Windows 7's device stage interface: Useful, or just pretty?

So you've got a new printer -- let's say an Epson Artisan 800 -- and you've got Windows 7.Plug in the device to your machine.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

So you've got a new printer -- let's say an Epson Artisan 800 -- and you've got Windows 7.

Plug in the device to your machine. What happens? Well, this:

Windows 7 device stage

Pretty neat, huh? Plug in supported printers, cameras, scanners and the like, and you get a nice cached interface tailored to your gadget. How nice!

Windows 7 device stage

These screenshots are from Gizmodo's Wilson Rothman, who takes us step-by-step through the device stage and its components -- an icon within Devices and Printers, an XML page with links and taskbar icon -- and how he thinks it will affect how you manage your devices in Windows 7.

From what I see, it might be useful, too. Check out the menu of options for the Epson (and the little mini Epson in the taskbar):

Windows 7 device stage

The good news: It's pretty. The bad news: The supported gadget list is small-- so if Microsoft really wants users to use the pretty menus (er, webpages), they'll need to work with a whole lot of manufacturers to give the desired effect.

ZDNet's own Ed Bott didn't specifically include this on his list of notable changes of Windows 7, and rightly so, since it's more a tweak than a complete overhaul. Still -- it's worth noting if you're always swapping USB devices like me.

I haven't yet installed Windows 7 on my machine, but I know several of you have. Have you come across this menu? What did you think? Flash for the sake of flash, or utility in design?

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