Adventures With Windows 7 – Smarter UI, [Confusing] Symantec Beta License

In the first post in this series, I talked about the install process for the Windows 7 RC. That is not what users will experience, so it’s only of marginal interest, except insofar as it shows whether the stuff “works.” Windows passed that test just fine. This time out, I’m exploring the user interface to see what kinds of everyday improvements Microsoft has made. And puzzling over a 14-day license for Norton 360’s beta version. [The title of this post was updated on 6/7/09 – see last paragraph for content change.]

First off, I love the new task bar – a seemingly small thing, making it bigger, and yes, it looks more like the mac, but at least it doesn’t do that weird bulgy thing when the cursor approaches it. (If you like that, sorry. To me it feels like one of those “no wonder the memory is all used up” features.) More important, something I’m used to – a right-click – does something Very Cool on the taskbar icons – it gives me access to the last few docs that application was involved in. Useful. Of course, it had to have a name (it’s a feature) so they call it “jump lists.” To which I can only say, as a son of California, whatever.

Also cool: know those images of minimized apps you get in Vista when the cursor is over then in the taskbar? You get them when you hover over the app icon now, and multiple ones if there are multiple files, or sites, open. If the cursor stays there for a while the image temporarily fills the screen – fantastic if you are trying to remember what that number was, or quote, or address… And if you click the image you switch to it – again, very efficient if you have 3 docs open and don’t remember which is the one you want.

Windows have taken on behaviors that are useful too. I admit to being annoyed with the seeming obsession with visual cuteness (and lack of speed) in Vista. But now, when you drag a window to the side, it doesn’t just disappear into space, it resizes because perhaps you want to compare it with something else. Drag it to the top and it fills the screen. Drag it off the bottom – yeah, it still disappears, but not entirely, and I want it to. It’s a natural motion to me – pull it down to get it out of the way for a minute. Nice.

I was worried about virus protection, since the pre-install compatibility check told me to remove Norton. Good news – following the link from the Windows Defender message about being unprotected, I found that there is a beta version of Norton 360. Great news. I downloaded and installed, and it’s working fine – but why a 14-day license for a product not available in production for an OS that hasn’t shipped? Get it together, Symantec. Of course, I’ll be happy to buy it when it is in production. Till then, what? [Update 6/7/09 – turns out it’s a 14-day rolling license that you can routinely renew. So Symantec’s messaging may be bad, but the function is fine.]

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

5 thoughts on “Adventures With Windows 7 – Smarter UI, [Confusing] Symantec Beta License

    1. Thanks for this, Matt. I didn’t see that anywhere in the descriptions on the site or in the process of downloading and installing Norton 360. When I either see it visibly described by Symantec on the site, or see it auto-renew on my computer, I’ll certainly acknowledge that. Meanwhile, it’s a good example of what I call “tone-deaf communications.” Symantec could have wrapped its willingness to aggressively support the Windows 7 RC in a nice little PR campaign with just a sentence or two – better yet, a press release and some messaging on the Windows 7 site itself. It’s an unfortunate missed opportunity to distance Norton products from the (presumably lagging) competition.

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