Windows 7 - Microsoft's long-waited successor to Windows Vista - is expected to ship in 2010, if not earlier. Until now, the software giant has remained tight-lipped on the features in the new OS. (See also: Windows 7 review.)

However, since its pre-beta code release last week at the Microsoft Professional Developers' conference, more has been unveiled about Windows 7. We've taken a look at the new OS to see just what users will be faced with.

Meet your next desktop: Sidebar dies; Gadgets live

Microsoft has killed the Sidebar in Windows 7, but the Gadgets it contained live on. They simply sit wherever you choose to place them on your desktop.

 

Jump Lists provide easy access to common tasks

Both the Taskbar and the Start Menu now include Jump Lists - context-sensitive selections of actions relating to a particular application, such as files you've used recently or access frequently.

 

 

Device Stage: one-stop access to hardware-related tasks and information

Device Stage is a new feature that gathers all of the information (everything from drivers and applications to manuals) relating to a particular phone, printer, or other piece of hardware, and lets you access it from a single window. But it will show up only if device vendors create an XML document based on a Microsoft template, a document that also must be approved by Microsoft. The good news is that such documents are a lot easier to create than new device drivers - and vendors can stick with the drivers created for Vista.

NEXT PAGE: Libraries and a less annoying UAC

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS

Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista which is slated to ship in early 2010, has just been released in pre-beta. We take a look at what's new and exciting in this latest OS. See also: Windows 7 review.

Libraries aggregate like content in different locations

Windows 7 introduces Libraries, which are virtual folders that provide easy access to related content, regardless of its location on your PC or even on your network. While the OS will ship with several preset Libraries (Documents, Music, Photos, Video) based on file type, you can create additional Libraries based on criteria you set, such as music genre or photos created on a specific date.

User Account Control Slider gives you greater control over security settings

Vista's famously annoying User Account Control becomes less annoying: It now lets you control which potential security risks it alerts you to, and which ones it lets slide.

Windows Solution Center replaces pesky systray balloons

The new Windows Solution Center lets you review notifications about potential system problems at your convenience, rather than when you're in the middle of doing something else.

NEXT PAGE: Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS

Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista which is slated to ship in early 2010, has just been released in pre-beta. We take a look at what's new and exciting in this latest OS. See also: Windows 7 review.

Federated Search scans networked PCs

The new Federated Search feature collates results from multiple PCs on a network into one list of results.

Custom theme creation gets easier

Windows 7 introduces a slicker interface for choosing, customising, and/or creating desktop Themes - a feature Microsoft says it will rename Styles before Windows 7 ships.

 

Take a closer look

The new Magnifier feature lets you enlarge a part of a screen in Windows 7.

NEXT PAGE: Where's my desktop gone?

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS

Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista which is slated to ship in early 2010, has just been released in pre-beta. We take a look at what's new and exciting in this latest OS. See also: Windows 7 review.

Where's my desktop?

If you frequently work with multiple windows and need to grab something off your desktop, you'll like the ability to quickly take a look. Here's a Windows 7 desktop before you click on the lower righthand corner of the taskbar...

Oh, there it is!

...And here's the same Windows 7 desktop shown in the previous slide, but with the windows hidden. Now you can see the desktop itself.

Route music and video from PCs to streaming devices

Windows 7 can route music and video from PCs on your home network to streaming devices on the net.

NEXT PAGE: A lightweight Windows Media player

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS

Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista which is slated to ship in early 2010, has just been released in pre-beta. We take a look at what's new and exciting in this latest OS. See also: Windows 7 review.

Lightweight Windows Media Player

Windows 7's Windows Media Player now pops up in a streamlined version that doesn't overwhelm you with features or hog your entire display.

Windows Media Player Jump List

In the revamped Windows Media Player, a Jump List provides access to recently played content.

Paint Application now uses ribbon

Windows 7's Paint application has adopted Microsoft's so-called Scenic Ribbon toolbar interface, as first seen in Office 2007. The ribbon also appears in WordPad.

NEXT PAGE: A new-look calculator

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS

Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista which is slated to ship in early 2010, has just been released in pre-beta. We take a look at what's new and exciting in this latest OS. See also: Windows 7 review.

Do the maths

In Windows 7, the trusty Calculator accessory gets a makeover.

Easily check battery life

To help you conserve power when using a laptop, Windows 7 provides an improved battery indicator.

 

  1. We look at the features in Microsoft's newest OS
  2. Libraries and a less annoying UAC
  3. Federated search, custom themes and a new magnifyer
  4. Where's my desktop gone?
  5. A lightweight Windows Media player
  6. A new-look calculator

Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Microsoft News Spotlight for the latest news on the software giant

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Visit PC Advisor's Windows 7 Spotlight for the latest news, analysis and opinion on Microsoft's upcoming OS