Windows 7 Changes – Since Beta to Release Candidate (RC)

The Windows 7 Engineering Team has been hard at work incorporating feedback from the Windows 7 Beta period.  Here are some of the coolest changes that I really like and I thought I'd pull some excerpts here to highlight these great changes.  For more detailed report from late February, please visit the Engineering Windows 7 Team Blog.

Coolest and Most Visible Changes (Excerpts)

1) Windows Flip (ALT + TAB) with Aero Peek

  • We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback about Aero Peek and how it helps customers switch windows with increased confidence. Daniel [beta user] wrote to tell us “I’m wondering why Peek was never implemented for the ALT + TAB window. The thumbnails look/behave the same way as the taskbar thumbnails when you hover the mouse over them. It seems logical that they would exhibit the peek behavior, too”. We decided to make this change since we heard many requests for it. One can still quickly flip between and cycle through running windows using the ALT+TAB keys, but when more window information is needed Aero Peek will appear.  This is triggered by a time delay as you pause while keyboarding through running windows.

2) User Account Control

  • If you’ve been following this blog, then you already know about a recent design change we’ve made that will prompt for any modification made to the UAC Control Panel. For more information, please refer to the earlier blog post from Engineering Windows 7 blog on "UAC Feedback and Follow Up".

3) Performance Improvements

  • Feedback comes to us in many different forms. Typically it consists of comments customers share. However, some of the most valuable information actually comes to us automatically when people just use Windows. PerfTrack, for example, is a telemetry system that provides us with invaluable real-world performance data on over 500 different Windows scenarios. The exciting aspect of PerfTrack is that it represents what people are really experiencing “out in the wild”. Performance is a very important to both the engineering team as well as to our customers and we strive to continuously improve this area. The topic has been discussed in several posts on this blog.

  • Let’s look at just one example of a Windows scenario that was improved with the help of PerfTrack. The two graphs below show the performance of opening the Start Menu for both Beta and for a more recent version of Windows 7. Some caveats first—the sample sizes are different (after all Beta did go to a far wider audience) and these numbers shouldn’t be taken too literally since they really do just represent a snapshot. The different colors denote performance against the “interaction class”—the acceptable experience range defined by each feature team. In this case we want the Start Menu to appear within 50ms to 100ms. A trace capturing tool running on each machine lets us investigate and fix what may be impacting performance. The charts shows in Beta 85% of interactions were within the acceptable range (i.e. green or yellow, but not red). After examining the traces and making some optimizations, we find 92% of interactions are this range for a more recent build.


Figure 1. Start Menu Open Times for Windows 7 Build 7000 (Beta)


Figure 2. Start Menu Open Times for Windows 7 Build 7033

What's Next?


Baldwin Ng (Sr. Product Manager, Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit)

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