The Windows 7 GUI

OK, so you booted up your new Windows 7 computer for the first time. You’re ready to see what all the hub-bub is over Microsoft's new OS. The first thing you will notice is the GUI (graphical user interface) has been overhauled. So let’s take a look at some of the GUI differences between Windows 7 and Windows XP.

If your computer is part of a domain, or you have set up your computer to require you press Ctrl+Alt+Del to login, you will notice the new login interface. There is no longer a dialog box that says to press Ctrl+Alt+Del, now it’s the whole screen. Also once you press Ctrl+Alt+Del if you are the first user to log in it will ask you your user-name and password.

However here is where it can get a little annoying to those who are used to the Windows XP login box. If there was a previous user who logged in, you will see their user-name, and the only text box that you can type in is the box for their password. So you may wonder, how can i change the user-name to my user-name? You may try to click on the photo above their user-name, that won’t do anything. You may press Ctrl+Alt+Del a few times, that won’t do anything. You may even press the little arrow next to the password box, thinking that will take you to a list of other user-names you can chose from, but if you click on that it will try to login the selected user with the password entered in the password box.

So how do you change the user-name?!? Well see that little box below the password text box that reads “Switch User”? Click on that button. Then you can select the option “Other User”. Ahhh finally, you can enter in your user-name. So enter your user-name and password and you will be whisked away into Windows 7.

OK so now you’re logged in, where do you go from here. Well remember the old “Start” button? It’s still there but without the word “Start”, maybe they would like you to “Begin” here now... i don’t know. But now by default it’s a little blue orb with the windows symbol in it:

So you can click on that to bring up the new start menu. One of the biggest changes here, and one that I personally like and use all the time, is the search box at the bottom of the menu. So if you’re like me and over time your program list in your start button keeps growing and growing, and you feel like you’re heading on an African safari every time you want to open a program, you’ll love the search box. Just start typing the name of the program you are looking for and as you type it searches the start menu (as well as your entire computer) for any programs or related files with that word. So for example if you want to open Notepad, instead of looking for it in “All Programs” just start typing the word notepad in the search box, by the time you type “no” you will see Notepad at the top of the list. Just click on it and your good to go.

Another good feature of the start menu is the ability to “Pin” something to the start menu. That means it will show up in a list at the top of your menu every time you click on the start menu. So for example if you use Notepad every day, you can right click on the icon for notepad, then select “Pin to Start Menu”, and it will always be there, waiting for you.

Some other changes happened to the naming of “My Computer”, “My Documents”, etc. They dropped the “My” and are now just called “Computer”, “Documents”, “Photos”, etc.

It appears that with the recent versions of Microsoft's products, like Windows, Internet Explorer, and Office, they are trying to do away with the Menu bar that we are all familiar with, you know, the bar at the top of a window, with “File”, “Edit”, “Tools”, etc.

For example if you open your “computer” window, formerly your “My Computer” window, you will notice it is not there at the top. Microsoft gives you some commonly used functions in place of this menu:

However if you need it, it is still accessible by pressing the “Alt” key on your keyboard:

Another feature Microsoft added was that if you grab the top of a window in the title bar with the mouse by clicking on it, and then shake the window, it will close all other open windows. Then if you click on the title bar again and shake it again it will re-open all the windows it closed.

Now, one of the biggest questions you will probably have, or be asked if you are helping someone else learn Windows 7 is, how do I change my background and screen saver? The GUI for this has changed, but it is still accessible by right clicking on the desktop, only now you need to click where it says “Personalize” down at the bottom of the context menu:

You can also click on “Personalization” in the control panel, if you are using the icon view, or under the “Appearance and Personalization” category in the category view.

Once in the Personalization control panel applet, you can click on “Desktop Background” or “Screen Saver” which are at the bottom of the window.

So I hope this helped you get a jump start on using Windows 7, and learning the new GUI with some of the new features.

Happy computing.