Monday, February 02, 2009

Windows 7 Beta - More Things That I Like

Windows 7, it is argued, is what Windows Vista should have been. That may be true, and this is a good thing. Having used Windows 7 for a few weeks, there are some features that I really like, because they are as they should be, and so I would like to point them out. The first is the new Taskbar. I have already discussed it in a previous post, but one thing that I didn't touch on before was the ability to show the desktop. If you click on the far right of the Taskbar, it will hide all windows and show the desktop. If, however, you merely hover over the button on the far right, the windows will become transparent (as above) and you will be able to see the desktop. Other than looking pretty, what's so great about that? I shall tell you. First, the wallpaper configuration has gotten better. Instead of just picking one wallpaper, you can pick a set of images that will rotate as the wallpaper. This totally unnecessary feature is exactly what I have been wanting since Windows 95, and have often employed third party programs to achieve. It's nice to see that they listen. Second, and with a more utilitarian bent, Windows 7, like Vista before it, has Gadgets. Gadgets are little graphical widgets that tell you the weather forecast, give you access to your calendar, an RSS feed, or really anything you can think of. Basically, it's a mini-interface to whatever you want and whatever someone has bothered to throw together. It comes with a default set, but you can also download them from the Internet, and thanks to Vista's Sidebar (where Gadgets used to live), there are plenty to be had. It is worth noting that the first thing that I have done to every Vista installation I have ever made was to permanently disable the Sidebar. It wasted valuable screen real estate for very little benefit. However, in Windows 7, there is no Sidebar. Gadgets live on the desktop, and you can tuck them away in the nooks and crannies in between where you normally keep your windows open (or even underneath them), and they don't get in the way until you want to interact with them.
So there you have it. Two things done right.