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Operating Systems Windows

Hands-On With Windows 7's New Features 662

Posted by timothy
from the less-sucking-is-good-in-this-context dept.
Barence writes "Microsoft has released the first pre-beta code of Windows 7, and PC Pro has a series of in-depth, hands-on examinations of all the new features. The revamped user interface has clearly gleaned more than a little inspiration from the Mac OS X Dock, but it goes further than the Apple concept with 'jumplists,' new gadgets and an updated system tray. The much-vaunted multi-touch controls were there to play with, and it seemed to work well. Networking has been given the full treatment, with new features HomeGroup and Libraries. Windows 7 debuts a new feature called Device Stage that has the potential to be unbelievably handy ... or a complete disaster. Finally, several new features could make PCs easier to manage and secure for IT departments, such as BitLocker To Go and Branch Cache." All in all, these features together lead some people to the conclusion that Windows 7 will "suck less than Vista" — that last link from reader ThinSkin, who also points to a related sampling of screenshots from the current iteration of Windows 7.
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Hands-On With Windows 7's New Features

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  • by Divebus (860563) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:18PM (#25543671)

    Yeah, but can it run all my old viruses?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cstdenis (1118589)

      Don't worry, they are easy to upgrade.

    • Re:Capabilities (Score:5, Informative)

      by sootman (158191) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:57PM (#25544341) Homepage Journal

      Actually, it sounds like they will. From TFA: "If it works on Windows Vista, it'll work in Windows 7. The move from Vista to Windows 7 we expect to be seamless."

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:28PM (#25544897) Journal

        Actually, it sounds like they will. From TFA: "If it works on Windows Vista, it'll work in Windows 7. The move from Vista to Windows 7 we expect to be seamless."

        Ah good, so it still won't run my old scanner and laserjet printer properly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Sure it can and WILL. Perhaps /.ers could begin a wish list? I know I have one request above all others myself: FIX EXPLORER. Since the beginning of Windows, when you browse your way to some folder on your hard drive, re-opening Explorer starts all over again, forcing you to click madly just to get back to where ever you were. On some other OS's, re-opening the Explorer equivalent starts back where you last were. This is infinitely preferable to the way Windows works. I read years ago that Windows did
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:18PM (#25543681)

    Get that index finger in shape for pushing the reset button. Also, toughen up your fists for pounding your desk or hitting the wall.

  • Not Again! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:19PM (#25543701)

    wait, you mean _THIS_ is Windows Vista? Not again...I fell for this same trick in the last "experiment"

  • by pzs (857406) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:23PM (#25543741)

    I was looking at buying a new gaming rig recently but I refuse to buy an operating system that hobbles the performance. Most of the benchmarks show that Vista is just slower than XP. These reports don't make future versions look that hopeful either.

    It's pretty hard to buy a non-Vista machine these days. Am I going to have to blag an XP license from work to get a proper OS for gaming? How long am I going to have to hang on to these licenses before Microsoft releases a decent product or games companies start supporting Linux?

    Yes, I know, buy a console. I still prefer PC gaming for many types of game.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:27PM (#25543817) Journal

      I was looking at buying a new gaming rig recently but I refuse to buy an operating system that hobbles the performance.

      I know what you mean--they all hobble performance. Anything past the BIOS is just bells and whistles that ruins my gaming experience completely.

      On a related note, do you know where I can pick up a copy of Tie Fighter that works on IBM's Extended Firmware Interface (EFI)?

      • by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:36PM (#25543957)
        You joke, but what good is the desktop environment to me when I'm playing a game? I liked the days of DOS games much better.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          I like to be able to play "slower" games (Neverwinter Nights, Kinghts of the Old Republic, GalCiv, etc.) via a window & chat with my friends at the same time. But maybe that's just me.

        • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:30PM (#25544935) Homepage

          You joke, but what good is the desktop environment to me when I'm playing a game? I liked the days of DOS games much better.

          How fast they forget...

          Remember the joys of setting up your hardware in every single game? Running GAMECONFIG.EXE to say yes, my SoundBlaster is on IRQ 7, my display can handle 1024x769 in 256 colours, and no, I don't have an AdLib card.

          Having a real OS might shave off a few fps, but it allows you to set up your hardware just the once, and have it work in all of your software.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:51PM (#25545263)
            Come on, the hours of setting up boot floppies was like a game unto itself. Ever since gaming moved to Windows, I have never had the thrill of finding that last 10k of base memory to run the latest game.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Calinous (985536)

              Mod parent up - usually the games fit into memory (but sometime they didn't, and fighting to find it was interesting at least)

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Running GAMECONFIG.EXE to say yes, my SoundBlaster is on IRQ 7, my display can handle 1024x769 in 256 colours, and no, I don't have an AdLib card.

            You misspelled 320x200. ;)

            (Okay, that was a pointless nitpick, but we didn't really start seeing >640x480 games until well after Windows 95 came along.)

            • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @03:27PM (#25545845)

              Actually I had DOS based 3dfx enabled games that would do 800x600 mode easily (probably higher too but my crappy 14" monitor I used back then would spaz at 1024x768). For a good while I didn't take Windows games seriously because Windows games were always like the flash games we have today: simple diversions with very limited gameplay. For a "real" game you dropped into DOS.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Smauler (915644)

            Come on, that was most of the fun! Once you managed to convince your system to boot and still retain 620k of basic memory, and you could play the game, you quickly got bored with it. And of course 640k was enough for anyone, it was just that everything wanted a piece of it :P. I do remember having at least 5 boot options depending on what I was doing - by the end, the load all boot option managed to take almost 1/2 of that 640k IIRC.

            Anyway - I know it's not practical, but in some ways I really wish that

          • by lymond01 (314120) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @03:13PM (#25545635)

            Remember the joys of setting up your hardware in every single game? Running GAMECONFIG.EXE to say yes, my SoundBlaster is on IRQ 7, my display can handle 1024x769 in 256 colours, and no, I don't have an AdLib card.

            Youngster. I wish we had GAMECONFIG.EXE. In my day we had boot into DOS because WinDOS wasn't good enough. Then we had to edit the autoexec.bat and config.sys and enable HIMEM for our games to run. Those were the days...

          • by antdude (79039)

            Ugh, ugh! I remember I made multi-configurations menus too for specific setups since not all gmaes like EMS, XMS, want most conventional memory, etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jeevesbond (1066726)

            You joke, but what good is the desktop environment to me when I'm playing a game? I liked the days of DOS games much better.

            Having a real OS might shave off a few fps, but it allows you to set up your hardware just the once, and have it work in all of your software.

            You're confusing a desktop environment with an OS :)

            This is why GNU/Linux will -- eventually -- rock for gaming. Imagine being able to run just X and a game. No GNOME/KDE cruft, services or widgets slowing things down. I already drop out of GNOME and use Fluxbox + a terminal to launch Quake Wars or Savage, and it does make a big difference.

      • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25544031) Homepage

        On a related note, do you know where I can pick up a copy of Tie Fighter that works on IBM's Extended Firmware Interface (EFI)?

        The Windows 95 port ought to work just fine. You lose the MIDI music (as DirectMusic didn't exist at the time of the port) in favor of canned CD audio music edited from Williams' soundtracks. In return, though, you get 640x480 resolution in both TIE Fighter (which may have supported it in DOS?) and X-wing (which definitely didn't).

    • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:37PM (#25543971) Journal

      If you're looking to buy a new computer anyway, get Vista. A couple less FPS isn't going to ruin your gaming experience. That's what you're worrying about; getting 120 FPS in counter strike or 123. Vista is rock solid on new hardware*, even 64 bit version just doesn't have the problems it did a year ago. I'll admit that the gap becomes more noticeable the lower your hardware specs get but you said you're building a gaming machine which says to me you're willing to spend a little more to get more power so the difference between Vista and XP won't be apparent to your eyes--you'll need benchmarking software to measure the difference.

      Vista WORKS now, guys. Why don't you try it again and stop basing your idea of Vista on your impression of it at launch, which was no worse than XP when it first came out.

      *disregarding the problems from vendor added crapware, but that'll affect you even if you buy an XP machine. Install a clean version of Vista.

      • by Knara (9377) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:50PM (#25544243)

        Pretty much. I was a bit unnerved when I went to Vista about 6 months ago. However, it's been pretty good to me so far.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        my two cent: vista is indeed slower than xp but it is my impression that vista *scales* better, so on the same high end rig vista is faster than xp, maybe due to his better caching system and better support for larger ram.
      • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:12PM (#25544647) Homepage Journal

        Anecdote: Last weekend I was trying to get wireless set up on my friends Vista laptop. I made the damn thing crash no less than 6 times. It took me an hour to do what it would normally take me 15 minutes to do in XP & Ubuntu.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dogmatixpsych (786818)
        That's true for the most part. However, after running Vista for over a year and a half I finally went back to XP because I was sick of incompatibilities and some of the other stupid things Vista did. I will miss a number of things about Vista but it got to the point where it was even frustrating my non-tech savvy wife. I think 1.5 years is a pretty good trial of Vista. In the end, it just wasn't worth it for me. I was a Vista advocate for many months but now I would not recommend it to anyone
    • by Ceseuron (944486) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:38PM (#25543991)
      I actually replaced Windows Vista with Windows Server 2008 Standard x64, which thus far has played every game I've thrown at it. It's about 10GB smaller than Vista and, with a few tweaks, performs VERY well. Check out http://www.win2008workstation.com./ [www.win200...tation.com] If Windows 7 shows the same patented buggy, bloatware approach Microsoft took with Vista, I won't be touching it or any future desktop operating system from Microsoft in the future.
    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:47PM (#25544191)
      I game on Vista, and it works beautifully. There is no reason to avoid Vista, unless you'd rather avoid Windows altogether (Vista is a good Windows entry, but if you have problems with the product line, it's obviously not going to solve that).
      • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:55PM (#25545341)

        Wow, moderation abuse for the win. It's obviously trolling to state my own personal experience, am I right?

        I know the moderation system gets abused all the time, and I shouldn't be surprised any more, but it really bugs me sometimes that people don't have the integrity to not abuse even this small amount of power.

    • by superphreak (785821) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:21PM (#25544773) Homepage
      Most of the benchmarks show that Vista is just slower than XP.

      Gaming Performance: Windows Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3 [extremetech.com]:
      If you were expecting a huge drop in performance as your eyes scanned from the XP to the Vista results, well, surprise! As many a tech analyst predicted, Windows Vista's gaming performance conundrum has largely been solved, and it was mainly due to early graphics drivers.

      In fact, I'd been planning to run a few other gaming tests, but the results from these were so uninteresting that further work didn't seem merited. Love it or hate it, Vista is performing far better than it used to.


      You were saying?
    • It's not just games (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:56PM (#25545351) Homepage Journal

      "These reports don't make future versions look that hopeful either."

      I was afraid of this... that 7 would just be Vista with some new pretties tacked on. If 7 still takes a minimum of 2 gigs of ram just to make average functions bearable, then it's still shitty software.

      I couldn't even play my favorite game (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory) on Vista until Microsoft came out with some patches. And I have a lot of old PC games that I like. Maybe I'll just move completely to the Mac ( I use one at work) and dual boot it under XP for my games. I'm simply not going to reward Microsoft for not giving me what I want out of an OS.

      I have my complaints about Apple too... ugly and overpriced hardware, that dreary grey-metallic theme... but Apple continually improves the performance of their software. Everyone knows by now about how Apple has made their operating systems faster, even on older supported hardware. And that's what counts.

      Has Microsoft ever... ever made an operating system that was faster than a previous version? Hmm? If that's too hard, then try this... have they even come up with one that wasn't noticeably slower on similar hardware?

      Even Vista basic needs 512 mb ram at minimum for tolerable usage.

      Windows 2000 was fast with half that memory, and it did nearly everything we wanted. What does Vista or 7 do that Windows 2000 does not that the public wants? Do we really believe that consumers were crying out for Aero Glass?

  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:25PM (#25543765)
    Windows 7 debuts a new feature called Device Stage that has the potential to be unbelievably handy ... or a complete disaster.

    Hmmm. I wonder which way Microsoft will take this....
  • Plus ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ze_jua (910531) <jailh&free,fr> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:27PM (#25543803)
    Will there be a "Windows7 Plus!" to allow users to create funny themes ?
  • by ivanmarsh (634711) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:27PM (#25543807)

    Does it out perform XP?

    I didn't put Vista on my machine because every benchmark said it was slower than XP. Can I assume that 7 is going to be even slower?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sam0737 (648914)

      I don't think there will be any major kernel work. Vista includes lot of new low level stuff, the whole Audio stack, network stack, composite display (not to mention DRM, duh!), a lot of stuff that hard to get right on the first shoot.

      And for a product delayed for a year, I bet the performance fine tuning would be the last thing on the TODO list.

      Back to Win 7, I don't heard M$ will be revamping the kernel again. So there is much higher chance that they could stabilize and improve the stack (and hopefully ba

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by skiflyer (716312)

      The benchmarks for what? I don't know whether or not I'm losing a percent or two for number crunching... but I do know that the UI feel is a lot faster, they've really improved load times and the lag from switching between programs.

      I do think I've lost an FPS or two in certain games... and I may have lost a second or two on compiles (though I doubt that one)... but for the day to day benchmarks that actually matter to me it certainly seems faster.

  • by Bazer (760541) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:28PM (#25543845)
    I see the KDE team made leaps and bounds in their Windows port.
  • Visuals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StreetStealth (980200) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:30PM (#25543857) Journal

    I know that there's plenty of time for this to change between now and release, but Aero's visual details continue to leave a vast amount to be desired.

    There's simply far too much detail on elements that don't need it -- window borders, toolbars, status bars; everything seems to have about twice as many lines as are needed, with various controls popping up and down like the terraces of some ancient courtyard. This makes windows look more complicated than they should.

    And don't get me started on the ridiculous transparency + airbrush titlebars. The first thing they should have done was to accept that the translucent window experiment failed (or at least to boost the opacity to ~90% like another company addicted to transparency learned to do), but the Windows UI team doesn't seem to have realized it yet.

    • Audio/Visuals (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ostracus (1354233)

      "And don't get me started on the ridiculous transparency + airbrush titlebars. The first thing they should have done was to accept that the translucent window experiment failed (or at least to boost the opacity to ~90% like another company addicted to transparency learned to do), but the Windows UI team doesn't seem to have realized it yet."

      The more important question is, can we change it? I'd be more worried about an interface I couldn't change than an interface that pleases everyone.

    • Re:Visuals (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kisrael (134664) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:37PM (#25543969) Homepage

      Windows Vista is a very sad exercise in "More is the new More!" design.

      I took a snapshot of first desktop scene of my Vista laptop [kisrael.com]. Some of that's the usual OEM cruft, but man, what a visual assault! Harsh colors, the OEM cruft (icons, windows, toolbars), messages screaming at me... and then this dumbass sidebar. Because, you know, I always wanted a slideshow permanently putting up a new picture to distract me every couple minutes.

      I still run w/ windows maximized, just a way of focusing, but Windows UI is running in the opposite direction.

  • by seven of five (578993) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:30PM (#25543861) Homepage
    Ha ha, just kidding!
  • Surprise! (Score:5, Funny)

    by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25544015) Homepage

    Next week's news: Windows 7 is actually--surprise!--Windows Mojave!

    db

  • Page fault madness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MegadeTH_ (177721) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25544027)

    have they done anything to improve memory management and the incredibly insane amount of page faults?

    Vista is terrible slow with it's default config, super prefetch, using all the memory and then paging applications your actually trying to run to swap, which is hundreds of times slower than ram, and sure feels like it too.

    osx, and linux and most all other operating systems that I've used will not swap memory until the machine is completely out of ram, and are noticeably faster in this area. Vista starts to swap before your even logged in, and page faults like crazy

    with 4 gigs of ram, less than one half used, why does vista page fault important programs like dwm.exe, my machine has 7 million page faults on that one app and it's only been turned on 12 hours

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      I agree. Vista a fucking dog performance wise. I finally got Ubuntu 8.04.1 running on my HP laptop with 1gb of RAM (the first version of Ubuntu that does so with full audio and WiFi support), and it's like a different world. In Linux, it's really fast, and it's pretty much ready to go once the Gnome is up and running. With Vista, it takes about twice as long to boot to login, and then the login process can take easily another minute or so, and this is after I turned off or uninstalled most of the shit t

    • by Alex_Ionescu (199153) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:13AM (#25551539) Homepage

      You need to understand the difference between a "soft page fault" and a "hard page fault". The numbers you're looking at are a combination of both -- I would guess maybe 1000 hard faults, and 6.999 soft faults.

      So you're looking at completely the wrong number (page reads/sec is a better number, subtracting that from I/O reads/sec).

      If you want more information, I suggest you read up on the Memory Management chapter in Windows Internals.

  • Cheap Hack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:42PM (#25544083) Homepage Journal

    I took a look at some of the screen shots, and quite honestly I get the feeling unpaid open source developers could have done a better job. It doesn't feel like a qualified UI expert sat down to really improve thing. If they don't put a proper effort into the UI design, then Ubuntu is going to be the better OS.

  • Bloat... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AVonGauss (1001486) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:46PM (#25544151)
    If they didn't take a step back and seriously consider what should be part of the operating system and what should be a free standing application - i.e. the bloat, then Windows 7 will suffer the same reception as Vista in my opinion. Microsoft has many different initiatives in many different areas, but still seems unable to resist using their operating system as the launching platform for those unrelated initiatives. At the end of the day, people want an operating system that works and works with them and for a reasonable price. Their idea for many different "tiers" to their operating system should have been the first clue to their management team that it is time to reign things in and refocus efforts.
  • Virtual Desktops? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:46PM (#25544157) Journal

    Do they have virtual desktops that actually work yet?

  • by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:47PM (#25544169) Journal

    From TFA:
    A printer manufacturer, for example, might include a direct link to buy new ink cartridges for that specific printer from their website

    The purpose of an OS is to provide a stable, secure framework for which to run applications.

    The purpose of a device driver is to provide stable, and secure interface between hardware and the OS.

    Marketing fluff does not belong in an OS, or a device driver. I surely hope there is an opt-out for this tripe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cliffiecee (136220)

      At my job we still use Word 2003. I make frequent use of Word's Help features for writing VBA macros- the documentation is actually pretty thorough. But since Office 2007 came out, underneath the 'See Also' section of every single help box are _several_ options for purchasing Office 2007 online. It's so stupid- if I'm running Word 2003, and looking for information about Word 2003, why the hell would MS need to remind me about Office 2007 two or three times in a list that has five entries?

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:51PM (#25544265)

    I like the fact that they have extended BitLocker, but I really wish they could get BitLocker to do something relatively simple.

    As of now, with a TPM chip, you have TPM alone, TPM + a PIN, TPM + a USB flash drive.
    Without a TPM chip, you just have a USB flash drive.

    I really wish they could add a mode for machines without a TPM chip requiring a password and no USB flash drive. Of course, technically I could go out and install TrueCrypt which does the job nicely (TrueCrypt is arguably one of the best security tools out there), but on an enterprise level, it would be nice for the OS which has this functionality to include this relatively small item so I don't have to push out another .MSI file to bunches of machines for security.

    Another thing I wish Windows 7 came with would be a more configurable backup utility. You can sort of kludge ntbackup from an XP CD, but that's no solution. I'd like to see something similar to Retrospect or Backup Exec that offers backups, but offers the option to encrypt the backups (perhaps similar to how EFS is done with recovery policies.) Encrypted backups are a must these days, and its a shame that no operating system offers this.

  • Most of the original scope of Windows 7 has been abandoned. The new cleaned-up native API? Not a word about that. The Classic-like sandboxes for legacy APIs? Gone. What we have is more like a Plus Pack for Windows Vista, the same way Windows XP was a Plus Pack for Windows 2000.

    So I don't think there's any reason to treat it as a joke. Windows 7 really is Mojave. It's Vista with some new bundled apps and gratuitous user interface changes (who came up with the ribbon? What was he on? Does the DEA know about it?), and a fresh new name to try and dump the bad PR from the botched release. It worked in the Mojave Experiment, so they see no reason not to go ahead and expand its scope.

  • WinFS (Score:3, Funny)

    by bornyesterday (888994) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:58PM (#25544365) Homepage
    I guess when they finally release a version of WinFS it will be bundled with Duke Nukem Forever?
  • by theurge14 (820596) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @02:14PM (#25544677)

    That's just right clicking on the current Windows taskbar and selecting Toolbars. By default they're set to Small Icons, but if you select Large Icons you get this. Most Windows users freak out when they see when I enable this on a Windows desktop.

    Quicklists? You can already right click on a running app in the OS X Dock and it has contextual tasks. Microsoft has a long way to go if this is what they consider groundbreaking UI.

  • Well, interesting. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @03:14PM (#25545649)

    Perhaps they're taking hints from OSX, KDE and Gnome. It'd be a positive thing. Now, for some commentary on their new features..

    --HomeGroup. This essentially turns all the Windows 7 PCs on the home network into a combined pool of data and files

    I could easily see how one could do something similar on Linux vis automounter and Samba. DHCP could report the client list to Samba, which attempts to use a specially set password to mount other computers. From then, users would have rights as their own user, granting only rights that they natively have. This would provide security along with a standard solution that all Samba-speaking machines could use.

    The only gripe with that setup is that data goes from A to server to B, rather than A to B directly, with the server mediating connections. However, I think this could be made around if we allow direct mediation like FTP can be set up for (Server says send file from B to A).

    --HomeGroup is its ability to automatically detect when your work laptop, for instance, is being used in the home.

    Network profiles would be much more handy, so one could choose which profile where one is. Also, CUPS is much better than the windows counterpart, as it announces service. Announcement is so much more handy in that regard, because so many devices and OSes speak that. Windows is the odd one out, yet again, unless you go through the "advanced configs".

    --Music and video streaming

    Arguably, Linux already supports this via multiple protocols. If your client computer is beefy enough, one can "stream" the video from the server. Or, if the client is a low-powered machine, you could use a combination of a sound daemon and X to do the heavy lifting. I would say that there might not be enough bandwidth for raw video via X, but it IS compressed somewhat. X settings are easier, at least in my experience. The sound is more tricky.

    There's a few ways to get remote sound. One is to use PulseAudio, and follow the instructions here [ubuntu.com]. They work fine. Also, another choice, if your program is ESD aware, you can use a syntax to target output at a certain server. In fact, I can play MP3s like that on my DS vis the command:

    mplayer -ao esd:ip_address_of_ds music.mp3

    Found here [dslinux.org].

    It's a bit more of a setup, but Linux can either process the video locally OR remotely. I dont think Windows can do that.

    As for the touch-interface, it looks a lot better than what Linux _currently_ offers, however MPX is a big thing to watch, considering is in the main X.org package. MPX is a multi-point server extension that allows up to 16 mice and 16 keyboard inputs, WHILE keeping backward compatibility with non-MPX-aware apps. This is a biggie, as MS could only figure out how to do multi-point and multi-touch with a special OS only for MP programs. All it takes now is Gnome, KDE, and Compiz to natively communicate with MPX so that we can realize the future of Linux over input development.

    Add this to the Wiimote, light-pens, and a downward-facing projector, we could create a touch surface for 1000$ or less, and multi-pointer to boot. Things in Linux sure are picking up...

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