Saturday, November 15, 2008

Windows 7 News Roundup #3

Overall the dust has settled from the previous weeks’ W7 madness.

Everyone has retreated back into their caves to play with their official or torrent sourced W7 install files and are poking around for the deeper bits and pieces.  So far things have been pretty quiet.

Only a handful of W7 news bits came out this week that piqued my interest:

Windows 7 to allow PC backups to network share – istartedsomething – Long Zheng discovers an option that allows backups not only to another local drive or CD/DVD media, but now you can specify a network share as well.

Windows 7 security: An overall improvement? - Defense in Depth – Robert Vamosi breaks down how the Vista Security Center will be removed and replaced with the W7 Action Center that seeks to unify 10 existing Windows features: Security Center; Problem, Reports, and Solutions; Windows Defender; Windows Update; Diagnostics; Network Access Protection; Backup and Restore; Recovery; and User Account Control.

5 very basic things Windows 7 still isn’t any good at - Download Squad – The crew is feeling pretty bold to make judgments on a pre-beta release, but they do nail some key issue such as compressed file handling and time adjustment.

10 genuinely kick-ass features to get excited about in Windows 7 - Download Squad – On the other hand the crew does find many more things they like in W7 including the Device Stage, improved network file sharing, PC Safeguard, and a new “Time Machine”-like image-backup system.  I’m wondering if it will be based on Microsoft’s ImageX utility which is frankly super-cool.

Get Windows 7 Calculator In Vista – Daily Gyan takes us down a hack to get the W7 calculator working in Vista.  It’s not too difficult, but will take a moderate amount of system-fiddling so you better want it really badly to take the effort to get it configured.

"Blue Badge" tool available, unlocks all known protected features - Within Windows – A few weeks ago Rafael Rivera did some great detective work and found that many of the cool W7 features displayed in the Microsoft presentations (but missing from the pre-beta not-quite public release version) were actually in it anyway, but trickily disabled.  His workaround released those locked up bits.  Now, Rafael has refined his tool with the "Blue Badge" tool.  It’s really clever and polished.  Recommended for everyone playing with the W7 pre-beta.

Engineering Windows 7 : Action Center – The W7 Microsoft team gets all crazy-technical about why they felt they needed to redesign the Vista Security Center into the W7 Action Center.  Lots of end-user behavior studies and stuff like that.  Skip past all that boardroom discussion and head down to the technical presentation on Action Center mid-way into the post.

Our effort to quiet the system and make sure you are in control took the following approach:

  • Working across Windows 7 to reduce unnecessary notifications
  • Put you in control of the notifications you see
  • Creating Action Center with the following goals
    • Reduce the number of notification balloons sent to you and make the ones that are sent more meaningful
    • Provide a contextual way to address the issues with a single click
    • Reduce the user-interface clutter in the system to streamline solving system issues

While there are many other efforts going around notifications and the notification area I’m going to focus on Action Center. In a nutshell, Action Center is a central location for dealing with messages about your system and the starting point for diagnosing and solving issues with your system.

If pulled off right, this could be a Good Thing for the W7 user experience.

--Claus V.

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