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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A feature that we noticed during our earlier trial of the beta but weren't able to try out first-hand is the Jump List. Fully functional in the public beta, jump lists add a handy submenu to many applications, so you can see items that you recently worked with in a given app, or look at further options you have for starting new documents or accessing often-used features.

In our trials, the jump lists helped us get more out of the apps we worked with. But if this feature is to become even more useful, developers must embrace them in upcoming versions of new programs.

Another improvement in Windows 7's interface compared to Vista's is the simplified Shutdown control on the Start Menu. Gone is the unhelpful icon; in its place are clear, concise textual menus that tell you exactly what will happen when you click on them.

So you no longer have to reconfigure your Start Menu to determine whether your PC will shut down entirely or merely go into hibernation when you click the button.

A new addition to Windows 7 is the Action Center, which pulls a variety of security and maintenance features together in a single menu for simpler management.

Although it's unlikely to wow many advanced users, the Action Center's clearly labeled options should make it easier for beginners and intermediate users to set their system security preferences with confidence, manage backups, and troubleshoot minor performance problems or return to a previous restore point if things go awry.

Windows 7: Action Centre

As noted in our look at the earlier beta, Microsoft has tweaked User Account Control in some important ways that should go a long way toward addressing many Vista haters' complaints.

It now offers four levels of protection: always notify, notify only when programs try to make changes (this is the default), notify when programs try to make changes but don't dim the screen (our preference), and never notify.

We won't win many allies by saying this, but the setting we were hoping to see added to this list is an option to require a password when programs try to make changes, which would add a level of actual security to UAC: any fool with access to your computer can click Continue, but requiring an admin password would add a meaningful level of security.

This missing feature is standard on more-secure operating systems such as Linux, and it would be a worthwhile (though admittedly unpopular) addition. In any case, having four options built in is a major step up from the old Vista UAC workarounds.

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