Windows 7 build 6956 Review #2: Testing a shell

Hello to all!

It has been 3 weeks since the time I installed Windows 7, build 6956 on my laptop. Ever since that point, I have run and tested the Operating System, experiencing many of it’s glitches and changes in the process.

This review focuses on an overview of changes, which are there but not obvious to the end user during a first look. I will also describe some of the bugs and errors present in this build. Let us begin!

New features:

new Bluetooth stack: Discover and operate!

Well. It seems as though the way bluetooth devices are managed in Windows is changing again.

Windows 7 includes a new way of treating bluetooth devices. Whilst Windows Vista could never recognize (thus install) my stereo bluetooth headset, Windows 7 connects to it with ease. Here’s how it works.

In control Panel, you may recall seeing a new option, called Devices and printers. This is a applet which displays all printers and external or plug and play devices installed on your system. Here, of course, is where bluetooth devices will show up.

At first, it is not obvious where the place for adding a bluetooth device is located ; Unlike in Windows Vista, the option seems non-existant within control panel. This, I believe, is a big fault — as many will be looking it through there.
However, doing a search through the start menu for “bluetooth” reveals that the wizard is there, new as ever.
The entire look of the wizard has been overhalled.

When you hit enter, a dialog comes up which presents you with all discovered bluetooth devices. No need to refresh, as Windows automatically discovers and places newly found items in the list. Once you selected your device (which, by the way, if you’re blind and using a few of the poular screen readers, is hard to do), you are given the regular pairing options.

The neat thing about this new bluetooth discovery system is that the next time you turn on the added device, Windows will connect to it automatically. Or is that a neat thing?

Diskpart update:

The diskpart utility seems to include more new features than ever, mainly for allowing the end user (or business tech geek) to control raid-based drives. Shrink was an option introduced in Vista’s diskpart, and this is still available. In adition, you now have the option of -force, allowing you to modify a partition even if it is being used by a program (not recommended!)

Forcing dismounts: mmm! Go away!

With Windows 7, you now have abilities to “force a dismount” on a drive which is being used. Let’s say that you are checking a partition with CHKDSK, or the check disk utility found under the tools page of the drive’s properties. But the drive is locked by a program. Now, instead of Windows asking you to reboot the system and perform the check at that time, you can hit the “force a dismount” button to automatically have the handles of the disk closed.

Forcing shutdowns: The brutality doesn’t end there!

Forcing shutdowns was another key thing introduced in Windows Vista. With 7, the famous “shutdown now” button is replaced with “force a shutdown” for more clarity. Not only that, you also have abilities to force restarts, and in some cases, standbys. Oh my!

Windows task manager: listing services now!

Windows task manager now lists services under a services tab. Heh. No more pretending!

Services: no more… clutter?

After briefing through the loaded services of Windows 7, it seems that many of the unneeded ones (like, tablet pc which oddly enough was turned on by default even on non-tablett pcs in Windows Vista) are no longer set to run automatically during start. Well. that explains the fast startup time.

System requirements lowered?

I have heard reports of people running Windows 7 on systems with 383 MB ram and an 800 MHz processor. This is quite impressive, and implies that finally Windows 7 is truly the XP of the future, (well ahem not visually that is though, so XP will always be the best!). But nobody can deny that it is as good and stable as XP was in it’s days. Which is good, Microsoft is finally cleaning up the mess of the past. 🙂

Bugs and glitches:

Windows explore: What happened to my conquest?

In build 6956, there is a very very nice bug which, if done in the right folders, causes Windows explorer to crash. This occurs when you are moving through a list item with a JAWS or prefered screen reader cursor (tested with most comercial screen readers), as well as when scrolling down with the mouse. The only work around to this was to open a blank notepad document and open the file through notepad (by browsing to it and hitting the application key). This would often times be very frustrating and inconvenient!


Well. That was a brief review. Build 6956 of the OS was quite fun (and upsetting) to test. The explorer bug for instance always was a killer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed testing, at least for the better of writing these reviews for the blind/sighted communities. It is now time to move on to the Windows 7 Beta build, build 7000!

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