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The 5 Sins of Windows 7

by Steve Wiseman on November 25, 2008 · 0 comments

in Windows


I lied. This is not the 5 sins of Windows 7, but the 5 sins of Vista undone. When Vista was first released I wrote an article titled “The 5 Sins of Vista” Each Sin was a bug or issue with Vista that I thought needed to be fixed.

Lets look at all 5 of them

1. The new file browsing is broken
2. The new start menu sucks
3. Windows Networking is a Mess
4. Windows search is broken
5. Windows copying is not improved

A friend of mine attended the Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference, and he finally made his way back here. I asked him if I could take his copy of Windows 7 for a spin, and here is what I found.

File Browsing is greatly improved

The new file browsing has fixed many of the bad design decisions found in Vista. Navigating folders in a file dialog is a breeze. Just take a look at this:

After using it for a day I didn’t find myself wanting to pound the keyboard because I navigated to the wrong spot. It seemed to work “Naturally”

Another one of my peeves was this ridiculous situation where you would click on the drop down menu in notepad (And lots of other apps) – and a list of websites would appear! This is still happens in Vista SP1. You click the website and it gives you a funky error. If you look at when I clicked it in Windows 7, it has a recent folder I visited. Perfect! That is what I expect.

Windows 7 File Open Dialog

The new start menu

Not much to say here, since I did not get a first-hand look at the new start menu (Only those who were at the conference could see it). One item that I did notice is a small bar on the right hand side of the time:

Windows 7 Start menu

What do you think that does? It has the same function as the “Show Desktop” icon. The Apple-esque design of this is making me giddy.

Windows Networking

When I first experienced the networking center within Vista I kept thinking they would make it better before they released the final version. No luck there. I was pleased to see the new layout in the Networking Center. I found it to be much easier to Navigate. The forms are not as busy, and it flows naturally

Windows 7 Networking

Windows Search

It returns results more quickly, and has a snappier response. In addition it has some cool features. One of them is shown below. When you type in a search term it immediately starts filling the list with matches (Like in Vista), but the new search will start to highlight the matching string within the word. I found it made it much easier to identify the item I was looking for:

Windows 7 Search

Windows File Copying

Wow. Let me say that again WOW!. They have done a great job here. This is an improvement that has been needed for years. Right now, in Vista, if I copy to a network share it may never finish. It could lock up my machine. It could cause it to blue-screen.

I decided to try to copy a 1GB file from my parents house (This is a very slow and unreliable VPN connection) to see what would happen.

Windows 7 File Copying

As you can see it says 5 hours. I put the Windows 7 VM in the corner, and let it do its thing. Surprisingly 5 hours later it copied the file! And it was not corrupted.

Damn. I still can’t believe it. I would have expected this in Windows 2000…but better late than never.

I had an even more devious idea. Start a copy, and then pull out the network cable…what would happen? In Vista it would probably lock up explorer and then I would have to reboot or end the task. In Windows 7 it prompted me almost right away:

Windows 7 File Retry

I pressed “Try Again”, and the copy finished with no issues. I tried this a few more times. It worked perfectly. This single problem has made me curse Vista every day I use it. I know many people do not have bad/slow links to network shares…but for those of us who do…this is fantastic.

UAC Prompts

I will add a bonus one in here…since I never talked about it in the “5 sins”. The UAC prompt has been improved too. One huge annoyance – copy a file to a system area and you are prompted probably 3 or 4 times with different questions. This has been reduced to 1 prompt:

Windows  7 UAC Prompt

In addition, the prompt for running programs that require admin access uses a different method to display the prompt. In Vista, Windows will switch your desktop. From a users perspective you generally are not aware this is happening. But – I bet you have seen the side effect of this. Ever have a computer that completely blacks out for a few seconds while it thinks about the UAC prompt? Well that is because it is switching desktops. At least in the version of Windows 7 I tested, it does not switch desktops. This makes the experience a lot smoother:

Windows 7 UAC Prompt

All in all this looks like a ray of sunshine on the Windows world. Vista is starting to look like the Windows ME of the 21st century. I believe this Windows 7 Build has debugging code in it, so when the final release comes out it will only get faster. If they sold it tomorrow I would be in line to buy it.

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