For the most part, Windows 7 doesn’t present a radical change to the user interface and operating system features for those migrating from Windows Vista. One area, however, that users will find different and which may take some adjusting to is the Windows Taskbar. Here’s quick a look at the new Taskbar in Windows 7 and how you will find it different.
What Happened to the Quick Launch Toolbar?
Many Windows users may be accustomed to using and customizing the Quick Launch toolbar, a useful means of always having an always visible icon to your most commonly used programs. In my experience it is not uncommon to find users that add icons to almost all of their applications on this useful toolbar. To these users it may be especially disappointing to find that the Quick Launch toolbar has been removed from the Windows 7 Taskbar.
The Quick Launch bar has now been replaced with the concept of “Pinning” an icon to the taskbar. By dragging an icon to the taskbar in Windows 7 you will be presented with a menu item to “Pin to” taskbar.
Pinning an icon to to the taskbar will basically replicate the Quick Launch bar with some minor differences. First of which is that a pinned icon is not a static icon that allows you to click and open as many instances of the application as you like (useful in the case of your browser or file explorer window), rather once clicking on the icon it will expand to represent the opened window in the taskbar.. This can create confusion as your other icons may get shifted further to the right from where your eye traditionally expects to find it. Clicking again on this icon will either just minimize the application or select the window if in the background.
More Menu Options
The taskbar has become more useful, by right clicking the taskbar you are presented with a new menu of options from which you can quickly arrange your windows or start the Task Manager.
This quick reference allows you to quickly and easily arrange all of your open windows or to find your desktop.
Window Preview with Command Buttons
The Windows 7 Taskbar buttons, similar to Windows Vista, make it quick and easy to see a preview of the application window it represents. Hovering your mouse over the taskbar button you will be presented with a miniature preview of the window and not only. Windows 7 also will display command buttons on some relative applications allowing to perform simple tasks without opening the full window (useful for Windows Media Player as there is no longer the Windows Media Player Toolbar, this almost replicates the functionality from within the preview window). Computers that are not able to support the Aero graphical themes will not have the window preview, but will still have a pop-up menu item with a description and with the option to directly close the window.
Move your mouse over the preview window and the window will appear in full size and all other windows will become invisible until you move your mouse again away from the preview window. So far I find it to be a useful way to find the right window when you have a lot of applications open.
Better Button Grouping
I have never been fond of the button grouping for multiple instances of the same application, but it is useful when the taskbar gets completely full. Apparently Microsoft realized that and has now made this an option under the taskbar properties.
Additionally, the grouping experience has been improved. The grouped button icon has changed, illustrating that the button has multiple instances. Hovering your mouse over the button will provide the “Aero Peek” preview of each of the windows allowing you to quickly open the one you seek.
New Show Desktop Button
Afraid that with the lose of the Quick Launch bar you will no longer have the Show Desktop icon? Fortunately it hasn’t been removed, rather it just changed position. You will now find it hiding in the right hand bottom corner.
Want a quick peek at the desktop without having to close all your windows? Just hover your mouse over this button and all other windows will be invisible until you move your move away from the button.
Enhanced Graphical Effects
A new Windows release would not be the same without an onslaught of newly enhanced graphical effects; not overlooked were the taskbar buttons! Watch the color glow that follows the mouse as you move over each button. Notice that the color reflects the primary color of the icon of the button. Some of the graphical effects are also useful, such as the rolling color across the button to indicate that the specific application is still processing.