I’ve been saying for a while now that if I find something I like, I’ll blog about it, but only after using it for a couple of weeks. Much like this fellow, I have a tendency to try something out, rave about how great it is, and then never use it again. So here it is, my first Certified Awesome post and it’s about the redesigned taskbar that’s in Windows 7. The Windows 7 pre-beta comes with the same old Vista taskbar, but there are ways to unlock the new one. The new taskbar is more like a dock, but the live thumbnails of the running applications are fantastic. They’re a bit clearer than in Vista, and you can even close windows right from the live thumbnail in the taskbar.
Other things I like are the ability to pin a running application to the taskbar, as well as the context sensitive pop out menus (jump lists) that you can open from the taskbar shortcut. For example, if you have Notepad pinned to your taskbar, the jump list will contain the recently opened text files. This comes in handy if you’re frequently opening the same log files.
Last but not least is the updated notification area (or system tray if you prefer). Rather than “hiding” rarely used icons, there’s actually a new area where you drag them to, and that area is only shown on your command. It’s kind of like the old way of having to click the little arrow and it slides out to show your unused icons, but it’s more of a static type of window that opens up above the taskbar. You also have the option to suppress balloon notifications for any application you would like to ignore.
Did I mention that you can also drag your taskbar items and system tray icons, allowing you to re-order them to your liking?
All in all, this much needed update to the Windows taskbar is proving to be pretty fantastic, and I already hate using the old Vista taskbar now that I’ve been spoiled by the new one. Keep up the good work Microsoft, I can’t wait to get my hands on a Windows 7 build that will have the fully functioning peek feature.