Windows 7

A look at Windows 7 Release Candidate

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Behind this odd name (believe it or not, this is actually the seventh version of Windows), Microsoft's new OS includes a bunch of new features that try to make the computer easier and more enjoyable to use. Honestly, after the Vista fiasco this wasn't a hard task to do, and I have to admit that Windows 7 has left a very good taste in my mouth.

After a surprisingly quick installation process, Windows 7 launches in a very Vista-like environment. Similar desktop backgrounds, an almost identical Start menu, similar window theme as well... It even keeps the Aero effects and the popular Vista gadgets, though this time they're not limited to the sidebar. The whole system works very smoothly, without hogging system resources.

Besides these obvious Vista comparisons, this first Windows 7 also includes many of the new features announced by Microsoft over the last few weeks: fully revamped versions of Wordpad and Paint that have turned them into really powerful apps now; a new toolbar with enhanced functionality (icons now launch programs and also let you switch among them); a new tool named Jump List that improves access to recently used documents and apps: the all-new Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Player 12; and a generally enhanced user interface that makes Windows easier to use (no more UAC messages, hooray!).

Obviously you can't decide whether you like a new operating system just after a few hours of usage – and even less in the case of a release candidate. But like I said, this new Windows 7 looks really promising and it's really worth a try. Just be cautious and make a backup copy first – or try it in a virtual machine.

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