If you loved Vista in Aero Glass mode, then you’ll love Windows 7 even more. Windows 7 addresses many of the shortcomings in Vista, including management for those annoying popup notification messages, gadgets which are no longer locked in the sidebar (they can now be moved anywhere on the desktop), several UI enhancements which are not only attractive, but also require less mouse clicks to carry out routine functions, HomeGroup networking which automatically separates out your business and home network connections (including printers and peripherials), the ability to move app buttons on the start bar, and of course direct multi-touch support for all of Microsoft’s Windows 7 apps.
Note: Read about the new features of Microsoft Windows 7 and see a SLIDESHOW here. Of all the features shown today, only multi-touch is really worthy of significant praise. Originally introduced to most mainstream technology users by Apple’s iPhone, and known for years to most restaurant waitresses, multi-touch allows a hands-on experience directly with the display itself. No longer do we move objects many inches away from where we’re looking.
Now we look and touch, not just point and click. Just as single-touch screens have allowed the user to click on visible objects on the screen and interact with their application in the past, new multi-touch abilities now allow the user to direct finger movements in ways the software can to respond to which were not previously possible. A quick example of this multi-touch feature is squeezing the fingers in and out to make the distance between them closer or further apart while in contact with the display (like trying to pick up a bug on a monitor). If the UI focus points to a Word document, for example, then this action might result in a zoom in or out. While another 3D application might present as a new way to navigate the virtual world.
Many more potential uses are there for such a user input device. In fact, while on stage Microsoft presenters encouraged the developer community out there find new and exciting uses for multi-touch. Microsoft also introduced the ability to dock windows in various positions, allowing them to quickly maximize to full-screen. An additional, easy GUI approach to multi-monitor management is also a welcomed addition.
Still, are any of these new abilities new to Linux users (or Mac users)? Only multi-touch is new. And I truly doubt it take until Q3 2009 before the Linux community has incorporated that ability as well. Linux and Beryl / Compiz Fusion If you haven’t seen the Beryl desktop before, then I recommend watching this YouTube video. It demonstrates graphically how a GUI experience in Vista compares. And, following the merger of Beryl and Compiz Fusion in late 2007, watch this YouTube video showing how far the latest iteration of the OpenGL Desktop has come.
These add-ons to Linux are easily downloaded and installed in versions like Ubuntu, though they are not required. If desired, however, they provide a 3D desktop which, by all accounts, makes Vista’s Aero Glass mode look primitive. They make the UI experience more expressive with video-game like effects. Beryl and Compiz Fusion offer multiple desktops arranged in a cube. The cube can be rotated to see what’s on every desktop as easily as moving though a video game. Multiple applications (whether they’re minimized in the desktop or not, spread across multiple desktops or not) are also visible.
And selecting them and dragging from one desktop to another is as easy as pointing and clicking (and probably this time next year will be as easy as touching and dragging). Windows 7 and Ubuntu Windows 7 is the unquestionable follow-on to Vista. It looks a lot like Vista, uses an evolution of the Vista kernel, and it has some enhanced Vista GUI features which make it prettier. In fact, it’s arguable that Windows 7 is the UI Vista should’ve come with.
Vista users will find it a desirable upgrade path and one which makes sense considering the many annoyances of Vista’s security and notification models today. But if you don’t want to wait until Q3 2009 to move forward. If you’re ready to spend a few days learning the (often initially frustrating) nuances of switching to another OS. If you want your PC to be a joy to use again, then the time may be ripe for a switch.
Ubuntu 8. 10 Canonical is getting ready to release their next-generation version of Ubuntu in both desktop and server versions. Still available completely for free, this release introduces native 3G wireless support, guest sessions, directly supported streaming multi-media content from the BBC, the Gnome 2. desktop (by default – can be upgraded to 3D version with download), and the ability to install Ubuntu from a USB drive copied from an existing 8. 10 user without a new download.
This allows an Ubuntu user to install on their own PC once when they get home. Beyond that, Ubuntu is available today for free. It has the ability to add features like the 3D desktop and VMware Server. In fact, a Linux user running a 64-bit version of Ubuntu can download the latest version, burn it to CD, install it on their machine.
Then, download the 3D desktop option and VMware Server (all are free software in Linux). And, after installing some version of Windows inside the virtual machine (in VMware), have a complete Windows system running inside of Linux – giving them the best of both worlds. In fact, since Microsoft is big on backward compatibility, most software they release will still run on Windows 2000, XP or Vista. So even if a user only has an older copy of Windows 2000, XP or Vista, then the migration to Linux won’t cost anything other than the time required to learn the subtleties of Linux.
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