Earlier last week Microsoft opened the public beta for Windows 7, although I’m sure most of you have already been beta testing this for some time. I will be testing this extensively in the months to come, but I’d like to post some of the new features that Microsoft is aiming for. I’m hoping that these new features will be stable enough to test, but obviously that may not be the case just yet.

New features for desktop users

  • Improved Taskbar
  • Jump Lists
  • Libraries
  • IE8
  • Windows Live
  • Better device management
  • HomeGroup
  • Theme Packages
  • Battery Life enhancement

You can look at a few official screenshots here from Microsoft showcasing some of these features.

New features for Admins and Devs

  • Removal of kernel dispatcher lock – This should increase performance significantly for larger SQL-based and other resource-intensive systems as it will reduce constraints on available hardware and resources.
  • Logical processor groups – Now will allow for 256 processors with each process thread belonging to a logical processor group.
  • Faster booting – Here is a good article from MSDN about the engineering work being put into this. A couple of the mentionable new features would be boot times under 15 seconds and plug and play support during boot.
  • DirectX 11 API bundled on disc
  • MinWin – This is arguably one of the most important changes to Windows 7. Effectively this is creating about a 25 MB core “kernel” that is completely isolated from all processes. Windows can effectively be run and built from this small core. Microsoft is finally undertaking the mammoth project of refactoring the aging Windows codebase.
  • Natively mount and create VHDs from the UI
  • Boot into a Windows VHD
  • PowerShell v2

Most of these I jotted down while watching a Channel9 video interview with Mark Russinovich here. If you’ve got 40 minutes to spare and won’t fall asleep through deep tech speak, then I suggest checking it out!

This will be the first of a series of posts covering my testing of Windows 7. My interests lie specifically with performance and native support for mounting and creating VHDs, and how this can enhance the Sharepoint experience. One of the features not specific to development but still very cool is the addition of libraries to the UI. This is basically like a Sharepoint library with federated search capabilities. You can add multiple sources to your library, so that Windows fetches the data into a single view. As a Sharepoint guy, I really like this as it helps bridge the gap a little closer between the Sharepoint world and the Windows world.

I’ve only just begun to formally test Windows 7, so look for more specific posts in the future.