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.

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.

  1. Jonathan Bean 14 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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