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Microsoft publishes list of changes in Windows 7 RC


Microsoft continues to plug away at Windows 7, patching holes, fixing bugs, and responding to a veritable avalanche of beta tester feedback. Today at the Engineering Windows 7 blog the team has produced a list which elucidates some of the changes that have been made since the release of the public beta version.

The list covers a wide range of changes, including everything from cosmetic touch-ups to the UI, touch interface enhancements, and improved support for Device Stage from Microsoft partners.

Some interesting changes include:

  • Taskbar enhancements: the amount of real estate you'll have available for pinning programs has ben increased, and a 1280x1024 display will now accomodate up to 20 large icons - four more than in the beta. Taskbar icons also retain their glow color when you mouse over a thumbnail preview (in the beta, the glow disappears as soon as you mouse out).

  • Windows key + # tweak: apart from simply launching your first ten pinned apps with win + location #, a couple new tricks have been added. Pressing the key for an app that is running will bring it o the front, and you can hold win and tap its number repeatedly to tab through all of that program's currently open windows.


  • Improved multi-touch keyboard: if you've used the Windows on-screen keyboard before, you know how the special function keys lock when pressed once. That was a little confusing to users with a touch interface - the expectation was for keys to function exactly as they do on a normal keyboard (i.e. shift must be held down), so the OSK was changed to behave more like a real keyboard.

  • Windows Media Player overhaul: a lot of negative comments about the beta were aimed squarely at WMP12. Among the changes: Media Player will no longer display files it doesn't know how to play (like Apple's lossless m4a) in the library. Support has been added for the .MOV format used commonly in many digital cameras and camcorders, and device interaction has been tweaked to be less obtrusive. Improvements have been made to internet radio streaming performance and the Now Playing view has received some much-needed TLC.

  • Performance enhancements: by tracking user-generated data, Microsoft has been keeping tabs on things like how long it takes the start menu to open. The blog post points to 50-100ms as the target time for the menu to display. In the beta, the goal was met85% of the time - recent builds have pushed that to 92%.

  • Changes to libraries: FAT32 drives were not supported in Windows 7 beta libraries, but that has been corrected. Windows Explorer's header has been reworked to improve and clarify library navigation. The Windows + E shortcut has also been reverted to its pre-7 state and launches Computer instead of Libraries in Explorer. Create and Add to Library commands have been moved to the Explorer command bar to address concerns over posible data loss and confusion with the beta's drag-and-drop options.

  • Jumplists and pinning: files can now be pinned to an application regardless of whether or not it's the registered handler for that type. For example, if WMP12 is handling all your media defaults, you can still pin an MP3 file to EvilPlayer if you want. In order to prevent masive jumplists - like Explorer with its frequent access display - a maximum of 10 items are now shown, though that number can be tweaked if you like.
For a complete list of changes, check the Engineering blog post on MSDN.

Tags: osupdates, release-candidate, windows-7

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