Microsoft has made 36 improvements and modifications to Windows 7 since it released a public beta of the OS in January, according to a post on the official Engineering Windows 7 blog.

Chaitanya Sareen, senior programme manager at Microsoft, said the changes include tweaks to the Windows 7 desktop, the touchscreen interface, Windows Media Player and the Control Panel.

However, Windows 7 users shouldn't get too excited - many of the 'improvements' are so small most people won't notice them. Microsoft has changed the number of times that notification windows flash to get the user's attention from three in the beta to seven in the release candidate, for instance.

Respected Windows blogger Paul Thurrott described the 36 improvements as a "laundry list of tiny changes, much like the '300+ New Features!' lists that Apple makes every time it ships a new version of Mac OS X".

Windows 7 new features

At the other end of the spectrum, a change to User Account Control has already received plenty of attention from beta testers. "If you've been following this blog, then you already know about a recent design change we've made that will prompt for any modification made to the [User Account Control] Control Panel," said Sareen, referring to the criticism earlier this month from testers over a feature which could allow attackers disable the UAC security feature. Microsoft quickly responded by promising it would change UAC's behaviour in Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1).

Microsoft made the first beta of Windows 7 available to the general public on January. 10, a day later than planned because interest in the beta crashed its website when the company first posted it the day before. Downloads were originally expected to come to an end on January 24, but Microsoft extended the programme until February 10 to cater for strong demand.

The operating system is expected to be released by the end of the year, with some reports suggesting the Windows 7 release date could be as soon as September.

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