Today we got to see Windows 7 (the first time for me and many others) which had some cool features in the user experience around the taskbar and notification area. There are also new features around quickly jumping to certain documents and applications, managing window layouts, and managing documents using libraries. Libraries seem like a combination of search and folders to make it easier to find your files. The search capabilities are more easily surfaced as well. In fact, it seems like a lot of Windows 7 is about making it easier to do things in Windows that you could previously do, and improving the user experience. I think this is critical to competing with Apple as the one thing they really excel at is the user experience. There are improvements in home networking connecting all your devices automatically and allowing for scenarios where I can for example load some music from another PC and play it on my home audio system, controlling it all from my laptop. Pretty cool stuff for the home user.
The taskbar stuff is pretty cool and generally the UI improvements are nice and should make working on Windows a lot better. We also got to see some of the touch features in Windows 7 (including using it with a new version of MS Paint -woo hoo), which I think is most relevant for tablets, which most people don't have. I just don't see a lot of people using touch on a monitor on their desktop. What do you think? Am I missing something here?
Homegroup is a cool new feature that simplifies connecting a machine to all the devices in your home network. Even if you bring your work laptop home, it can participate as a client without comprising the security of the work files on the laptop. Smart thinking on the part of the team.
Other interesting features:
- BitLocker on USB - lose that USB thumbdrive? No problem.
- VHD mounting and creation- built right into the disk manager allows for creating VHD from disks or attach one as a drive. Steven S also said you can boot Windows 7 from a VHD and also use something similar to "undo disks where I can reset that drive for development.
- Multi-monitor/remote desktop - Easier ability to show on projector with "windows + p" and true multi-monitor support when using remote desktop
- UAC settings - now on a continuum so I can pick how strong I want the UAC to be.
New WPF Controls like DataGrid, Ribbon, DatePicker, etc. Integration into Windows 7 using XAML which looked really easy.
Visual Studio 2010 built on WPF providing better multi-monitor support, better designers. Sweet demo showing WPF Control embedded into the text editor and enabling rich visualization of comments including linkable bug identifiers that enable a pop up WPF control that shows the bug details from TFS. Having WPF embedded into VS is going to enable a LOT of very cool developer tools from MS, third parties and the community.
All of this is based on the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) which I haven't totally groked yet, but sounds pretty powerful not just in VS but in other applications as well.
Tesco (biggest grocery retailer in the world) showed off a great WPF application built for customers to help manage meal planning, buying groceries, getting them delivered, etc. They also showed off a cool feature where they put a soda can in front of the web cam, grabbed the UPC from the can and then used that to bring up the product and add it to the cart. Very cool example.
- IIS Smooth Streaming - new feature in IIS 7 that provides the bit rate throttling much like what MS used for the Olympics site.
- netflix now using Silverlight for their instant view (which will make my wife the Mac user happy).
- Great new suite of Silverlight controls shipping with source.
- New Silverlight designer in VS 2010 sharing the codebase with the WPF design surface
- New release of Silverlight coming with better media support and the ability to run Silverlight in and OUT of the browser.
David Treadwell (Live Framework / Mesh)
Mesh service becoming part of Live Services platform including data synch, device management and building applications on top of the live system. He announced the Live Operating Environment (consistent across devices -cloud, mobile, pc, etc.) and Live Programming model.
Demo of a very cool use of Live Mesh culminating with a picture being taken on a phone, synched to a desktop and shared though synch with another desktop version of the application. Also showed simple access to devices, folders, and contacts.
Another cool demo from BBC using their iPlayer and POC of mesh integration with devices and contacts. Super cool example where they started watching a show on the desktop, then it was synched to the mobile phone where it not only downloaded the show, but started playing where he stopped watching on the desktop.
- Mesh support for mobile 6 and Mac coming in the beta later this week.
Office 14 Web Applications
WOW - huge announcement involving Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. This means a user on the web can view and edit files in these applications in the browser. Demo showed adding a picture/content to a onenote notebook on the desktop and it showed up seconds later in the web version of the notebook with no refresh. I guess this is Software + Services! Very nice. This even works with Windows Mobile where OneNote can run.
Web applications will work on IE, Firefox and Safari, but also provides a rich Silverlight experience. I'm actually excited about Office again.