We’re pleased to announce that Windows 7 Inside Out, by Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson, is now available for purchase in bookstores (Microsoft Press, 2010; ISBN: 9780735626652; 1056 pages)!
In a previous post, we included the Foreword, written by Microsoft Windows Division President, Steven Sinofsky. Here, we provide an excerpt of two chapters from the book.
Excerpt from Chapter 1
What’s New in Windows 7
IS Windows 7 a major upgrade or just a collection of refinements? The answer depends on your starting point. If you’ve been using Windows Vista, the upgrade to Windows 7 should be relatively straightforward. Windows 7 is built on the same foundation as Windows Vista, so you’ve already sorted out compatibility hassles with programs and devices. After you learn the basics of the revamped Windows 7 desktop and adapt to changes in search and file management, you should feel right at home.
For those who are moving to Windows 7 from Windows XP, the learning curve will be steeper. You’ll find fundamental changes in nearly every aspect of the operating system, and many of the expert techniques that you’ve learned through the years won’t work any longer. Three feature sets that were originally introduced in Windows Vista will be of particular interest to anyone upgrading from Windows XP:
- Search capabilities are a key part of just about every Windows task. In Windows XP, this capability is available as an add-on that installs a search box on the taskbar. In Windows 7, you’ll find a search box on the Start menu, in the upper right corner of any window or dialog box based on Windows Explorer, and in Control Panel.
- For anyone obsessed with performance and troubleshooting (we suspect most of our readers fall into this group), Windows 7 includes an impressive set of diagnostic and monitoring tools. Collectively, they offer a level of detail about system events that can be eye-opening and overwhelming.
- User Account Control was one of the most controversial and misunderstood additions to Windows Vista. This feature has been greatly modified in Windows 7, but anyone upgrading from Windows XP might be surprised by the extra layer of consent dialog boxes required for some common administrative tasks.
Introducing the Windows 7 Family
When you begin to delve into details about how Windows 7 works, the discussion can quickly become complicated. The primary reason for confusion is because the operating system is actually distributed and sold in multiple editions. Compared to Windows Vista, the lineup of available editions is less complicated, but you can still get tripped up if you read about an advanced feature and don’t realize that it’s missing from your edition.
How can you tell which Windows 7 edition is installed on your PC? The easiest way is to look at the top of the System applet in Control Panel—click System in Control Panel; right-click the Computer icon on the Start menu and then click Properties; or use the keyboard shortcut Windows logo key+Break. Under the Windows Edition heading, you will see the current installed edition, as shown in Figure 1-1.
Figure 1-1 System in Control Panel shows which Windows 7 edition is installed.
In this book, we concentrate on the three Windows 7 editions you are most likely to encounter on a mainstream home or business PC:
- Windows 7 home premium This is the edition you are most likely to find installed on a new PC in the computer section at your local warehouse store or consumer electronics specialist. It includes roughly the same mix of features as its predecessor, Windows Vista Home Premium.
- Windows 7 professional This edition is the successor to Windows Vista Business and incorporates the same features as that operating system, notably advanced networking features that work with networks based on the Windows Server family. In a noteworthy change, however, Windows 7 Professional is a superset of Home Premium and thus includes all features (including Windows Media Center) found in the lesser edition.
- Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 7 enterprise These editions are essentially identical, with the names reflecting the sales channel of each: Ultimate is available on retail and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) editions; Enterprise is distributed only to large customers who buy volume licenses of Windows. This edition contains all features found in the Home Premium and Professional editions plus some advanced networking features, BitLocker encryption, and support for multiple languages.
All of these editions are available in x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) options. When we wrote the previous edition of this book, 64-bit Windows was still a fairly exotic choice for most Windows users. Within just a few years, thanks in no small measure to the plummeting price of memory chips, that balance has shifted dramatically. Today, Windows 7 x64 is commonly installed on new computers, especially on systems with 4 GB or more of RAM.
The default settings we describe in this book are those you will see if you perform a clean install of Windows 7 using a shrink-wrapped retail copy. If you purchase a new PC with Windows 7, your settings might be different. Computer manufacturers have the right to customize Windows when they install it on a new system; they can change default settings, customize desktop backgrounds and screen savers, tweak the home page and Favorites list in Windows Internet Explorer, install third-party software, and configure the system so that it uses a different media player or browser than the Microsoft defaults.
Excerpt from Chapter 4
ONE of the most obvious changes that Microsoft made in moving from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is the taskbar, which has a bold new look, lots of new functionality, and new ways to customize, all of which we explain in this chapter. We also cover the many new techniques that make it easier to perform various window tasks, such as maximizing, resizing, and so on. A subtler change is the inclusion of the word Personalize prominently in the user interface of the new operating system. Certainly, earlier versions of Windows could be tailored, customized, and modified to suit a user’s needs and preferences—in a word, personalized. But the P word itself was missing. Now, when you right-click your desktop, the shortcut menu that pops up features an icon-festooned Personalize command. Personalize Windows is also one of the items that appear in the new operating system’s Getting Started task list. So the message is clear: It’s your operating system; make it reflect your tastes, your needs, your style. Make it work for you. More than any previous version of Windows, Windows 7 provides myriad tools for doing just that—tools that we survey in this chapter.
What’s in Your Edition?
The ability to personalize your computing environment by changing desktop backgrounds, window colors, and sounds is not available in Windows 7 Starter edition. Lack of Aero support in Starter edition means you can’t get transparent window frames, live taskbar previews, and other visual effects, and Aero Peek is unavailable. And Starter edition does not support the use of multiple monitors. All other features described in this chapter are available in all editions.
Working with the New Taskbar and Start Menu
The taskbar is that strip of real estate along one screen edge (bottom by default) that contains the Start menu button, program buttons, and status icons. The taskbar made its first appearance in Windows 95. In the years since, it has slowly evolved: installing Internet Explorer 4 in Windows 95 also added a Quick Launch toolbar and other toolbars; Windows XP reduced clutter by introducing taskbar grouping; and Windows Vista added taskbar previews, small window representations that increased your chances of clicking the correct taskbar button for the program you want to bring to the front.
The evolution continues in Windows 7, but at a generation-skipping pace. The Windows 7 taskbar (see Figure 4-1) continues to serve the same basic functions as its progenitors— launching programs, switching between programs, and providing notifications—but in a way that makes these basic tasks easier and more efficient.
Figure 4-1 Although the taskbar designs in Windows XP (top), Windows Vista (center), and Windows 7 (bottom) comprise the same basic elements, the appearance has evolved a bit—and the functionality has advanced by leaps and bounds.
Opening and Monitoring Programs from Taskbar Buttons
As in previous Windows versions, the taskbar houses the Start menu button, a button for each running program, and the notification area. You can use these task buttons to switch from one running program to another. You can also click a task button to minimize an open window or to restore a minimized window. But in a departure from earlier Windows versions, which had separate bands dedicated to a Quick Launch bar (from which you can open programs) and to taskbar buttons (which represent programs that are currently running), the Windows 7 taskbar combines these functions. That is, buttons between the Start button and the notification area can be used both for opening programs and for switching between programs.
Adding and Removing Pinned Programs, Documents, and Folders
Programs that you use often (the ones that you might’ve had on the Quick Launch toolbar in the past) can be easily pinned to the taskbar so that a single click launches them. To open a program that is pinned to the taskbar, you don’t need to open the Start menu or dig down to find a desktop shortcut. To pin a program to the taskbar, simply drag its icon or a shortcut (from the desktop, from the Start menu, or from any other folder) to the taskbar. Alternatively, right-click a program icon wherever you find it and choose Pin To Taskbar. To remove a pinned program from the taskbar, right-click the pinned icon and choose Unpin This Program From Taskbar. This same command also appears on other shortcuts to the program, including those on the desktop and on the Start menu. You can also pin frequently used documents and folders to the taskbar, using similar methods:
To pin a document to the taskbar, drag its icon or a shortcut to the taskbar. If the taskbar already has a button for the program associated with the document, Windows adds the document to the Pinned section of the program’s Jump List. (For more information about Jump Lists, see “Using Jump Lists on the Taskbar and Start Menu” on page 107.) If the document’s program is not on the taskbar, Windows pins the program to the taskbar and adds the document to the program’s Jump List.
- To pin a folder to the taskbar, drag its icon or a shortcut to the taskbar. Windows adds the folder to the Pinned section of the Jump List for Windows Explorer.
- To open a pinned document or folder, right-click the taskbar button and then click the name of the document or folder.
- To remove a pinned document or folder from the Jump List, right-click the taskbar button and point to the name of the document or folder to be removed. Click the pushpin icon that appears.
Restore the Quick Launch toolbar
Some habits die hard. If you just can’t bear to give up the Quick Launch toolbar, you can display it in Windows 7. To do so, add the hidden Quick Launch folder as you would any other folder. (For details, see “Using Additional Toolbars” on page 112.) In the New Toolbar dialog box, type %AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch in the Folder box. To mimic the appearance of the Quick Launch toolbar in previous Windows versions, unlock the taskbar. (Right-click the taskbar and, if there’s a check mark by Lock The Taskbar, choose that command.) Right-click the Quick Launch toolbar and clear the Show Title and Show Text commands. Then drag the handle (the dotted line) on the left side of the Quick Launch toolbar so that it’s next to the Start button, and drag the handle on the right side of the toolbar to set the width you want. Then relock the taskbar. If you later decide you don’t need the Quick Launch toolbar after all, right-click the taskbar and select Toolbars, Quick Launch to remove the check mark and the toolbar.
To download the full sample chapters plus additional sample chapters from other Windows 7 books, as well as learning snacks and online clinics, be sure to visit the Microsoft Learning Windows 7 Training Portal.