A Peek at the New Windows 7 Taskbar

Although the Start button and Start menu of the Windows 7 Taskbar are the same as the Windows Vista Taskbar, there are some changes that make the Windows 7  Taskbar look a bit different. Some of these new changes are discussed below.

The first thing that might catch your eye is the size of the Taskbar. In Windows 7, the Taskbar is double in height and does not display text next to each icon. What really surprises you is that the very useful Quick Launch bar is no longer present. However, before you jump to any conclusions, know that it has been replaced with something even better. In Windows 7, the Taskbar acts as a common tool to access running tasks and also launches common applications. For example, by default, the shortcuts to common Windows applications, such as Windows Explorer, Media Player and Internet Explorer are on the Taskbar next to the Start button. Just like Quick Launch bar, you can add more icons to the Taskbar if you need. So, even with the Quick Launch bar gone, you still have access to its functionality.

As the purpose of the Taskbar is to enable you to both launch common applications and access currently running tasks, the default icons and any other icon that you add to the Taskbar, serve both purposes of Taskbar icon and task icon. For example, when you launch Windows Media Player, the existing Taskbar icon changes to the task icon and you can use it to switch between multiple applications. These task icons can also be used to inform you of how many windows of the same application are currently open on your computer.

Building on the Live Taskbar thumbnail feature, introduced in Windows Vista, in Windows 7 when you hover your mouse over a task icon of a particular application the thumbnails for each open window (or tab) is displayed on the screen. Additionally, when you hover over one of the thumbnails, it maximizes to full window size. This feature is known as Aero Peek and it is dependent on Aero UI. Aero Peek enables you to take a look at a window without actually switching to it. To switch, you will have to click on the small or expanded thumbnail. If you do not need to use it, click the close button on the thumbnail to exit the task.

If you have multiple Internet Explorer windows or tabs open and are downloading content on one or more of them, then the Aero Peek feature will enable you to view the process of your downloads.

A new feature ‘Jump Lists’ have been introduced in the new Taskbar. This feature simplifies the task of performing common tasks related to particular applications. These lists are there both on the Taskbar and the Start menu.

With so many new features, there is one thing that you might miss, the handy ‘Show Desktop’ icon of the Quick Launch bar that enables you to gain quick access to your desktop by minimizing all open windows. However, Aero Peek kind of enhances this in a button on the far bottom-right corner of the screen. When you hover your mouse pointer over it, all open windows become transparent and you can take a peek at your desktop.