With Windows 7 planned for launch later this year it’s a good time to take a look at some of the changes you can expect from the new operating system. The first thing most people are interested in is whether or not Windows 7 is faster than the resource wasteful Vista. From early test the results are very positive with Windows 7 10%-15% faster than Windows Vista on similar hardware configuration. Less has been reported about the interface changes but as the user interface of Vista sparked debate so too will Windows 7.

First of all the basic user interface of Windows 7 shares much in common with Windows Vista. So much so that many people have labeled the OS Vista 2.0. The first change that will be apparent to anyone weaned on Windows 98 or XP is that the menu system is fundamentally different. Gone are the shortcuts that have adorned Windows desktops for over a decade. While I can understand the change people who have looked on at numerous icons on my desktop with horror will not be surprised that it fails to impress. I am happy to report that as with most of the changes in Windows 7 it is possible set to this to the old standard.

The next change that is sure to throw off long time users is the complete removal of the “Run” box from the start menu. This is actually a step that began with windows Vista and its one I have come to appreciate. While disruptive at first the general Search window is more useful and far more intelligent. A quick test reveals that typing in the first three letters of a program will typically bring up a listing with the program you were looking for. This change goes hand in hand with the removal of the desktop shortcuts for finding programs quickly.

The last major change is one that while good for casual users will infuriate techs. The control panel from XP and Windows 98 has always been an area that you are either completely proficient with or scared to death of. In many ways this has been a good thing as casual users shouldn’t be accessing their control panel and techs rarely have a problem understanding it. The new system imposed by Windows 7 changes this but breaking the panel down into easy to understand sections. Tabs such as System and Security, Network and Internet, Programs, etc, make it easy for general users to find the settings they after. For people who use the control panel daily this will be a slow reeducation process as instead of an icon interface the display is now tabular.

None of the changes to Windows 7 should be deal breakers but they are things to consider if your office is ready to take on the OS. On the whole, Windows 7 has shaped up to be what Vista had promised to be. A user friendly and reliable OS with hardware upgrade potential. Until the OS officially launches it is hard to say if the promise will be fulfilled but so far the outlook is good.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department