Microsoft unveils Windows 7, releases early developer preview

Windows 7
Microsoft is officially introducing Windows 7 today at the Professional Developers Conference. The company will also be making an early build of the next generation Windows operating system available to developers, but it will probably be a little while before the rest of us can get our grubby little paws on it.

As expected, Windows 7 looks a lot like Windows Vista so far. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I don't know too many people who take issue with the way Windows Vista looks. It's performance, especially on older machines with slower processors and less RAM than newer computers, on the other hand, has been less than stellar. It looks like Windows 7 will carry many of Windows Vista's design elements, while tweaking a number of things below the hood.

You can find a boatload of new screenshots of Windows 7 at ZDNet, Ars Technica, or on Flickr. Feature-wise, Windows 7 adds support for multi-touch inputs, has an improved task manager, and uses fewer system resources than Vista.

As you can see from the image above, Windows 7 also has a new taskbar which combines features that are currently divided between the taskbar, and quick launch menu. You don't get text descriptions of items in the taskbar anymore, but clicking on an item brings up a list of actions you can perform with that program. Window management has also been improved. You can maximize any window just by dragging it to the top of your screen.

And if you have multiple windows open but want to read something on one of them without actually switching windows, you can just sroll your mouse over the icon in the taskbar to "peek" at it. This turns any other windos that are blocking it transparent. This comes in handy when you just want to read something quickly, or if you want to see the weather, clock, or other gadget hanging out on your desktop without minimizing all of your open windows.

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