The mystery about what was going to be revealed at said event was somewhat spoilt by the extensive press coverage from CES 09, including a preview of Windows 7 and some enhancements for Windows Live Messenger, but they revealed all to us (and a webstream) anyway.
So now you’ll be wanting to know what exciting new improvements there are to Windows 7….
Well, press Windows+P and it’ll give you an iconified easy way of redirecting your display to your monitor, or a projector (if you have one attached).
Honestly, that was the only new feature I could see, and I was only shown that at the very end by an eager Microsoft person.
They also did promise multi-touch facilities for touchscreen displays, which would be rather nifty, but since it requires the upgrade to either a touchscreen monitor or a new touch-sensitive laptop, it’s not an easy upgrade.
There were other “new” features that they showed us, including
- the background of the Media Centre can show all your album covers in a wall-like surrounding, which is slightly niftier than Apple’s CoverFlow version
- they excitedly promised that the Media Player had all the codecs you’d need to play most videos. Erm… shouldn’t that be a basic feature, not an improvement?
- if you’re running on battery power, your screen will dim automatically after 30 seconds of non-use. If you press a button to indicate it shouldn’t do that, it’ll delay that to sixty seconds next time.
- Right click on an enlarged icon in the Quick Launch taskbar, and it’ll automate to your most frequent tasks. Which meant a frequently-visited-sites list in Internet Explorer, and the ability to change your user status in Windows Live Messenger. Because it’s never been able to do that before.
I’m being unfairly scathing, and there are probably tons of wee little tricks like that, but when you’re asking people to jump from Vista to Windows 7 in these credit-crunch cash-strapped recession/depression times, you’ll have to promise a lot more than bigger user icons and a screen that automatically dims after 30 seconds to get people to pay £50 or whatever.
Windows Live Messenger
A lot of this presentation was spent merely reminding us of the wide range of Live services, which to be honest seemed no different to any other Web 2.0-friendly service from Google, Facebook or Yahoo. The only innovation I could see – and this is quite a genuinely useful one – is that photos tagged with a certain person on Windows Live Photo Album would be tagged as such when you upload it to Windows Live Photo Album.
Then at the end, they let slip the possibility that with the connection made between Facebook and Windows Live, you might be able to export your Facebook status updates and the like via Windows Live to an RSS feed for all to see. Given I spent an hour trying to figure out how to do this before giving up, it could be a handy feature for the future.