Here's a list I came up with detailing some of the more visible differences in Windows 7. It entails quite a bit more than just a Service Pack:
* New Interface: A greatly simplified toolbar, but only at first glance. The quick launch and taskbar now intermingles and can be greatly customized by the user.
* New Taskbar: The taskbar now automatically hides icons as theyâ(TM)re added, into what I call an icon corral which can be selected to show the icons.
* UAC simplification slider: You can define how and when you are prompted by the UAC, even shutting it off.
* UAC definition by program: You can also exempt specific programs from UAC prompts.
* Device Stage: A number of rumors have been circulating about this one. First and foremost, device manufactures DO NOT have to program this in order for it to work it is just an option for direct interaction. Access all the functions of your devices from one screen.
* Homegroups: Its a situation that many of us face. We have a domain controlled work laptop. We come home and want to access our personal media (now managed by libraries) and printers. This solves those problems, while keeping company data safe. Default printers change automatically, depenting on what network you connect to.
* Libraries in Explorer: expanded support for Libraries across networks and a changed browsing interface within explorer.
* Math Input panel: It seems quite advanced, including input of hand/mouse written algebra and calculus.
* Calculator: Adding separate programmer and statistics modes to the previous standard and scientific calculator options.
* MS Paint: Welcome the ribbon.
* Magnifier: built in application to magnify a specific area of the screen and zoom in. This is similar to the capability enabled in XP or Vista in with Microsoft Mouse software.
* Gadgets across the desktop: Gadgets are no longer limited to the gadget toolbar.
* Simplified network connection stack: Ability to peek into the network stack and select an available network without opening any windows.
* Sticky windows (my definition): You can now drag windows to the top of the screen, which will automatically maximize the window. Also by dragging the window to the side of the screen, it will size the window to take the half of that side of the screen
* Preview Desktop: To the right of the taskbar, there is now a preview desktop button.
* Media Player Codec Expansion: Native support for AAC, H264, divx, xvid, AVCHD, flip video to the list of supported codecs.
* StreamOn: Ability to push audio and video output to networked A/V devices (think radios, receivers, and TVs).
* Display Color Calibration Wizard: A step-by-step interface to more closely calibrate proper gamma, brightness/contrast, and to eyeball proper color.
* Simplified Sideshow support: I previously installed sideshow on my windows mobile phone, when I created a Bluetooth relationship with the phone (for PAN support), it automatically discovered its capabilities and shows this in the sideshow area and device stage. Remote bluetooth control of media player, via a win mobile phone.
* New Backgrounds: Sure, absolutely not important, but an interesting re-take on the current Vista background theme.
* Faster Boots: Parallel device initialization during boot â" faster boot times. Demo showed a 5-10 second faster cold boot over Vista.
* Simple Shutdown: In later builds theyâ(TM)ve removed the confusing red, round button and replaced it with a simple, named â(TM)shut downâ(TM) button on the start menu, with the optional OS stops on a pull down menu on the right.
* Action Center: Thereâ(TM)s a good deal built into this function, but one of the most interesting features is a built in application that allows users record a walk through an action that generates an error and will email a system state and screenshots of each step to your IT support.
* Encryption of USB keys: fairly self explanatory.
* Workspaces Center: A new function under the command panel. Not much info on it.
* Lite Touch Installation: Ability to install a fresh image Win 7 onto a Vista machine without compromising links to user files and data. Installation takes about 25 minutes. Not available when stepping from XP to Win 7.
* Improved Disk Defragment status: While it isnâ(TM)t as hypnotizing as watching the blocks move, Win 7 at least shows you defragement progress by section, passes, and percentage; which is a big improvement over Vista.
* Windows Solutions Center: This is useful to both the IT member and User, by giving a simple one stop, and color coded display on what issues are present that affect security, along with maintenance tasks.
* Better Multi monitor support: Remote Desktops can now span monitors, and by using the windows+P button combination, you can use multi-projectors and adjust them from the one interface.
Under the hood
* Lighter footprint: Netbooks, here comes Windows 7. Demonstrated using a 1ghz, 1 gig of ram. They claim theyâ(TM)re trying to reduce those requirements. Goodbye XP, once and for all.
* Longer Battery Life: Demoed was the programâ(TM)s ability to recognize elements on the hardware that are needlessly active and sucking battery life and will shut them off.
* Increased Support for multicore CPUs: A fully managed code, that is designed specifically with parallel processing in mind. *rumor*
* Multitouch: Many people are claiming this is a new feature, but anyone with a Dell XT tablet with Vista (or surface, which runs on Vistaâ(TM)s underpinnings), this is nothing new. But yet, it supports multitouch on the software side.
* Locations and Other Sensors: Added GPS integration and provisions for OS interactions with other sensors, such as accelerometers.
* Credential Manager: Manage user names and passwords, so you can easily log into website and connect to other resources, such as computers.
* Troubleshooting: A separate link within the taskbar, with a one-stop-shop of troubleshooting by programs, devices, network, printing, display, performance, etc.
* Less Versions, SKUs: Word on the street is that theyre looking to reduce the number of SKUs involved.