Feeds

Windows 7: Microsoft's three missed opportunities

At least it's not Vista

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

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.