What's New In Windows 7?

Although I don't plan on using Windows 7 unless threatened with violence, I thought it would be interesting to see what Microsoft's pushing these days as state-of-the-art technology.  Many of the new features planned for the next release of Windows, however, seem more like catch-up than innovation.

In particular, here's a list of features new to Windows that have been around in the Linux world for more than a little while.

  1. Desktop Slideshow.  The ability to use a series of changing images as a desktop background has been available in KDE for years, and it's easy enough to implement in Gnome by hand-editing simple configuration files or installing an application like Drapes.
  2. New Taskbar.  The new taskbar bears striking resemblances in appearance to the default KDE panel, as far as I can tell. It also sounds like its application-oriented behavior is straight out of OS X, but that's another issue.
  3. Redesigned notification area.  According to Wikipedia, "The notification area has been redesigned; the standard Volume, Network, Battery and Security Center status icons (now renamed "Action") are still present, but no other application icons are shown unless the user has chosen for them to be shown."  Hmmm, giving users the choice to decide which applets they want to see in the panel, instead of encouraging application developers to infest it with three dozen icons that do nothing but waste space and resources...sounds a lot like Gnome and KDE to me.
  4. Window Maximizing & Tiling.  "You can now drag windows to the top of the screen to maximize them and drag them away to restore them."  Gnome with metacity has had this functionality for years.
  5. New Wordpad interface.  Apparently Windows Wordpad (along with Paint and some other Microsoft cruft) has been "ribbonized."  This may be nice for people who like ribbons, but it doesn't obscure the fact that Wordpad is a deficient text editor that hasn't seen any substantive improvements since 1995.  Seriously, it still doesn't even have spellcheck.
  6. Disk Defragmenter is supposed to be more efficient.  This is good, but doesn't excuse Microsoft from its perennial failure to implement a file-system where disk fragmentation is not really an issue.  No Linux user has had to defragment for a decade.  When is Windows going to grow up and move past NTFS?
This isn't to say that Windows 7 is totally unoriginal.  Advances in speech-recognition technology, for example, are impressive, and represent an area where Linux has a lot of catching-up to do.  But as a Linux devotee, I couldn't resist an opportunity to criticize Microsoft where criticism's due.

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