Feeds

Windows 7: Microsoft's three missed opportunities

At least it's not Vista

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.