With Windows 7 arriving tomorrow, you must be wondering if there are any features that you should look out for once you've ripped the wrapping from the spanking new installation media and got it installed. Well, Jim Achuff, the Senior Technical Consultant for Interphase Systems, a management and technology company, came out with a list of features in Windows 7 that new users will want to watch out for.
I reproduce the items on his list below, and add my comments based on my own hands-on experience with Windows 7 RC and a 90-days free trial of Windows 7 Enterprise.
BitLocker and BitLocker-To-Go
We've already touched on BitLocker in a number of earlier blog posts that I've written. Of particular note, though, would surely be the availability of BitLocker-To-Go. BitLocker-To-Go extends data encryption to USB flash drives and other removable or portable media. Of course, it remains to be seen if encrypted removable media will pose a problem as owners reformat or change workstations without making a proper copy of the master encryption key.
DirectAccess is "arguably the most compelling reason for businesses to look at Windows 7," says Achuff. While DirectAccess does require Windows Server 2008 R2 on the backend to work, it essentially allows Windows 7 clients to connect to their corporate network anywhere there is an Internet connection. Achuff said this new feature "can be described as an always-on bidirectional VPN" and will be the corporate killer app to watch out for.
The Aero interface that first appeared with Windows Vista has been tweaked for increased user productivity. For example, Aero Peek allows you to see instances of open applications simply by hovering over the item in particular. A feature that I missed out on initially would be Aero Snap, which basically allows you to drag application windows to the sides of the desktop, which will cause it to "snap" to half your display. This facilitates working on two documents side-by-side, which I find myself doing a lot. As it is, the presence of Aero Snap helps me save time on getting these windows properly positioned.
So what is my favorite feature in Windows 7? My personal favorite -- and it's not in the above list -- will surely be the ability to "pin" application shortcuts to either the Taskbar or the Start Menu by a right-click and a menu selection. With Windows Vista and Windows XP, I have to painstakingly create folders in order hold my application shortcuts. I then load these folders as Taskbar Toolbars in order to have them show up at the taskbar -- a tedious process given the number of applications that I have installed.
So yes, I like Windows 7, and I am glad that it has arrived.
(For an extensive rundown of Windows 7's features, be sure to check out Frank Ohlhorst's piece at our CTO Edge site.)