The Truth Behind Windows 7
It’s been a couple weeks now that I’ve been playing with Windows 7 so I figured it’s about time to speak out. To the delight of the folks in Redmond, I’m not the only one talking about the new Windows.
There are currently two versions of the new Windows. The first one was given to developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference to get us excited. The 2nd is what the developers were shown at the conference. Most of the images you’ll see online are from the 2nd version available to internal Microsoft developers.
Developers at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference were all given a Western Digital USB hard drive with the alpha version of Windows 7.
I’m happy with the version of Windows 7 I’m running. It’s stable and so far has been able to handle everything I’ve thrown at it. This is the diversion that Microsoft had hoped for. Redmond desperately needs the buzz to prevent a mass exodus from Windows Vista toward Apple.
A recent survey by ChangeWave predicts that 33% of laptop sales during the next three months will be from Apple. I’ve seen this coming but my prediction would be closer to 15–20%.
Looking under the hood of my Windows 7, what I found looks like Windows Vista, smells like Windows Vista and feels like Windows Vista. I did find some memory optimization related to accessing the registry but I’m not sure if that’s good or bad yet. It seemed to speed up WinPatrol’s real-time detection but could slow frequent scans with the free version. I’ll be waiting for an official beta before doing serious benchmark testing.
So far the main difference seems to be new applications, configuration applets and some tweaking to the window manager that provides just a little performance gain. Most of the changes that I learned about during the conference are yet to be included.
“Ignore that man behind the curtain”
In one of the sessions at Microsoft PDC I learned how to integrate WinPatrol with new Windows 7 “Jump Lists” available off the cool new Task Bar. Unfortunately, I have to wait for a spring beta build before I can actually start programming for this feature. Jump Lists aren’t supported in my version of Windows 7 and the documentation still calls them “Destinations”.
Now, there is a little secret. The PDC version of Windows has a secret user flag that can make it appear like the 2nd. It works if you trick Windows 7 into thinking you’re on a specific Microsoft domain. If you’re one of the folks with access to the officially released version of Window you can find the instructions at WithinWindows.com.
Here's how WinPatrol looks on the taskbar if you're running the internal Microsoft version of Windows 7
If Microsoft allows Windows 7 to be technology driven I think we’ll be happy with the results. The Microsoft developers I met at PDC are highly motivated, and sincere. They did get me excited. If however, it’s market driven to meet holiday PC sales in 2009 it could be a disaster.