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While Windows 7's basic "look" is a refined version of Windows Vista, Windows 7 is much more than "Vista, Take 2." One of the most significant new features coming in Windows 7 is Device Stage, and Device Stage is one of the major themes of this week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).
What is Device Stage?
Device Stage, for the first time, looks at a device as a single entity rather than as a collection of different components. As ArsTechnica describes Device Stage:
Attaching a device in current versions of Windows gives sometimes unpredictable results. A multi-function printer/scanner/fax, for instance, might show up as several different things within Windows: a printer, scanner, removable disk, and some vendor supplied management suite...The "Device Stage" feature is designed to alleviate some of these problems by treating devices as distinct "things" with multiple abilities.
The Device State User Interface
The Device Stage dialog displays the device's current state at the top of the window, and uses the bottom of the window for device-specific actions such as file sync, file copying, media playback, scanning, and so on. The actions section of the dialog can also include options for ordering device-specific supplies (such as ink), and in some cases, the user can change the default program used to perform a particular task.
Device Stage and Hardware Device Drivers
Although Device Stage is a new feature in Windows 7, PC World notes that device drivers for Windows 7 are otherwise very similar to drivers for Windows Vista, enabling hardware vendors to support Windows 7 with far less difficulty than in the move from Windows XP to Windows Vista (Device Stage is implemented with vendor-supplied XML files).
So, Who's On Board with Device Stage?
Major hardware vendors such as Brother, Epson, HP, Motorola, Nikon, Sensa, Canon, Nokia, SanDisk and Sony Ericsson are already on board. Microsoft has already demoed Device Stage with a variety of digital camera, smartphone, and imaging products at WinHEC and last month's PDC.
Learn more about Device Stage and related hardware technologies at the Windows Device Experience website.
Illustration courtesy TGDaily.