Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is a polished piece of work, ready for prime time

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Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Pros

  • Early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista

Cons

  • Too soon to make a proper assessment of the operating system

Bottom Line

It's way too early to make a proper assessment of Windows 7, but Microsoft has made its intentions clear: Windows 7 is intended to right the wrongs Vista wrought, but retain that operating system's good points. And at this point, we can't argue with that. Our early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista, which can only be a good thing. We'll be updating this review as we get more information on and time with Windows 7, so be sure to bookmark this page.

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Applications in the cloud and on your system

As previously reported, Microsoft won't be shipping Windows 7 with all of the bundled applications that the company has historically installed by default with the OS. Instead, it will deliver email, photo gallery features, and video-editing capabilities as downloadable applications, collectively called Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Live Movie Maker have been available in beta form for some time.

Windows Live Movie Maker

There you can also find beta versions of Windows Live Writer (a blogging tool), Windows Family Safety (parental control tools), Microsoft Office Outlook Connector (software for using Outlook 2003/2007 as a front end to Hotmail) and Windows Live Toolbar (to make other live apps easily accessible from Internet Explorer).

Windows Live Family Safety Filter

Windows Live Essentials should not be (but probably will be) confused with Windows Live services, which may be associated with desktop apps but require nothing more than a browser to run. For example, Windows Live Hotmail is an email client accessible only in a browser, whereas Windows Live Mail runs on the desktop.

In discussing Windows Live, Microsoft's Brian Hall noted that Microsoft has yet to offer applications that relate to social networking and user-generated content (with ratings), but he hinted that such apps may be coming. Other Microsoft officials said that new Windows Live services will be announced November 12.

Not all traditional accessories have been eliminated; some old standbys remain, with face lifts. Windows Paint's basic image-editing features are now exposed via a Scenic Ribbon à la Office 2007.

The ribbon also appears in Windows 7's WordPad, and the OS's APIs will make the ribbon available to third-party developers who believe that it will benefit their applications. Though some users didn't appreciate having to learn new locations for many features in complicated Office apps, the ribbon works well for the relatively few and simple tools in Paint and WordPad.

Also in the future OS: a refresh of Calculator, and a Sticky Notes feature that supports ink (as well as text) and permits resizing of notes.

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