6. Jump lists. When I first saw a jump list, I'll admit it, I thought it was stupid. After using them a bit, I've changed my mind -- they can be pretty helpful. Right-click a taskbar button, and a jump list will show you common actions such as opening a new tab in IE8. You could even add your favorite Web sites to your IE8 jump list and, with a click, jump to a site. It may only save you a few seconds, but time is money, right? In an enterprise, those seconds add up over thousands of users.
5. Live download for applications. While Internet Explorer and Media Player are still included with Windows, some applications now require a download. You can download Windows Live Call, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Live Writer all from the Windows Live download site. Personally I don't use these applications in Windows Vista, so I like the idea that I don't have to install them on a new Windows 7 machine. And yet I can grab them if I want them. For example, one item you may need to download is Family Safety because Parental Controls no longer include the ability to block Web sites or track your child's activity.
4. Energy-efficiency improvements. One of the most active topics in the industry is energy efficiency. Sure, we all want our systems to run faster and appear more powerful, but not use more power in the process. Go green? Absolutely -- but maintain the same and better speed. So the engineers for Windows 7 have been very focused on doing just that: reducing the power consumption and environmental impact. Windows 7 is designed toward that end by building on the energy-saving features already existing in previous OS builds like Vista with its Power Options, which reduces power consumption when the system is idle, and Shutdown options that allow the system to go into "sleep" mode. Windows 7 focuses on both reduction of idle power consumption and supporting new device power modes. Read more about it on the MSDN blog.
3. Internet Explorer 8 features. In my post last week, I noted some of the cool new features in IE8 that I thought would improve the browsing experience. These include InPrivate browsing, Web slices, and accelerators. I can see people using Web slices for eBay updates and so forth, and this will save them time having to navigate to oft-visited sites. Accelerators are already saving me time because I can quickly select a word and get a translation or definition. With new accelerators I've loaded, I can also select any celebrity name I come across and get the full IMDB list of movies or shows they are in. (Granted, it's not a timesaver at work, but good nonetheless.)
2. PowerShell 2.0. You have to be a command-line, PowerShell-loving nut to put this one in the top 10, but I yield to my sysadmin side on this one. It is a great thing to have the new command line included within the OS. In fact, I'd like to see Microsoft take the next step and remove the CMD.exe application altogether. PowerShell can perform all the same commands and much, much more.
1. Windows XP Mode. Yes, I know it seems odd that this would be my No. 1 feature. It's actually somewhere around six in my mental list of interesting Windows 7 features, but I've moved it up for a couple of reasons. First, the fact that Microsoft is even including a virtual XP mode shows on some level that Microsoft is aware of the fear on the part of the enterprise to deploy any OS that might not allow their existing applications to function the way they currently do under Windows XP. Second, Microsoft will give it away for free both Windows Virtual PC 7 and the Windows XP Mode drop-in. (Note: It is free for those who have Windows 7 Enterprise, Professional, or Ultimate Edition.) For those of you who rallied to save XP -- well, this will do it! My third reason for making Windows XP mode my No. 1 reason for liking Windows 7 is childish. XP mode seems to really irk my colleague Randall Kennedy (who seems to be irked by most things, even picking on Ubuntu recently). Randall, whom I like to call a 'tech tabloid journalist', has some good points about how Microsoft could have handled the XP application compatibility issue, but I think Microsoft deserves a nod for acknowledging the need, providing a working solution, and doing it for free (for the most part).
So there you have it, my top 10 reasons Windows 7 is a winner. What are your reasons for liking the new Windows 7? Not sure? You are welcome to steal mine. It's great for some light party conversation -- well, if you are at a Star Trek gathering, TechEd 2009, or something along those lines.
This story, "Windows 7 Has Me Sold -- Here's Why" was originally published by InfoWorld.