The reaction to the pre-release builds of Windows 7 has been generally positive so far, and the expected release of the official beta this week is likely to generate a lot more commentary. I've found plenty to like in Windows 7, but there's also some annoying bugs that (with luck) will get ironed out before the product goes live. Read on for a selection of the issues that I've encountered in Windows 7 so far that I'm hoping Microsoft will get around to addressing.
For me, the most important issue that Windows 7 needs to address are the stability and networking problems that plagued Vista. As someone who works maximised all the time, features like Aero Shake and Aero Peek really aren't going to make much difference. But knowing that wireless networking just works, for instance, would be a big plus. And that leads neatly into my first complaint:
For no obvious reason, Microsoft has changed the wireless connection icon from the longstanding "two overlapping boxes" to the symbol used elsewhere in Windows for wireless. That might seem like a victory for consistency, but actually it's a major nuisance. The old icon added a blob when there was full IP connectivity. On Windows 7, you now have to mouse over to get that information. As a traveller trying to find out if the current Wi-Fi network connection is functional, that's a major inconvenience.
The new templates in the Windows Calculator are an attractive idea, but the implementation leaves something to be desired: you can't fill in a figure when the associated radio button is selected, which seems counter-intuitive to me.
If there was ever an example of an unintuitive menu choice, it was putting the option to create ZIP files under the heading "Send To". Unfortunately, Windows 7 has stuck with this choice. I suspect there are millions of people out there using Windows who don't realise it has built-in compression and packaging, simply because it's made so hard to find.
Problem Reports and Solutions was a feature in Vista which sounded promising, but tended to end up being annoying, Firstly, it hardly ever offered a useful solution (I've seen just one since Vista launched), Secondly, it highlighted just how often problems occur — on a machine I've been using for three weeks, there are already more than 40 problems in the queue. Microsoft has chosen to deal with the second problem by burying that information: where Vista would show you a progress report ('Reporting problem 2 of 30'), Windows 7 simply says 'Checking for solutions' with no real indication of progress. That's consistent with the same idiotic design ethos that replaced details of files being copied with hopeless estimates of how long the copying process might take, but that doesn't mean it was ever a good idea.
OK, I know it's a beta, but this is a message we shouldn't ever be seeing in a functional OS.
That's my quick take — if you've spotted something that needs fixing in Windows 7, share it in the comments.