Windows 7's new taskbar goes under the spotlight

— 11:56 AM on November 3, 2008

When Microsoft revealed Windows 7 to the public last week at PDC2008, one new user interface feature stood out more than others: the new taskbar. Indeed, Microsoft has replaced the Windows 95-style taskbar that's been part of Windows for over 13 years with something a little more like the Mac OS X dock.

CNet News' Ina Fried has spent some time with two Microsoft staffers to explore the revamped taskbar in detail, and she's posted a video of their demonstration on YouTube:

In essence, the new Windows 7 taskbar merges QuickLaunch with the traditional window management features, showing a set of icons for both open applications and the user's favorite apps. Mousing over an open app shows thumbnails for the windows that belong to it, and mousing over a thumbnail turns other windows transparent to reveal the selected window. According to previous reports on the subject, users can rearrange taskbar icons to their liking, as well.

The end of the video (and a second video in Fried's article) briefly showcases a feature called "jump lists," which Windows Program Manager Chaitanya Sareen describes as a mini Start menu for each app icon. We've already talked about that, but basically, right-clicking on each app opens a list of recently accessed items and some specific tasks. The second video also shows some of the new window management features, and how the new taskbar intelligently displays thumbnails for browser tabs in Internet Explorer.

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