In this article of my Windows 7 feature series, I will blog about the changes in applications that are delivered with Windows and I will also write about functional enhancements. The most notable new application certainly is Internet Explorer 8 and the most important functional change is the new MinWin kernel. The better power management is also quite important. Vista has been criticized for shortening the battery life in laptops; this is significantly shorter than in Windows XP. The improvements sound interesting, but reality will show if Windows 7 is improved here.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

Internet Explorer 8 (improved) ^

windows-7-IE8 I will only discuss the major changes here.

  • IE8 is supposed to be faster and more stable
  • Rendering engine: IE8 will improve compliance with web standards; web sites can opt-in for IE7 mode for backward compatibility
  • InPrivate: Makes sure that the browsing history can't be tracked
  • Accelerators: Allows you to invoke a web application by selecting an object on a web page (for example for blogging)
  • Web Slices: Users can subscribe to snippets on a web page, which will be updated automatically by the browser
  • SmartScreen Filter: This is the new name for the Phishing Filter. It has a new user interface, is supposed to perform faster, and has new heuristics, anti-malware support, and improved Group Policy support.
  • Automatic Crash Recovery: The browser will reload the pages after a crash

Calculator (improved) ^


  • New user interface
  • Calculation history
  • Unit conversion
  • Calculation templates
  • Date calculations
  • Controls that are optimized for touch

XPS Viewer (XML Paper Specification) (improved) ^

  • New user interface
  • Relevancy-ranked XPS searched
  • Thumbnails provide an interactive view of several pages at a time
  • Preview XPS documents in Windows Explorer and Office

HomeGroup (new) ^


  • Windows 7 computers can connect automatically with each other to share resources (files, printers, etc.)
  • Users can decide what they want to share
  • Support for Libraries
  • Can be configured via Group Policy

MinWin (new) ^

The most comprehensive source about MinWin, the new mini kernel in Windows 7, is this interview with Mark Russinowich. Robert McLaws translated the main part for non-developers.

  • MinWin is fully bootable
  • Requires 25-40MB of disk space
  • It contains the executive systems, memory management, networking, and optional file system drivers
  • Components only call down the stack, and not up
  • It allows building of less bloated Windows editions that run on netbooks and other computers with limited hardware resources

GPU Computing and Windows 7 ^

In Windows 7, the CPU and the GPU create a co-processing environment. Check out this article at Microsoft's Windows blog for more information.

Ready Boost (improved) ^

  • Allows you to concurrently use multiple flash drives
  • Works with USB memory keys, Secure Digital (SD) memory cards, and other internal flash devices
  • Supports over 4 GB of storage

Battery life (improved) ^

  • Reduced background activities when the computer is idle
  • Adaptive display brightness: Display brightness is reduced after a period of inactivity
  • Less processing power for DVD playback
  • Wake on Wireless LAN
  • Smart Network Power: Power of the network adapter is turned off when cable is unplugged
  • Better battery life notification
  • A new power config tool

Windows Media Player (improved) ^


  • Supports more media formats
  • Improved performance
  • Taskbar thumbnail (displays titles, and offers controls)
  • Jump list in the Windows Start Menu and the taskbar
  • Stream media to other PCs at home
  • Stream media to (DLNA) v1.5-compliant digital media renderers

Media Center (improved) ^


  • New user interface
  • Broader support for global TV standards
  • Share TV shows at home via TV Libraries

Sound (improved) ^

  • New standard Bluetooth audio driver
  • Automatically streams music or voice calls to the active output device
  • Control volume independently for each device

Process Reflection (new) ^

  • Crashed processes are cloned in memory
  • Windows 7 tries to recover the cloned process and diagnoses the failure conditions of the original process
  • It should reduce the disruption caused by diagnosis of failed process

Fault tolerant heap (new) ^

The new fault tolerant heap is supposed to reduce the number of crashes significantly.

Windows Live Essentials and Windows Live Services ^

Microsoft removed Windows apps such as Windows Mail and or Windows Photo Gallery from Windows and offers them as free downloads as a part of the Live Essentials suite. The Windows Live Services are web-based apps like Windows Live Hotmail or Windows Live Spaces. As useful as these tools are, I didn't include them here because I think that downloadable apps and web apps shouldn't be considered as part of the operating system.

If you know of a missing or dropped feature, please leave a comment below or send me a message. Of course, any other response is welcome too. Please, let me know if you described one of the features in your blog or know of a more detailed source. I will then add a link.

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  1. [...] Process Reflection, Fault tolerant heap, and Windows Live Services. See the original post at: 4sysops - Windows 7 new features - the complete list - Part2: applications and functions Tags: [...]


  2. Jonathan Bean 11 years ago

    Windows 7 is adding nearly all the features I wanted! WMP 12 sounds like a killer app, for example. And Windows Search will FINALLY highlight search terms!

    BUT . . . I can't live without Windows DVD Maker. The Windows Live Movie Maker doesn't import media and easily produce DVDs. I've looked high and low for easy-to-use DVD Maker and found it -- in Vista! Now they are going to take it away??


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