Accelerators for Windows 7: Missing in Action

Accelerators, a softer name for Smart Tags, are neat little shortcuts a user can use to perform an action based on some selected data, without having to cut and paste it anywhere else. For example, rather than paste an address into Live Maps, you can simply highlight 1 Microsoft Way and access an Accelerator to map out the location immediately. It’s magic! (not really)

With Sinofsky now behind the wheel, steering Windows development, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Accelerators have made their way onto the Windows desktop. Ribbons made it, so why the heck not?

Accelerators for WindowsAccelerators for Windows toolbar in Windows 7 Build 6780

Accelerators for Windows made a quiet debut back in an older Milestone 3 builds of Windows 7 and can be found in leaked build 6780.

 Accelerators in Windows 7Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8  
Accelerator implementations in Windows 7 (left) and Internet Explorer 8 (right)

Just like in Internet Explorer 8, you select some text and access the available Accelerators by clicking the big blue button housed in a toolbar on the Taskbar (or by pressing Winkey+Shift). A menu will appear with the stock choices, allowing you to define, email, map, or perform other activities on that word or phrase. Easy stuff.

The next button over, sporting a grape-drink purple, gives access to Voice Shortcuts also accessible via Winkey+Ctrl.

Accelerator configuration appletTying a Voice Shortcut to an Accelerator via the Accelerator configuration applet

Use of a Voice Shortcut is similar to that of an Accelerator, no surprise as they’re tied together. You select some text, click the button (or use the associated shortcut) and speak your mind. If you’re lucky, it won’t confuse ‘define’ with ‘log off’.

And guess what? Accelerators for Windows haven’t been seen since.

Today, with builds of Windows 7 approaching beta candidacy, Accelerators for Windows have yet to re-appear, suggesting it was either canned, boxed, and thrown into a dark moldy closet along with Longhorn pre-reset goodies or simply removed for some more retooling (that GUI definitely needs some TLC).

If it was indeed canned, maybe the team could bolt it on later as an Ultimate Extra? Oh wait.