This one's for pros, but it's nifty all the same. With a little work, a user can take a virtual hard disk file, mount it in the Windows boot manager, and boot to it as if it were a real hard drive. It's immensely handy if you want to try dual-booting between multiple instances of Windows without the hassle of creating partitions. Since the native Windows 7 system-backup tool saves disk images as VHDs, this can be handy if you want to boot directly into a backup image.
This trick has some limitations. You can only boot VHDs that run Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, and you might run into a major hassle if you try to boot a VHD from another hardware configuration. It's also not a good idea to boot VHDs generated in anything other than Hyper-V or Microsoft Virtual Server. But there's little doubt that it's the start of something potentially revolutionary.
There's a great deal more -- a slew of small things, but significant ones.
In the "stop nagging me" department, another little irritant -- the nag box that forces a shutdown and reboot after a certain amount of time after critical updates are installed -- has also been tamed. Reboots no longer happen without your express permission. This ought to make a friend of mine happy: he lost data he was typing into a Web form when he got up to take an extended break and found the computer had rebooted to apply updates in his absence.
I ran across more than a few things that made me smile because they directly reflected my work habits. Fonts can now be installed without having to crack open the Fonts folder in Control Panel: right-click and they can be installed immediately. The Bluetooth manager is far easier to deal with and less flaky -- my BT stereo headset, for instance, connects and disconnects reliably, and audio streams follow suit without balking.
Finally, if you're curious about trying Windows 7 out for yourself, go get it and give it a spin. Nothing beats personal experience, and you might find something we only gave passing mention that's a perfect fit for your workflow.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.