Windows 7 RTM review

Windows 7 is ready for the PC manufacturers, but is RTM ready for business?

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If you have access to MSDN, TechNet or the Microsoft Action Pack, or your business is covered by Software Assurance, you'll have access to the RTM code of Windows 7 on Thursday 6 August instead of having to wait for the consumer release in October.

Should you jump right in and start deploying Windows 7 in your company now, or take the usual approach of waiting for SP1? The pre-release versions of Windows 7 have been promising, but does the RTM deliver on that promise?

More than good looksWith so many people having tried out those pre-release versions and the detailed descriptions from Microsoft of Windows 7 engineering decisions, the new interface isn't going to be a surprise. As with Vista, there is no option to use a classic' Windows 2000-style desktop; unlike Vista, the Start menu is responsive and the thumbnail previews are intuitive (you can preview, select and manipulate windows directly and naturally).

The new taskbar is more than a larger quick launch toolbar; it shows both open apps and those that are pinned in place with icons that indicate how many windows are open. Jump lists are particularly helpful for getting back to recently used files and you'll want to consider using them to simplify access to common tasks in line of business applications.

Snapping windows to either side of the screen is a simple way to increase productivity and having a New Folder button always visible in Explorer saves several mouse clicks every time. The Windows 7 much better support for multiple monitors - but there are good functional reasons for the changes too.

Visible improvements, like being able to connect to a wireless access point or get online with a 3G dongle directly from the network icon on the taskbar, reflect improvements under the hood to the network stack that increase reliability. There's finally a good reason for setting the location of networks that you join as Home or Work; you can allocate printers to a location and when you switch from your home to work network, your default printer will change automatically.

Libraries have the potential to be confusing, but combined with search federation they give businesses the chance to get documents off individual desktops and onto the network where they belong, without making users memorise complex network paths.

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