Part 2! Now we look at Microsoft’s Windows. I’ll be looking at Windows 7, because at least it’s a real attempt at a modern OS.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where are the text labels? Icons are not as intuitive as you might think. The new taskbar does not have any text labels. I think this is complete garbage. Even if you hover over an icon, no label. That’s terrible. Remember how Windows used to have a “start” button? No more. Instead it was replaced by the Windows Orb. This was bad. It’s the same size, shape and orientation as everything else in the taskbar. There is nothing to suggest that this is the main menu unless you are already familiar with Microsoft’s design grammar.
More about the menu. As easy as it seems at first, Windows needs to figure out a better start menu. It takes too many clicks to do most things. Windows 7 makes this easier with a pretty good search menu at the bottom of the start menu, but that’s not a replacement for better design. First, you hit start. Then go to all programs, if the program you want isn’t pinned to the start menu. Then you finally get to see a bunch of items that are confusingly and inconsistently organized. Sometimes it’s by publisher like Adobe. Sometimes it’s by program type like “Accessories” or “Games”. Either way it’s inconsistent. On Ubuntu, if you click on the application menu, you see programs grouped into games, internet, productivity, etc. All it would take is a little bit of metadata in the install process. Again, search eliminates some of these issues, but search is not a replacement for better design or organization.
Virtual desktops. Every other OS has it. Linux has had this concept for YEARS. Windows 7 still does not have it. It’s a necessity in modern operating systems. There’s no excuse for this.
Aero Flip 3D. Useless and confusing. When you hit Windows+Tab, you see a cascading view of all your open windows. How is this any better than Alt+Tab? It isn’t. At all. Alt+Tab features thumbnail previews of open windows, consumes less resources and is less confusing because of its highlighting scheme and linearity. Aero Flip does not highlight which window is currently selected, so it can be confusing to know what you are switching to.
Bezels. Why is there such a thick bezel around windows? It was nice and thin in XP, but with the introduction of glass, Microsoft seems to feel like it needs to have all kinds of glass everywhere. There’s something like a 5 pixel bezel around every single window that is completely unnecessary.
Interoperability. This is everyone’s responsibility in the OS game and Microsoft may be the worst at it. They simply do not care if I can share files and folders with Macs and Linux PCs in my house. Why must networking be such a pain when Windows is involved?
Part 3: linux coming soon!