Windows 7 Catch-up: Notification Area

Remember the old System Tray? It is now called the Notification Area.This area on the extreme right of the Taskbar got so crowded with the display of mini-icons of programs running in the background, Vista started hiding icons in a drawer that you had to expand, instead of running the width of the Taskbar, as in previous versions of Windows. That was entirely random, there was no priority order of what was shown and what was hidden…

In Windows 7, the only three icons that appear on the left of the Windows 7 taskbar are icons for notifications, network status and volume. Clicking on each icon opens up a small window or menu with relevant information. Everything else is accessed by a menu arrow; on this menu you can see the icons of all the other programs running in the background; anti-virus, firewall, IM clients, Skype, special device drivers – you can open those programs or edit their settings from this area. None of these icons ever appear on the taskbar in Windows 7, they will only appear when you open up the menu.

To the left of the date and time in the far right corner, you find a small blank rectangle with a glassy appearance. This enables Windows Peek, a new Aero interface feature.

This is the answer to that clutter of icons covering the Taskbar, the spring-clean that puts all that stuff away in a drawer. It makes for a cleaner Taskbar, although when you need to find things you have to go find them. It’s probably worth the inconvenience. AJS

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