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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Build 7100

Licensing window

Custom install

Background

Choose your user, computer name

Product key

Local network setup

Basic desktop

Start menu

Control Panel

Switching off features

Internet Explorer 8

Windows Media Player

Solitaire

Media Center

Devices display

Desktop gadgets

Disk management

Device Manager

Hidden services

Action Center

Security controls

CNET News sister site ZDNet Australia offers a look at the upcoming release candidate of Windows 7 before Microsoft unveils the software to the public next week.

The edition of Windows 7 beta that we tested is the "Build 7100" version labeled as the release candidate that has been making the rounds and was apparently leaked earlier this week. The official release candidate of Windows 7 is due to be released to the public on May 5.

To get these screenshots, we installed Windows 7 both within a VMware virtual machine, to document Windows 7's install process, and on a Dell Optiplex 960.

Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Here is Microsoft's fairly standard licensing window.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
You can upgrade an earlier version of Windows or install a new copy of Windows 7; we chose the custom path.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Obviously, stuff is happening in the background.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
You can choose your username and computer name.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
The install process asks you for your product key, though you can bypass this step, which we did.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
You have various options to set up your local network.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
The basic desktop is quite similar to that of the beta of Windows 7, with a few tweaks such as a slight change in the graphic for the start button.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Shown here is the expanded Start menu.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
We find Windows 7's Control Panel to be much faster and more responsive than Vista's.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
New in the release candidate: you can switch off more Windows features, including Internet Explorer and some of the media functionality.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Internet Explorer 8 is included.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Windows Media Player is back; simple and elegant.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Even solitaire looks to have received an upgrade, with a new, flashy shuffling animation.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Media Center functionality was included in the Ultimate copy of Windows 7 featured here.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
There's a newer, better way of displaying devices attached to your computer, though you can still get to the old Device Manager, if you dig around.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Here are some desktop gadgets Microsoft has included with Windows 7. You can pull news via RSS feeds, monitor the performance of your CPU, and more.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Disk management is quite similar to Windows XP or Vista. This isn't an area that most computer users will get to, but this tool is useful when you're booting multiple operating systems or managing a lot of disks.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Shown here: Device Manager functionality. Note that Windows 7 hasn't quite picked up all the drivers for our Dell Optiplex 960, though it is, of course, only a release candidate. We didn't install any drivers from Dell or elsewhere.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
We found that we got more speed out of Vista from turning a lot of hidden Windows services off, especially the SuperFetch feature. But Windows 7 is already pretty speedy, even on older Pentium 4 hardware.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
The Action Center is now a unified center where Windows will alert you to security problems, available updates, and more. Best of all, you can turn off most of the annoying alerts, if you're a power user.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Windows 7 has a vast number of in-depth security controls for administrators.
Caption by / Photo by Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia
Updated:
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