Feeds

Windows 7: Microsoft's three missed opportunities

At least it's not Vista

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

In order to make Windows quieter, Microsoft gives the user control over which applications are allowed to show icons and/or notifications, and icons are hidden by default. Although the intentions were good, I have seen users befuddled by the non-appearance of applications that use the notification area. I also suspect that the benefits are temporary.

Vendors will copy what Microsoft has done with Live Messenger. This used to live in the notification area, but now occupies a slot on the taskbar instead. Since it typically runs in the background, it appears there even if the user has not chosen to pin it. Undoubtedly the Messenger team did this because the notification area is now too hidden. Other vendors will follow suit, and the taskbar will be as noisy as the notification area used to be.

Third, Windows 7 has failed to solve a number of long-running annoyances in Windows. These include the fact that file extensions are still hidden by default, and although as George Ou observes this is not as big a security problem as it appears, it is still irritating, especially since hiding the file extension prevents users from changing it if they need to.

Another irritation is Windows 7 has reverted to the My Documents abstraction for a folder that is usually called Documents. Windows Vista actually corrected this. The abstraction is too frail, and some applications show one name, some the other, and some both.

The Windwos 7 Libraries

Arrange and grouping options aren't helped by Microsoft's menu allergy

Microsoft's menu allergy also causes problems. IE's menu is hidden by default, and some features are hard to find without it. An example is when managing the new and very useful Libraries feature, which lets you combine several folders into one view. Oddly, a library does not merge its folders into one list by default.

To do this, you need to figure out that there is both an Arrange By and a Group By option, which do different things, and that you have to Group By None. Since the menu bar is hidden, users might not find Group By at all: you have to right-click in the narrow left margin.

None of these are deal-breakers, nor should they cloud the genuine improvements Microsoft has made in Windows 7. It is the best Windows yet, and Windows Vista will soon be forgotten. What Windows 7 demonstrates, though, is that although Microsoft has made progress in usability, there is plenty still to do. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.