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2011-10-20

A+: Advancements to the GUI since XP

Now that more machines use Windows 7 than use Windows XP, let's look at advancements in the GUI (Graphical User Interface) advances made since XP:

• Windows Aero— Microsoft’s new visual experience, with translucent windows, window animations, three-dimensional viewing of windows, and a modified taskbar. You can make modifications to the look of Aero by right-clicking the desktop and selecting Personalize, and then clicking Windows Color and Appearance. From here you can modify things such as the transparency of windows. To disable Windows Aero, click the Theme link from within the Personalize window. Then, from the Theme drop down menu, select Windows Classic.

• Welcome Center— This is the window that opens automatically when you first start Windows Vista. After installing the operating system, it a good starting point for running initial tasks such as connecting to the Internet, transferring files from another computer, adding users, and learning more about Windows. The Welcome Center will continue to show up every time you start Windows unless you deselect the checkbox to the bottom left of the window. To open Welcome Center later, go to Control Panel, System and Maintenance.

• Windows Sidebar and gadgets— The Windows Sidebar is a new window pane on the side of the desktop. It is primarily used to house gadgets. Gadgets are mini applications that provide a variety of services, such as connecting to the Web to access weather updates and traffic or Internet radio streams. They can also interact with other applications to streamline the Windows experience. Additional gadgets can be downloaded from Microsoft. You can modify the Sidebar by right-clicking on it and selecting Properties. From here you can select whether the Sidebar starts when Windows does, place it above other Windows, change its orientation, and remove gadgets. To add gadgets, click the + directly over the topmost gadget.

• Modified Start menu— The new Start menu has a few changes compared to Windows XP. For example there is a useful search field directly above the Start button. However, the Run prompt has been removed by default, but can be added by accessing the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window. The Start menu and desktop can also be configured to run in ““Classic mode”” similar to the one used by Windows 2000 and by XP, if it was configured that way. In Classic mode, the Start menu displays the name of the operating system along the left side in the same way that earlier versions of Windows display the name. This is usually done to optimize Windows performance.

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