While Windows 7 builds on the Windows Vista, its a vastly improved OS. Here are some new features in Windows 7, some of which have been discussed elsewhere in detail. If you need more information, please follow the links.
1. Speed matters. Windows 7 is faster & more responsive. It starts, runs, shuts down, resumes from standby faster.
2. Windows 7 delivers performance, reliability, and security features; and it’s compatible with the same hardware, programs, and drivers as Windows Vista. So what worked on Windows Vista will work on Windows 7.
3. Windows 7 extends battery life for your laptop with power-saving features such as adaptive display brightness, which automatically dims the display when you haven’t used your computer for a while, much like many cell phones do today.
4. In Windows 7, you’ll see fewer notifications popping up because Action Center consolidates alerts from 10 Windows features, including Security Center and Windows Defender.
5. Navigation has been simplified and the taskbar improved. The taskbar in Windows 7 is larger and taskbar icons are easier to see and select. Full-screen previews from the taskbar will help you keep track of the files and programs you’re using by showing each open window as a thumbnail.
6. Sometimes you need to repeat some things every now and then. Jump Lists help you easily find and open the files and programs you use often. You can use Jump Lists on the taskbar and the Start menu to open your most frequently visited websites, recently opened files, and favorite programs with just one click. Put the programs and files you use the most on the taskbar and Start menu so you can open them from the same spot every time.
7. Windows 7 is smart about how you work with windows. Dragging a window to the top of your computer screen maximizes it automatically. Dragging a window to the side of the screen resizes it for easy side-by-side comparisons to other windows. And dragging the mouse to the lower-right corner of the screen makes all of your open windows transparent. This is refered to as Aero Snap.
8. Aero Peak lets you ‘peak’ behind all the windows so that you can have a look at your desktop, should you wish to access any gadgets or shortcuts. It does so by making all the open windows go transperant. To do so, you simply have to move your cursor to the extreme right part of your taskbar and hold it there.
9. One incredible NEW feature of the Windows 7 is called Aero Shake. If you shake any open window application fast, it minimizes all other windows, leaving this one open.
10. With new Windows HomeGroup, you can connect to other computers running Windows 7 and devices on an existing wireless home network. You can share files, photos, music, and printers throughout your home.
11. Device & Storage management has been vastly improved. Device Stage lets you see your device status and run common tasks from a single window customized for each device connected to your computer. When you connect a portable device, you’ll see an image of that device on the taskbar. You’ll easily be able to find and use all the features for each device you have connected, so you can synchronize contacts, capture photos, or create ringtones for your cell phone.
12. Rather than having to use several windows to manage devices, Devices and Printers is the single place to access all of your connected and wireless devices. From here, you can interact with your devices, browse files, or manage settings. When you connect devices to your PC, you’ll be up and running in just a few clicks.
13. Internet Explorer 8 has improved browsing experience. Improvements to the address bar, search, tabs, and the Favorites bar help you efficiently surf the web and make it easier to find the sites you’re looking for.
14. Windows 7 provides theme packages which include rich backgrounds, 16 glass colors, sound schemes, and screensavers. You can also download or create new themes.
15. In Windows 7, with a touch-sensitive screen, you can touch the screen, rather than use the mouse, for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom. Large touch areas on the Start menu and the taskbar make it easy to use.
16. Handwriting recognition takes a big step in Windows 7.
17. Windows 7 can recognize mathematical expressions.
18. Windows 7 features some improvements in the User Account Control that impact the user’s experience, based on user feedback received.
19. Direct3D 11 offers some new features like Tessellation, Multi-threaded rendering, Improved Texture Compression, Computer Shader and Shader Model 5.
20. Remote Media Streaming. Enables highly secure, remote Internet access to home-based digital media libraries from another Windows 7-based PC outside the home.
21. Windows XP Mode. Utilizing Windows Virtual PC, Windows XP Mode allows Windows 7 users to run many Windows XP productivity applications, launched right from the Windows 7 desktop. Windows XP Mode will be available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate customers via download or, for the best experience, pre-installed directly on new PCs. As part of today’s announcement, Microsoft is releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC. For larger businesses where management is important to reduce the total cost of ownership, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) within MDOP adds management to Windows Virtual PC including centralized policy, administration experience and deployment.
22. Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. To help enable a smooth transition, Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will help people analyze their PCs in preparation for a Windows 7 upgrade. Available soon, Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will be a downloadable tool that will help people determine their ability to upgrade from their Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based PC to Windows 7.
23. Internet Explorer 8. InPrivate browsing in Internet Explorer 8 prevents browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser. With Windows 7, you can start an InPrivate session straight from the JumpList. You can also open a new tab from the JumpList.
24. Windows Touch. Controlling the computer by touching a touch-enabled screen or monitor is a core Windows 7 user experience. Improvements in the RC include several Windows Touch updates, including the ability to drag, drop and select items with touch, even inside Web sites that scroll both horizontally and vertically.
These are just a few and there are many more Windows 7 features.
To learn more, you can also download the Windows 7 Guide from Microsoft.
This video from Microsoft, walks you through some of the new and updated features in the Windows 7.
Also visit Wikipedia for more.
Windows Vista features, dropped in Windows 7 may also interest you.