After a few months of beta testing, Microsoft has finally launched the release candidate of their highly-anticipated new operating system: Windows 7. I don’t know whether this will be the first of a series of RC versions or just the only one before Windows 7 Final is launched in October, but in any case I must say it’s quite similar to the Beta we tested a while ago.
While Windows 7 RC doesn’t introduce any remarkable changes – at least that we can notice – Microsoft developers have fixed loads of bugs and improved the system’s general performance, thanks to the feedback of thousands of beta testers. This means we can enjoy an even more stable, smoothly-running system that doesn’t hog system resources and includes some nice new features that can make your computer experience easier and more enjoyable.
The Release Candidate keeps the same Vista-like appearance, and all the Windows 7 goodies as well: fully revamped versions of Wordpad, Paint and the Windows Calculator, which have become quite powerful apps now; a new toolbar with enhanced functionality; the all-new Windows Media Center and Windows Libraries, that help you manage media files in a better way; and also the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
The Windows 7 new taskbar is probably one of the most outstanding characteristics in Microsoft’s new operating system. Like the Mac Dock, it features quick launch shortcuts to your most frequently used apps which can also be used to switch between running programs. The similar window grouping tool has also been improved and now requires less mouse clicks to change from one window to another. Finally, the preview thumbnail function is really cool: it lets you have a sneak peek at the window’s content without having to open it.
I also liked the concept of Libraries. It reminds me of the way Picasa organizes your photos, making all of them available under a single interface, even if they’re stored on a dozen different folders across your system. I think it’s a very handy way to manage your media files.
Obviously you can’t decide whether you like a new operating system enough to switch to it just after a few hours of usage. The decision is even more difficult if all you have tried is a release candidate, which may be very much like the final product, but it’s not the final version. But like I said, this new Windows 7 looks really promising and has left a very good impression on me – though to be honest, after the Vista fiasco this wasn’t a hard task to do.
If you’d like to try it out, please bear in mind the basic caution rule: make a backup copy of all your data before installing it. If possible, use a spare computer to try it out. If not, remember you can always follow our VirtualBox tutorial to try it as a virtual machine, with zero risks for your computer.