1. The Taskbar reloaded: Windows 7’s version of the Taskbar is less cluttered than Vista’s, and it handles both running and nonrunning apps with equal aplomb.
2. Slicker, quicker Taskbar Previews: Now they show you all of an application’s open windows, all at once.
3. The convenience of Jump Lists: These context-sensitive Taskbar menus let you start accomplishing things in applications before you even open them.
4. A System Tray you can love: New controls prevent the System Tray from overflowing with unwanted apps and distracting you with unhelpful, irrelevant messages.
5. A more media-savvy Windows Media Player: Love Apple’s iTunes Store but hate iTunes? New file-format support enables Windows Media Player 12 to play back unprotected audio and video from Apple’s online store.
6. Alerts via Action Center: Windows 7’s version of Vista’s Security Center queues up system messages so that you can respond to them on your schedule–not when Windows feels like interrupting you.
7. User Account Control that you control: If you’re okay with this security feature’s raison d’être but can’t stand the rapid-fire prompts in Vista, take heart: You can tune Windows 7’s versions to make them less paranoid and intrusive.
8. Library privileges: You can bundle folders from locations all across your hard drive into Libraries designed to provide one-click access from the left pane of Windows Explorer to related files.
9. Reasonable hardware requirements: Historically, new versions of Windows have gobbled up twice the amount of CPU power and RAM that their predecessors did. But Windows 7 runs a bit better than Vista on the same system; it’s even tolerable on a netbook.
10. The potential of touch: Windows 7’s support for multitouch input doesn’t change anything overnight–but it does lay necessary groundwork for third-party developers to build their own software. If they build killer touch apps, Windows 7 deserves some of the credit.
For more information about Windows 7, sign up for PC World’s Windows News and Tips newsletter. And for comprehensive, straightforward advice and tips that can help you get the most out of the new operating system, order PC World’s Windows 7 Superguide, on CD-ROM or in a convenient, downloadable PDF file.