Windows 7
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Windows 7
Windows 7 Editions

Similar to the transition from Windows XP to Windows Vista, certain capabilities and programs that are present in Windows Vista are no longer present in Windows 7 or have changed. The following is a list of features that originated in earlier versions of Windows and included up to Windows Vista.

Windows Shell

Windows Explorer

  • Windows 7 removes the "Customize" tab for a folder if its properties are opened via Libraries. If the same folder is opened in Explorer without accessing it via Libraries, the Customize tab is available in its Properties.
  • The Registry settings for modified colors for compressed files, EFS-encrypted files, item hot-tracking (single click hover) etc are ignored by the ItemsView control in Windows 7 Explorer.
  • Running Explorer shell as administrator or even opening an Explorer window temporarily as administrator is not possible in Windows 7 without modifying permissions in the registry of system values because of a DCOM restriction.
  • Control Panel views are limited to Small icons and Large icons (which is actually Tiles view). List view, Details view, Extra large icons view, Large icons view and Medium icons view with text at the bottom are not available. The ability to show Control Panel items in groups is also removed.
  • IDeskBand interface and Explorer Bars are no longer supported in Windows Explorer but still supported in Internet Explorer.[1]
  • Some Control Panel settings, such as Add Hardware, Bluetooth, Game Controllers, Pen and Touch, People Near Me, Tablet PC Settings, Offline Files, and Scanners and Cameras, are not listed, even under All Control Panel Items. The 32-bit Speech applet is no longer accessible through the Control Panel. While some of these settings are accessible only from Category view, or by searching, they can be made accessible via All Control Panel Items with a modification to the registry.
  • The slide show button from Windows Explorer starts the Windows Photo Viewer, which—unlike Windows Live Photo Gallery—does not support viewing slide shows with themes and rich transitions.
  • It is not possible to run the 32-bit version of Windows Explorer as a file manager or as the shell in 64-bit editions of Windows 7.[2] 64-bit editions of Windows Vista and Windows XP allowed executing the 32-bit shell/Windows Explorer and making it the default for compatibility with shell extensions. As a result, all 32-bit shell extensions are incompatible with 64-bit versions of Windows 7.
  • Because of the Software Explorer being removed from Windows Defender, there is no user notification any more if UAC blocks a startup program which needs administrator privileges. Users were notified about blocked startup programs set to run as administrator in Windows Vista.[3]
  • An undocumented incompatible Items view control replaces the List view control[4] used in Windows Explorer and Start Menu breaking applications that customized the Explorer list view control.[5] The Item view also does not support custom positioning, custom ordering, or hyperlinks, which were supported in the Windows Vista list view.[6] Because the control is undocumented, it is not possible for developers to disable auto arrange or customize views. Because ItemsView is not considered part of the Win32 common controls reusable by developers, the sound for the Select system event no longer plays in Explorer in Windows 7.[7]
  • The new items view control also ignores certain desktop.ini parameters like IconArea_Image and IconArea_Text preventing users from setting a background picture for folders. In Windows Vista, this feature was not built-in, however the list view control supported this if shell extensions or folder customization utilities which set the correct desktop.ini parameters and attributes were installed.
  • Each toolbar or desk band is forced to be on its own row in Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer forces the RBBS_BREAK style for every band.[8]
  • When items are grouped by any criteria, multiple selection of groups by clicking the group header while holding down Template:Keypress is not possible as could be done in Windows Vista.[9]
  • The entire folder tree view in the navigation pane cannot be collapsed vertically as could be done in Windows Explorer on Windows Vista.
  • Full row selection cannot be turned off for details view as was possible in Windows Vista.[10]
  • The Share overlay icon for shared items in Explorer has been removed.[11]
  • When navigating to a folder from a library, it is not possible to view the folder's contents in the view the user has set or customized. The folder uses the library's view.
  • The Remember each folder's view settings option to set Explorer to persist or not persist folder views and icon sizes per folder has been removed.[12]
  • It is not possible to set Windows Explorer to remember individual folder window sizes and positions. Each folder window shares the same size, and their position cascades as more windows are opened.
  • Dotted lines that connect folders and subfolders do not appear as the option to turn off simple folder view is missing.[13][14]
  • When clicking on a folder in the folders pane, it isn't automatically expanded to show its subfolders as the option to turn on simple folder view is missing.[13][14]
  • The size of any selected item(s) is not shown on the status bar but is shown in the details pane just above the status bar. Free disk space is not shown on the status bar and the status bar is not visible by default. The details pane only shows the size of 15 selected items by default and viewing the total size of more than 15 selected items requires clicking "Show more details" each time the selection changes.
  • When no items are selected in a folder, neither the details pane nor the status bar show the total size of files in the folder.
  • Icons on the command bar in Windows Explorer and common application dialogs for Open/Save.
  • Disabling Auto Arrange and Align to Grid is not available in Windows Explorer windows.[15][16] As a result, users can no longer manually arrange items via drag and drop within a folder; this feature is only available on the desktop.
  • The bar with column headers for sorting, grouping, filtering and stacking that appears for any view in Windows Vista Explorer only appears for Details view.[17] Even in details view, the column headers only allow sorting and filtering; they no longer allow grouping and stacking. As a result, grouping must be done from the context menu in all views and sorting must also be done from the context menu in all other views except Details view. Filtering by columns can only be done in Details view.
  • Automatic horizontal scrolling in the left pane is removed as well as the horizontal scrollbar to manually scroll.
  • The Arrange By option (called Stack By in Windows Vista) is only available for libraries and folders included in libraries. In addition, users can only Stack By predefined categories depending on the library type. For example, users can only Stack by Folder, Album, Artist, Song, Genre, and Rating for the Music library, whereas in Vista, users could Stack By any properties that exist for a file (common examples would be bit rate, year, composer, play count, etc. for audio files).
  • Changing the sort criteria when multiple items are selected causes all items to be de-selected.
  • Selection of multiple items is not retained across back and forward navigation.


  • Tooltips for program icons only show the name of the app. They no longer show the comment field.
  • 16-bit applications can no longer display their icon on the taskbar when running. The taskbar shows the icon for NTVDM.exe, which is the 32-bit host process for running 16-bit applications.
  • Quick Launch was removed in favor of 'pinned' applications.[18] It is possible to revert to Quick Launch by manually adding it as a custom toolbar, [19] although Windows 7 and later have issues with Quick Launch getting automatically disabled and all its settings getting reset after a logoff or restart. [20] [21] [22]
  • Clicking a grouped application's taskbar button or thumbnail when it is active (in the foreground) does not minimize it. Only ungrouped application buttons minimize upon being clicked again.
  • Icons have been removed from the tooltips for the notification area system icons such as Volume, Network, Power and the taskbar date and time.[23]
  • Floating Deskbands (toolbars) are no longer available. The feature was previously deprecated in Windows Vista; all deskbands can only be pinned to the taskbar. It is no longer possible to place toolbars on the other (non-taskbar) edges of the desktop.
  • The ability to disable grouping (placing next to each other) similar taskbar buttons (for example, Explorer windows) is removed; users can still disable combining multiple taskbar buttons of the same type into one button.
  • The configurable registry option TaskbarGroupSize, which allowed fine-grained control over taskbar grouping[24] under previous Windows versions is not supported. In Windows 7, users can only configure to either combine buttons, not combine or combine when the taskbar is full.
  • The number of combined taskbar windows is not calculated and shown next to the combined buttons.
  • Network activity animation on Network Connections icon in the notification area cannot be turned on. The Network icon only indicates the type of network (wired or wireless) and Internet connectivity.
  • The ability to turn off taskbar window previews (thumbnails) while still using Aero, as was configurable in Windows Vista.[25] It is possible to turn off taskbar thumbnails when two or more windows are combined by setting a registry value, though.[26]
  • The ability to disable the taskbar's "always on top" setting is removed.
  • When grouping is disabled, the ability to manage multiple taskbar items using multiselect (Ctrl+click) to tile, cascade, minimize or close the selected group of windows has been removed.
  • Only two power plans, one of them always being Balanced, and the other being "Power saver" by default, are available to choose from the taskbar. The "High Performance" power plan is hidden by default in the Control Panel.
  • When the taskbar is vertical, there cannot be multiple columns of icons.

Start menu

  • Applications can no longer be excluded from appearing in the Start Menu's Most Frequently Used program list using the NoStartPage registry value as was possible in Windows XP and Windows Vista.[27]
  • Programs started from outside the Start Menu such as from the Desktop, the Run dialog or from folders no longer show up in the Start Menu's Frequently Used Programs list, unless launched at least once from the Start Menu.
  • Classic Start menu is removed. Certain features that were present only in the Classic Start menu are not available, such as expanding the menu columns instead of scrolling, expanding folders by hovering instead of clicking, opening folders by double clicking, launching multiple programs by holding down Shift key while clicking, and creating expandable shortcuts to folders by dragging them to the Start menu.
  • Dynamically pinning default Internet browser and e-mail client software programs on Start menu is no longer possible. Programs can still be, however, manually pinned to the Start menu in Windows 7.
  • Internet Explorer Favorites and History are no longer grouped under a separate header in the Windows 7 Start Menu as they were in the Windows Vista Start Menu. They are shown under the Files group.

Windows Search features

  • Advanced search builder UI (Search Pane). Due to the removal of this UI, it is not possible to change the location of where to search in the same Explorer window unless at least one search has already been performed, after which Explorer shows a button to search a "Custom" scope.
  • The option to always search only file names has been removed from Folder Options, Search tab.
  • The Windows Search protocol handler addin to index network paths is incompatible with Windows 7.[28] The Windows Search service needs to be installed and running on the remote computers to search them.
  • Pre-defined saved searches in the Searches folder ("Recent Documents," "Recent E-mail," "Recent Music," "Recent Pictures and Video," "Recently Changed," and "Shared by Me") have been removed.

Other shell features

  • The Snap To mouse pointer option to move the pointer automatically to the default button in a dialog is broken on many re-designed system and application dialog boxes and windows in Windows 7. The mouse pointer simply does not move or snap to the default button in several dialogs which are re-designed.
  • For security reasons, AutoPlay will support AutoRun only on optical media, such as CDs and DVDs. (Later Microsoft released KB971029[29] for earlier OSes to make AutoPlay Windows 7-like.)
  • Detection of the discontinued HD DVD format in AutoPlay.
  • Properties such as target command line with switches, start in path, icon and compatibility mode cannot be changed for game shortcuts in Games Explorer.


  • In the Personalization control panel, it is not possible to save changes to an existing theme. Changes made after choosing a theme must be saved again and the original theme deleted to prevent duplication. In previous versions of Windows, a theme file could be overwritten with the modified theme.
  • It is no longer possible to change a theme's visual style, like from Windows Aero to Windows Classic, directly.
  • The Aurora, Windows Energy and Windows Logo screensavers and most of the wallpapers that shipped with Windows Vista were removed.[30]
  • The 3D-Bronze, 3D-White, Conductor, Dinosaur, Hands 1, Hands 2, Variations and Windows Animated cursor schemes are no longer available.
  • ClearType cannot be turned off entirely in order for the user interface font, Segoe UI, to maintain optimal design for certain shell components and Windows Explorer.[31] Parts of the user interface (such as the start menu and Explorer) still use ClearType regardless of setting.
  • Icon size setting in the Advanced Appearance settings opened via Personalization dialog no longer affects icon sizes in Windows Explorer and on the Desktop.

Windows Media Player features

  • The ability to lock the player while in full-screen mode [32] using a 4-digit PIN has been removed.
  • The option to adjust the bit rate when burning data CDs has been removed.
  • Windows Media Player's taskbar-integrated Mini-player has been removed. The thumbnail preview which replaces this lacks volume control and a progress bar. The ability to start the miniplayer only for certain files based on specific text in their file names was also removed.
  • Enhancements are only accessible from Now Playing view in a floating window. They do not dock to the Now Playing window, and do not get restored when Windows Media Player is restarted. Even when manually restored, their position does not get saved.
  • Left/Right balance control has been removed from the graphic equalizer and is no longer possible.
  • Several player preferences are not saved and restored upon restarting the player. The playlist pane in Now Playing view is not shown automatically. Enhancements do not get restored when Windows Media Player is restarted. Even when manually restored, the previous position of the Now Playing window and enhancements is not retained.
  • The context menu entry "Find In Library" which allowed locating the Now Playing song in the library was removed.
  • Advanced Tag Editor, Color Chooser, Media Link for E-mail, and Party Mode features have been removed.
  • The ability to add and show static lyrics and synchronized lyrics has been removed.
  • Recently added Auto playlist is not included by default.
  • Total time for CDs and playlists is rounded up to the nearest minute, i.e. seconds are no longer shown.

Internet Explorer features

  • In Internet Explorer 8, the previous session can no longer be automatically restored the next time. The user must remember to and manually open the session the next time.[33]
  • Internet Explorer 8 on any Windows version does not support inline AutoComplete in its address bar.[34]
  • Rating and description of Internet Explorer favorites can no longer be edited from the Details pane in Windows 7 Explorer.[35]

Applications replaced by Windows Live counterparts

  • Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Mail have been removed, in favor of downloading respective Windows Live counterparts.[36]
    • Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Movie Maker do not include all of the features of Windows Mail and Windows Movie Maker respectively.
    • Windows Live Mail does not support HTML source editing, scripted stationery and the ability to disable the splash screen.
    • The Windows Mail gadget for Windows SideShow does not ship with Windows 7.
    • Windows Live Movie Maker does not include a proper timeline with audio edits and narration,[37] title overlays, filter compatibility settings and other advanced options, cannot export to DV-AVI, and drops the transitions and effects from Windows Movie Maker.
  • The web filtering and activity reporting functionality from the in-box parental controls feature.[38] Windows Live Family Safety replaces the web filtering functionality but its user interface for filtering and activity reporting is web-based instead of the native UI used by Windows Vista's parental controls and requires logging into a Windows Live ID.
  • Windows Calendar has also been removed, in favor of Windows Live Mail's calendar.
    • Windows Live Mail's integrated calendar supports events but not tasks, does not support subscribing, publishing, importing and exporting iCalendar files.
    • Windows Live Mail's integrated calendar also lacks a native events reminder. Events are reminded through e-mail instead.

Other Windows applications and features

  • To preserve the digital signature of a Windows Installer (MSI) file during uninstall, embedded cabinets are no longer automatically stripped off by Windows Installer 5.0 to save disk space.[39] As a result, MSIs cached in the %Windir%\Installer directory take more disk space than earlier Windows versions with no option to disable the caching.
  • Transient Multimon Manager (TMM), a Windows Vista feature to automatically detect hot-Plug and Play displays as well as configure and save the multi-monitor setup is removed in favor of Win+P.[40]
  • The Windows 7 On-screen keyboard removes the ability to change or specify the font as a result of which keyboard layouts of fonts which use Dingbats and Unicode characters in place of alphabetic characters can no longer be viewed.
  • The Windows 7 On-screen keyboard removes direct access to function keys. Function keys are now accessed using the 'Fn' key.
  • Windows Remote Assistance does not support file transfer and clipboard sharing in Windows 7.[41][42]
  • The Offline Files cache can be relocated,[43] however, an existing cache with previously cached files cannot be moved without resetting it[44][45] as was possible in Windows Vista using Windows Easy Transfer[46] or in Windows XP/2000 using Cachemov.exe [47]
  • The DFS Replication Service included in Windows Vista for peer-to-peer DFS Replication service groups, has also been removed.[48]
  • The 3D visuals from WinSAT benchmark have been removed.[49]
  • Some features have been removed from Windows Defender[50] such as the Software Explorer, configuration of security agents and notifications of program activities or when running startup programs as administrator.
  • Removable Storage Manager (RSM) has been removed,[51] so applications that depend on it—such as NTBackup or the NTBackup Restore Tool—cannot back up to physical or virtual tape drives.
  • Windows Meeting Space,[52] and the InkBall game have been removed.
  • Windows Ultimate Extras for the Ultimate edition which included Windows DreamScene, Microsoft Tinker, and the Hold' Em poker game among others, was removed. Microsoft had initially announced that they will re-offer Tinker and Hold 'Em in the near future.[53] On December 15, only Tinker was made available for free as a Games for Windows - LIVE downloadable game which requires signing into Windows Live ID.
  • Microsoft Agent 2.0 technology was removed, breaking compatibility with Microsoft Agent applications. A separate installation package has been provided by Microsoft "due to customer feedback."[54]
  • The sidebar for Desktop Gadgets was removed, although gadgets can align to any side of the screen like they did in Vista.
  • The Contacts, Notes and Stocks Desktop Gadgets have been removed. The Notes gadget has been replaced by Sticky Notes, allowing for both text and ink-based notes. An upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 retains the user's notes from the gadget and transfers them to the Sticky Notes program.
  • The import, export, drag and drop and voice note features in earlier versions of Sticky Notes have been removed.
  • The Windows Firewall Control Panel does not allow configuring port-based filtering although the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security MMC-based snap-in allows this.
  • Filtering policies in Group Policy to show only a specific operating system or application is no longer available.[citation needed]
  • Software Restriction Policies no longer support multiple levels of trust such as "basic user"[55] (only block or allow are still supported); this functionality has been superseded by User Account Control and AppLocker.
  • The common font selector dialog box does not show the type of font (OpenType, TrueType, Symbol font, etc.)
  • Windows Registry Reflection for x64 editions replaced with merged 32/64-bit keys.[56]
  • File backup to a network share (non-system image backup) is only available in Windows 7 Professional and above whereas it was included in Windows Vista Home Premium.[57]
  • Windows Import Video, a feature in Windows Vista which allowed one to import live or recorded video from a digital video camera and save it to the hard disk, has been removed.[58]
  • The option in Windows Vista to send search queries (keywords) of searches performed in the Control Panel category view to Microsoft has been removed in Windows 7.

See also


  1. Adding Explorer Bars
  2. Has the implementation of the 32-bit Windows Explorer changed in the RC?
  3. Error message when you start a Windows Vista-based computer: "Windows has blocked some startup programs"
  4. Windows Browse and Organize Features: Windows 7 Technical Library
  5. SysExporter incompatibility with Windows 7 Explorer
  6. IFolderViewOptions Interface
  7. The "select" event system sound does not play when a file or folder is selected
  8. Classic Shell:
  9. What happened to the Group by, Sort by, Stack by Column Header Context Menu?
  10. Disable Full Row Select: Keith's Windows Stuff
  11. Why Windows 7 did not have a different icon for share folder?: Technet Forums
  12. Is Remember each folder's view settings functionality gone for good?
  13. 13.0 13.1 Description of Simple Folder View in Windows XP
  14. 14.0 14.1 Change folder views and behavior
  15. Disable Auto Arrange in folder view, not available in W7
  16. How to manually arrange folders in windows 7
  17. Sort/Group bar has been banished from every view except Details view
  18. "What happened to the Quick Launch toolbar?". Microsoft. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  19. Heddings, Lowell. "Add the Quick Launch Bar to the Taskbar in Windows 7". How-To-Geek. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  20. Quick Launch bar in Windows 7 keeps disappearing after every restart
  21. A toolbar disappears from the task bar. (Quick launch toolbar)
  22. Quick launch disappears after restart
  23. Notification Area Guidelines: MSDN
  24. How to Change the Behavior of Taskbar Grouping
  25. Windows Vista User Experience Walkthrough Guide
  26. Windows 7 Taskbar reg tweaks
  27. How To Prevent a Program from Being Displayed in the Most Frequently Used Programs List in Windows XP
  28. Availability of the Windows Desktop Search add-in for Files on Microsoft Networks
  29. KB971029 – Update to the AutoPlay functionality in Windows
  30. Protalinski, Emil (2009-03-16). "Side by side: UI changes from Windows 7 beta to build 7057". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  31. Engineering Changes to ClearType in Windows 7
  32. Lock The Screen While in Full-Screen Mode in Windows Media Player
  33. “Open these the next time I use Internet Explorer” no longer an option in IE 8
  34. Address Bar Improvements in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1
  35. "Apply Property Error" occurs when attempting to modify either the Ratings, Description or Notes fields of a Favorite shortcut on Windows 7 with either Internet Explorer 8 or 9
  36. LeBlanc, Brandon (2008-10-28). "The Complete Windows Experience – Windows 7 + Windows Live". Windows Experience Blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  37. Perez, Sarah (2009-02-10). "Miss the Old Movie Maker? Get it Back on Windows 7". Channel 9. Microsoft Developer Network. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  38. Windows 7 Parental Controls Changes Overview
  39. Changes to Package Caching in Windows Installer 5.0
  40. Transient Multimon Manager (TMM): MSDN
  41. Improvements to Remote Assistance in Windows 7
  42. "Why doesn't windows 7 Remote Assistance support sharing clipboard and file transfer? Are there any work arrounds? [sic]". Windows Client TechCenter > Windows 7 IT Pro Forums > Windows 7 Networking. Microsoft TechNet Social. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  43. How to change the location of the CSC folder by configuring the CacheLocation registry value in Windows Vista
  44. "How to Move Offline Files Cache in Windows 7?". Windows Client TechCenter > Windows 7 IT Pro Forums > Windows 7 Networking. Microsoft TechNet Social. 2009-08-08. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  45. "Moving offline files cache". Windows 7 IT Pro Forums > Windows 7 Networking. Microsoft TechNet Social. 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  46. How to move the client-side caching (CSC) folder to a new location in Windows Vista
  47. How to Change the Location of Client-Side Cache in Windows 2000
  48. A Windows Vista-based client computer does not participate in the replication process if you add the client computer to a DFS Replication service group by using the DFS Management snap-in on a Windows Server 2003 R2-based computer
  49. UnlockThis! Windows Vista Benchmarking tool
  50. Thurrott, Paul (12 November 2008). "Windows 7 feature focus". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  51. Morgan, Suzanne (2008). "Storage Networking Platform Features in Windows 7/Server 2008 R2" (.pptx, 5.47 MB). Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2008. Microsoft. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  52. "Windows 7 – Where is Windows Meeting Space?". Retrieved March 16, 2009. 
  53. "Tinker and Hold 'Em are coming to Games for Windows!". Microsoft. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  54. "Microsoft Agent home page". Microsoft. 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  55. Determining Your Application Control Objectives
  56. "Removal of Windows Registry Reflection". Microsoft Developer Network. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  57. "Windows 7 Home Premium network backup". Windows Client TechCenter > Windows 7 IT Pro Forums > Windows 7 Installation, Setup, and Deployment. Microsoft TechNet Social. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  58. "What happened to Windows Import Video?". Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
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