Paul Thurrott has updated his Windows 7 FAQ. Some of the information has already been available for some time, but he discusses quite a few features I hadn't heard about before. In this post I will summarize the new features that are specifically of interest to Windows administrators. I will also add a few comments and wishes. Not that I believe that someone in Redmond will listen to me, but my therapist always recommends expressing one's wishes because it frees the soul. 😉
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Release date ^
Windows 7 is slated for early 2010. That means that chances are it will be available for Xmas 2010. I wonder whether those who decided to skip Vista will be happy with their decision, considering that that Windows XP will be almost 10 years old by then? Yes, I know XP works just fine, but so did NT.
It is unclear if MinWin (the micro kernel) will be included in Windows 7. I somehow doubt it, because this might provoke more compatibility issues. The worst thing that can happen for Microsoft is that Windows 7 is not 100% compatible with Vista. It is more likely that Windows 7 will have better support for parallel processing capabilities.
Paul thinks that Windows will have virtualization capabilities. I expected this already for Vista. I hope that Microsoft won't just include Virtual PC in Windows 7. Even more interesting than hardware virtualization would be application virtualization. This would really be a killer feature for corporate environments. But I guess that is something for Windows 8.
User Account Control (UAC) ^
I blogged about Windows 7 UAC yesterday. Paul seems to have more specific information. There will be four settings (two are new):
- Never: This setting already exists now for admins, but you need Group Policy to configure it
- Program-based changes only: Don't notify when the user installs software or changes settings
- Notify only: The user is just notified, but doesn't have to confirm the prompt
- Notify and confirm: This is the default setting in Vista
The two new settings are certainly important improvements. However, this is still far from the sudo capabilities. For corporate environments, we require the ability to configure UAC for user groups and programs network-wide. I am also missing a "remember this" feature like in Symantec's UAC solution.
Fewer bundled applications ^
This is something I've been asking for years. Every time I install Linux components on a SuSE box I wonder why Windows doesn't have a tool like yast. I think many who believe that Windows is bloated just dislike the fact that they can't control which components are installed. I can understand that the Linux method is not an option for most home users, but why not give us sys admins such a feature? With Server Manager on Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has already gone in this direction. However, it seems as if in Windows 7 it will only be possible to exclude relatively unimportant applications such as Windows Photo Gallery or Windows Movie Maker. But what we really need is more control over performance-related components such as Windows Search or security-related features like Remote Desktop. Especially when it comes to security, the ability to disable a certain feature is not enough. I want to be able to completely remove it from the computer.
Windows PowerShell V2 and Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) ^
I believe that PowerShell will leverage its full power only if it is installed on every Windows machine. Windows 7 will be the first desktop OS that will be delivered with Microsoft's scripting environment. However, it will still be many years before PowerShell is ubiquitous. The fact that Microsoft will also provide an ISE (scripting editor and debugger) will probably convince more admins to use PowerShell, even though there are already good tools such as the free PowerGUI.
Troubleshooting control panel ^
This new troubleshooting control panel is supposed to be a central location for troubleshooting applications, devices, networks, devices, printing, display, sound, performance and more. I am curious about this new panel, because troubleshooting is certainly an essential part of system administration. I think it would be useful if there was only one location with all the information that allows you to verify that everything is all right. However, I have my doubts that this is easy to accomplish. I've also been skeptical about these automatic troubleshooting features of Vista, and so far I haven't encountered one case where they've really solved a problem. But let's wait for this new troubleshooting panel. Perhaps it will be more useful.
32-bit and 64-bit ^
It is interesting that there still will be a 32-bit version of Windows 7. I think this indicates that the resource requirements of Windows 7 will be not be much higher than for Windows Vista. Vista now needs at least 2GB to run properly. If Windows 7 needed more than 3GB, it wouldn't make sense to offer a 32-bit version. However, I do believe that Windows 7 x64 will be the dominant edition. The 32-bit version will probably only be for Netbooks and older PCs.
By the way, Windows 7 is now called Windows 7.