Tuesday, 13 January 2009

First Thoughts

Finally got it installed! Was a pretty easy process, once I had the partitioning sorted.

Setup was really simple, and after a short time, you’re able to create an account and log in. I’m greeted with a really nice, clean desktop. No icons apart from “Send Feedback” and the Recycle Bin. If it were up to me, I’d hide the Recycle Bin by default, as it tends to lead to people storing their documents in there, but that’s a different post.

Still a bit worried about using Windows Media Player after hearing of it corrupting mp3 files, so I installed foobar2000. Once set up, that works perfectly.

I just also installed Live Essentials from the link in the Start Menu (which, incidentally, is nice and empty. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m used to an old install of Vista, or whether Vista came with a lot more stuff preinstalled). After downloading the file, I chose to install Writer (which I’m using to write this post) and Messenger. They both work fine, but I feel as if Messenger needs a redesign. It doesn’t really fit in with the aesthetic of 7, being quite cluttered.


I feel like they should get rid of the buttons at the bottom, the adverts at the bottom, the “What’s New” section, and streamline the top part, too. As it is, I’ll probably go back to Miranda.

Some of the new features seem quite handy. I love the new taskbar. It only shows the icon of each program, and will show a preview of the window as you hover over it. Great for when you have multiple windows of the same program running, and it looks a lot cleaner. There’s also a new feature – I forget the name of it – where it you grab a windows titlebar, and shake it, it will minimise all other windows. This also looks really handy for looking at things on the desktop, and also stopping me from getting distracted. The “Show Desktop” area won’t be used much by me, as I don’t store stuff on the desktop really, but it’s pretty well implemented. Hover over or click on a small area at the far right of the taskbar, and open windows will go transparent, allowing you to see the desktop. It would be a lot more usable for me if it allowed you to extend the taskbar over two monitors, as currently you have to aim for the small button, rather than just dragging your mouse down to the far bottom right. That’s an issue with my setup though, but I’ve always wished Windows would include better support for dual monitor setups.

What have I missed?

Oh, libraries. Now by defauly, your user folder contains “Libraries”. These are Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. From what I can tell, they appear to be virtual folders where you can add multiple sources of documents. For example, if you have a music collection split over multiple folders or drives, you only need to go into the Library folder for Music, and they will all be in one place. Seems quite handy, but I do like having all my stuff organised properly, and together in one actual folder.

Jumplists also seem really handy if you’re doing repetitive tasks.


For example here, I hovered over the Paint entry in the start menu, and it came up with recently opened files using paint. I can see this becoming way more useful as I use things more. Right now, it isn’t doing much.

One last thought, going back to the Libraries. I’m not sure I like how the “Will” button on the Start menu takes me to Libraries, rather than my actual user folder. I’ll have to see what I can do about that.

Edit: I forgot to add something while I was talking about the options with the window movement. None of it comes close to the similar things on OSX. Windows Flip just seems like a pointless add-on, it's not actually useful at all as you can barely see the content of the windows. Alt-tab is slightly better, but still nowhere near as useful as Expose on OSX. 

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