Time will tell if this is just lipstick on a pig, but the look, feel and functionality of the new Taskbar appears impressive. The Windows taskbar hasn't changed much in over a decade, so this redesign is long overdue.
HomeGroup is workgroup networking, but this time it's personal. It lets you easily link Windows 7 computers on your home network to share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices such as a printer.
Homegroup is the most discussed new feature of the revamped Networking and Sharing Center in Windows 7. It is designed exclusively for home networks and won't appear if it's a work or public network. In order to setup a HomeGroup, a user's Network Location needs to be set as "Home" in the Network and Sharing Center.
You get a significant amount of control with Homegroup; when you create a Homegroup, you specify which files, folders and devices you want to share, and create a password so that only people with that password can join the Homegroup. This way nobody, not even a friend, can hop on to your laptop and access your files or folders in Homegroup.
Instead of having files and folders organized under the familiar Documents folder, Windows 7 will feature separate Libraries for specific content types such as communications, contacts, documents, downloads, music, pictures and videos.
Each Library is stylized to fit its content. For example, the contacts Library shows phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The downloads Library lists the urls that each download came from.
Better file organization is always needed, but Libraries are unique because they let you move folders from other locations on a network into a Library.
For instance, if you have multiple PCs, and you want see all of your work files from all those PCs in one location, you can drag them into one of your Libraries. Those folders will still live in their original locations, but will also show up in your Library.
Libraries can be shared with other people in your home network by using Homegroup. Click here for more on how Libraries and Homegroup work together.
Touch-screen features on a smartphone are all the rage. But on a laptop or desktop? Microsoft is betting on it with Windows 7.
At PDC, Microsoft demonstrated what multi-touch looks like on a PC. For example, the Start menu enlarges when you touch it. Another example: You may use your finger to browse through windows and Web pages. Whenever you press the screen, a water drop appears and the mouse cursor disappears, signaling that you're in touch mode.
Veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley recently blogged about her doubts that touch-screen functionality on PCs will take off. But the wheels may already be in motion as Jerry Shen, CEO of Asus, has stated that his company's netbooks will run Windows 7 and have touch-screen capabilities by mid-year 2009. Click here to find out more!
Other stories by Shane O'Neill © 2008 CXO Media Inc.