Many PC users are dying to get their hands on Microsoft's highly anticipated Windows 7. If you don't want to install the release candidate onto your machine, it's quite a wait until the OS is made publicly available on October 22.

However, we've rounded up some tips to ensure you can get the highlights of Windows 7 on Windows Vista or XP.

Aero Snap

What it is: When you drag a window to the left or right edge of your computer screen, Windows 7's Aero Snap feature automatically resizes the window to fill that half of the screen. To ‘undock' a window, simply click and drag it away from the edge.

This feature is especially convenient for PC users who have widescreen monitors, because it enables them to put a pair of windows side by side in just two quick mouse clicks.

How to get it: The free AeroSnap download makes automatic window anchoring and resizing available to Vista and XP systems. And it emulates Windows 7 in another way: If you drag a window to the top edge of the screen, the window maximises.

Invisible Windows

What it is: Need to peek at your desktop? Clicking Vista's Show Desktop button will minimise all of your open windows, but Windows 7 can make them temporarily become transparent - great for glancing at, say, one of Windows' new floating Gadgets.

All you have to do is hover over the Show Desktop button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, and presto: Your windows turn invisible, with only the borders remaining. Slide your mouse away, and immediately the windows become opaque once more.

How to get it: The freebie AeroPeek (the link goes to a downloadable zip file) for XP and Vista works a bit differently - you have to click to activate it and then click again to deactivate it - but the end result is much the same: your open windows turn see-through, allowing you to view the desktop behind them.

Of course, you can always press Windows-D to minimise all open windows (and afterward press Windows-D again to restore them), but what fun is that?

NEXT PAGE: Window Shake and the Pinnable Taskbar

  1. Get the main Windows 7 features on your current OS
  2. Window Shake and the Pinnable Taskbar
  3. The icons-only taskbar