Some personse have noted a difference in the appearance of the Windows Taskbar in yesterdays demo of Windows 7 by Julie Larson-Green at the D6 | All Things Digital event. But I am not sure if its anything new except for a resizing of the present Windows Vista style Taskbar. Thom Holwerda over at OS News thinks otherwise:
"The final interesting part was the rather odd-looking taskbar – assuming it even was a taskbar. The bar was twice as high as an ordinary taskbar, and lacked text, using what looked like icons or thumbnails instead. It reminded me of the RISC OS icon bar, mostly. Apparently, Larson-Green was not at liberty to discuss it, because when Mossberg asked her about it, she replied: "It’s something we’re working on for Windows 7 and I’m not supposed to talk about right now, today…"
Read the entire article here
Well, it certainly looks different with more transparency and bigger button icons when an active application is selected on the Taskbar. Then again, its very early in Windows 7’s development, what we might have seen was just a temporary ui inconsistency that will be fixed in later builds. Even in an official video on Microsoft’s Windows Vista blog, the Windows 7 demo uses the traditional slim Windows Taskbar. Then again, for users with stuby fingers, the usability of the Windows UI might need to be improved for a Touch experience which gives reason to the enlarged Taskbar.
You can achieve a similar look now in Windows Vista. Right click your Taskbar > click the ‘Lock the Taskbar’ option on the contextual menu (if its checked), now right click an area within the Quick Launch buttons, (try not to right click a button itself) > you will then see a another contextual menu with different options > select ‘View’ and click ‘Large’ icons, there you have a ‘Dock’ like Taskbar.
Its definitely a given that there will be months of speculation to come on Windows 7’s UI and Microsoft over time will continue to change and apply different looks and feels as the development of the operating system progresses. If you went through the Longhorn up’s and down’s you should definitely remember all the different UI’s the OS tried out, Plex, Slate, build 5048 released at WinHEC 2005 used a different UI before beta 1 which was different and changed again to the now familar look first introduced in Windows Vista build 5270.