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21 changes to look for in the Windows 7 Release Candidate

Windows 7 Build 7048, which leaked out of Microsoft's labs last week, isn't the long-awaited Release Candidate (RC), but it does include changes that were checked in after the beta release and will be a part of the RC when it's ready. Here's a preview of 21 changes - some big, some small - that should be included. For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
By Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor
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By Ed Bott

Windows 7 Build 7048, which leaked out of Microsoft's labs last week, isn't the long-awaited Release Candidate (RC), but it does include changes that were checked in after the beta release and will be a part of the RC when it's ready. So far, the new wallpaper (shown here) is getting most of the attention, but there are many more subtle tweaks as well. Here's a preview of 21 changes - some big, some small - that have been added since the December 2008 beta release.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Switch from Control Panel's default category view to old-school large or small icons using the new drop-down view menu.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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The dark blue Vista-style background is gone, replaced by a light blue with black text.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Does your hardware support pen or tablet functions? If the correct drivers are installed, you'll see a notification here.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Potentially negative wording in the Reliability Monitor window has apparently been scrubbed for the final release.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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In theory, any standards-compliant ID can hook into this feature. For now, only Windows LiveID works.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Pressing Windows key+E now takes you to the Computer window instead of to the Libraries pane, as in the beta.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Will these slight changes to the organization of libraries make this new feature any easier for new users to grok?

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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On a home network with multiple Windows 7 PCs, you can set up and manage a Homegroup without going to the Network and Sharing Center.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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The most welcome change in the new Fonts folder is the ability to hide fonts, including those from other languages.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Amazing! The clever code name (Aero Peek) actually replaces the original, boring name for this feature, called Desktop Preview in the beta.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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The new wallpapers are so flashy that you might overlook the big selection of new sound schemes.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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The new icons have a distinctively bold look, with straight-on views compared to their angled predecessors.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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The ClearType wizard has been in earlier builds of Windows 7, but it's now directly accessible from the Display Control Panel.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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You have to look pretty closely to see the changes in the newer versions of these bundled applets.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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When you dig deeper into the new Stream menu, you'll find options that enable you to stream music your Windows LiveID. In this build, however, the pieces to connect remotely are apparently missing.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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When you shrink Windows Media Player 12 to its miniature version, it occupies a small, sleek square that is dramaticaly smaller than the version in the beta release.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Windows Media Player 12 includes a Radio Stations link in the navigation pane, although the code that allows you to actually save stations here isn't yet included.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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When playing music, the Now Playing background is a sliding wall of album covers. In this release, you can opt for s static background instead.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Will these usability-driven tweaks to feature names and explanations make it easier for non-techies to create and save backups?

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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Usability-driven interface changes are sprinkled throughout the Windows 7 Backup program.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.
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For post-beta releases, the Windows 7 Backup program captures user data from locations that might otherwise be overlooked, like the hidden AppData folder.

For more details, see A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate.

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