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Windows 7 Beta: screenshot gallery

The first public beta of Windows 7 (Build 7000) is now available for download. Here's a tour of the upcoming successor to Vista.

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1 of 12 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

Windows 7 has reached its first major milestone in the form of Beta 1, which is now available for public scrutiny. We did a clean install of Build 7000 (32-bit version) on a VMware virtual machine with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of hard disk space, and set out to examine the changes since the pre-beta Build 6801 that we reported on at the end of October last year.

 

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2 of 12 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

The initial setup screen is familiar enough, and reminds you that this Beta is for 'testing purposes only'. Install it on a production machine at your own risk.

 

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3 of 12 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

We had no major hiccups during installation, although our download from Microsoft's Connect site failed to include a product key for activating the beta OS. Fortunately, Microsoft has allowed a 30-day grace period before activation is required, by which time the key issue should be fixed.

 

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After choosing a user name and a computer name, we were ready for the Build 7000 desktop...

 

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The new Mac OS Dock-like taskbar is enabled by default in Build 7000 (in Build 6801 you had to do some manual tweaking to get it working). If you're installing Windows 7 Beta on a live machine, make sure you backup your MP3s and install Microsoft's supplied fix, otherwise certain files could be corrupted.

 

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Our install of Build 7000 took up 6.78GB of the virtual machine's 16GB hard disk. Build 6801 occupied 5.98GB.

 

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You can pin frequently-used applications to the new taskbar for convenient launching. Right-clicking on a taskbar icon brings up a convenient Jump List: with IE8, for example, the Jump List shows your recent browsing history, and clicking on a listed site opens it in a new tab.

 

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Hovering the mouse over the IE8 taskbar icon brings up a list of currently open tabs, which you can click to access.

 

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Another of Windows 7's Mac OS-like UI tweaks is the ability to float gadgets anywhere on the desktop — just drag them out from the Gadgets dialogue box.

 

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10 of 12 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

As far as resource usage goes, Build 6801 (the October 2007 pre-beta) and Build 7000 (the public beta) are very similar. Both Windows 7 installations were idling at a bare desktop, apart from calendar and clock gadgets.

 

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Windows 7's Library feature lets you pull in folders from different locations on local or remote hard disks into one logical group: here we've created a Library pertaining to this article.

 

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12 of 12 Charles McLellan/ZDNet

As well as BitLocker encryption for internal drives, Windows 7 offers BitLocker-To-Go for removable drives. Examples of embarrassing data loss on USB flash drives could be reduced if this feature is widely enforced by IT managers.

 

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