Notes on the Windows 7 Demo from Today’s PDC Keynote

Notes on the Windows 7 Demo from Today’s PDC Keynote

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Just a few hours ago, Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President for Windows and Windows Live Engineering, did his keynote here at PDC2008 unveiling Windows 7 to the world for the first time. Steven asked Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Experience, to come up on stage and demo specific Windows 7 features that I think you’ll find very exciting. I’d like to take a moment and share some notes I took live here from PDC from his keynote about those features that they demoed.

It’s important to note that many of these features that were demoed during the Keynote were from more recent Windows 7 build and didn’t make it into the Windows 7 build being handed out to attendees here at PDC – but we wanted to show them off to you anyway.

Ok now on to my notes on the features demoed here from PDC (not in any specific order)! I also hope to try and add a little more context to the features that were demoed.

I’d like to emphasize all of these features that were demoed ultimately showcases that Windows 7 is being designed to make the things you do today faster and easier, and new things possible.

New Windows Taskbar in Windows 7:

The new Windows Taskbar in Windows 7 focuses on application “tiles”. These application tiles can be arranged or re-arranged anywhere on the Windows Taskbar simply by grabbing the tiles and moving them where ever you want on the taskbar. Users will be able to “pin” applications they use the most to the new Windows Taskbar via the Start Menu by simply dragging and dropping those apps from the Start Menu to the Windows Taskbar.

Another Windows Taskbar feature that was demoed was Live Previews. This lets users quickly see into the application window to see what’s there within the application window. When a user has multiple tabs opened in IE in Windows 7, when they move their mouse over the IE tile on the Windows Task bar – Live Previews will show all the tabs that are opened in IE (as seen in the above screenshot). You can even close tabs via Live Previews on the Windows Taskbar.

When users mouse-over each of the tabs they can “peak” into the each IE tab as it briefly appears on the maximized on screen. Sometimes the Live Preview via the taskbar isn’t enough of a preview.

The idea here is to offer users easier access to their most used applications and applications they have running.

Jump Lists:

Another feature that is also part of both the new Windows Taskbar and also the Start Menu is Jump lists. When you right-click on an application on the new Windows Taskbar in Windows 7 – you get a “Jump List” of options. In the demo, Julie right-clicked on Word and a Jump List appeared showcasing recent documents that have been worked on. If you recall, your recent documents you worked on in Word was usually accessible only inside Word. Jump Lists enable you quick access to options that might be deep within an application.

Here at PDC, we’re talking about how developers can take advantage of API’s that allow them to utilize Jump Lists.

The screenshot above is showcasing a Jump List for Windows Explorer within the Start Menu in Windows 7.

Windows Explorer:

Windows Explorer introduces a new Navigation Pane showcasing easy access to your Libraries and HomegGroup as well as your Desktop and Computer. Libraries allow users to have all their data (documents, music, photos, videos, etc) all in one place. We want network sharing to be much easier in Windows 7. And HomeGroup enable just that. HomeGroup is designed to seamlessly integrate and share computers and devices on your home network. Your HomeGroup is also searchable via Windows Explorer too.

Each Library can have “locations” of folders configured to be included into that Library. Local or network locations can be included in Libraries. In the demo – you could see multiple locations for one “place” or Library. You can add folders from other PCs in your HomeGroup to your Libraries too and they will show up whenever you connect to your HomeGroup.

I have a more in-depth blog post exploring the power of Libraries and HomeGroup in Windows 7 that should be posted shortly – stay tuned.

Searching for files is also easier in Windows 7. Search now includes Filters such as “Type” or “Tags”. When searching for a specific term – matching strings are highlighted. Windows Explorer also enables quick access to enabling the Preview window with an icon in the top right-hand corner of the Windows Explorer toolbar.

There is a consistent Windows Explorer UI across all of Windows 7 including Windows Media Player 12.

Media Streaming:

It just plays. Windows 7 makes it easier to play media on your home network (especially with HomeGroup). No more choices thrown at you when try to play media.

Windows 7 will let you stream any media to computers and devices on your network including Digital Picture Frames.

In Windows Media Player 12, you can play music to a specific device on your home network. When you stream music to a specific device (or “play to” a specific device) – a device player called the Play To player will appear letting you control playing media to that device. All Julie did was right-click on a device in HomeGroup and choose “Play to”. This works for not just songs but also videos and images and also can be utilized in Windows Media Center in Windows 7 too.

Device Stage:

Device Stage is an all-in-one view of a specific device on in your PC’s Printers and Devices Folder – a new folder in Windows 7. 3rd party hardware manufacturers can use Device Stage to give users all the options – or “Tasks” - they need and want to control their device whether it’s a printer or mobile device. The Device Stage experience is also services-enabled feature customizable for 3rd party hardware manufacturers.

In the demo, Julie shows off connected her Motorola phone to Windows 7 and being able to manage that device using Device Stage. Because the Motorola phone is a Plug-and-Play device, the device appears in the taskbar and Device Stage pops up on her screen when she plugged it in to Windows 7. Device Stage is designed to take advantage of mobile devices and offers specific tasks such as syncing media to a device, syncing contacts and calendar events from Outlook to a device, and creating and downloading ring tones. Custom phone makers and carriers can take advantage of Device Stage for their devices.

We’ll have much more to say about Device Stage in Windows 7 next week and WinHEC!


In Windows 7 – your desktop is YOURS. Windows 7 will ship with specific themes users can use for their PCs or customize and create their own. 3rd parties can create custom themes for Windows 7 and let you download them. We’re looking to offer theme downloads straight off of for users to enjoy.

Julie also demoed the improved abilities to change the color of glass in Windows 7.

Gadgets are now built in to the desktop instead of being confined to a sidebar. You can place them anywhere you want on the desktop or “snap” them to the side like you did previously with Windows Vista’s Windows Sidebar. To add gadgets, people will simply be able to right-click on their desktop to do so.

System Tray Enhancements:

The Windows Taskbar also comes with System Tray enhancements that automatically hide all but a default set of notification icons. Hidden notification icons are put into an “overflow” menu which can be expanded out to view. For notification icons you want on your system tray, Julie shows that you can drag icons from the “overflow” menu to the system tray. If there is a notification icon you don’t want on the System Tray, simply drag it to the desktop and it disappears. Users can also change the order by dragging the notification icons in the order you desire.

The overflow menu has a Notification Icon Control Panel that lets you also manage which notification icons are visible and how they alert you etc.

Wireless Networking:

Directly from the System Tray, Windows 7 introduces a better way of quickly accessing and connecting to wireless networks. Find and discovering available wireless networks is much easier. When new wireless networks are available in Windows 7, the network icon in the System Tray gets a neat little yellow star icon. Users can click the network icon and expand the available networks and choose which one they want to connect too.

Action Center:

Action Center is the central spot for users to troubleshoot issues with their Windows 7 PCs, view reported problems (and report them to Microsoft), run maintenance tasks that can make your Windows 7 PC perform better. Windows Defender is also integrated with Action Center to minimize the amount of alerts users see.

You can also use Action Center to access the UAC Control Panel…


Enhancements to UAC put users in control of how UAC communicates with them.

Touch Capabilities:

Windows 7 spots huge investments in Touch capabilities. Julie demos quite a few of these features using a new HP TouchSmart PC. You can read two of my posts on HP’s TouchSmart PC line here and here. She first demos access Jump Lists with touch and also rearranging stuff with touch. She also showcases Gestures which make using touch-capable devices with Windows 7 pretty slick.

Touch in Windows 7 will be incredibly useful especially when browsing through your photos as Julie also demonstrates. She “flicks” through photos using her finger.

With touch and the enhanced Paint that comes with Windows 7 with the Ribbon UI introduced in Office 2007, Julie demonstrates choosing a paint brush and using touch to draw in Paint.

After Julie was done were her demos, Steven Sinofsky came back to stage to discuss a few things such as Software + Services with Windows Live and IE8. I’ll be diving deeper into those topics in later blog posts.

There you have it – a pretty sweet preview of what’s coming with Windows 7. In the future, expect us to continue to talk about Windows 7 and of course look to our new Windows 7 Team Blog for announcements related to Windows 7 including information about the Windows 7 Beta (which Mike Nash talks about here). I’ll also be talking about my Windows 7 experiences too.

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  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Even the structure of a visual display windows 7 has a very nice thank you to people I offer my regards

  • I have windows 7 build 6801

    this is a very good

    i love windows 7

    i am Waiting windows 7 beta

    thank you

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    i'm ok with the features

    it would be really gr8 if there was a considerble increase in performance compared to vista

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    I hate Vista! It's full of bugs.

    But I LOVE Windows 7!!!! Much better than Vista.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    why Windows 7 is not Windows Vista 2º Edition????

    why Paint and Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery aren't a unique new  "Windows Paint Photo" with all functions together in one and new functions of editor ???????

    it will be better that photoshops of life.

    i think it will be great!!!  windows needed a powerfull Photo editor.

    it's my idea!!!  i have more ideas...

    Anderson Torres Maciel  a.k.a  Andy Xanxus


  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Vista 2 ??

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Windows peek mode is really interesting. I found it very usefull.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Great Brandon :)

    It's REAL Windows 七(7) Baby !!


  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts


  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    All of the stuff are ok in windows 7, but some improvements are:

    Some kind of optional grouping for quick launch icons in taskbar (stacks???)

    Some easy way to hide gadgets and display only when i need (dashboard???, this is mor usefull??

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    пизда рулю... лучше бы vusta доделали

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    All this just looks like another dissapintment to these waiting to jump straight from xp to 7 - now all they were waiting for is just Vista ME. Emphasizing touch capapbilities - is just to few who will be made to believe that they need it....

    Please extend Windows XP sales - with current hardware it's just perfect choise.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    I think that those futures might be as well provided with SP3 for Vista... For now there is almost nothing new. You can already change UAC options in Local Group Policy. New Paint? 99% of people using Paint only for saving PrintScreens. The biggest part of this article is about GUI changes. Those are just small changes that won't affect overall experience. I like Vista and it's GUI. If you want to have something new look at XGL! What about virtual desktops? What about multiple users logged on at the same time? I think that small and easy in use FTP or WWW server, for sharing files over Internet, might be good.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts


    I agree with Emelio & QV.

    The roundness of the orb and the flatness of the taskbar do not compliment eachother. I would say, get rid of the orb.... put the 'Start' button back in there, since that has been Windows signature button for years.


    I also 2nd happyandyk's comment about it being "interesting to see how Microsoft tries to tell customers who have bought or paid to upgrade to Vista, to pay again for Windows 7, so soon" hehe


    And i dont know if this bothers anyone else, ubt the icons at the left near the orb sort of annoy me. Something just looks wrong about themp; i am not sure if it's the spacing, or the ugliness of the icons, but something about them makes me say 'eww'.

  • hm great

    am there in PDC

    hope you'll will upload it soon in

    am waiting for that.

    does windows 7 have virtual desktops?? doesn't have virtual desktops!!

    anyways great job !!!!!!!  

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    The features of windows has never let me down - in terms of features, windows is complete enough.

    However, in terms of the look and feel, what you've got to look out for is not having so much shine and reflections on the frames of the windows and boxes for the wifi, etc...

    Tone down - pun intended - the 'light' reflecting off these frames, make Aero glass more like glass, not plastic!

    The 'jump lists' are clearly a change of philosophy - which is going in the right direction - aside from the taskbars of windows explorer (way to much space taken up by buttons that are simply words) - this preview looks like it's going to just get out of my way and let me do my work.

    The ribbon is one of the things that always gets in my way. When I double click to hide, and then click on say, add a shape - the ribbon disappears! I want to draw these shapes, but the ribbon slows me down.

    Doesn't it make sense that whenever you're within a window with a glass frame, you should not see any more glass frames inside the glass frame? Yet when you select a file in, say windows explorer you see a glass panel around the selected file's icon. It's either the icon lights up more or there's a single colour selection box surrounding the file. C'mon, you got this type of thing right in XP.

    I look at your first screenshot and I say that it's a place I'll want to work in with all my files - clean and inviting - as it's always been for all windows versions where there has been a desktop. That's something that's always been done, but everything else looks just too flashy -- have some confidence in yourself, Windows! Tone it down and everything will seem more inviting inside.

  • Well the features being added look quite exciting. I look forward to learning more about its new features.

    It would be interesting to see how Microsoft tries to tell customers who have bought or paid to upgrade to Vista, to pay again for Windows 7, so soon. :)

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    I agree with Emelio's Concern over the flatness of the taskbar.

    I can see how it could look really good. In one screen shot it really compliments the whole view, looking more like part of the desktop than something on top of it.

    But at the same time, it completely stands out from the Start menu's roundness. It's like one design is about the sleek curves of vista, and the other is trying for a more modern planed glass effect. Both work well, but not necessarily together.

  • yert
    39 Posts

    It is nice to see these features finally make it to Windows after they were promised to us way back in PDC2003. Five years is a long time to be able to look ahead, and while I am happy Microsoft can see the future of UI, I wish they would implement before others copied all the features they showcase for once.

    The new features are a nice touch, and again, I hope Microsoft can ship them before their competition can have an implementation of it.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Who cares about any of these features? It's all useless garbage. Tiles? What a joke MS should stop trying to rip off expose and make something original. This thing is gonna be worse than vista.  Do you hear that?It's the cracking sound of MS's market share breaking under the weight of a giant apple.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    Please, all these features are nice, but please just make it faster.  Vista is so sluggish on my computer in comparison to XP, and I've 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM drive.  Please just make it faster....

  • rv53705
    5 Posts

    I'm expected for what developer team makes with the UAC and the new Gadgets, the replacement of the Sidebar.

    So this issue looks very cool, to be a pre-beta.

  • I really hope a more or less Public beta will be available for us to play with. I would love to give it a spin!!!!

  • dovella
    303 Posts



  • The features look great, especially that now gadgets reside in Desktop instead of Windows Sidebar. The new 'Windows Peek' mode is also interesting ;)

    Cant wait to see it all in action!

    Would like to hear more on UAC enhancements :)

  • Looks nice but keep in mind that this is not the final GUI as in taskbar. Im sure it will change.

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    I think Windows 7 will be a great OS. I loved Vista and I'm sure I will love 7. But something is bothering me: the taskbar design. I think it's too 'flat' - I liked the tranparency, but it could be more 'rounded' like in Vista.

    I hope this is not the final interface design and that you can do more improvements on it - like Longhorn to Vista.

    Best wishes from Brazil