Feeds

Windows 7: Microsoft's three missed opportunities

At least it's not Vista

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The verdict is in: Windows 7 is a job well done. Yes, there will be a few Windows XP diehards and those who've fled to OS X and have no intention of returning, but overall Windows 7 is more responsive, prettier, and more usable than Windows Vista.

That said, it is not perfect, and Windows 7 comes with its own set of annoyances and missed opportunities. Here are three of the biggest.

First is multi-touch. It is a big deal, since in the post-iPhone world the advantages of controlling a touchable device without the clutter of a stylus have sunk home. Microsoft claims it has made "touch a first-class way to interact with your PC alongside the mouse and keyboard", according to the official Engineering Windows blog.

It is true that the foundations are laid, with a touch gesture API that means there is no barrier to developers writing excellent touch-control applications, and this will further improve in the forthcoming .NET 4.0.

But has Microsoft made Windows itself touch-friendly? I tried Dell's Latitude XT2, one of the few currently available Tablet PCs with a multi-touch display, and installed Windows 7. I had no quibble with the hardware, once the latest driver from N-Trig was installed, and scrolling up and down in Internet Explorer with a sweep of the finger is a good party trick, complete with inertia effects.

Windows 7 taskbar

Can you stab it: a crowded Windows 7 task bar

Unfortunately, the fun soon wears off if you try to use Windows without keyboard, mouse or stylus. Microsoft has only gone half-way. The taskbar is a delight for touch users, until it fills up and you try to stab a tiny scroll arrow with your finger. The on-screen keyboard is not bad, except that it does not always pop-up when you need it - the Sticky Notes application is an example - and dragging it into view is a hassle. With practice you can get around, but it is not the delight that it should be.

The problem is that Windows needs more applications and utilities designed specifically for touch. These will come, eventually, if multi-touch Windows gains sufficient momentum. However, it risks ending up in the same expensive niche that has afflicted the Tablet PC, or being sidelined by something like the rumored Apple Tablet, if that turns out to do a better job for usability.

Notifications alert

The second big issue is Microsoft's revised notification area. I've been working with the final build for a few weeks and watching other users, and - frankly - I have strong doubts about what Microsoft has done.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.