You might have heard about it already, but Paint... the little painting program that's in Windows? Well, the Windows 7 version of Paint received a fresh coat of paint! (yes... I couldn't resist doing that)
Gone is the low res single pixel pencil tool, now you have TEXTURED BRUSHES, you have brushes that simulate oil and water color brushes, ie they taper off with a fading effect. You have a crayon that errr.. has a crayon like texture, and pens that give it the slanting stroke feeling. There are now predefined shapes that kids can play with like the star and lighting bolt shape shown.
And if you have a Windows 7 compatible pressure sensitive Tablet (I'm gonna say the Wacom digitizer tablets count) The brushes are PRESSURE SENSITIVE, draw hard.. broad stroke... draw lightly.. thin stroke.
And another cool feature that I can only dream about. If you have a MULTI TOUCH enabled touch screen, You can draw with multiple pens AT THE SAME TIME. This is a great way to test how many touch points your screen supports (each multi touch device might contain a different number of recognition points) Just open paint, select a brush, finger paint with all 10 fingers and see how many come out.
The one thing that stops Paint from greatness is that it doesn't support image layers... but then again that's probably the thing that stops people from filing lawsuits too. Want a more complicated paint program? Get Paint.Net.
Good old Calculator also got the new visual treatment.
What's interesting about the calculator now is the inclusion of some nifty commonly used tasks, such as unit conversions.
This would come in handy for me since whenever my father asks me to get something that involves length he always states inches, and I always ask him what's that in centimeters.
The little program that I never really had a reason to use, Wordpad has been transformed into a much more attractive and usable lightweight document editor.
The useful part is that it can open MS Word DOCX (As well as the Open Document Format) files though certain things might not show up properly since Wordpad doesn't fully implement the features MS Word has, well at a glance.. I don't see anyway to insert or manage tables! I guess it's useful for someone who bought a barebones Windows 7 system, where the OEM didn't bundle in MS Works, or the MS Office Trial, or any other word processor.
So... new Wordpad... nice... but I'll probably never actually use it though.
And then there's NOTEPAD!!!
Which still looks EXACTLY THE SAME as it did since Windows 95, but then again, Notepad always served a single purpose. Show you the text contents of whatever file it was asked to open. No formatting, No pictures, NOTHING. I guess one area of improvement would be it's performance when opening extremely large files (ie.. > 1MB Server Log files) But then again, if you ever needed to open such a big file, you could just use Wordpad!
Ever since Windows 2000, I always looked at these little bundle programs and wondered "Damn.... they look old!" And now after MS has gone through the trouble of actually improving them, would I actually use them? NO.... BUT... they're definitely more useful for people who just need to get a little something done when they have no other alternative. And for that purpose, the new improvements will surely be welcomed by the users.