For the most part, I don't think laptops have changed all that much from when you've last looked. Generally, I guess things have gotten cheaper (both in price and build quality), but more recently, manufacturers have started to try to emulate apple (thin, high-res, high price). High res screens are still relatively new and expensive (only on premium 1000+ laptops). You can probably get 1600x900 TN on a cheap laptop, though. (I don't follow it that closely, so I could be wrong).
11.6 to 14" seems to cover a fairly large range. Are you looking for portability? Battery life? Build quality? Any weight limit? Price limit?
I've been personally eyeing the 14" Lenovo T440s (supposedly the "best" keyboard and nice trackpad / build quality / 1080p IPS / haswell / large batteries (up to 17 hrs battery life claimed and hot swappable even!)). This would by my choice. It's relatively small/light for a 14". (I think a lot of 14" laptops do have the DVD player and are correspondingly bulkier/heavier). I seem to recall some sites saying good things about the glass surface of the trackpad. Overall, I've heard a lot of good things about Lenovos (Carbon X1, T431s, T440s). (Ah, another thing I like is the docking station, but that's my own requirement).
On the smaller end of the scale, it seems like a Google Pixel would also meet all your requirements (not sure about the keyboard)? (2560x1700 IPS screen). That'd be the smallest laptop that I know of with at least 1600x900 screen. (If there is one that is smaller, it's probably even pricier). You can install windows 7 on it... probably.... Also, I think it actually costs more than the T440s...
That covers the size range. The previous post also mentioned a lot of laptops with very nice screens, mostly in between these two in terms of size, I think.
Drop the screen requirements a bit, and cheaper laptops will meet your needs. How do you like your current laptop? Acer makes newer versions. Example, AMD temash based netbook-type thing that I saw anandtech give away.http://www.anandtech.com/show/7282/amd- ... -notebooks
The hard drive is user replaceable, so you can buy an SSD and put it in. Also, I think there's a low end haswell version if you want much faster speed, and possibly an atom version. They all should have decent battery life (low end CPUs that sip power)...
Oh, looking more into it, this is an IPS screen!? 1366x768. I'm not sure you'll get 1600x900 on an 11.6 screen, though.http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Ace ... 321.0.html
Hope this helps.