Hi Innuendo! What innovations are there in Windows 7 that make people's lives easier? Not challenging, just asking, because I've seen plenty of screenshots, but haven't read much about any feature or usability improvements.
Oh, I know you aren't challenging as everyone I have discussed Win 7 with has seen plenty of screenshots, but a lot of what Win 7 is about can't be seen in the screenshots. Microsoft has improved the driver model for graphics drivers. If you use a WDM 1.1-capable video card you are going to see even more of the graphics load put upon the GPU which means you are going to have a faster Windows experience for one thing.
Aero Peek, Aero Shake, and Jump Lists are something that can be shown in screenshots, but you really don't start to realize how easier they make things for you till you start using them day to day. Keyboard shortcuts for launching apps that have been pinned to the start bar will be a welcome addition for those who are more keyboard-centric than mouse-centric. While we're talking about the taskbar, I'll mentioned that the system tray has enhanced functionality that will keep those two billion icons everyone has sitting in their system tray in line.
Vista had added security over XP, but that slowed down Vista's speed in some areas. Windows 7 has been optimized & now one would be hard pressed to find any area of Windows 7 that didn't behave as quickly as XP. Miminum system requirements have been dropped as compared to Vista as well. Older systems that could run XP, but choked on Vista will be able to run Win 7 as well or better than they ran XP.
Windows Explorer has been optimized and streamlined. Managing your files is easier as the more common file management functions are close at hand. My Documents has been put on steroids with the Library feature. Configure multiple directories for each category and all those files in multiple directories appear in one Explorer window.
Since you brought up UAC, you might be pleased to know that's been re-worked and optimized as well. There's now a four-position slider so you can fine-tune how you want UAC to work for you or even turn it off entirely. I will tell you, though, that I have been running it in the maximum protection mode & while I enjoy the same amount of protection Vista gave me I have seen maybe 1/10th of the UAC prompts that I saw with Vista. Part of that I attribute to MS adjusting things, but it's partly due to software authors finally starting to program in a more security-conscious way.
Faster boot and shutdown times magnitudes faster than previous Windows versions. What more can be said? Start working quicker. Finish working quicker. Those are the major highlights although there are a lot of little things you'll run into where you'll think, "Oh, that's nice. Why didn't they always do it that way?".
What does the new taskbar have to make up for the loss, then? (In the screenshots I can see there are no captions on the buttons. That's bad too - I use the captions.) I couldn't live without TrueLaunchBar!
First, let me say that you can bring back the captions and the old taskbar behavior if you want to, but I urge you to try the new way for a week or two as you may come to love it. Without the captions you can have a lot more programs open & the taskbar doesn't get as crowded or as unwieldy as the old way. With Aero Peek it's easy to see what each button is doing. Also, if a program has more than one Window open, just hover your mouse over it's icon on the taskbar & Aero Peek will show you thumbnails of all the app's windows & you are free to click on any of those thumbnails to bring the program to the front with the focus on the window you clicked. Trust me, it works a lot better than it does in the screenshots. Three people I know have said they'd hate having no captions when they looked at the articles on the internet. Once I sat them down in front of the Real Thing, however, they've all walked away with changed minds thinking the new way is way cool.