Scott Hanselman

Light it Up: List of Applications that use new Windows 7 Features

October 26, 2009 Comment on this post [42] Posted in Win7 | Windows Client
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I'm digging Windows 7 more and more. So much so, that I'm watching out for apps that use new features like Jump Lists, Libraries, Power Management, Taskbar Progress Bars, Icon overlays, Multitouch, Ribbon, High DPI, Sensors, Locations, etc. I thought I'd start a post listing the applications that are using new features in Windows 7. Basically what apps "Light up" on Windows 7.

Yes, I realize that this list will soon (weeks? months?) include every Windows app, but it's nice to have it now while we're all playing with our shiny new toys.

Here's the ones that I've noticed. Add the ones you've found in the comments and I'll update the list!



Gmail Notifier Plus

This little app sits in your Windows 7 "Superbar" and checks your Gmail. You get tasks as well as a list of your unread email and a preview of each mail. There's even a nice little number overlay showing the number of unread mail.



This is a screen capture utility and when it's pinned to the Taskbar it gives you a JumpList for taking screenshots.


Google Chrome 4 and Internet Explorer 8 and FireFox 3.6 (Daily Alpha Build)

As of this writing, both IE8 and Google Chrome have Windows 7 features. Chrome includes JumpLists and Tasks and IE8 supports not only those, but also Aero Previews of individual tabs (rather than just windows.) Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 also includes just the Tab Preview feature. Now that Windows 7 is out, I'd expect everyone to start ramping up the UX (User Experience) to get lit-up on 7.

The preview of individual tabs keeps me coming back to IE8. It's a REALLY nice feature and it's hard to get along without it.image

One subtle but irritating thing I did notice, was that the Aero Previews for Firefox 3.61a1 (build 2) are really unclear and poorly dithered. Here's an IE8 preview showing next to FireFox showing the same page.

I'm sure they'll fix it, but it's irritating to my eye. I immediately noticed it. I'll add Chrome whenever they add this feature.



Firefox 3.6a1 build 2


Zune 4 and (kinda) iTunes 9

Zune 4 includes Quickplay and Smart DJ tasks, and iTunes just includes two hard-coded tasks. Zune also ups the Win7 ante with its smaller and docked and minimized view, which is the hotness.

image image

iTunes also supports some Taskbar controls, but misses the point but not putting Album pictures in the Taskbar Preview.

image  image

Windows Live Messenger

I have a love-hate relationship with the current Windows Live Messenger. Initially I was really mad that (on 7) it wouldn't minimize to the tray (that thing next to the clock, not really called the tray, but I will call it that, so meh on you). Instead, it sticks around the Taskbar forever. While I understand that Windows 7 has a new UX aesthetic, I would appreciate an option. At this point, the option is to right-click on the icon, click Compatibility and basically lie to it, telling Messenger that it is running on Vista. Of course, then you lose the Windows 7 features, like the very full-featured Jump Lists:


Paint.NET 3.5 Alpha

"The latest alpha build of Paint.NET v3.5 will now use DirectWrite instead of GDI for the Text tool if you are running Windows 7. Get it while it’s hot."

This means that Paint.NET 3.5 not only looks better on Windows 7 (and certainly different than it used to look) but it's also crazy fast. Be sure to try the multi-threaded Font Dropdown as well.


Expression Encoder 3

I encode most of my videos using Expression Encoder and it lights up the Taskbar button with a progress bar letting me know how far along it is without me having to restore the main window.



Even though DVD/CD ISO Image Burning is built into Windows 7, I still like the UI and additional information that ImgBurn provides. It also uses the Taskbar button as a Progress Bar which is a subtle, but nice touch.


WinZip 14

WinZip 14 ups the ante with not only support for JumpLists, but also Touch Screen support (!), Libraries and Explorer Preview. The Explorer Preview support may be enough for me to move away from 7-zip, although if you keep your zip files associated with Explorer they'll be openable as folders on the left pane, so it's a toss-up. It also includes interestingly, features to "Zip My Documents" as well as a half-dozen other one-click options to Zip up various "My" folders. A nice touch. Note, don't just click through their installer, as it installs Google Toolbar unless you say otherwise.


AusLogics Disk Defrag

Disk Defrag 3 from Auslogics has a very clean looks like I wish Win7's defrag looks, although I understand that most people don't want all the details and pictures. It also includes Progress Bar integration and a little overlay to tell you it's running as Admin. It's FREE for Home Users.



I tend to lean towards 7-zip for its minimalist UI, but PowerArchiver has JumpLists and Icon Overlays. Oddly, they call the Win7-looking interface the "Power Users Interface," presumably as to avoid freaking out your grandpa who's zipping stuff up with the Classic Interface. The whole package is close but not 100%. For example, they use an icon overlay during an extract rather than a progress bar. That's just wrong, and it should be fixed ASAP.


Trillian Astra 4.1

Trillian is an IM and Chat client that integrates with Google, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook and more. I find it a little TOO out there from an interface perspective for my tastes, but many people swear by it. I like my apps to be a little Vanilla, or French Vanilla. Trillian is Rocky Road Chocolate and flaunts it. The new 4.1 version has Jump Lists, File Transfer Progress Bars, and even a Taskbar Preview of Video Calls in progress, which is a nice touch (I'm talking to you, Skype).


Basically anything with a Recent Items List

Make sure to right click on most of your apps in the Taskbar. The ones that include a "Recent Items List" will usually get a free JumpList not only in the Taskbar, but also the Start Menu.

image image

Ok, what apps did I miss?

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 26, 2009 10:50
You should also add Firefox to your list using WinFox (
October 26, 2009 11:39
Total Commander uses Taskbar Progress Bar when copying the files. (
October 26, 2009 11:45
Piotrs - Total Commander doesn't really count because it's actually using Explorer itself to do that copy. The dialog that pops up isn't Total Commander's, it's the standard Windows Explorer Copy Progress dialog.

ekampf - I put Firefox 3.6 which already has all the features of WinFox and more.
October 26, 2009 12:01
FanVista Audio Converter ( uses much of Windows 7 shell integration features, such as progress bar in the taskbar, icon status in the taskbar, jumplist, thumbnail buttons etc. FanVista was released recently and also participating in the code7 contest.
October 26, 2009 12:11
FanVista crashes immediately on start-up on my Windows 7 x64 machine. #fail

It's a .NET application, but the authors are using some C libraries and P/Invoke action. However, when I *manually* run "corflags /32bit+ FanVista.exe" and force it to run as an x86 app on my x64 machine it works. Someone should tell the authors to set their compiler flags. ;)
October 26, 2009 12:47
Foobar2000 (which is an amazing audio player, by the way) with a plugin for Windows 7 Shell Integration. Shows what's currently playing with buttons for play/pause/next/prev.
October 26, 2009 12:51
I like the taskbar integration in some apps but I really have the Win7 taskbar. I disabled grouping but then applications just don't work well like Gmail notifier plus. They occupy a whole application slot.

I don't understand why the icontray is so 'invisible'. Like for example, to safely eject external disks. The icon is hidden. Vista has the same problem though but in Win7 the way the taskbar "should" work just sucks as you don't have an idea which applications are open and which projects are loaden. The same for not knowing which people are chatting with you on MSN.

MSN messenger on Win7 is the WORST application there is. If you have the main messenger window open then you constantly have two taskbar application slots filled!!.
October 26, 2009 15:12
Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 uses an icon overlay when new mails arrives...wait, no!
October 26, 2009 15:40
win7shell brings up Win7 Taskbar Features to WinAmp:
October 26, 2009 15:45
PowerArchiver 2010 has jumplist and progress bar integration, and icon overlays.
Trillian Astra 4.1 (beta) has improved Windows 7 support, check their announcement here
Auslogics Disk Defrag uses progress bar integration.
October 26, 2009 15:46
I'm glad to see someone ELSE is having Windows Live Messenger "issues". Mine is that it won't stay signed in! It logs in, shows me which of my contacts are on-line, how many e-mails I have, and then, 30-60 seconds later, signs off. I'm running 64-bit and have uninstalled it, tried running the installer as administrator, created a user account, logged in under that account and installing it, nada, zip, zilch.
October 26, 2009 19:33
iTunes 9 also has playback controls in its tab:
October 26, 2009 19:44
One of the minor annoyances of Visual Studio (2008 and prior) on Win 7 is that the jump list contains recently opened documents, but not recently opened projects/solutions. VS 2010 fixes this.
October 26, 2009 20:29
I agree about Live Messenger. But what I really hate is that I no longer get a popup when I get a new message from a contact. Sure it's annoying when you you're coding in VS and IM grabs focus, but now I won't notice I got a new message until at least 10-15 min after the fact.
October 26, 2009 20:37
IE8's tab preview, while very cool looking, is missing a few features that end up making it more irritating than useful for me.

The main problem I have with it is that I can no longer simply click on the taskbar button to switch to IE, but instead I'm forced to first wait a second for the preview to popup, and then to choose one of my many tab to view.

And unless IE is already my active window, there's no indication as to which my currently active tab was.

For someone who routinely has a couple dozen tabs open, this is a major pain. I really hope FireFox will get a better implementation of this feature, and/or IE will fix this in a future patch.
October 26, 2009 20:39
Google OpenId issues Scott? Guess I should've entered my Name & Email after all instead of going the OpenId route
October 26, 2009 22:35
Total Commander doesn't really count because it's actually using Explorer itself to do that copy. The dialog that pops up isn't Total Commander's, it's the standard Windows Explorer Copy Progress dialog.

That's not true. Total Commander CAN use Windows Explorer's copy method (it's an option, and it appears if you copy and paste files from one window to another), but the default copy action (F5) is native to Total Commander and also uses the progress taskbar.
October 26, 2009 23:55
I've always been frustrated with MSN Messenger - all the odd things it does like refusing to unload if outlook is running, etc. Then the two taskbar windows thing on Win7 threw me over the edge.

I've switched to Pidgin for IM and I am loving it. It just seems works more the way I want it to than MSN Messenger. It also works perfectly with the area near the clock on Windows 7.
October 27, 2009 0:41
Were the examples given using the 32 bit Windows 7 version? I am running the x64 version and I found that Firefox AND iTunes were both buggy. Firefox occasionally loses connection, while iTunes was difficult to install.

I do like the new Windows 7 experience, can't wait for more apps to take advantage.
October 27, 2009 4:11
Mark - Odd...I have no troubles with FireFox on Windows 7 x64. Really I've had NO problems with x64 vs. x86. Perhaps you have an older network driver?
October 27, 2009 6:29
Remote Desktop in Windows 7 has recently opened items in the jumplist.
October 27, 2009 8:01
How about applications that aren't integrated but should be? Like Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 installer?
October 27, 2009 19:14
In Windows 7 if you find the Live Messenger executable and set the compatability settings to Windows XP SP3 it will minimise correctly just like vista and XP.
October 27, 2009 19:27
ImgBurn uses the task bar progress bar. Task progress bar... Progress task bar...
October 28, 2009 0:26
Saw this post and had an idea to try out the .NET wrappers. Simple, but works:

Taskbar CPU and Memory meters
October 28, 2009 5:35
You gotta love your taskbar filled with animal icons. Birds, cows, hippos, foxes...
October 28, 2009 6:30
CD Burner XP also shows a progress meter in the task bar while it burns.
October 28, 2009 11:24
Here is the solution on how to minimize the messenger to the System Notification Area (SysTray):

Good luck.
October 29, 2009 2:11
Heey, just noticed that Steam has jump list stuff! Shortcuts (Store, Friends, My Games, etc.) , tasks (Offline, Busy, Away) and recently played games :-)
October 29, 2009 2:18
... and progress bar when downloading/installing games :D
October 29, 2009 4:54
Not sure what happened to my comment earlier :S. Anyway here it is again, Safari 4 has tab previews in Win 7 superbar like IE8 and Firefox 3.6!
October 29, 2009 15:27
Zune software shows favorite artists and Tasks (shuffle) within its jumplist.
October 31, 2009 4:21
Using Thumbnail Toolbar (prev, refresh, next buttons) for browsers would be nice : )
I'm the only one thinking this?
November 02, 2009 9:41
Any URLs which is helpful to find sample source code for implementing. I really enjoy jump lists over other functionalilies.

Thanks for Listing all Nice Improvements a developer can implement.
November 09, 2009 2:56
There is a solution to the Visual Studio 2008 issue not showing projects/solutions and it has to do with the fact that VS 2008 uses a loader to start the version of VS that the project was created with (even if you only have one version of VS installed.) I posted a workaround on my blog at:!89E05724AF67A39E!744.entry
November 12, 2009 2:51
I work as a web designer and run a freelance web design blog. I use a Mac as my day to day computer but I have heard really good things about Windows 7. I haven't used a Windows computer on a regular basis in a few years now, and I'm not convinced I am going to any time soon, but I am curious about the new OS. Would it be worth the couple hundred bucks to buy a cheap laptop and see what all the hype is about? Thanks!
November 13, 2009 13:26
Unfortunately: Johs Einstein's hack did work for a while, but it suddenly stopped. Probably 'some' update. More people have noticed this. Any one suggestions as how to get Visual Studio make use op Jump Listst?
January 02, 2010 15:20
Scott, the Win7 explorer details view has a nice feature to filter files/folders. For example from details view, click on the small arrow next to "Name" and you will see a drop down (similar to excel filtering) where you can filter "A-H", "I-P", "Q-Z". This filtering is also available on "Date modified" which pops up a calender to filter. May be you can add this to your main posting.
February 05, 2010 4:22
Im so pleased to have discovered this blog, a bit late i know but i've had issues with msn messenger always closing on me with outlook running, least i know this is 'normal thing" lol! has this been fixed or does anyone know how to stop this happening? or is it simply one of the quirks? any help muchly appreciated.

February 16, 2010 9:34
AusLogics Disk Defrag

1) Why this over the built in one that come with Win7? Is it just because of the nicer interface

2) Why not go with a commercial one like Diskkeeper? The one think I like about Diskkeeper is that it keeps your disk defraged in real time as it writes (IntelliWrite). If for what that misses it runs silently in the background defragging when resources are available. So now more remembering to run defrag on a regular basis.

I am still debating on using free defrag and just running manually or going with an applicatin like Diskkeeper. So any thoughts you have would be appreaciated.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.