windows 7 start menu Long Zheng managed to get his hands on what appears to be a Windows 7 Start Menu mockup, and how he came about it is quite interesting. An anonymous tipster sent the image which was retrieved from a private Windows feedback survey regarding the search functionality in Vista. At first glance the Start Menu mockup, pictured to the right, looks just like the one in Vista, but there are some differences that lead us to believe that this is a Windows 7 design.

The most obvious difference is the Taskbar, which has a darker background behind the Windows orb. The Taskbar looks like it is a lot more transparent than it currently is in Vista, and comparing it to the size of the search box almost makes it seem twice as tall. I wonder what the Quick Launch icons would look like on that.

I’m curious as to what the arrows next to Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word are for. My guess is that it’s an indication that those applications are currently running, and clicking on them would pull up the running instance instead of starting a new one.

There are some things that don’t exactly jive on the screenshot, in particular the Lorem Ipsum placeholder text in the right-most column. Some of the icons for the applications also don’t match up (Outlook, Powerpoint) to their respective programs.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself that this is just a Vista mockup before they had actually settled on a design. The tipping point for me is the Photoshop CS3 icon in there. That application didn’t even hit the Beta phase until December 2006 which was over a month after Vista was sent to be manufactured. I don’t think that Microsoft would have gone out of their way to get their hands on a Photoshop CS3 icon just for the mockup.

So we’ll just chalk this one up to the Windows 7 rumors, and I don’t think it will be the last that we see of the mockups. Here’s our full Windows 7 coverage thusfar for those wondering what the heck Windows 7 is.