Windows 7: Is It the Silver Lining in the Vista Cloud?

I know that large numbers of people, including myself, have stuck with Windows XP and avoided Windows Vista. A recent post from Lifehacker provides hope that Windows 7 may not suck. The post gives us the Top 10 Things to Look Forward to in Windows 7.

Of the 10 items, three of them jumped out at me as quite useful.

9. Calculator, WordPad, and Paint got overhauled.

It sucks that Windows 7 is stripping the built-in Photo Gallery and movie-making software that you’ll find in Vista (even the Windows Calendar is nowhere to be found in the 7 Preview), but a few of their built-in stalwarts did get some attention. WordPad and Paint both got the Office 2007 ribbon installed, and Calculator now incorporates real world uses into it. At this point only masochists still use Paint and WordPad, but the extension of the ribbon to those inconsequential programs may be a harbinger for more upgrades and ribbon appearances in the future.

I am actually not a big fan of the ribbon, but I love the fact that the built in calculator will actually be useful. This is a nice touch that just makes computing that much easier.

7. You can switch between Wi-Fi networks in one click from the system tray.

File this under “a small change can make a huge difference”: Click on the Wi-Fi adapter in your system tray to pop up a menu of available wireless networks. From there you can refresh the list, and choose the one you want to connect to in one click. Another boon for roaming notebook users.

This is another simple thing that can make your computing life better. Why does Windows make us wade through a bunch of stupid screens just to find and access wireless networks? Making this accessible with just a couple of clicks is a great improvement.

6. You can decide what you do and don’t want to see in the system tray.

No more registry-editing to blanket-disable balloon notifications in your system tray! Windows 7 lets you set what icons and notifications you see in your tray with a detailed dialog box. Just right-click the system tray and choose “Customize…” in the menu.

Finally! I have never understood why my choice was either to have all of my icons in my system tray show or essentially none of them show. This either/or choice is stupid. Getting to choose the icons you want is something that should have happened long ago. I am happy to see its arrival.

Right now Windows 7 is still in pre-beta release. Thus, it may turn out to be as hated as Vista. However, there are some signs that this might actually turn out to be a decent operating system. Allegedly Microsoft wants this software done in time to have it ship with computers for the Christmas 2009 season. In the meantime, I will be waiting to see what might be happening with this new version.

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