What's new with the Windows desktop?

There are some new features on the Windows‌ desktop to help you personalize your computer, switch between open programs and files, access your information quickly, and find programs and files.

Windows Aero

Windows Aero is the premium visual experience of this version of Windows. It features a transparent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors. Part of the Windows Aero experience is Windows Flip 3D, which is a way to preview your open windows in 3D stacks, as well as taskbar buttons with thumbnail-sized window previews.

Here are some examples of the new colors available with Aero:

Picture of window frame colors
Window frame colors

Windows Flip 3D

Windows Flip 3D provides the same functionality as the ALT+TAB keyboard shortcut, but uses 3D visual effects.

With Flip 3D, you can quickly preview all of your open windows (for example, open files, folders, and documents) without having to click the taskbar. Flip 3D displays your open windows in a stack. One open window is displayed at the top of the stack. To see other windows, you flip through the stack.

Picture of windows in Flip 3D view
Switching windows with Flip 3D

For more information, see Using Windows Flip 3D.

Window previews

When you point to a taskbar button, you'll see a thumbnail-sized preview of the window, whether the content of the window is a document, a photo, or even a running video.

Picture of the mouse pointer on a taskbar button, with a preview of the window
Window preview

Windows Sidebar and gadgets

Windows Sidebar provides a new way to organize the information, games, and tasks that you want to access quickly without cluttering your workspace. It's made up of gadgets, which are customizable mini-programs that can display continuously updated headlines, a picture slide show, contacts, and more, without having to open a new window.

For more information, see Windows Sidebar: frequently asked questions.

Picture of Windows Sidebar
Windows Sidebar

A new, expanded search

You can now search the Start menu to find programs, documents, pictures, music, and videos. You can also search among your e‑mail messages, saved instant messages, appointments, contacts, Internet favorites, and the history of webpages you've visited. If any of these webpages include the search term, they appear under a heading called "Favorites and History."

To search the Start menu, begin typing the first couple of letters of a word, name, or phrase in the Search box. As you type, the Start menu changes to show the best possible matches, with priority given to the programs you open most frequently. The more letters you type, the more the results narrow until there are only a couple of items left in the list.

Picture of search results on the Start menu
Search results on the Start menu

You don't have to know the entire name of the program or other item you want to find to use Search. You can also look for a type of program. For example, if you don't know the name of your e‑mail program, you can try typing e‑mail to get the right result.