Ramblings of a Home Server User

March 8, 2009

Review: Windows 7 Beta – Apps and Gadgets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 2:20 am

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of my review of the Beta build of Windows 7. This installment will focus on built-in apps and gadgets.

Windows 7 offers some much needed improvements to built-in applications that have been in Windows for a long time. Wordpad, Paint, and Calculator all have received a facelift, and other applications like Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center have received some added functionality and improvements to the overall user experience. Another noticeable improvement is the removal of the Windows Sidebar and the integration of Sidebar Functionality right into the Windows desktop.

Let’s dive in to the new and improved experience in Windows 7!

Wordpad:

Wordpad has been updated with the Ribbon interface that is so prevalent in Office 2007. There have also been updates to the supported file formats, and among them are basic support for the new .DOCX format introduced for Word 2007 documents. Wordpad has always been a favorite of mine. It’s a great way to open release notes, readmes, and other documents often accompanied with software, that you would install on machines that don’t necessarily have Office on them. With the updates made in Wordpad for Windows 7, I can definitely say that Wordpad is the easiest, most useful, text editing application to ship with an OS. While it lacks the fancy advanced features of Word, it now has some punch that make it a great entry level word processing tool.

wordpad

Calculator:

Alright, so finally Microsoft has given us a decent calculator. The calculator in Windows 7 is able to do unit conversions, statistics, scientific and programming calculations, and even has a history feature. This calcuator is an awesome tool, and packs a lot of bang for its buck. Seriously, if you’re goal when choosing an operating system is to find one with a decent calculator, Windows 7 should be your top choice.

calc1   calc2   calc3

calc4   calc5   calc6   calc7

Paint:

Ok, so we’ve come to the creme de la creme. Paint. Such a simple program, one that we all used to play with as kids. Well now, Paint has grown up. Sporting the same Ribbon interface that Wordpad uses, Paint has some kick. Paint now offers more brush choices, ability to modify color swatches, and more shapes to draw. Paint also has some nifty features if you are using a multi-touch machine. If you have a multi-touch machine and you haven’t tried out Paint in Win7 yet, go do that now. On a multi-touch machine you can use two hands and paint in different colors and do all sorts of nifty creations. Just when I thought that I had outgrown Paint, I find myself crawling back for more.

paint

Windows Media Player:

Windows Media Player in Windows 7 has been radically changed. The Player mode has been completely revamped and is now solely focused on what content is playing. Library mode has been updated, now using tabs for syncing, burning, and now playing. There is also new support for DivX and MP4 file formats as well as others. Having support for more formats now gives Windows Media Player a leg up on Quicktime since now users won’t need Quicktime to play standard MP4 files. Windows Media Player also sports a new feature called Play-To which enables you to play music on one computer in the house to any other computer in the house and control the song thats playing and the volume remotely.

wmp1  wmpplayto   wmp2  wmp3

My ratings for built-in Apps and Gadgets:

Paint: 9 out of 10

Windows Media Player: 9 out of 10

Calculator: 10 out of 10

Wordpad: 9.5 out of 10

Ribbon implementation in Paint and Wordpad: 3 out of 10 (needs some work…looks sloppy)

Gadget Experience: 8 out of 10 (I’m glad that the sidebar has been removed)

Overall: 8.1 out of 10

Hope you enjoyed this review series on Windows 7! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to use the contact form to contact me.

-Tom

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