Friday, 14 November 2008

Windows 7 - The Taskbar

Well I couldn't resist any longer.  Knowing that Windows 7 was previewed and given out for testing at Microsoft PDC I just had to go and get a copy.

I won't explain my sources, however I now have a copy of Windows 7 Build 6801 installed on my Acer Aspire ONE netbook.

I did not perform a complete re-installation of the OS, instead I opted for an upgrade because I wanted to be up and running quickly with Windows 7 and all my usual software.  The installation/upgrade took a little over an hour, since I was installing from an .ISO file running through PowerISO as I currently have no external ROM drive. 

Once complete, I was a little disappointed to see that the new, highly acclaimed Taskbar was not activated in this release, however a quick search of my favourite torrent site threw up a tool to unlock this and I have to say that the new taskbar is a perfect fusion of the usual Windows bar and the Mac OSX dock.

win7taskbar_previewsEach icon on the bar is either to launch a program, or represents a running program.  Hovering the mouse over an icon brings up a preview (as it does in Vista) of the program window, however it does more than this.  Say you have Internet Explorer open with several tabs running, the preview display the webpage of each tab, you can then select which tab you want.  This cuts out a few mouse clicks and makes navigation a whole lot quicker.

win7taskbar_option When you hover the mouse over an icon on the taskbar, you will also notice a small upwards pointing arrowhead.  Click this and you get a few options.  In this image you see that I have clicked the arrow next to the Paint.NET icon, and the options given are

  • Pin this program to Taskbar
  • Paint.NET

Clicking the first option will make sure that this running program always has a shortcut on the taskbar, which is similar to how the Quick Launch toolbar works in previous Windows releases (and is still available in this build of Windows 7).  Clicking the second option simply opens the running program window.

win7taskbar_previews_folders Clicking the arrow next to the Windows Explorer icon, as shown in the image, produces even more options, each of which are self explanatory, making Windows 7 rather user friendly.

Microsoft really have gone to town on this version of Windows, they seem to have taken into account all the complaints people have made against Vista, as well as trying to make actions simpler to perform, and above all, faster.  I think they have managed this with the new taskbar.

win7taskbar_orb_glow Also, a nice touch is the Windows Orb button (aka Start button) which now glows when you hover the mouse over it... this doesn't add to functionality of Windows 7 in anyway, but looks nice.

The taskbar is now properly transparent, and has a nice glassy effect which tied it in nicely with the rest of the Aero Glass theme.

win7taskbar_systray Over to the right is the new System Tray.  Obviously the System Tray has been around for some time, and it has developed over time since the days of Windows 95, however it now no longer hogs a chunk of the taskbar.  Instead a few icons are displayed, along with another arrow.  The Windows 2000/XP and Vista System Tray would expand to the left when the arrow was clicked, but now a window pops up above the system tray to display icons if running programs/utilities.  This means that there is less reason for the taskbar to resize itself.

win7taskbar_systray_show_desktop My System tray does not display the time.  I had this turned off in Vista before the Upgrade to Windows 7, and it has stayed this way since.  To the far right is a small transparent vertical bar with no label.  Clicking this will however reveal the desktop, just like the icon on the Quick Launch bar of previous versions, what makes this method better though, is that it takes up latest space on the bar, and is less obtrusive.

So there you have it, a quick look at the new Windows 7 Taskbar, as it is as of Build 1608 (once unlocked).  you should expect the final release of Windows 7 to have a slightly different bar, but for now this is looking pretty good.

Don't forget to look in again in the near future for more on Windows 7 - you could always subscribe to the RSS Feed!

Found this useful?  Want to discuss your expectations of Windows 7?  Is there anything you'd like to ask?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Did you get it for free?

  2. @ Anonymous
    Hi Anon,
    To which are your refering, Windows 7, or the tool to unlock the full feature-set of the Taskbar (aka 'Superbar')?
    If you are refering to W7, yes I did, and a quick search through Google may help you find it too.
    The tool is explained in another post:
    "Windows 7 build 6801 - How to unlock the 'Superbar' & other features"

    Hope this helps


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