The Windows 7 Pre-release (M3) Privacy Supplement was just published on the Microsoft homepage. It contains several interesting information that one can draw out of the document. Several of the features – old and new – of Windows 7 are addressed in the large document. Two editions of Windows 7 are specifically mentioned in the document under the BitLocker Drive Encryption paragraph. Only Windows 7 Enterprise Edition and Windows 7 Ultimate Edition will contain that feature. Mentioning those two editions suggests that Microsoft will make use of multiple Windows 7 editions which cater to a specific audience. There is no word of other editions in the document but it is likely that the editions will be more or less the same as they were for Windows Vista.
Driver Protection is a new feature that “helps prevent the operating system from starting drivers that are known to cause stability problems” by consulting a Driver Protection List database that is stored locally and updated via Windows Update. The Driver Protection List database contains the drivers that are known to cause problems. Driver Protection is also used during installation of the operating system. Windows 7 will notify the user about the problematic driver. The user has the option to install an alternative driver or continue with the installation. Microsoft states that “Windows might disable the driver in order to complete the installation”. It remains to be seen how restrictive this feature is and if it can be overruled by the user. Microsoft states that it is possible to prevent updates to the Driver Protection List database by not using Windows Update and Dynamic Update but does not provide information if the feature can be disabled completely.
Driver Protection helps prevent the operating system from starting drivers that are known to cause stability problems. These drivers are listed in a Driver Protection List database that is stored on your computer. The Driver Protection List is updated through Windows Update and Dynamic Update (below). Driver Protection checks this database while the operating system is running. These checks are performed to determine whether to start a driver. For more information, see the Driver Protection List article online at the Microsoft website.
Dynamic Update is the name of another new feature. It is being used during installation to connect to Windows Update to find updates and new drivers which will be downloaded and installed automatically.
Dynamic Update enables Windows 7 to perform a one-time check with the Windows Update website to get the latest updates for your computer while Windows is being installed. If updates are found, Dynamic Update automatically downloads and installs them so your computer is up to date the first time that you log on or use it.
The Privacy Supplement does mention one of the first new features of Windows 7 as well. Homegroup will offer the possibility to link Windows 7 computers in a home network to share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices.
A HomeGroup allows you to easily link Windows 7 computers on your home network so that you can share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices. It also makes them ready to stream media to devices on your home network such as a media extender. You can help protect your HomeGroup with a password, and you can choose what you want to share.
Internet Printing makes it possible to use printers located anywhere by “sending print jobs using Hypertext Transfer Protocol”:
When you print using this feature, you must first connect and authenticate yourself to an Internet print server. The information that you will need to submit to the print server will vary depending on the level of security that the print server supports (for example, you might be asked to provide a user name and password). Because the print job is unencrypted, it may be possible for others to see the content being sent. Once you are connected, you are presented with a list of available printers. If your computer does not have a print driver for your selected printer, you may choose to download a driver from the print server. If you choose to use a print server hosted by Microsoft, Microsoft does not use the information that you provide to identify you or contact you.
The Online Print Ordering Wizard is a similar function which simplifies the process of sending pictures to an online photo printing service. It is likely that the photo printing services have to support that feature before the user can select them.
The Online Print Ordering Wizard enables you send digital pictures stored on your computer or network drive to an online photo printing service of your choice. Depending on the service, you can have your pictures printed and then delivered using postal mail, or you can pick up the prints at a local store.
People Near Me makes it possible to sent invites for programs to other people in the local network. The document does not define the word programs in the context, only that the user who is invited needs to have it installed on the computer as well.
People Near Me is a service that identifies people nearby on your local network who are using computers and allows those people to send you invitations for programs. They can only invite you to participate in programs that are installed on your computer. To use People Near Me, you have to sign in to the service.
Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Services is an implementation of Trusted Computing which can be used by full disk encryption applications such as Bitlocker. It got bad press in the last years because of privacy concerns and that it could in theory implement DRM and software license protections without the user’s consent. According to Wikipedia however it is not possible to activate the feature by software alone.
The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security hardware is a microchip built into some computers that, if present and initialized, enables your computer to take full advantage of advanced security features such as BitLocker™ Drive Encryption.