, or else there's some difference that's so subtle it's not noticeable.
Microsoft should consider cleaning up one aspect of UAC. As with Vista, any selection or setting that spurs a UAC prompt has a small, multicolored shield icon next to it. That shield remains the same, no matter what your UAC setting is. So if you've kept the UAC setting at the default, you'll see that shield next to a setting for changing your system time or date. But when you click, no prompt appears. Microsoft might consider giving some visual notification when the state of UAC changes -- for example, by graying out the shield when UAC is in a state in which it will not generate a prompt.
Windows 7: Vista Reloaded
- Report: Microsoft to do free Windows 7 upgrades
- Preston Gralla: More evidence Windows 7 will ship in 2009
- SJVN: The Windows 7 Vista replacement plan
- Windows 7 beta leaks to Internet
- Review: With Windows 7, Microsoft gets it right
- Image gallery: Windows 7 up close
- Scot Finnie: Windows 7 pre-beta early reactions
- Opinion: 10 best features in Windows 7 for IT pros
- New math for Microsoft, as Windows 7 = addition by subtraction
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Security Technologies for Mobile and BYOD With so many security technologies available, how do you sort through the options and pick the solutions that will really work for your...
- Logicalis eBook: SAP HANA: The Need for Speed Without timely business insights, organizations today can suffer logistical, manufacturing, and even financial disaster in a matter of minutes
- Neustar 2014 DDoS Attacks and Impact Report For the third consecutive year, Neustar surveyed hundreds of companies on distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The survey reveals evidence that the...
- Acxiom Case Study This case study, which focuses on Acxiom, explores how the company was able to secure employee data, reduce migration costs and boost productivity...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Building Tomorrow's Infrastructure Listen to this podcast to discover how Crider Foods worked with PC Connection to update their IT infrastructure, while maintaining compliance and control. All PCs White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!