Feeds

Windows 7: Microsoft's three missed opportunities

At least it's not Vista

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.