Microsoft Reveals More Windows 7 RC Tweaks

In a Friday blog post, Chaitanya Sareen, a senior program manager with the Windows 7 team, said Microsoft has received positive feedback on the new Device Stage feature in Windows 7, but users are clamoring for broader support from device makers.

Device Stage represents Microsoft's desire to avoid a repeat of the third-party driver issues that plagued Vista users by making it easier for partners to integrate devices such as printers, digital cameras and MP3 players into the Windows ecosystem. Device Stage also lets vendors add images and branding information to the device icon in the control panel, and many vendors are creating customized experiences, Sareen wrote.

Vendors can write a Device Stage in XML, which Microsoft then digitally signs, or authenticates. For older devices, Microsoft gives vendors the option of using a "baseline" Device Stage experience with core functionality that vendors can customize later on if they so choose, Sareen wrote.

Lenovo and other PC makers have been working with Microsoft to customize Device Stage for their products, and in the Windows 7 RC, double-clicking on the PC icon will present users with the expanded set of Device Stage information, according to Sareen.

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Microsoft also has made numerous performance tweaks in the Windows 7 RC. Testers informed Microsoft that the process of using the Devices & Printers folder to remove devices was somewhat confusing, so Microsoft changed this action to always completely uninstall the device across all device classes, Sareen said.

In the Windows 7 beta, Microsoft gave users two options for disconnecting devices: the Safely Remove Hardware function on the taskbar and the Eject option in the Devices & Printers folder. In the Windows 7 RC, Microsoft has combined these into a single option and renamed it "Eject," Sareen said.

Although the Windows 7 beta is regarded as one of the most streamlined operating systems to ever come out of Microsoft, the software giant has found ways to shrink the Windows 7 RC footprint even further. Microsoft was able to improve performance by 400 milliseconds by trimming the audio files that play when shutting down and logging off, Sareen said.

Microsoft also has cut the Windows 7 RC drive size from 200 MB to 100 MB by configuring Windows 7 features such as Bitlocker and Windows Recovery Environment to work "out of the box," which wasn't the case with Windows Vista, according to Sareen.