A Closer Look at Windows 7's Taskbar

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After a brief look back at the original taskbar in Windows 1.0 (Windows turned 20 this month), the Engineering Windows 7 blog dug deep into the enhanced features of the Windows 7 taskbar in its most recent entry.

A More Visual Taskbar

The Windows 7 taskbar now features large icons, support for Aero Glass, and no text, and when a window is maximized, the taskbar and the window's title bar no longer turn opaque and dark.

Smarter Program Launch Options

Windows 7 no longer has separate taskbar and Quick Launch buttons for applications, avoiding duplications. Right-click a button on the taskbar, and you can open recently-used documents associated with the program. How can you tell which button represents a program that's already running? A new feature called Color Hot-track changes the color of a running program's taskbar icon when you move your mouse over it.

Smarter Thumbnails

When you hover over a taskbar button, a live thumbnail appears, but in Windows 7, you can click on the thumbnail to switch to the program it represents. Thumbnails representing multiple windows of the same program are automatically grouped together, and when you hover over an icon representing multiple windows, each thumbnail is displayed separately (you still have the option to have a separate button for each program window if you prefer the older method). Hover over a thumbnail, and a new feature called Aero Peek displays the window on your desktop and fades other windows to clear 'glass' panes.

More Manageable Notification Area

The Notification Area can now be easily customized: drag icons from an optional icon menu into the standard menu.

All in all, it looks as if the changes in the Windows 7 taskbar are the most substantial in a long time. So, what do you think? Are they genuine improvements, or just more "churn?" Hit Comment and tell us. And, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

Illustrations courtesy of Engineering Windows 7 .

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