Follow-up: Starting, Launching, and Switching


Lots of discussion on the taskbar and associated user interface.  Chaitanya said he thought it would be a good idea to summarize some of the feedback and thoughts.  –Steven


We’d like to follow up on some themes raised in comments and email.  This post looks at some observations on consistent feedback expressed (though not universal) and also provides some more engineering / design context for some of the challenges expressed.


First it is worth just reinforcing a few points that came up that were consistently expressed:



  • Many of you agree that the Notification Area needs to be more manageable and customizable. 

  • We received several comments about rearranging taskbar buttons.  This speaks to the need for a predictable place where taskbar buttons appear as well as your desire for more control over the taskbar.

  • There were comments that talked about Quick Launch being valuable, but that it could stand to be an even better launching surface (e.g. larger by default or more room).

  • Thumbnails are valuable to many of you, but their size doesn’t always help you find the window you are looking for.  There is interest in a better identification method of windows that consistently provided the right amount of information.

  • Better scaling of supported windows was discussed.  This includes optimizing the taskbar for more windows and spanning multiple displays. 

Data


Several of you asked about the conclusions we are drawing from the data we collect and how we will proceed.


@Computermensch writes “The problem with this “analysis” (show me the data) is that you’re only managing current activities surrounding the taskbar. So with respect “to evolving the taskbar” you’re only developing it within its current operational framework while developing or evolution of really should refer to developing the taskbars concept.” 


@Bluvg posts “What if the UI itself was a reason that people didn’t run more than 6-9 windows?  In other words, what if the UI has a window number upper bound of effectiveness?  Prioritizing around that 6-9 scenario would be taking away the wrong conclusion from the data, if that were the case.  The UI itself would be dictating the data, rather than being driven by user demand.”


As we’ve said in all our posts around the data we collect and how we use it, data do not translate directly into our features, but informs the decisions.  Information we collect from instrumentation as well as from customer interviews merely provides us with real-world accuracy of how a product is currently used.  The goal is not necessarily to just design for the status quo.  However, we must recognize that if a new design emerges that does not satisfy the goals and behavior of our customers today, we risk resistance.  This is not to say one should never innovate and change the game—just that to do so must be respectful of the ultimate goal of the customer.  Offering a new solution to a problem is great; just make sure you’re solving the right problem and that there is a path from where people are today to where you think the better solution resides.  With that said, rest assured that our design process recognizes the need for the taskbar to scale more efficiently for larger sets of windows.  This would allow those who possibly feel “trapped” in the 6-9 window case to more comfortably venture to additional windows, if they really require it.  Also, the improvements we make to the 90% case should still hold benefits to the current outliers. 


Notification Area


With so much feedback, it is always valuable to recognize when customer comments converge.  The original post called out the problems with the Notification Area and these issues were further emphasized with your thoughts.


@Jalf writes “Having 20 icons and a balloon notification every 30th second taking up space at the taskbar where it’s *always* taking up space is just not cool. By all means, the information should be there if I need it, but can’t we just assume that if I don’t actively look for the information, it’s probably because I don’t want it.


Jalf’s comment is particularly interesting because it speaks to both the pros and cons of notifications.  They certainly can be valuable, but they can also very easily overwhelm the customer as many of you note.  A careful balance therefore must be reached such that the customer is kept informed of information that is relevant while she continues to remain in control.  Since relevant is relative, the need for control is fundamental.  Rest assured we are aware of the issues and we are taking them very seriously.


Multi-mon Support


It comes as no surprise that many of you wrote to discuss multi-monitor support for the taskbar. This is a popular request from our enthusiasts (and our own developers) and was called out as an area of investigation in the original post. 


@Justausr is very direct with this comment: “The lack of multi-monitor support is just about a crime.  We’ve seen pictures of Bill Gate’s office and his use of 3 monitors.  Most developers have 2 monitors these days.  Why was multi-monitor support for the taskbar missing?  Once again, this is an example of the compartmentalization of the Windows team and the lack of a user orientation in defining and implementing features.  The fact that this is even a “possible” and not an “of course we’re going to…” shows that you folks STILL don’t get it.”


At least in this particular case we tend to think we “get it”, but we also tend to think that the design of a multi-mon taskbar is not as simple as it may seem.  As with many features, there is more than one way to implement this one.  For example, some might suggest a unique taskbar that exists on each display and others suggest a taskbar that spans multiple displays.  Let’s look at both of these approaches.  While doing so also keep in mind the complexities of having monitors of different sizes, orientations, and alignments. 


If one was to implement a taskbar for each display where each bar only contained windows for its respective portion of the desktop, some issues arise.  Some customers will cite advantages of less mouse travel since there is always a bar at the bottom on their screen.  However, such a design would now put the onus on the customer to track where windows are.  Imagine looking for a browser window and instead of going to a single place, you now had to look across multiple taskbars to find the item you want.  Worse yet, when you move a window from one display to another, you would have to know to look in a new place to find it.  This might seem at odds with the request to rearrange taskbar buttons because customers want muscle memory of their buttons.  It would be like having two remotes with dynamically different  functionality for your TV. This is one of the reasons that almost every virtual desktop implementation keeps a consistent taskbar despite the desktop you are working on.  


Another popular approach is a taskbar that spans multiple desktops.  There are a few third-party tools that attempt to emulate this functionality for the Windows taskbar.  The most obvious advantage of this approach (as well as the dual taskbar) is that there is more room offered for launching, switching and whispering.  It is fairly obvious that those customers with multiple displays have more room to have more windows open simultaneously and hence, require even more room on their taskbar.  Some of our advanced customers address this issue by increasing the height of the taskbar to reveal multiple rows.  Others ask for a spanning taskbar.  The key thing to recognize is that the problem is not necessarily that the taskbar doesn’t span, but that more room is required to show more information about windows.  So, it stands to reason that we should come up with the best solution to this problem, independent of how many displays the customer has. 


We thought it would be good to just offer a brief discussion on the specifics of solving this design problem as it is one we have spent considerable time on.  One of the approaches in general we are working to do more of, is to change things when we know it will be a substantial improvement and not also introduce complexities that outweigh the benefits we are trying to achieve.


Once again, many thanks for your comments.  We look forward to talking soon.


– Chaitanya

Comments (84)

  1. alex.verboon@hotmail.com says:

    I’m happy with all you are doing to make the notification area more customizable, but please do think of the system engineers dealing with imaging and desktop configuration, make every setting transparent and easy to configure e.g. don’t pack them up in an unknown reg_binary key with tons of other settings.

    Just think of the quicklaunch bar in Windows xp :-)

  2. gobledb@hotmail.com says:

    Would it be possible to implement some sort of OS-level API for showing things like notification balloons and "toast"? Every app that sits in the system tray tends to have their own implementation, not all of them pleasant to look at.

    A unified API would take some time and pressure to get developers to use, but it would be better for the users in the long run. The user would then have the option of suppressing notifications of any kind. As time went on, and more developers utilized this functionality, the value would increase.

  3. dreimanis says:

    If Windows 7 will be as good, as this blog, it will be the best OS ever made.

  4. domenico says:

    @dreimanis

    SURE!!!

    Sinofsky and Windows Team are fantastic.

    26 day for PDC . (pls video for consumer)

  5. innominato5090 says:

    hi, i’m a both Mac os and windows user. If you have ever used osx you know that there isn’t a notification service, and most of the mac users install growl, that is a little app that allow you to customize witch notification will be showed and where in your desktop. I’d like to see a little program like growl built right in windows 7!

  6. AlexJerebtsov says:

    The main reason why I use two monitors is exactly to separate my workspaces and keep things from detracting from my workflow. I have my IMs and my music on the second monitor, and my work on the first one.

    I use a 3rd party application called UltraMon that extends a "fake" taskbar onto any additional monitors. With it, when I drag a window, it shows up in on the correct taskbar – just as I would expect it to. I suppose it’s because I see monitors as individual workspaces – not parts of a larger, spanning workspace – but I just don’t see how it even makes sense for me to have to switch my attention to a different monitor to select a window on the one I’m currently working on.

  7. lyesmith says:

    My friend use OSX all the time. One of his big concern with OSX that IM new message notifications does not span virtual and remote desktops. Make sure that Windows 7 has virtual desktops and that there is a customizable way to set which application can "cross-notify".

  8. d_e says:

    I agree with Alex Jerebtsov. I use two monitors to do seperate things. Therefore two taskbars which show only the windows belonging to "their" monitor would be the implementation I’d use.

    And you have a third option: Make the behaviour configurable. I imagine most multi-mon users know how to handle configuration switches. Even if it’s only present in the registry.

    But what Windows is missing (regarding multi-mon support) is support for maximized windows that span multiple monitors. nVidia’s 2000/XP drivers supported this – their Vista drivers can no longer do this. Today I have to "restore" a window and then fiddle around with its borders to get a window that spans multiple screens. But there are several applications that benefit from spanning over multiple monitors: 3D applications, video editing, image editing, IDEs, …

    After moving and resizing some apps several times you soon wish each window had a "maximize to n x m screens" button.

  9. anonymuos says:

    There seems to be some bug in the MSDN blog system where it does not accept long comments (3-4 paragraphs) or comments containing some specific characters (dunno which ones) because of which the comment gets rejected and the page is simply redirected to the main blog URL upon clicking Submit. The message does not even show up: "Thank you for submitting…if the comments are getting moderated..it’ll take some time before they show up". It is simply rejected. Can MS verify this? It happens in any OS, in any browser, IE, FF etc.

  10. swwhittle@gmail.com says:

    I am also a multi-mon user. My setup depends on my task, however I will often have different programs running on separate windows when studying or researching. When using Dreamweaver, Premiere or Photoshop (and a few other programs) then I will have then spanning two windows (content on one and tools on the other).

    Having a taskbar that spans the monitors would be wonderful (I currently have 12 window open and will often go as many as 15-20). Personally I wouldn’t care too much whether it was one taskbar or two separate ones, though if there was two then I’d be very cautious as to what functionality was duplicated.

    But regardless of which way you go, I want to have pretty much full control of what appears, where is appears and how is appears. I have experimented with 3rd party software such as object dock, but would prefer the OS to natively support this level of flexibility.

  11. cquirke says:

    Some UI’s are one-click, e.g. QuickLaunch, and some are double-click, e.g. Desktop.  

    So when folks double-click items in a one-click UI, they can spawn twin instances of something that should be run only once – and often the two instances run into race conditions that defeat attempts to ensure only one instance is running… remember the DOS mode "Specify a new" .pif bug in Win9x?

    Another problem that contributes to this, is "smudgy" mouse clicks and double clicks that are interpreted as drag-and-drop-in-the-wrong-place or separate clicks.  XP enjoys TweakUI that UIs the ability to increase the pixel range threshold for such events, but Vista’s still waiting for similar.

    A bigger problem is that there is no UI feedback to indicate that a desktop or QuickLaunch icon has been double-clicked.  Please, not another "singing pigs" animation!  A simple "detent" or "glow" would suffice  :-)

  12. cquirke says:

    The scalability problem with the Start Menu can’t really be solved by re-designing the UI, and bypassing it (e.g. via Search) isn’t the answer either.

    The problem arises because of the way the Start Menu is populated, i.e. typically:

     – some vendor you’ve never heard of

       – a single useless per-product fly-out

         – an icon that launches

         – an icon that nags to "register"

         – an icon for Help or ReadMe

         – an icon that destroys (uninstalls)

    Repeat this for 50 applications, and you have a real mess.  If you’re sloppy in negotiating this ponderous UI, you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting what you usually want (run the app), 1 in 4 chance in destroying (uninstalling) the app, and a 50% chance of wasting your time.

    So what one does, is edit the Start Menu into something more useful, e.g.

     – category (e.g. "Graphics")

       – Help (all the help and ReadMe’s)

       – Extras (all the other fluff)

         – (launch) graphic app A

         – (launch) graphic app B

         – (launch) graphic app C

         – (launch) graphic app D

    Now I don’t have to care who wrote what app; if it’s a graphic app, it’s under Graphics.

    Software vendors can’t be expected to code their Start Menu items for this, even if they wanted to be helpful (rather than obsessed with "brand awareness").  I don’t expect them to get this right – instead, I want a better UI so *I* can arrange my Start Menu the way I want it, and without going through a hundred separate UAC prompts for the AllUsers menu.

    The trouble is, the Start Menu is edited in this way, uninstalling the apps will not clean up the Start Menu icons that have moved.

    So what needs to happen, is for Start menu changes to be tracked by the OS (as already happens in other contexts), so that when the uninstaller removes the icons, this will still work even if their location and name have changed.

    Finally, as end-users, we need to control applications that re-assert Start Menu icons that we have purposefully changed or deleted.  Bundleware DVD players come to mind (PowerDVD).

  13. swwhittle@gmail.com says:

    Forgot to add last time that personally for me the search function in the start menu is wonderful. If saves me so much time trying to navigate through the rest of the start menu.

    The other function that is often useful to me is the address box in the taskbar. If allows me to quickly reference files and folders (though this speed is partly due to my meticulous filing system)

  14. guillep2k says:

    "Imagine looking for a browser window and instead of going to a single place, you now had to look across multiple taskbars to find the item you want.  Worse yet, when you move a window from one display to another, you would have to know to look in a new place to find it"

    That sounds like underestimating the user. In my opinion, as pointed out by AlexJerebtsov and d_e above, if someone uses two monitors, it probably is because they need to arrange their windows that way, which means that in their minds *they know* where the windows are because the windows are exactly where they need them to be. One could see it as using two different computers instead of just two monitors.

    Perhaps a good idea could be to have one taskbar per monitor, each with their own set of corresponding windows, plus a "master taskbar" (visible after pressing some hot key or small visual gadget) that could show all windows arranged by monitor, so the users can use it to quickly find the windows they’ve lost. An extended Alt-Tab implementation?

    By the way, d_e’s "maximize to n x m screens" idea sounds great. Perhaps something that shows up in the maximize control using the right mouse button or after pressing and holding it for a short time?

    Being as we are in the multiple monitor discussion, what about letting the user choose one screen saver per monitor? Many screen savers don’t support multiple monitors nicely, so it would be nice if the OS gives the user an alternative.

    Finally, I adhere to cquirke comments about the start menu.

  15. LarryOsterman says:

    @kettch: Look at the Shell_NotifyIcon API – it’s the system API that allows an application to insert itself into the notification area.  It also has support for tooltips and balloon notifications.

    In my experience most applications that live in the notification area use it (I’m not aware of another way of inserting an icon into the notification area).

  16. TReKiE says:

    @LarryOsterman: I believe kettch is referring to toasts from Outlook, Messenger, et al which are all different and generally tend to fight with one another.

    And yes, I am aware there is a Windows mutex to [try and] handle this but almost no one makes use of it!

  17. PRab says:

    Sorry I didn’t have a chance to comment on the main article. One thing that quickly clutters my notification area are updaters. Sometime I have Google, AVG, Windows, Java, and Install Shield wanting to update. Please make a unified API for updating that would consolidate these into one process freeing up quite a bit of space. I don’t think Linux’s idea of repositories fits windows install philosophy very well, but at least there is only one updater for ALL programs.

  18. mhildreth says:

    Instead of debating which approach to take, how about implementing both or all? Then keep the current behavior as the default and allow customers to change the behvior if they want?

  19. resle says:

    About collecting data about the usage and customization of Windows feature and then analyzing it to try to meet the user trends.

    I believe there’s a huge amount of usage statistics that behaves just like dark matter -making up a huge space, but still being undetectable. I am talking about statistics coming from what the users *can’t* do.

    The easiest example I can come up with is a bit naive but easy to be understood: taskbar color. Every Vista user out there, sooner or later, tried changing the taskbar color to something else than black. Of course, no data can be automatically collected about the usage of a feature that just isn’t there.

    So, in general – which data is truly relevant to the purpose of redesigning or make Windows better? Statistics coming from existing Windows features are indeed helpful in a scenario that revolves around "fixing" things. Possibly, though, statistics coming from the installation of third-party software would allow to make some evolutionary steps.. on the same path that people is walking on. (Just think of what the author of the original post himself wrote about: multi monitor support add-ons).

  20. LDragon says:

    If you’re aware of the annoyance of the clutter and balloon pop-up messages in the notification area, surely you’re aware of the "You have unused icons on your desktop" balloon that shows up, and then when you close it, it shows up again immediately.  I’d have to say that more than doubles the annoyance of the first balloon.  The first one is reasonable, though I dislike it.  The second one just makes me crazy.

    Aside from that, thanks for the detailed discussion.  Helps me see areas of weakness in my own company’s software.

  21. simmans says:

    All must be customizable… All with a big A. Seriously, that’s not funny to be strangled by a lack of possibilities. It’s not only about the taskbar but all the environment.

    Windows users was a little strangled by XP, it’s getting really worse in Vista, the best deal is to make Windows 7 open and explosive of possibilities.

  22. mark_ms says:

    Nice point resle. Theoretically, I find that having the task bar on the side instead of at the bottom might be more productive, but it gives a less than attractive result. A better implementation might make me reconsider it again. Some issues that annoy me when the taskbar is on the side are: the ‘shine’ should be removable; The flow of the objects around the task bar do not look as nice (centre-alignment detracts from looks); The window titles on the open programs on the task bar truncate much earlier than when the taskbar is on the bottom.

  23. WindowsFanboy says:

    There’s one minor thing that has bugged me since the first day I had Vista: when you maximize a window, it loses its transparency and turns an ugly black. Why does this happen? Shouldn’t maximized windows keep their transparency and color?

    Just a thought…

  24. DWalker59 says:

    I don’t know why so few people have discovered how great the Taskbar is when it’s two rows high, even on Windows XP.  The default clock now gives you the time, the DAY of the week, which is great, and the date.  There’s more room for task icons, and the Quick Launch area and notification areas are bigger (the notification are shows me three rows of icons).

    As a "user experience" improvement, if the user has a 1200×1600 screen, the default task bar ought to be two rows high, not just one.  In my opinion.

  25. ddahlstrom says:

    Actually, I’d like to second quirke’s comment.  Wow, that’s a biggie that’s been a problem for a while.  The big reason I don’t rearrange my All Programs list into something more manageable is precisely because uninstall programs lose track of them and they end up getting orphaned.  It seems that it would be relatively simple to create a virtual link back to the original icon to fix this problem.

  26. ddahlstrom says:

    Agreed.  With the newer high resolution screens it almost seems that this should be the default mode.  I’ve been running two-high on all my machines ever since I went to Vista.

  27. jhaks says:

    I think the multi-monitor taskbar is a tough problem to handle for different configurations and orientations.  If the user decides not to have the monitors oriented horizontally or has the toolbar on the sides the idea of a spanned taskbar would be strange.  Personally I think having the option for separate taskbars on each window would work for me, since I use multiple monitors to separate my workspace.

  28. danieldsmith says:

    @Anymuos There seems to be some bug in the MSDN blog system where it does not accept long comments (3-4 paragraphs) or comments containing some specific characters (dunno which ones)

    Yes – I’ve run into this on quite a few MSDN blogs.  Can’t figure out what’s causing it either.  Anyone got any ideas?

  29. wickens85@gmail.com says:

    When my Vista laptop starts up, the task bar is is two rows for a second, and then it goes back to one row (that’s how I have it set).

    Is this a default setting that got turned off at the last minute??

  30. simmans says:

    Multi taskbar…  I have seen this with Ultramon.

    I am thinking about simulating low resolution over high resolution just to help make some thing more visible and keep high quality on video and pictures.

  31. Shresht93 says:

    Also, you guys must make the Start bar look better when its height is increased – It doesn’t look good at all in XP.

    About the low percentage of people using the Windows Media Player bar – PLEASE don’t use that data to remove it. I think that bar is  a great thing to have, but it lacks a way to select a song from the playlist. Please add that feature since it gets annoying clicking the next button a hundred times.

    About whether having separate taskbars in each monitor or one taskbar that extends into all, WHY NOT JUST HAVE BOTH AND LET THE USERS DECIDE? :)

    "is to change things when we know it will be a substantial improvement"

    As long as its there in the final version of Windows 7, default or not, I’m happy. Include both in your public beta builds, and see what suggestions people have and implement them …

  32. chadsowald says:

    I’ve always liked programs that offer a normal mode and an advanced mode, which can be toggled between usually by some sort of main menu option (maybe under "tools" in a typical program).  Turning on the advanced mode shows a lot more options and features.

    It seems like this would be a nice approach for Windows 7.  Ship it out in "normal" mode, with more familiar interfaces, etc…but then allow users to turn on the advanced mode which might let users play with the notification area or have some more experimental features that advanced users are willing and eager to try.

    @cquirke – I completely agree about customizing the start menu.  I keep only 4 folders under the start menu programs ("Av", "Fun", "Net", and "Sys").  Av is audio/visual and the rest are pretty self-explanatory.  Not only is this how my mind works – thinking about a graphics program or a system tool – but it also provides faster access to programs (not digging through branding folders and sorting through uninstall links).  At this point, it’s difficult enough (sans UAC) to move all the shortcuts around and rename them.  I think a whole little program just devoted to organizing and customizing the start menu would be amazing!

    By the way, this is a great blog!

  33. UserOfManyOperatingSystems says:

    Some thoughts on the taskbar:

    1) It scales really poorly.  For those of us who need lots of windows open at once, it isn’t particularly usable.

    2) It lacks flexibility.  People don’t put it on the sides because it isn’t really usable there.  You do see people putting OS X docks on the sides sometimes, because it doesn’t lose any functionality when you do so, or take up too much room.

    3) Having only one is a pain.  Take a look at Gnome panels on Linux.  Each panel is sort of like a taskbar, and is customizable, in terms of size, position, appearance, and what you have on it.  Some nice features include:

    -You can set it to automatically scale in width to be as large as needed for what you have placed on it.

    -You have lots of flexibility in positioning panels whereever you like.  Want one in the center of the top of your screen?  You can do that.

    -You can set different behaviors for each panel (such as auto hiding, etc.)

    4) When you create additional taskbar toolbars and try to place them elsewhere on the screen, you wind up with a toolbar that takes an entire side of the screen, and that has a big text label on it.  Let’s say that I wanted one to display notifications.  How large should it be?  I certainly don’t need one that takes one whole side of the screen.  One that is just large enough to hold all my notifications would be better.

    5) Autohiding behavior is broken.  There is an animation that you can’t get rid of that causes autohiding to occur slowly.  If you get a notification or state change, having the taskbar hidden may keep you from being able to see it (a good reason to have a separate notification taskbar).

    6) It should be possible to move or remove taskbar elements that you don’t want.  That includes the start menu.  I use quicklaunch almost exclusively and almost never want to use the start menu – launching a program from it takes too much work.

    7) Taskbar colors and fonts should be customizable separately from window colors and fonts.  On every version of Windows since 95, I’ve been really limited in my customization choices because things that work well for a window decoration or a window font do not work well for a fixed size control strip on the bottom of the screen.  If I make my window titlebar fonts too big, the taskbar becomes unusable even though it should be displaying different sized fonts.

    8) A taskbar alternative would be really nice.  Combine that with the ability to display taskbar components on their own resizable panels, and you could let users switch to their favorite interface.  This works well on Gnome.

    9) Taskbars on multiple monitors really are essential.  Why should I look at one screen but have my interface on the other screen?  If that’s confusing for some users, give us the option of having task bars configured as we wish.

    10) Autohide doesn’t completely hide the taskbar. I hate the little strip of blue that is left if I try to hide the taskbar in XP.

  34. UserOfManyOperatingSystems says:

    Why is there no virtual desktop built into Windows?  There are a number of virtual desktops available for it, but none of them work particularly well.  Some won’t let you switch desktops easily or move windows between desktops easily.  Some leave artifacts on the screen when you switch desktops (dexpot) or don’t put windows on the correct screen.  MSVDM takes over half your taskbar with the word MSVDM, and provides a really poor interface (and doesn’t handle the previous problems well either).  There are great virtual desktops available for Linux and OS X.  Some provide a view of workspaces that you can click on.  Some let you drag windows easily between workspaces.  OS X spaces is really amazing, and makes me far more efficient.

    You can combine virtual desktops with the taskbar interface.  In Gnome, for example, switching to a different desktop can be configured to switch the window buttons (in their version of the taskbar) to display only those windows in the current desktop.  If you are using some of the 3D interfaces for gnome, you can even set up the interface to behave exactly as it does in OS X.

    Virtual desktops allow you to group windows for related tasks onto related desktops, and to chose to display certain windows on more than one desktop (preferably not just limited to one or all).  This really helps to get rid of clutter.  For example, I have a web browser, IM, and some other stuff on one desktop.  An IDE and a browser with programming related web pages on another.  iTunes in another.  Papers that I have to read in another.  Things that I’m writing in another.  etc.  Sometimes, I group things by project, sometimes by task, and sometimes by the software that I’m using.  If I *really* have a lot open at once, I’ll use rows to represent the project and columns to represent the type of task (browsing, programming, mail, etc.)

    This would really help with reducing taskbar clutter, because you could only show those windows actually on the current desktop.  That would REALLY help to scale the taskbar, and would also help users to make better use of smaller displays.  Note that if you implement virtual desktops, you must allow users to assign windows or programs to specific desktops, and ensure that programs can open on multiple desktops in the same positions as before.

    Also note that there is one set of programs that behaves very badly on virtual desktops on the Mac – MS Office 2008.  Office windows just disappear, assign themselves to the wrong desktop, refuse to sit where placed, don’t duplicate or move the floating panel interface to sit next to active windows, etc.  These problems don’t affect other Mac programs, so when you check out their virtual desktop, don’t try it with Office.  (And if you could, please pass a note to the Mac BU that they REALLY need to fix this.)

  35. Cartman05 says:

    Most of the problems that you have raised with implementing these new features can be solved with one thing: options. Options are what sets Windows apart from Mac. The more options, the better in my view.

  36. Ultragames says:

    Here is how I imagine my dream multi-monitor taskbar:

    1) Applications maximize/minimize on a per-monitor basis. I think users would quickly get used to seeing their email application on one screen, and a website in another, etc.

    2) The taskbars would have a simple option of mirrored quick-launch, or unique quick-launch.

    3) There would only be one notification area, with the possible exception of the clock. (I’d personally want a clock on each screen, though many might disagree.)

    4) Custom toolbars such as the mini Windows Media Player would be on a per-monitor basis.

    5) There would only ever be one Start button (Windows logo) and it would always be on the left.

    Those rules/options would offer a very tight user experience allowing users to either customize each monitor to specific tasks, or to make a unified desktop. Personally I enjoy my 3rd party application that allows me to launch specific applications in specific screens.

  37. Rayadoman says:

    One thing to consider with two seperate taskbars is the case where a program spans both monitors.  While I normally keep Word and other similar programs to one monitor, I do increase the size of my CAD software window to fill both screens.  In that case, which taskbar would you assign the tab to?  Do you put an icon on both taskbars, on the taskbar where the program first loads, on the taskbar with the most room, on a random taskbar, or on the taskbar where the mouse current is?  Any of these are valid options and what I like might not be the same as what the guy next to me likes.

    I recommend you create a way for the customer to handle the taskbar (and rules).  Let him pick if you have one taskbar, many bars, or even no taskbar.  Let him choose how he wants to display the tabs/icon.  I also suggest a simple UI window that is easy to get to that list all options.  You may want to include this window in the display properties.  In XP you already got a tab for window themes and Desktop, why not one for taskbar?  Seems like a logical place for it.

  38. alamfour says:

    Regarding the dilema of either having multiple taskbars or one single taskbar spaning all screens there is an easy option to add, at leaset to my way of thinking. Why not treat each extra screen as a virtual desktop, just like the codeplex project Vista Virtual desktop and the Virtual desktop availabe on both Macs and Liux. (Not that I use them) People are more likely to group their work to categories for each "virtual desktop" for example, one screen for Internet browsing, another for Office productivity software, another for email and so on.

    You may ask what if a user does not do that?

    Well they may not and a simple solution to that would be to add an icon on the taskbar of the first screen or "Virtual desktop" that could be called "Whereis Program" a user would click the icon and a dialog would come up informing the user on which screen or Virtual desktop the program or application they are looking for is running.

    @Rayadoman a solution to your problem would be the taskbar icon would appear on the screen the or "virtual desktop" the application was launched from.

  39. alamfour says:

    Something I forgot to mention. You learn something from the IE8 team and using colour coding and group similar applications together. So for example if you launched Word, and launched Excel and Outlook for example they would be grouped together because they are all Microsoft Office programs. If a person launched IE and Firefox, Safari and Opera these would be grouped together because they are internet browsers. Each would have a unique coloured taskbar icon.

  40. Mobius01 says:

    While we’re on the topic of the user interface, Is there any way you could add filmstrip view back into Windows 7?

    Even if it was a hidden option only available by a registry tweak, that’d be good enough. Why take away a feature that a lot of people liked? Just hide it so that those who hated it won’t be annoyed, and those who don’t can have it. Like another mentioned, the large ammount of options is Windows’s biggest advantage.  

    As i’ve mentioned elsewhere, Vista’s lack of this feature is the primary reason that I still use XP. I’m into digital photography, and there’s no better way than filmstrip to weed out the bad pictures. I’d be looking to get Windows 7 for this feature alone.

    Also, virtual desktops *workspaces" would be great to implement. Apple has recently integrated it, and I’d like to see windows take this advantage away from them. If done right, it could be a great selling point. A lot of people will find their desktop too cluttered with windows or icons, and being able to spread them out over several workspaces really helps prevent information overload.

    Being able to have unique icons and wallpapers on each desktop would be nice, too. Aero’s flip 3d effect could be implemented well here when switching desktops.  

    On another topic, as someone else pointed out, why not give maximized windows the glass effect? most people work with maximized windows anyway. This would be a really nice graphical touch.

  41. JuanK_Solocodigo says:

    I want to say something, customization is not neccesary more complex functionality.

    For the average user things would work fine with no changes in taskbar, but remember that most enhacements are not usually asked by normal users, often the enhacements are asked for more advanced users. ( like us,  i believe )

    Could be interesting to see in Windows 7 our traditional easy use taskbar concept but leaving an option for extra custumization for advanced users.

    I don’t want to see in the future something like "Windows for humans" and what about expert users (don’t humans?). "Windows for everybody" should be your idea, pen customization and default simple and easy behavior…

    or at least that is what i want. 😛

  42. Miek says:

    Like @cquirke and others I also group

    programs according to functionality, removing all other unnecessary short cuts the installers add. I would add my vote for much easier customisation. And yes, I am arranging it with my mouse on my PC, don’t show me any notifications.

  43. magicalclick says:

    Power to the people. About the multi-monitor support, I don’t use it myself and I understand your concern. So, my thought, power to the people. Let people configure the behavior.

    1) Default, copy appears in each monitor.

    2) Span to right monitor only, no copy on top monitor.

    3) The old Windows style.

    Anyway, there is my wish again. Start thinking about taskbar placed at left of the screen. I know it is really unpopular, but this is for wide screen’s sake.

    And this new request is a lot to you, but I think this is for the future good. I wish for a much easier customization on taskbar. Like I can simply move my WPF app into taskbar without all the crazy COM and Registry. I personally hope it is like Sidebar easily customizable.

    For starter,

    I know you may not going to replace taskband with active thumbnails, so I was thinking of making one myself. But making a toolbar for taskbar is hardest out of everything.

    Thank you.

  44. magicalclick says:

    Power to the people 2: Crazy thinking.

    How about multi-sidebar?

    Use sidebar to replace taskbar. Just make a taskband, notifination area, quick launch (already exist), and etc for the sidebar.

    Let us run many sidebars. I can make my own taskband. The only problem right now is I can only open one sidebar, thus, I would have to give up everything else to host my own taskband.

  45. RotoSequence says:

    If the argument is "should we have multiple task bars or a stretched task bar?" on the multi-monitor front, why not use both, and assign a default based on the majority preference? Finding windows shouldn’t be too horrendously difficult with thumbnail views, and it may even be time to change the shape and size of task bar items. Why not a vertical orientation of icons with the text underneath them, for instance?

  46. Asesh says:

    The common controls (buttons, tab, sliders etc) of Vista come no where close to Mac OS X. Microsoft should make more sleeker common controls. And when applications start up, windows should check whether the digital signature of that specified application is valid or not and should warn the user if it’s not valid (the file’s been modified). That would add another level of security to Windows 7

  47. piratk says:

    I think that a task bar per screen is best choice, with the option of switching/uniting that task bar with any/all other task bar. To find a window, on any screen, a high lite function should be put in place (vibrate window, dim all others, glow the edge of the window/screen, zoom window in and out etc, just any visual find function). Any notifications should be sent to the screen with the focused window, if that window is split into multiple screens, the screen on the far right of the window should receive notification, small overlaps (say less than 5% of screen or window) should not count.

  48. peck_ed says:

    I work at a stockbrokers, and its a nightmare.

    I just had to setup another mutliscreen setup but this time only 3.

    Everyone has a differnt taste, we have some people with a streched taskbar across screens (via ati tools) and users with it on one, some people prefer some res and others another.

    One of the weirder ones is with the primary screen. Some people prefer it to be to the left, and others on the right, this is what causes me the most greif. When programs open on "the wrong screen". There isnt anyway (that I know of) to catch a place in which a screen opens for the next time.

  49. nandorto says:

    I would like to be able to re-arrange the running programs on the taskbar just like I am able to re-arrange tabs in IE.

    I always like to work if there is an order like (from left-to right):

    Outlook

    Word

    IE

    Currently sometimes I need to close and re-open programs to restore this order.

  50. thecolonel says:

    what that guy above just said

    not being able to drag taskbar tabs around is an omission bordering on the bizarre

  51. sadyc says:

    How about virtual desktops support? (or work-spaces)

    Once you’ve used that in Linux, it’s hard to work without it.

    –sadyc

  52. yeehaamcgee says:

    Virtual desktops or workspaces are something that I definitely found useful in Linux – especially when using the desktop cube from compiz, so you could drag a window dircetly from one workspace to another.

    Another useful option was the ability to specify some programs to always display on the visibly workspace. I generally ran an IM client, which was visible whatever workspace I was in.

  53. MSDNArchive says:

    "Right monitor"? "Across the bottom"? Why is there an assumption that my monitors are horizontal?

    I have three multimon setups (work, work-at-home, music studio) and all three are vertical, with the second monitor above the first. In all three cases, the monitors are different sizes too (two are larger, one smaller). The two where the second monitor is larger are monitors plugged into docking stations for my laptop; the open laptop is the first monitor. I know I am not alone here.

    It would be useful if Win7 recognized this as a reasonable configuration. It would also be good if Win7 remembered this preference; there are times when Vista "rediscovers" the second monitor from my laptop/docking station, and then forces it to the right side.

    Thanks. Here’s to a terrific Win7.

  54. DrDillyBar says:

    Personally I change the UI back into a Win2K look alike wherever possible.  But I’d like to see the Search feature that everyone claims is so awesome appear as a toolbar on the TaskBar, since one of my first actions in a new install of Windows (XP and Vista both) is to put everything into Classic Mode (save Aero).   I love the clean functional familarity of the Classic look.  

    As for the taskbar itself, I use large icons on Quicklaunch, an Address bar and map several IE Favorites folders to appear, so adding a space for a Search feature would be possible.

    Gotta love 16:10 monitors.

  55. soukyuu says:

    Personally, I love the search field in the start menu and that’s one of the points I can’t imagine going back to XP – after getting used to Vista, i usually just press the win key and type in the file/program i want to start/open.

    I like how the vista startmenu looks like, i hated how the startmenu took half of the screen in previous windows versions.

    About multiple monitor taskbars: For me it makes sense if each monitor has a separate taskbar with the OS saving which program should be launched on which monitor (kind like it is able to remember the position each window/folder was positioned at last start.

    Also, as suggested by people before, why not make more out of the sidebar? Being able to move taskbar elements to the sidebar would be just great.

    Or why not merge the sidebar & taskbar to 1 component and allow the user to set how many taskbars each monitor should have and what should be displayed on which sidebar, like some 3rd party launchbar apps do.

    Of course, if you consider to merge these 2 components, you should keep the features of both, so that people can continue to write their own gadgets.

  56. cjb110 says:

    "For example, some might suggest a unique taskbar that exists on each display and others suggest a taskbar that spans multiple displays.  Let’s look at both of these approaches. <snip>"

    The remaining discussion I thought was quite negative, and to me it highlights an flaw in the approach.  A no point was an user option to ‘choose’ was suggested.

    If you think there are multiple solutions to a problem, I would build both to a ‘release’ level quality, get the user feedback, and then you’ve got more data.  At which point you can then pick one (if there is an obvious preference), or decide keep both and let the user choose.

    Now I know this is a longer development time, but its much better than having no solution.  At the moment for multi-monitor…Windows basically fails its job in operating the system.

  57. Aengeln says:

    I frequently switch between multiple monitors and single monitor. At work, I use my laptop with an additional monitor, and at home, I use only the buildt in one.

    The problem I frequently have is applications remembering their previous position, and launches "off screen" at times when I only use a single monitor. I can solve this by:

    1) Rightclick the application in the taskbar

    2) Select "Move"

    3) Fiddle the arrow keys to lock the window to the cursor

    4) Drop the window where I want it

    However, it’s not always that easy. At certain times, dialog boxes are launched off screen. (Photoshop is a major villain in this). That can’t be easily solved, since they don’t appear on the task bar, I can’t use the trick described above. I’m now stuck with an application I can’t use until I hook up an addtional monitor.

    What I could really use, is a way to force all open windows (and dialog boxes) to move into the main monitor. In the best of worlds, I wouldn’t have to, since the OS would take care of this itself.

    –A

  58. caze says:

    cquirke made some good points there about the organisation of the Start Menu. I do pretty much the same re-ordering of stuff (though I just organise the programs, I leave the help, uninstall and other never used icons where they were), it gets really annoying when you install an upgrade or uninstall something when you have to back in again and re-organise everything.

    What I would do is keep the ‘All Programs’ menu as it is, the user could then keep things as they are there so uninstalls and upgrades (for the most part) would carry on as expected, what you would need then is a separate ‘Categories’ view on the start menu, this should appear below the pinned frequently used programs and should look an behave much like the ‘All Programs’ view. You should be able to add items to this Categories view as you’re browsing the All Programs, to the right of each entry there’d be a context icon which would show something like:

    ———————-

    Add to Category…

    ———————-

    Apps

    Games

    Graphics

    Programming

    etc.

    ———————-

    Create new Category

    ———————-

    Once something is pinned to the Category menu it would be nice if it could be updated when the All Programs gets updated, this should be somewhat possible with a decent algorithm based around a folder notification. There should also be an API so new apps could automatically take advantage of this.

    I find the excellent search in Vista gets rid of the need to use All Programs most of the time, but I still need to browse it from time to time, browsing a simplified Categories list like this would be much less painful than browsing ‘All Programs’ (my All Users folder contains 570 files in 170 folders, my user account has 229 in 73).

  59. caze says:

    The most important thing for multi-monitor support for me is that when you click an icon or launch a dialog (anything that opens a new window) it should open on the monitor where the action was initiated, surely this should be easy enough to trap in CreateWindow? More importantly there should be a good API so new apps can better handle this stuff themselves.

    Things like taskbar location and behaviour should be customisable, I would go for different behavior depending on use, my work setup is different from the machine I have hooked into my TV for example. It should certainly be the default behaviour though for apps to live on the taskbars of the monitors they appear on. You should be able to toggle the taskbar per screen, or span a single taskbar across multiple screens, and taskbar elements should be customisable too, you might want some to have Start Orbs, some not, some to have notification tray’s, some not, etc.

    It’s also important to allow different backgrounds per screen.

  60. Magumi says:

    I would like to see the "tab" functionality more often in Windows and in Office too, it is by far the best GUI innovation after the invention of windows. I see no reason to display a stack of windows for a single application, when a single window with several tabs would do. This could be a implemented as a mere UI change, meaning that you could still let individual application instances run separately, the way Google Chrome does it.

    To allow the user display several windows at once side by side, I would recommend using the common combination of "control" key to make and a mouse click to confirm the selection.

  61. csmikle says:

    There’s so much useful stiff on the Taskbar. The first thing I want is to request is please, treasure the WMP toolbar. I often move my taskbar to the side so that I can fit more programs without grouping occuring, and I notice that the WMP toolbar wasn’t built for that orientation and gets a little awkward. Whatever you do, just don’t get rid of it. Another thing that I treasure in my taskbar is the Desktop folder menu — I navigate to all my files from there rather than go through the start menu.

    As we speak of making tasks and information easier to access, let me offer a reminder that a hover is so much more satisfying than having to click. I believe that if we’re allowed to hover over our QuickLaunch, or over our Desktop or other folder menus, or over program groups, or even over Windows accelerators if we use them, and receive a flyout of options rather than clicking a little arrow beside them, things would be easy and space could be saved.

  62. csmikle says:

    I assume this is the same team that manages the start menu. My only request is that you allow us to put ANY folder we want in the quick list on the right, instead of just Pictures and Music and Games.

    I also would like to say that the frequently used programs list in the start menu always has the exact program I need — I would love to see this excellent work extended to recently or frequently used items (documents). Whether they’re added to the end of that programs list, or intermingled with the programs in that list, or is somehow off to the side, I think being able to reach recent items as quickly as we can reach frequent apps would be very useful.

  63. Evil Overlord says:

    I think you guys are on the right track (though of course you have to balance all these needs against bloat).

    On specific point – I use the taskbar on the left of the screen rather than at the bottom.  This is because I generally need more vertical room (for text documents) than horizontal.  This is exacerbated by the shift to widescreens.  However, the interface is not always consistent – some maximized windows go offscreen.  Not sure if this is a Windows or application flaw, but it does mean time spent re-sizing rather than working.

  64. Evil Overlord says:

    I forgot to say: Alt-Tab is a great device, as are other keyboard shortcuts (e.g., to open new or duplicate tabs, or [Win]+M for desktop).  What we need now is a consistent key combination to switch between tabs within an application.

    As you keep Windows click-friendly, please don’t forget about us keyboard users (as Office 2007 seems to have done in part).  I was glad to see mention of this in your note.

  65. nstraub says:

    Hi all!

    I’ve been following this blog since it started a couple of months ago, and I’m really happy with the stuff I’ve seen, about you guys listening and participating with the community. Nice. =)

    here are my 2 cents on this topic: I don’t use the taskbar. In fact I hate it. I only use the (system tray) windows taskbar notification area. I know there probably aren’t many like me but I would really like it if I had the option of removing the taskbar completely and leaving only the WTNA. Take a look at the guys at KDE. with their version 4.1.1 they’re getting real close to having averything on the desktop work like a widget. It would be real nice of you to go in this direaction :)

    Best Regards!

  66. nstraub says:

    Hi all!

    I’ve been following this blog since it started a couple of months ago, and I’m really happy with the stuff I’ve seen, about you guys listening and participating with the community. Nice. =)

    here are my 2 cents on this topic: I don’t use the taskbar. In fact I hate it. I only use the (system tray) windows taskbar notification area. I know there probably aren’t many like me but I would really like it if I had the option of removing the taskbar completely and leaving only the WTNA. Take a look at the guys at KDE. with their version 4.1.1 they’re getting real close to having averything on the desktop work like a widget. It would be real nice of you to go in this direction :)

    Best Regards!

  67. Bjartr says:

    (sorry for the double post, I’ve been reading through the blog and didn’t realize there was a follow up to this topic)

    My one real critique of the Programs Menu, in any of its iterations, is that there is a whole lot more than just programs on it. There are help files and uninstallers to name just a couple common items.

    When I first used a linux distro the thing that stuck with me was that the application menu only had links to executables! Windows keeps track of uninstallers and has for some time, and does so in a user friendly manner. An app has its own ways of presenting help, how accessible this is prior to running any given program I don’t know since I can’t even remember the last time I looked at a Windows application’s help file unless I accidentally pressed F1.

    The programs menu seems so much simpler and cleaner once I’ve distilled it to just application shortcuts. I’m certainly no expert on UI, but this seems like a very positive change, of course it is a rather drastic one too, but it couldn’t hurt to look into.

  68. lyesmith says:

    Please remove this Documents, Pictures, Music folders. Personally I don’t know anyone who use those folders for storing personal data.  They are useless. Those are just places where the user can let all kind of different application to throw trash into them. They are good for garbage bin but they should not be in the start menu. However the user should be able to place any folder into the quick list.

  69. BeeTee-Ess says:

    I have been using dual side-by-side monitors for years now, and from the outset was dis-satisfied with a taskbar aligned horizontally on one monitor.

    I quickly decided that a vertical alignment on the left-hand monitor allowed for the best visibility of running programs, and my taskbar is set to always-on-top and auto-hide. With this setting, I can allow it to open to about 5 centimetres, without inconvenience, as it simply disappears as soon as it has served its purpose.

    I have also created a Desktop toolbar, and hide the icons on my desktop. Once again, it is set to always-on-top and auto-hide. Vista’s insistence on keeping the Desktop toolbar on the Taskbar was a major inconvenience, as I prefer to keep it horizontally-aligned on my second (right-hand) monitor. Currently it is seven rows high. After turning many handsprings, I managed to achieve this. Surely, this feature should be a user setting.

    Finally, I set most of my Notification Area icons to Hide, a small selection to Show, and almost none to Hide when inactive. Do you think it would be possible to have Windows actually remember these settings for more than one session? (Forgive the sarcastic tone, but this has been bugging me for years, and I live in hope that the next service pack will have fixed this problem.)

    As for application windows, I have carefully arranged my major apps so that they always open in a specific position on a particular monitor, and they always ovelap in such a way that each applicaion is partially visible, no matter how many layers overlap it. As a result, a single click in a visible patch, and the requred app comes to the top.

    Ultimately, what it comes down to is flexibility. I realise that my preferred arrangement is not going to suit everyone, but I do not expect Windows to arbitrarily insist that my preference be no longer available. By all means offer new features in line with the many thoughtful suggestions above, but in doing so, please do not overlook those who wish to use layout options currently available.

  70. CRMMario says:

    Here is my comment to improve the taskbar:

    1).- There is too much text in start menu and taskbar, with icons al tooltips is sufficient, and this leave more space to more application

    2).- For Taskbar, with thumbails (and a small icon in the corner) with zoom will be a great improvement (look objectdock or rocketdock), equal for QuickLaunch where apply (ex. shortcut to Files).

    3).- In send to (popup menu), add a "Send to Quick Launch".

    4).- Add Stack to QuickLaunch, this si very impressive and useful and is done in windows of objectdock or rocketdock, but will be ideal see as part of windows

  71. im.thatoneguy says:

    You listed two bad options:

    Spanned taskbar (Annoyingly large.)

    Split Taskbar (Annoyingly complicated)

    Good Option:

    The clone.

    I have two 24" Monitors at work and at home I use a 17" small monitor and a 52" Television as my primary monitor.

    What I want is to be able to have the same taskbar at both monitors. If I sit down at my desktop I want to be able to move windows over to my little monitor.  If I’m using the 52" LCD I want to be able to move them back.

    This applies at work too.  I would love to be able to use my taskbar exactly the same on either monitor.  Just clone it!

  72. CRMMario says:

    After see the PDC DEMO of windows 7, all of the thing are better, taskbar is a improvement of but gadget sidebar all time in desktop is useless, this add dissorder to desktop, a better approach is something like the dashboar or a easy way to display or hide the gadgets without see all time in my desktop. See http://myboard.yannalet.com/

  73. justausr says:

    I missed this, but since I’m the one quoted about multi-monitor, I’d like to respond.  Of course there is complexity and lots of choices.  But picking somehting that is likely to satisfy 50%+ of the users is better than doing nothing and having everyone unhappy.

    You need to have display profiles.  You need to let the user pick the monitor where the main taskbar will appear.  As an option, exend the taskbar to all screens and show the tasks that are running on that screen on the taskbar on that screen, or when a user is working on a screen show all tasks on that screen.

    Not that hard to do something that will satisfy 75% of us.

  74. porum says:

    How about virtual desktops support? (or work-spaces)

    Once you’ve used that in Linux, it’s hard to work without it.

  75. porum says:

    Most of the problems that you have raised with implementing these new features can be solved with one thing: options. Options are what sets Windows apart from Mac. The more options, the better in my view.

  76. lipoaspiração says:

    My one real critique of the Programs Menu, in any of its iterations, is that there is a whole lot more than just programs on it. There are help files and uninstallers to name just a couple common items.

    When I first used a linux distro the thing that stuck with me was that the application menu only had links to executables! Windows keeps track of uninstallers and has for some time, and does so in a user friendly manner. An app has its own ways of presenting help, how accessible this is prior to running any given program I don’t know since I can’t even remember the last time I looked at a Windows application’s help file unless I accidentally pressed F1.

    The programs menu seems so much simpler and cleaner once I’ve distilled it to just application shortcuts. I’m certainly no expert on UI, but this seems like a very positive change, of course it is a rather drastic one too, but it couldn’t hurt to look into.

  77. cirurgia plastica says:

    You can combine virtual desktops with the taskbar interface.  In Gnome, for example, switching to a different desktop can be configured to switch the window buttons (in their version of the taskbar) to display only those windows in the current desktop.  If you are using some of the 3D interfaces for gnome, you can even set up the interface to behave exactly as it does in OS X.

    Virtual desktops allow you to group windows for related tasks onto related desktops, and to chose to display certain windows on more than one desktop (preferably not just limited to one or all).  This really helps to get rid of clutter.  For example, I have a web browser, IM, and some other stuff on one desktop.  An IDE and a browser with programming related web pages on another.  iTunes in another.  Papers that I have to read in another.  Things that I’m writing in another.  etc.  Sometimes, I group things by project, sometimes by task, and sometimes by the software that I’m using.  If I *really* have a lot open at once, I’ll use rows to represent the project and columns to represent the type of task (browsing, programming, mail, etc.)

    This would really help with reducing taskbar clutter, because you could only show those windows actually on the current desktop.  That would REALLY help to scale the taskbar, and would also help users to make better use of smaller displays.  Note that if you implement virtual desktops, you must allow users to assign windows or programs to specific desktops, and ensure that programs can open on multiple desktops in the same positions as before.

    Also note that there is one set of programs that behaves very badly on virtual desktops on the Mac – MS Office 2008.  Office windows just disappear, assign themselves to the wrong desktop, refuse to sit where placed, don’t duplicate or move the floating panel interface to sit next to active windows, etc.  These problems don’t affect other Mac programs, so when you check out their virtual desktop, don’t try it with Office.  (And if you could, please pass a note to the Mac BU that they REALLY need to fix this.)

  78. JonPerez says:

    Windows 7’s multi-monitor support is amazingly good and shaves many minutes of my daily workflow.  I neither need nor want my task bar to appear across monitors, but the people who want this might just want to use Nvidia cards (there are extremely cheap ones) because the Nvidia drivers ALLOW this mode.  Haven’t they noticed?

  79. Texas Driver education says:

    The default clock now gives you the time, the DAY of the week, which is great, and the date.When I first used a linux distro the thing that stuck with me was that the application menu only had links to executables! Windows keeps track of uninstallers and has for some time, and does so in a user friendly manner. An app has its own ways of presenting help, how accessible this is prior to running any given program I don’t know since I can’t even remember the last time I looked at a Windows application’s help file unless I accidentally pressed F1

  80. Here is my comment to improve the taskbar:

    1).- There is too much text in start menu and taskbar, with icons al tooltips is sufficient, and this leave more space to more application

    2).- For Taskbar, with thumbails (and a small icon in the corner) with zoom will be a great improvement (look objectdock or rocketdock), equal for QuickLaunch where apply (ex. shortcut to Files).

    3).- In send to (popup menu), add a "Send to Quick Launch".

    4).- Add Stack to QuickLaunch, this si very impressive and useful and is done in windows of objectdock or rocketdock, but will be ideal see as part of windows

  81. Ethan says:

    The multiple monitor support of the taskbar is indeed a feature that is grossly lacking. Multimon has always done a fantastic job of offering incredible flexibility to taskbars extended onto 2 monitors. It allows you to choose 1 taskbar mirrored onto both monitors, or seperate taskbars for each.

    And yet you claim this to be quite a challenge? I guess the folks at realtimesoft are just better at improving windows thatn microsoft is.

  82. Juan Pablo Gallardo says:

    It should be left to the user option if he/she wants to have a taskbar on each monitor, only one or one for both.

    The system should be intelligent enough to minimize windows on the same taskbar of the monitor and it also should have many customizable options, that users can accomodate.

    Removing a functionality do its "complexity" is a very bad idea, customers should have the option of having such features and learn how to use them!

  83. K says:

    While Microsoft carps about not knowing the right approach for multi-mon taskbars, Gnome (Linux) solved it in gnome-panel some years ago.

    MS, home of innovation since… never.

  84. Serj says:

    Hi guys!

    If you use two or more monitors then I recommend you to install Actual Multiple Monitors. I have tried several other products, such as Multi-mon and Display Fusion but abandoned them. Today I use Actual Multiple Monitors and i fully satisfied.

    There is a link for download http://www.actualtools.com/files/ammsetup.exe