What developers and users like about Windows 7

Windows 7 will make it easier to create applications suitable for hybrid (server-cum-browser) environments, according to a developer testing Microsoft’s new operating system.

Hybrid systems are ideal for organizations that need to keep large volumes of data on storage servers, but also to rapidly transmit files and documents over the Internet to remote workers and customers, according to Kate Gregory, president of Gregory Consulting Ltd., a programming, consulting and training firm based in Pontypool, Ont.

She said the new OS provides developers and users greater flexibility.

 “Windows 7 builds on the promises of Vista which people just didn’t realize,” said Gregory. It doesn’t lock users and developers in an “either-or” situation, she said.

According to Gregory, it’s the “network and device awareness” features of Windows 7 that support building of hybrid apps.  

With Vista, she said, users encountered many problems when trying to connect to various applications and devices, such as projectors, multiple monitors, printers and scanners.

This was partly because fewer drivers were compatible with the outgoing OS.

“With Windows 7, operation is smoother because – without much tweaking – it readily recognizes which component of the network is being accessed or what devices are being used,” she said.

Gregory recalled how her firm built a hybrid Windows-based Web content management application for Loyalist Certificate Services (LCS), a Belleville, Ont.-based outfit that offers Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) exams and certifications.

The app enables LCS to store, automatically update its candidates’ registry – as well as create and transmit digital certificates and documents or print presentation quality certificates.

“It would have been a lot easier to accomplish that if we had Windows 7,” she said.

Gregory said – much like LCS – there are many businesses that need to operate in both browser- and server-based environments.

These firms typically deploy browser-based apps to allow remote users and customers to access data and services over the Internet. But they also require server-based applications to store data or work with desktop devices.

“It’s just very hard to do some operations with the browser alone,” she said. “For example you can’t expect perfect certificate printouts through the browser, the margins tend to be misaligned and text miss the boxes.”  

A key Windows 7 focus area was improving how the desktop connects with the Web, according to Daniel Shapiro, product manager of platform development for Microsoft Canada.

He said Windows 7 reflects the strong emphasis on better compatibility with Microsoft online products such as Windows Live Essentials, Windows Live Messenger, Outlook and Internet Explorer 8.

“We wanted to take it a step beyond and allow desktop applications to take advantage of the Web,” Shapiro said.

Despite the improvements, he said, Windows 7 is not a memory hog and would be ideal for running today’s netbooks.

Feedback for developers testing Windows 7 has been generally positive, the Microsoft product manager said.

Gregory – who has been doing such tests – specifies a couple of other Windows 7 features she likes – the fact that the new OS is “application considerate and power source aware.”

Windows 7 can sense what power source is being used and adjust certain application usage accordingly, she notes.

For instance, if a laptop is operating on its batteries, Windows 7 will conserve power by scaling back on some functions such as file backups that consume a lot of energy.

The OS also enables users to take screen shot videos of problems they may be experiencing with their machines. The videos can then be sent to IT administrators for analysis.

“To have this built into the system saves IT staff a lot of time when dealing with less technically inclined users,” according to Ezra Silverton, owner of 9th Sphere a Toronto-based Web marketing firm.

People have until Feb. 10 to download Windows 7 beta.

A day after the first beta of Windows 7 was made available to the general public on Jan. 10 Microsoft’s Website crashed because of the online traffic generated by users.

Related stories:

What installing Windows 7 feels like – a blow by blow account

First look at Windows 7 – new taskbar, slimmer OS

Windows 7 is less of a resource-hog than Vista

Getting and installing Windows 7 beta – your questions answered

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