Microsoft – ‘Have It Our Way, We Insist’

It seems that the new year over at ZDNet has brought a change. There are quite a few entries today taking Microsoft to task for one thing or another.

Jason Perlow certainly doesn’t like the form that Windows 7 is taking, with its change from Vista, and other changes from longstanding Windows behavior.

I find it difficult to believe that Windows 7 was created to be easier to use than Vista — if anything, they’ve introduced a number of UI changes that make the system much harder to navigate, particularly if you’ve never used Vista and are going direct to Windows 7 from Windows XP, which is the path that many users will experience.

Wow! Doesn’t sound good to me. This is someone who has the beta code on their machine, not a third hand story from a self-professed expert down the street. Also, as many have said in column after column, if Microsoft is to release this product sometime during 2009, there is not enough time to make any major changes to the base code.

The Start Menu in Windows 7 will be an area of much consternation for veteran Windows XP users. Overall, the Windows 7 Start Menu is not a major change from the Vista SP1 Start Menu, so existing Vista users will not have much to complain about. However, Microsoft has now completely removed the ability to have a “Classic” Start Menu, which will anger many veteran Windows users that have been using the system that way since at least 1999 when Windows 2000 was released, and some of us since Windows 95.

As one of the many who don’t like this change that was made in XP, and who continue to use the original start menu behavior, established when Mick Jagger extolled us to ‘Start Me Up!’, this will be hard to take.

To make matters even worse, the “Run” option is no longer directly accessible from the Start Menu as a default behavior, you have to get to it via a Search. Once you get to Run via Search, you can click on it to execute any commands you like, such as the CMD.EXE prompt, and you can drag it onto the Desktop, but you can’t drag it onto the new Taskbar, like you can do with any add-on program, such as Firefox. You can turn the Run command on after the fact in the Start Menu options, but that in and of itself is extremely annoying, it’s as if Microsoft has gone out of its way to make power users lives more difficult. (EDIT: The lack of a Run appearing by default appears to be a hold-over from Vista — in other words, MS still isn’t learning from its mistakes.)

As the article continues, Mr. Perlow states that someone else there clued him in on the use of the Windows key, but for many, it will be a shock. Some of us (like me) use keyboards that have no Windows key (Northgate Omnikey), and are not willing to change. This too can be worked around, as MS has made about 3 ways to do anything in Windows. The point is, the way that the majority of people do things is being changed, apparently on a whim from Microsoft.

As a general theme, Microsoft seems to have made changes for the sake of change, which was the case with Vista and is even more apparent with Windows 7, once you start digging into the OS dialogs and UI in depth.

This is part of the problem I have seen with Microsoft for a while. Change for the sake of change to me indicates lack of direction, and a tacit admission that the designers know that people were not happy with Vista, so they have been given the task to change things, but have no clue about what needs changing.

I also find the Windows 7 Control Panel to be less intuitive than XP’s — they’ve tried to simplify things, but in doing so, actually made it more frustrating, because you now need one additional mouse click to see all the Control Panel options — of which there are now approximately double than which existed in XP. Clearly, they could have done a better job at consolidating functions, or at the very least, provided a better UI for navigating such a long list of stuff, such as a tree drill-down view that is used in the Computer Management control in the Microsoft Management Console.

This type of change will be tolerated, as most of the users are sheep, but it will not be liked by many. It just might encourage passive-aggressive behavior, where instead of complaining to Microsoft, the user base, with many more things to be upset about in 7, simply ‘switches, rather than fights’.

Can you say Linux, boys and girls? I knew you could!

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I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.Henny Youngman
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