One of the standout user-visible features of Windows 7 is its end-to-end approach to external devices. Printers, portable media players, cameras, and mobile handsets will be more tightly integrated into the OS. For example, when an all-in-one printer is attached, its scanner, fax, flash card reader, and printer will be grouped together in one interface that Microsoft calls Device Stage. Media Player and Media Center will ship with support for non-Microsoft video and audio formats, including AAC, AVCHD, DiVX, XviD, and H.264. If your network has a Mac or PC with an iTunes library, Windows 7 will tap into it, albeit without access to protected content.
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Windows 7: Addressing IT needs
Most significantly, enterprises get some overdue attention with unattended migration tools that preserve systems' existing data, and a host of remarkable self-healing features that include an automatic runtime cure for applications that commit the memory access violations that bring many apps to a halt. The user need only let an app crash twice for Windows to analyze the problem (without phoning home to Microsoft) and then silently apply the fix. The third time will be the charm. Administrators can pre-patch known problematic applications and software installers prior to their distribution, or push patches out to users from the PowerShell command line.
Federated Search is another of Windows 7's IT-friendly features, with support for a variety of remote information sources and an integrated document viewer. Clicking on a search result's URL will automatically make a secure Intranet connection to a Windows Server 2008 R2 host.
There will be plenty of examination of Windows 7 from the user's point of view. My takeaway from the Reviewer's Workshop is Microsoft's effort to make Windows 7 more welcome in the enterprise than its predecessor. "I'm a PC," Microsoft wants to say with pride. It's hoping that, with Windows 7, being a PC will convey stability, lower resource requirements, self-healing, end-to-end device integration, and other attributes that make IT view Windows 7 as worth the upgrade.