User Interface: Managing Windows windows

We’ve booted the machine, displayed stuff on the screen, launched programs, so next up we’re going to look at a pretty complex topic that sort of gets to the core role of the graphical user interface—managing windows.  Dave Matthews is program manager on the core user experience team who will provide some of the data and insights that are going into engineering Windows 7.  --Steven

The namesake of the Windows product line is the simple “window” – the UI concept that keeps related pieces information and controls organized on screen.  We’ll use this post to share some of the background thinking and “pm philosophy” behind planning an update to this well established UI feature.

The basic idea of using windows to organize UI isn’t new – it dates back (so I hear) to the first experiments with graphical user interfaces at Stanford over 40 years ago.  It’s still used after all this time because it’s a useful way to present content, and people like having control over how their screen space is used.  The “moveable windows” feature isn’t absolutely needed in an operating system – most cell phones and media center type devices just show one page of UI at a time – but it’s useful when multi-tasking or working with more than one app at a time.  Windows 2.0 was the first Windows release that allowed moveable overlapping windows (in Window 1.0 they were only able to be tiled, not overlapping.  This “tiled v. overlapping” debate had famous proponents on each side—on one side was Bill Gates and on the other side was Charles Simonyi).  In addition, Windows also has the unique notion of "the multiple document interface” or MDI, which allows one frame window to itself organized multiple windows within it.  This is somewhat of a precursor to the tabbed interfaces prevalent in web browsers. 

As a side note, one of the earlier debates that accompanied the “tiled v. overlapping” conversations in the early Windows project was over having one menu bar at the top of the screen or a copy of the menu bar for each window (or document or application).  Early on this was a big debate because there was such limited screen resolution (VGA, 640x480) that the redundancy of the menu bar was a real-estate problem.  In today’s large scale monitors this redundancy is more of an asset as getting to the UI elements with a mouse or just visually identifying elements requires much less movement.  Go figure!

Screenshot of Windows 2.0 Screenshot of Windows Vista
From Windows 2.0 to Vista.

An area I’ve been focusing on is in the “window management” part of the system – specifically the features involved in moving and arranging windows on screen (these are different than the window switching controls like the taskbar and alt-tab, but closely related).  In general, people expect windows to be moveable, resizable, maximizable, minimizable, closeable; and expect them to be freely arranged and overlapping, with the currently used window sitting on top.  These transformations and the supporting tools (caption buttons, resize bars, etc) make up the basic capabilities that let people arrange and organize their workspace to their liking. 

In order to improve on a feature area like this we look closely at the current system - what have we got, and what works?  This means looking at the way it’s being used in the marketplace by ISVs, and the way it’s used and understood by customers.

Standard caption buttons or upper right corner of a window in Vista.

Caption buttons give a simple way to minimize, maximize, and close.  Resizable windows can be adjusted from any of their 4 edges.

Data on Real-World Usage 

As pointed out in the previous Taskbar post, on average people will have up to 6 – 9 windows open during a session.  But from looking at customer data, we find that most time is spent with only one or two windows actually visible on screen at any given time.  It’s common to switch around between the various open windows, but for the most part only a few are visible at once.

Typical number of visible windows (one window 60%, two windows 29%, three or more windows 11%.
Windows Feedback Panel data

As part of our planning, we looked at how people spend their time and energy in moving and sizing their windows. This lets us understand what’s working well in the current system, and what could be improved.

For example, we know that maximize is a widely used feature because it optimizes the work space for one window, while still being easy to switch to others.  Users respond to that concept and understand it.  Since most of the time users just focus on one window, this ends up being very commonly used.  We know that for many applications people ask for every single pixel (for example spreadsheets where a few pixels gain a whole extra row of column) and thus the beyond maximize features for “full screen” become common, even for everyday productivity.

An issue we've heard (as recently as the comments on the taskbar post!) with maximize in Vista is that the customized glass color isn’t very visible, because the windows and taskbar become dark when a window is maximized. (In Vista you can customize the glass window color – and in 29% of sessions a custom color has been set).  The darker look was used to help make it clear that the window is in the special maximized state.  This was important because if you don’t notice that a window is maximized and then try to move it, nothing will happen - and that can be frustrating or confusing.  For Windows 7 we’re looking at a different approach so that the customized color can be shown even when a window is maximized.

Pie chart showing custom window color selection.  29% of sessions have a custom color of "glass".

Interestingly, people don’t always maximize their windows even when they’re only using one window at a time.  We believe one important reason is that it’s often more comfortable to read a text document when the window is not too wide.  The idea of maximizing is less useful on a wide monitor when it makes the sentences in an email run 20+ inches across the screen; 4 or 5 inches tends to be a more pleasant way to read text.  This is important because large desktop monitors are becoming more common, and wide-aspect monitors are gaining popularity even on laptops.  Since Windows doesn’t have a maximize mode designed for reading like this, people end up manually resizing their windows to make them as tall as possible, but only somewhat wide.  This is one of the areas where a common task like reading a document involves excessive fiddling with window sizes, because the system wasn’t optimized for that scenario on current hardwarwe.

Worldwide LCD monitor shipments by form factor. Distribution of native monitor resolution 2005-20010 est.
Resolution data suggests wide aspect-ratio monitors will become the norm.

Being able to see two windows side by side is also a fairly common need.  There are a variety of reasons why someone may need to do this – comparing documents, referring from one document into another, copying from one document or folder into another, etc.  It takes a number of mouse movements to set up two windows side by side – positioning and adjusting the two windows until they are sized to roughly half the screen.  We often see this with two applications, such as comparing a document in a word processor with the same document in a portable reader format. 

Users with multiple monitors get a general increase in task efficiency because that setup is optimized for the case of using more than one window at once.  For example, it’s easy to maximize a window on each of the monitors in order to efficiently use the screen space.  In a Microsoft Research study on multi-tasking, it was found that participants who had multiple monitors were able to switch windows more often by directly clicking on a window rather than using the taskbar, implying that the window they want to switch to was already visible.  And interestingly, the total number of switches between windows was lower.  In terms of task efficiency, the best click is an avoided click.  

Multimonitor users rely less on the taskbar and more on window interactions to switch among windows.
MSR research report

Single monitor machines are more common than multi-mon machines, but the window managing features aren’t optimized for viewing multiple windows at once on one monitor.  The taskbar does has context menu options for cascade, stack, or side-by-side, but we don't believe they're well understood or widely used, so most people end up manually resizing and moving their windows whenever they want to view two windows side by side.

An interesting multiple window scenario occurs when one of the windows is actually the desktop.  The desktop is still commonly used as a storage folder for important or recent files, and we believe people fairly often need to drag and drop between the desktop and an explorer window, email, or document.  The “Show Desktop” feature gives quick access to the desktop, but also hides the window you're trying to use.  This means you either have to find and switch back to the original window, or avoid the Show Desktop feature and minimize everything manually.  It’s very interesting to see scenarios like this where the people end up spending a lot of time or effort managing windows in order complete a simple task.  This kind of experience comes across in our telemetry when we see complex sequences repeated.  It takes further work to see if these are common errors or if people are trying to accomplish a multi-step task.

Evolving the design

To find successful designs for the window management system, we explore a number of directions to see which will best help people be productive.  From extremes of multi-tasking to focusing on a single item, we look for solutions that scale but that are still optimized for the most common usage.  We look at existing approaches such as virtual desktops which can help when using a large number of different windows (especially when they are clustered into related sets), or docking palettes that help efficiently arrange space (as seen in advanced applications such as Visual Studio).  And we look at novel solutions tailored to the scenarios we're trying to enable.

We also have to think about the variety of applications that the system needs to support.  SDI apps (single document interface) rely heavily on the operating system to provide window management features, while MDI apps (multiple document interface)  provide some of the window management controls for themselves (tabbed UI is an increasingly popular approach to MDI applications).  And some applications provide their own window sizing and caption controls in order to get a custom appearance or behavior.  Each of these approaches is valuable, and the different application styles need to be taken into account in making any changes to the system.

For Window 7 our goal is to reduce the number of clicks and precise movements needed to perform common activities.  Based on data and feedback we've gotten from customers,  a number of scenarios have been called out as important considerations for the design.  As with all the designs we’re talking about—it is important to bring forward the common usage scenarios, make clear decisions on the most widely used usage patterns, address new and “unarticulated needs”, and to also be sure to maintain our philosophy of “in control”.  Some of the scenarios that are rising to the top include:

  • Can efficiently view two windows at once, with a minimal amount of set up.

  • Simple to view a document at full height and a comfortable reading width.

  • Quick and easy to view a window on the desktop.

  • The most common actions should require the least effort - quicker to maximize or restore windows with minimal mouse precision required.

  • Keyboard shortcuts to replace mouse motions whenever possible for advanced users.

  • Useful, predictable, and efficient window options for a range of displays: from small laptops to 30” or larger screens; with single or multiple monitors.

  • Easy to use different input methods: mouse, keyboard, trackpad, pen, or touch screens.

  • Customized window glass color visible even when maximized.

  • Overall - customers feel in control, and that the system makes it faster and easier to get things done.

This last point is important because the feeling of responsiveness and control is a key test for whether the design matches the way people really work.  We put designs and mockups in the usability lab to watch how people respond, and once we see people smiling and succeeding easily at their task we know we are on the right track. The ultimate success in a design such as this is when it feels so natural that it becomes a muscle memory.  This is when people can get the feeling that they’ve mastered a familiar tool, and that the computer is behaving as it should.

This is some of the background on how we think about window management and doing evolutionary design in a very basic piece of UI.  We can’t wait to hear feedback and reactions, especially once folks start getting their hands on Windows 7 builds.

- Dave

Comments (135)
  1. magicalclick says:

    About windows arrangements, I have a request. This is not easy to implement, but I need this feature a lot. I wish I have one more caption button, FIXED SIZE. Actually it is a checkbox. When I check the box, it will save the window state for this application. After that, I can resize/move around. When I close window, it will not save the later changes.

    This is particularly useful for IE. When I close IE pop-up, it saved the small window size, which is not what I want. A lot of time I have to re-save the size I want, very annoying.

    A lot of times I change window size temporarily for specific occasion. But I don’t want to save those temporary windows state. This feature allows me to set which application will always launch with consistant size.

  2. steven_sinofsky says:


    I dislike when that one happens!  Rather than add another button or space to click, I do the same thing in one click with a "power user" trick which is when you see the small window open don’t close it until you first open up another copy of the application with the "normal" window size.  Then close the small one and then the normal one.  

    Of course this is a pain and close to impossible for anyone to find, but likely a better solution than adding a fourth UI affordance on the title bar.


  3. magicalclick says:

    Thanks steven,

    I agree. But I am yet to think of a better solution. >_< I hope someone in your team pop some magic out of their brains.

  4. Iced_Eagle says:

    One thing I’m concerned about though is that if the title bar is glass and transparent, won’t that be rather distracting, and possibly hard to see if you have a black background?

    In Vista, since it was always a solid color, you always would know what sort of situation you would get in.

    However, with Glass / Aero enabled, I can definitely see things getting distracting while working, especially if you have a DreamScene desktop with a video playing in the top of the title bar.

    How are you guys planning to work around these issues?

  5. kvalbiff says:

    Linux has Compiz(Fusion). What would be cool was if Window Desktop Manager api’s allowed for that kind of flexibility.

  6. Mysterlee says:

    A very simple feature that I think would be extremely useful is the ability to have windows snap to the edges of the screen similar to the way it is done in the linux Gnome GUI. I frequently find myself trying to position a non-full screen window against the edge of the screen and it’s not easy to do without some kind of snapping mechanism.

  7. d_e says:

    Arranging windows in a split-window fashion is actually quite easy:

    While pressing CTRL select multiple windows in the taskbar. Then right-click them and select one of the tiling options…

  8. domenico says:

    Hey kvalbiff

    Listen me

    You see compiz today?? See longhorn in 2003 4015lab6

    Compiz copy Windows !

  9. RotoSequence says:

    Why not add an option to "fix window size" as a right click on the application window… bar, for lack of a better term? One more to Restore, Move, Minimize, Maximise, and Close wouldn’t hurt, and it would solve the issue without real visual clutter.

  10. Colmeister says:

    In addition to Mysterlee’s comments, how about being able to double-click the border of a window which causes that side of the window to snap to the edge of the screen?

  11. Mysterlee says:


    I know you can tile windows, however there’s no way to just snap a window to the edge of the screen by dragging it there without having to tile them.


    I agree, that would be very useful.

  12. Nacimota says:

    I found the issue with dragging objects onto the desktop interesting, as I myself have experienced it on numerous occaisions. I generally have far more than 9 widnows open at a time (right now it’s 13, would have been closer to 20 before)

    I was thinking perhaps using a solution like this:

    The explorer window is on top and has focus; there’s a hole bunch of other windows covering the desktop behind it (including, for the sake of argument, a maximized window, so the whole desktop is covered).

    There is another explorer window (for example) directly beneath the one that is in focus. The user drags an object from the currently focused window over the second explorer window (he doesn’t drop, just hovering at this point)

    The window could then highlight itself, or the rest of the windows could dim (kinda like secure desktop in UAC prompts) – not necessary, but i think it would be cool – to show the user clearly what window will receive the object when the release the mouse button.

    Then you make it so that if the user hovers over the same window for like 4-5 seconds, all of the windows (except the explorer window we’re dragging from) disappear, or even fade to a low opacity level (this would suit Aero nicely!)

    Not sure if that’s a practical solution, but yeah – that’s all I can really think of doing

  13. Aengeln says:

    A very useful feature would be the ability to split the deskotop into separate portions, especially on larger screens.

    For example, I might want to maximize my Messenger window to a small part on the right hand side of the desktop and still have the ability to maximize other windows into the remaing space. Non-maximized windows would be able to float across both (all) parts of the desktop.


  14. vbouret says:

    "Interestingly, people don’t always maximize their windows even when they’re only using one window at a time."

    Don’t you think it’s because the window goes damn ugly (strong black title bar) when maximized? I do everything I can to maximize a window by hand just to prevent from having the black title bar.

    I also agree with Ice_Eagle:

    "One thing I’m concerned about though is that if the title bar is glass and transparent, won’t that be rather distracting, and possibly hard to see if you have a black background?"

    Transparency is at most distracting. In fact is has been around since Windows 2000 and I have seen no application use it efficiently.

    It would be nice if Windows 7 could go beyond the in-store eye candy (Windows-Flip, Transparency, Animation) and make it a real usable system. The Task Bar is another example, there is a strong reflection in the upper part of the black bar which makes the text in the Task Bar hard to read. Same thing goes for the Windows Mail toolbar.

    I actually feel I am loosing productivity while using Vista despite all the new features, just because of the look.

  15. ddahlstrom says:

    In all the years I’ve used Windows, one feature I’ve frequently desired to see is a standardized "always on top" button.  This is sometimes implemented in certain applications as a pin icon, but it has never been made a standardized feature common to all resizeable windows.  

    One use case for this is when I have one focal document (say, a Word Doc), and several other reference documents opened on the screen that I’m cutting and pasting from.  Since I’m only cutting and pasting from one region of those documents, the main document often overlaps portions of the reference documents I don’t care about.  But everytime I change my focus to the reference documents to copy, I have to find and click on the main document to bring it back to the front in order to paste.  In this case (and others like it) it would be great if there was a pin icon that I could press on the main document to keep it on top.

    This seems to be such a simple thing.  There’s an API to support it, there is precedent for it, and it would be incredibly useful.


  16. mrfixitfox says:

    I’d agree with the standardized Always On Top feature, plus a snap-to grid that makes for quick window placement/tiling without requiring the user to align the window edges manually. A good example for snapped tiling would be Visual Studio, the IDE shows the drop locations as overlay icons, so the user doesnt have to get the edges in the right place by nudging the mouse carefully.

    Can we also have multiple desktop support built-in, as has been standard on Linux distributions for years? I know that there are additional programs that can do it, but making it a Windows standard means you can rely on it being available on someone’s PC.

  17. Cibetik says:

    I think the best option would be, if there will be an option (or not option but rather function) to adjust windows sizes to their content. I have seen this function on Mac. For example, when you are using Safari and click green button, Safari window adjust its size to webpage. Other application do it also.

    I miss this function on Windows, especially with IE and Windows Media player, because when I play videos in WMP I want to fit WMP windows to video size.

  18. yeehaamcgee says:

    I really don’t see why so many people want comiz(fusion) in windows.

    On my Q6600 machine, with 4Gb RAM, and a geforce 8800GTS, Compiz struggles at 1920×1200 resolution with even the most modest of transparency enabled.

    Aero, however, flies along.

    If you people just want Aero to be as modifiable as compiz, well then yeah, that would be pretty cool I guess, but we’d probably have to put up with linux diehards moaning that windows copied linux forevermore >-(

  19. yeehaamcgee says:

    Aengeln, that is a great idea about segregating the desktop into portions.

  20. simmans says:

    I’m thinking about 2 things.

    First, the Save State idea make me think about a hibernation mode for application. By clicking the X (Close) button while holding Alt key, the application data in memory is recorded somewhere in the HDD and when we re-open the application, it will return in the same state it was when closing, like the Hibernation mode of Windows.

    Second, what about a totally programable UI? In Windows XP, there is methods to change skin of UI, but this time, it will be more complete. The programmer can decide to create an UI where the title bar of windows will be on bottom of windows instead of the top. Or make elements of the taskbar undockable and can be dropped anywhere on the screen a little like Windows 3.1. I know this idea is a little crazy but every idea for the UI can be created by every programmer.

  21. moflaherty says:

    Since I won’t have access to Windows 7 for a while, I can’t comment on where you are going, but I have never understood why Microsoft abandoned the desktop itself as a rich, vibrant interface all on its own. I remember screen designs from Microsoft Research years ago that were heading in this direction (I still have some), and they were exciting. It never materialized, though Surface is a start. Why not make the actual desktop active and vibrant and less like a piece of concrete with graffiti? So to address the issue of “forms”, if you abstracted that into the OS and the desktop, developers could avoid writing code to do things that should be automatic: like size, display, behavior, and getting interface clutter out of the way of the users. In my experience with Windows development (since VB1), 80% of code is behavior and 20% is meat. Even with C# and WPF, that number is still high. Forms should not be bolted on the desktop—forms should be integral parts of the desktop.

  22. Xero64 says:

    Firstly, regarding the internet explorer, so called ‘bug’.  I have experienced this before, but what I do do is set the default setting to maximised on the quick launch and it is solved especially since IE tabs don’t require me to multi-task IE windows like in IE6.  With Windows taskbar grouping IE6 was a nightmare.

    I would like to see tabs used in windows explorer and outlook in the future, since these two programs generate a lot of windows.  Tabbed windows should even be a UI element for developers to easily use to display multiple pages of content without the need for new windows.

    Secondly, reading the post made me realise why reading view in Office was introduced, and why I dislike it so much.  Yes it brings test into easily readable paragraphs in one section of the screen, making it not necessary to scroll your head from side to side of a large widescreen monitor.  The reason why I dislike it is that 90% of the time I want to print email attachements, so I want a printable view of the document.  Maybe a open or read option should be included here.

    Back to tabs:  I think I saw this in a windows explorer concept, where with one click you could dock two explorer tabs next to eachother, with each having there own path displayed.  I can’t remember if the favourites and folder tree were seperate in this case, but I don’t see this as a necessity.

    I sense an opportunity to make a comment on something slightly related to window management, so hear it goes …

    Another item that generates in some cases alot of windows is file-transfers.  Often I start copying or moving something and then see something else to copy or move.  Now if the copies are going to take some time I normally check the ETA and leave my PC for the given time.  When I initiate the second transfer it generates a new window automatically and the times for both transfers shoot skyward before stabilising.  (Note that since in most cases the one transfer will be shorter than the other, the time estimate of the one is inaccurate since once the other transfer completes, the data rate increases for the remaing transfer.)  The only reason I do both transfers together is because I can be more efficient leaving my PC for the estimated time.

    The following could solve this and result in less windows on the taskbar and less flicking between transfer windows to view transfer progress.  Can the file transfer process not pick up that a transfer is in progress and "que" itself as a new process, but within the same transfer window.

    From what I have read, seperate processes would result in better stability if one of the transfers stops responding.  That is why I suggested it, since it exists in IE8 and Chrome to some unknown degree for each tab.

  23. gkeramidas says:

    Changes to the UI are probably one of the most important areas when users move to a newer OS. And although changes are necessary, they’re not always beneficial to all users. So, in my opinion, if you do change the UI, you need to ensure that users can still do things the way they used to in windows XP (not using vista as an example because there were some changes that didn’t meet this criteria). I’ll just give a few examples, even though it may not pertain to your team, but it is part of the UI.

    You took away the ability to right click on my network places and select properties to open network connections. You took away the ability to right click the network tray icon and get the status. Now, you may think nobody uses these, but there was no reason to remove them because they didn’t actually hurt anything if they were accidently selected.

    Also, changing the time takes more mouse clicks in Vista than in XP.

    You also need to ensure that performing these operations takes no more mouse clicks than in the new UI versus windows XP. all of the examples I mention take more clicks.

                                  XP     Vista

    Network Connections 2 3

    Status 2 5

    Change Time 2 3

    And you may argue that either not everybody uses these options or that they’re not used that often. But that’s no excuse for making the operation harder to access than it was before.

    It takes 9 clicks to turn off the details, preview and navigation panes. Why can’t I turn them off in the same UI instead of the menu system closing as soon as I deselect one of them and then have to traversing the entire menu system again?

    In folder/details view, I know a lot of people don’t like the fact that the all columns are selected instead of just the file name. when single mouse click is enabled, and you move from one window to another and try to set focus in the window, a file or folder opens. In XP, you could click anything but the file name to get focus. Now I have to increase the width of the folder to have white space, with no columns, and use that as the selectable area. Which leads to my next point.

    In XP, opening a folder would show the folder size in the status bar. In vista in take extra keystrokes because the user must first select all of the files to see this value.

    Operations should not be made harder or obsolete when creating a new OS.

    But these are just my opinions.

  24. Xero64 says:

    Firstly, regarding the internet explorer, so called ‘bug’.  I have experienced this before, but what I do do is set the default setting to maximised on the quick launch and it is solved especially since IE tabs don’t require me to multi-task IE windows like in IE6.  With Windows taskbar grouping IE6 was a nightmare.

    I would like to see tabs used in windows explorer and outlook in the future, since these two programs generate a lot of windows.  Tabbed windows should even be a UI element for developers to easily use to display multiple pages of content without the need for new windows.

    Secondly, reading the post made me realise why reading view in Office was introduced, and why I dislike it so much.  Yes it brings test into easily readable paragraphs in one section of the screen, making it not necessary to scroll your head from side to side of a large widescreen monitor.  The reason why I dislike it is that 90% of the time I want to print email attachements, so I want a printable view of the document.  Maybe a open or read option should be included here.

    Back to tabs:  I think I saw this in a windows explorer concept, where with one click you could dock two explorer tabs next to eachother, with each having there own path displayed.  I can’t remember if the favourites and folder tree were seperate in this case, but I don’t see this as a necessity.  This would be extremely useful for file transfers between two locations.

    I sense an opportunity to make a comment on something slightly related to window management, so hear it goes …

    Another item that generates in some cases alot of windows is file-transfers.  Often I start copying or moving something and then see something else to copy or move.  Now if the copies are going to take some time I normally check the ETA and leave my PC for the given time.  When I initiate the second transfer it generates a new window automatically and the times for both transfers shoot skyward before stabilising.  (Note that since in most cases the one transfer will be shorter than the other, the time estimate of the one is inaccurate since once the other transfer completes, the data rate increases for the remaing transfer.)  The only reason I do both transfers together is because I can be more efficient leaving my PC for the estimated time.

    The following could solve this and result in less windows on the taskbar and less flicking between transfer windows to view transfer progress.  Can the file transfer process not pick up that a transfer is in progress and "que" itself as a new process, but within the same transfer window.

    From what I have read, seperate processes would result in better stability if one of the transfers stops responding.  That is why I suggested it, since it exists in IE8 and Chrome to some unknown degree for each tab.

  25. simmans says:

    @moflaherty : I see what your are talking about, but it looked like users were uninterested. I can imagine easily things like gadgets on the desktop behind icons, but I thinks people don’t like to mix functionalities with their favorite wallpaper.  If I am wrong or away from your subject, I am sorry about this, English isn’t my main language.

    Anyway, it’s still an idea for a programmable UI. 😉

  26. donu says:

    In Vista, it’s too hard to tell which window is active.

    Try this: tile two or more windows on a monitor.  Now try to determine which window is active.  

    On my PC, the title bar of the active window is slightly darker, but the difference is so subtle that I can’t use it.  Instead I have to look at the close (X) icons on each window until I find the one which has a red background.

    Now try this:  tile two or more windows on monitor 1, and maximize a window on monitor 2.  Now try to determine which window is active.  A quick glance would suggest that it is the window with the black title bar.  Not necessarily.  Again, it’s the one with the red background behind the close icon.

    Previous versions of windows had this right.  I hope Windows 7 gets it right.

  27. GRiNSER says:

    Hope this post gets through:

    As you wrote, scenarios like watching 2 documents side by side or switching between the desktop and an application can be really difficult. All those functions don’t seem to work properly and really need a rework.

    I would really like to see tabs in main apps like Windows Explorer (at least optional) because when I have opened 6 folders I always get lost in translation with the grouped task in the taskbar while dragging and dropping. I also would suggest tabs for all multiple document applications (like Word, Excel, …) to navigate easier.

    Another nice addition would be a window instant search in Flip or in an Expose equivalent to easily switch to another window through keyboard input. That would be really useful because mostly I know the name of the window or app I want to switch to but I can’t see it immediately.

    Besides, switching tabs in tabbed applications should be like Flip with nice Thumbnails of the contents to find the wanted tab easier.

  28. Colmeister says:


    I like your first idea – I can see this being useful, but I disagree with your second one.

    IMO programmers should not be able to change window decorations, and by this I mean the window borders (frame), titlebar and window controls (minimize, maximise, close).  This is something that should be the same for ALL applications so that novice users at least have consistency in how they manage windows even if programmers create wierd and wonderful UIs within their application’s client area.

    This is one thing I really hate about Office. They took the titlebar that novice users are familiar and changed it in order to add their Jewel, Quick Access icons and a centre-aligned title when the thing novice users value above all else is consistency in the user interface.  In fact Office is a prime example of how not to build a UI – I’ve configured how I want my windows to look but the Office developers decided to ignore this and make it a ‘nice’ light blue instead.

  29. canadianmike says:

    I recommend that the Win7 team just steal ideas from OSX and Compiz Fusion.  They both offer similar functionality to each other (so it would be hard to figure out which one you stole from – in most cases) and more importantly, they both offer functionality that Windows either currently lacks or has hidden.  Both have a neat function that allows users to quickly tile all open windows in a graphically nice way and both have multiple desktops which I find very useful.

    Don’t be shy, the entire software industry is built upon the theft of ideas, you’d just be upholding tradition! So just steal their ideas, tweak them if you must, and ship Win 7 as soon as you can.  I can’t wait to see the new GUI!!

  30. adeling says:

    I would use the tile windows feature obtained by right-clicking the taskbar except that, as magicalclick implies, the window sometimes saves the new size. I understood that you could SHIFT-click the close button to save a window’s size — why doesn’t this become the default method for saving so that it’s not done by accident.

    Also, the option to ALT-click windows on the taskbar that you wish to select and tile is a bit obscure — it would never have occurred to me I think!

  31. TedHoward says:

    You said "This last point is important" in reference to "customers feel in control…" This touches on one of my pet peeves, which I also consider to be a security bug: focus theft, specifically keyboard focus theft.

    At any point in time, any window on my system could decide to take keyboard focus from the application that I have chosen to be using, such as this web browser. This often happens when an application has an alert or asks for authorization. It pops up a dialog, but if I happen to be hitting the spacebar when it does so, which is very common when typing, the dialog is instantly dismissed. I have even had dialogs that were dismissed by keyboard input before the WM_PAINT handler could complete. In such cases, I can have no idea what actions I have just authorized and sometimes I cannot even determine which application alerted me.

    I do not feel in control.

    Ted Howard


    In case you care about this too, I entered bugs for this which were resolved as By Design. Search for my name or ‘tedhow’ in IE’s PS path.

  32. simmans says:

    I understand, but my main idea it’s to be able to have more possibilities. I take your example about the new Office UI. I agree that imposing a new UI is a bad idea, but if we can at least return with the old UI, people could be more happy. That’s same about inactive windows. He don’t like the UI of Windows Vista, then he change it and return to the Windows XP one (if possible).

    If we have more possibilities, more people will be happy. That’s why I speak about "programmable" things because everyone could create alternatives of everything that is already implanted.

    Sorry again for my English.

  33. bpaddock says:

    adeling –

    The SHIFT-click close button to save window position idea is a myth.  Window placement is generally remembered by the app, not by Windows.

  34. bpaddock says:

    TedHoward –

    In general, applications are not allowed to set the foreground window unless the thread setting it is part of the already active application, or has been given that ability by the active application using AllowSetForegroundWindow.

    There may be bugs, and there may be some complicated ways around this system (like injecting code into the active window’s UI thread), but Windows has in the last few versions tried to stop this behavior.  One problem is that if you take away this ability completely, there are some applications (like half of Stardock’s apps) that simply aren’t possible.

    I don’t understand how you consider focus-stealing to be a "security" bug.  If some app wanted to know what you were typing it doesn’t have to be the focused application in order to do that…

  35. mark_ms says:

    I find myself frequently with several overlapping explorer windows and wish to drag an object from one window onto another window that is being covered by other windows.

    I remember seeing a GUI demo where an item from a window was dragged out of the window and hovered over a corner of that window. The window corner ‘peeled’ back so that the item can be dropped onto a second window located under the previous one.

    Another GUI behaviour could be a way for the item or another window to ‘nudge’ a window out of the way so you can access the second window underneath while in the middle of a ‘drag’ movement.

  36. Kosher says:

    mark:  that  would be too cool for windows to do.

  37. Juan Antonio says:

    I hate when I launch an application or start a process like compile a project, and meantime i use another program like a web browser and when the first apllication is complete, the system has not detected that switch to the browser and show the window at top, hiding the form I was seeing.

    As well it take too many clicks to send a maximized window to another monitor ( change to normal size, drag to the other monitor and maximize again).


  38. domenico says:


    Like Firefox 3 + Live Writer ?

  39. justausr says:

    Please make sure everything you do works with dual or 3 monitors and include features to easily arrange across multiple monitors, move windows between monitors, have various system message and boxes appear on the monitor where the current window is, support different size monitors in dual mode (I leave my tablet in 1Kx1400 mode on the left and my LCD in 1600x1k), etc.

    Microsoft has been pretty awful in its support for dual monitor environments.

  40. Juan Antonio says:

    It would be useful that when I´m dragging an object I could to open a list or thumbnail of the windows ( maybe a right- click )to select what window use to drop the object.

  41. Kosher says:

    Mark, if you’ve ever used Visual Studio 2008, you’ll notice that when you drag a window to another window it shows a translucent window target and you can then choose which window to drop onto.  This would be a great addition to the explorer option you’re talking about with activation using drag right click opening a radial window with translucent target windows.

  42. Kosher says:

    Antonio, that was weird.  Look at our post times.  LOL

  43. Mysterlee says:

    Just a thought regarding my suggestion for having windows snap to the edges of the screen. They should also snap to each other so that they can be easily positioned next to each other as well as when resizing them they should snap to the size of the window next to them.

    I also agree with above posts on a standardised always on top button on every window, that would be very useful.

  44. simmans says:

    What about multiple monitor support a little like we use Synergy? Each monitor is like an independent system and one monitor don’t affect the other one. If you don’t know Synergy, it’s a freeware that share keyboard, mouse and clipboard between 2 or more computer. More computer there is, more screen there is, further the Windows experience it is. And Synergy is compatible with Mac and Linux too. I know, that’s not a multiple monitor support but it’s a root of solution, of idea to resolve the multiple monitor support problem.

  45. smartpatrol says:

    Now the real question is can you guys accomplish these interface enhancements while using 1/4 of the memory the Aero interface uses? Because no matter how whiz bang the interface is, more resource use means slower performance (or at least perceived performance ala Vista release) which equals less productivity because you have to wait for all the eye candy to catch up to what you are doing.

    Not to mention you already have a huge user base that is used to using the the windows interface a the way they know how. Reducing clicks is all fine and nice but just making the current often used interface features faster through lighter less cumbersome code better more efficient relationships with controls etc.. will benefit windows 7 more than 3D interfaces that look nice but are practically useless when it come to real work or play.

  46. cjb110 says:

    One thing that I’ve always wanted is sticky windows.  If your moving a window it should loosely ‘stick’ to other windows already around, and screen edges.  Also when expanding windows, dragging a window down should stick when it gets to the bottom of the window next to it.

    Winamp has done this wonderfully well for ages.

    Another option would be a ‘sticky’ grid, optional of course (maybe by two button dragging, or a key).

  47. ncgloy says:

    A lot of commenters seem to be asking for features for Windows 7.  I think the Windows 7 planning was completed a long long time ago.  Vista shipped at the end of 2006.  What do you think they have been doing during all of 2007 and most of 2008 ?  It seems unrealistic to assume that in October of 2008, the Windows 7 team is saying "What features should Windows 7 have ?  I don’t know, let’s look at the comments on our blog, maybe we’ll get some ideas."

  48. manicmarc says:

    I would love to see something like Mac OS’s Springloaded folders. Drag something over a folder and hover, it pops up, drag over to the next folder, drop it.

  49. Garp says:

    Something I would love to see integrated into Windows is the Virtual Desktop concept from Linux.  Even in a multi-monitor environment it has it’s uses, and in a single monitor environment it’s invaluable.  The Virtual Desktop Manager that’s part of powertoys is a start, but it’s no where near as seemless and well organised as that under Linux (understandable as it’s trying to shoehorn a feature in, instead of being integrated in the UI itself)

  50. jrronimo says:

    Great article! One of the things you mention is my major beef with Excel 2007: MDI/SDI interfaces.

    In Excel 2007, if you open up two spreadsheets, the taskbar displays two instances of Excel. However, they are open in the same window, maximised. In order to copy data between them, one must un-maximise their MDI instance and arrange/compare as necessary.

    It would be MUCH nicer if the two taskbar instances reflected two separate, ACTUAL windows of Excel, allowing me to move, resize, visually compare, copy & paste as necessary. To me, it would be a much more natural process.

  51. joey_j says:

    There is some really good stuff here! Some more stuff:

    1. Windows needs an Exposé-like feature. I want to see all of my windows at once.

    2. Window isolation mode. Let me isolate a window or several windows without minimizing or maximizing so I can drown out the distractions. Example: Isolator (

    3. Related/group windows. Think IE8’s tab groups.

  52. fastduke says:

    Yes we expect windows to be resizeable etc… Are we going to see the command prompt window follow suite?

  53. mikejng says:

    I agree with Ted Howard but I would like to go further.

    I often start a long-running process, whether installing updates, opening a web site that can take over a minute to come up, or whatever.  At the time I start the process, the relevant window has the focus.

    Then while I’m waiting I deliberately switch to a new window.  Maybe it’s Visual Studio, maybe it’s Word so I can update some notes, or maybe it’s IE so I can read a news article.  It’s a time saving technique so I can accomplish something instead of just staring at the screen while my original activity finishes.

    My problem is that when the background process is done or gets an error, it pops up into the foreground and steals focus.  If I’m reading a news article or writing a paragraph, I’m in the middle of a thought and I do NOT want a window to pop up on its own initiative and cover what I was doing.  And if I’m typing it’s even worse – my typing goes to the wrong window.

    I do want to know when the background process is done, so flashing the taskbar icon (which you also do sometimes) seems like a fine way to let me know that another window is ready for attention without stealing focus.

    Some web sites are particularly bad – IE will pop to the front and steal focus even though the site isn’t completely loaded – some will pop to the front falsely 3 or 4 times and I have to re-select the window I’m really using each time.  What a pain.

    And as others have pointed out, if the window that pops up unexpectedly is "updates have been installed – do you want to restart now?" then something I’m typing into Word can initiate a restart of Windows without my permission which can cause lost work and is completely unacceptable.

    There are a few warnings like "your battery is discharged – shut down immediately or you will lose your work" that I could accept popping up, but otherwise a window should NEVER steal focus.  I deliberately opened the window I wish to work with, and Windows should respect my choice!

    I think this happened rarely if at all in Win95, and it’s been getting worse every Windows release ever since.  It’s time for you guys to address this once and for all.

    I agree with some of the other comments like it takes a lot more clicks to open Network Connections than it did in XP, but having my working window frequently vanish under others is my pet peeve each and every day!

  54. Xepol says:

    I will grant that having to dig through a dozen windows to get to my desktop can be VERY annoying.  Thanks to the way that VPC drags items out of a VM (and the fact that you can’t drag from 1 VPC directly to another VPC), digging for your desktop is practically a must.

    That said, the one feature I really **REALLY** wish I had was the ability to quickly fire a window from 1 monitor to another (maximized or not) just to get it out of my way.  Some times this is because I am digging, some times its just because the primary monitor is my primary work space.  If I am focusing on something, it goes up on the primary display.  Once I am done, it can usually be closed – some times I need it for reference tho, and firing it to another monitor to keep it visible but no longer the primary focus of my attention is a must.  Currently that involves a lot of dragging (and if its maximized, multiple clicks as well)

    As for the window reorder buttons on the taskbar -> I’ve known they were there since Win95, but I never use them.  They never do what I want.  If they even get close to the right layout, its the wrong window order.  Since I have to drag stuff around anyways, its just easier to get exactly what I want the first time.  You could drop this feature out of the taskbar, and I suspect the 5 people who still use the feature wouldn’t even bother to bitch much.

    Mikejng has a great point about IE’s focus stealing -> It is a huge pain not because it does it, but because it does it so often for no reason.  This is by no means the only problem IE has so I suspect this is more about IE’s design than windows.  Still, it would be nice if windows could remember to forbid letting a single app do certain things rather than an all or nothing sort of deal.

    That said, Windows seems to suffer from the same settings-amnesia problem Windows has in Explorer and volume, so perhaps hoping for windows to remember something might be too ambitious.

  55. simmans says:

    What about retractile title bar (Mask Automatically)? We can save space on windows.

  56. says:

    It looks from these posts that the shell or whatever team is giving importance to minor details for this Windows release. Overall, managing windows is pretty easy for me using a combination of mouse dragging, Alt-Tab and Win-D. My feature request is only and only: Please make all the apps shipping out of the box (including IE, Paint, Calc) remember their window size, window position, window state (maximized or restored), and include unlimited number of undos to tile horizotally, vertically or cascade. Also, apps like Magnifier that resize running windows should resize them back exactly to their original state when they exit. Include an option for some important apps like IE and Windows Explorer to always always and always launch new windows in maximized mode and not make us use specialized window managers and IE maximizers. Make some solid differentiation between active and inactive windows (something which is horribly lacking in your latest OS). Add the much overdue "Always on top" and "Fixed size" as a checkmark to the context menu that appears when right clicking a window. For snapping, take a look at allsnap. Can you implement some sort of parallel simultaneous scrolling for 2 horizontally or vertically tiled scrollable windows? Make websites which use scripts and DHTML behaviors stop stealing focus when we are reading in another window. And finally, can we have ‘Maximize all’ as a menu item AND a keyboard shortcut without requiring Task manager to maximize all windows? That’ll take the pain out of windows, I mean Windows. As a bonus, spring loaded folders would be awesome, though that feature is only remotely related to this topic.

    After seeing Vista’s overall graphical user interface (and gkeramidas’s comments), I feel Microsoft has become incompetent to fix these problems.

  57. LCARS says:

    I would like to see more APIs for developers to leverage the power of the window manager.

  58. Ravewulf says:

    I would really like to see something similar to compiz fusion. It would be really nice to have all those features and eye candy. The most important part is that it is fully customizable and divided into separate components. Each feature can be independently activated or deactivated and customized.

  59. magicalclick says:

    I have seen several people mentioned Virtual Desktop. Tab Groups is an alternative. Instead of automatically create tab groups, we can manually do it. For example,

    1) There is an empty box on taskbar with pop-up description "Drop task here to make a group."

    2) You drag and drop it onto the empty box, you created a custom task group at left of the empty box. Empty box is also used to separate tasks and task groups.

    3) You can drag more tasks into the new group. You can drag task out of task group as well.

    Pros and Cons.

    Con – Virtual Desktop has longer history. Supports Multi-backgrounds extremely useful for workspace identification.

    Pro – Custom Task Group is an extension to XP existing task group. Change is more subtle and less intrusive.

    Pro – Custom Task Group is more flexible. You can show/hide more than one tab groups on the same desktop. No need to merge/split virtual desktops. No more confusing virtual desktop management.

    Pro/Con – If needed, the feature can be configured to IE8 like tab group behavior. This is both pro/con as I am yet to think a better way to say what should be launched directly into task group.

    I hope MS team could invest some time on this issue. Virtual Desktop is certainly a growing demand. BTW, if you guys doing a virtual desktop, please have some mouse out of screen desktop switcher; I can switch to other desktop when someone budge in, hehe.

  60. magicalclick says:

    More thoughts on the TopMost and FixedSize requests. This is something I think will be really useful on many occasions, but it is not as easy as it sound.

    For example, Window Explore has array of Window Size on different path. Some app didn’t implement Window Size, so it will always opens up in the same size. And there is a management issue. Certainly I would require a management software to tell me what app/window has been set with such property.

    This is not only make Windows bloated with optional features. But will introduce many usage problems when casual users have no idea what happens. Like "omg, why is it always open IE in small 10×10 size. I already resize it and close it."

    Certainly such feature has to be off by default. It has to be a module installed by user request. Then, the argument arise. How much time should MS spend on this project when only few people have the knowledge to use it?

    All in all, I still want the feature. Make it an ultimate extra? I would love to help out too.

  61. mariosalice says:

    Windows Explorer using tabs …

    A next Windows Explorer using tabs is a nice idea (one window fits all).

    Here is an example of a tabed Windows Explorer concept.

    The inventory is a place where we drop files and programs to create links, and the multi windows icon button releases or bounds the sub folders to the tabs.

  62. quillaja says:

    For those of you who want a window switcher more like expose, that shows all your windows at once, you might want to try out Switcher:

    It will show you all your windows, with live content. It also provides incremental filtering/searching of the windows based on their titles. It has many customization options too. It’s really much better than Flip3d.

  63. teoh.hanhui says:

    I hate the way XP/Vista thinks I wish to rearrange my files when dragging from one window to another (copying or moving). If I have the Auto Arrange option on, icon repositioning should not be allowed.

  64. Triple says:

    I just recently experienced an issue with window management that I think might be interesting for the team:

    I was on a forum typing a response to a post. This required me to do some calculations, so I opened up the calculator and made the first calculation.

    However when I clicked the maximized browser window to type in the result of my calculation the calculator of course disappeared behind it. When I wanted to do the second calculation I had to reactivate the calculator via the taskbar. After several calculations this became pretty annoying.

    A solution for this problem would be a checkable option in the right-click menu of a window to "stay on top". A more advanced version of this could divide the desktop into several overlapping layers. If a window exists on a layer higher then that of another window, it will stay above the other window no matter what the activated window is. I can see numerous situations in which this could be useful during multi-tasking.

  65. Dan.F says:

    one word – expose.

    copy it.

  66. GRiNSER says:

    Expose has its own set of drawbacks: Like having 30 windows on a macbook pro 1400×1050 screen is really not that helpful. Though its way more helpful than Crap Flip 3D. Expose would be even more useful with keyboard window search…

  67. kvalbiff says:

    @Domenico – I couldnt care less what longhorn did or did not do. Vista don’t 🙂

    LCars – "I would like to see more APIs for developers to leverage the power of the window manager."

    Excactly. I want to be able to replicate compiz fusion in windows. My Desktop, My Way. If a linuxdude then wants to complain about it, he would have to do it to me and not ms.

  68. Steel89 says:

    It would be very cool if I can change the window color with a hex code and then save the preset 🙂

    An hex color text box would be very useful also for the color selector window (

  69. Steel89 says:

    I agree with mariosalice.

    I think that the tabs on explorer would be very useful.

    (very important: middle click on a favorite link of the left pane to open a new tab, and drag&drop beetween tabs).

    But I want also to show you a concept that I made some days ago.

    Very useful for me.

  70. aaronsteers says:

    1. My old Mac LC3 (OS v7) had a "fit to contents" button on the window pane.  It would be useful for Windows applications that can determine their most economical size.  As far as I know, this has never been implemented in a Windows OS.

    2. A few apps these days have options to display windows "always on top".  For example, MS Communicator has this and some other apps as well.  I’ve implemented this in my own applications, and think it would be great as a pushpin icon on the window pane (next to minimize).  This would allow any user to make any window persistantly visible (or not).

  71. Niklas Borson [MSFT] says:

    Mark_ms and others have requested a convenient way to drag from a foreground window to another window that may be obscured or minimized.

    You might be interested in a feature that’s been around since the task bar was introduced in Windows 95. While dragging, you can hover the mouse over a task bar button to bring the corresponding window to the foreground.

  72. GRiNSER says:

    @niklas borson: this specifically is not really useful when having grouped tasks in the taskbar – you have to wait until the grouped tasks show up and then you have to find the right one… really annoying… Flicking away Windows with a special gesture would be really helpful!

    Please give us also a window always on top function built into the context menu of a window. Also transparency settings for a window would be useful in many cases. As I said before – give use power users some useful choice that should not bother any novice user.

    @quillaja: Switcher is really nice (especially the search feature) but its lacking performance and is not that mature. Additionally I dont think I should need extra programs to comfortably switch between windows. Although I use Ultra Mon for getting a second taskbar. It also has handy buttons to span a window on different screens and to move a window instantly from one screen to another while scaling the frame to fit different screen sizes. This should also be in Windows directly, if you ask me…

  73. DCMonkey says:

    Niklas (and Mark_ms and others): There’s also drag, Alt+Tab to other window, then drop.

    You can also do this with Ctrl+Tab in MDI apps and tabbed dialogs to get to a particular child window or tab.

    Unfortunately IE7 doesn’t allow you to switch tabs using that same shortcut when you have something in mid drag.

  74. DCMonkey says:

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but I hope that if you’re going to add new items to the standard system menu, that "Close" remain at the bottom of the menu. I and many users I know have developed the habit of right clicking on taskbar buttons and selecting close to close them. Then we run into windows like the console, MMC, or HTML help where other items are positioned below Close. I’d like to see these apps fixed so that close is always at the bottom (why does the MMC need help on the system menu anyways?), and perhaps this could be somehow enforced by Windows for all apps?

  75. DCMonkey says:

    GRiNSER said "this specifically is not really useful when having grouped tasks in the taskbar – you have to wait until the grouped tasks show up and then you have to find the right one… really annoying… Flicking away Windows with a special gesture would be really helpful!"

    The menu for grouped window show up instantly. The windows can’t because then the first menu item you hit would pop open, so there’s a delay.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding your suggesstion, but with your gesture idea, you’d need to perform this gesture while holding onto an item (or do it as a two step process), and you’d have to root through a pile of windows looking for the one to drop on instead of scanning a nice orderly list like in the current solution. I don’t see the advantage.

    Also, my Alt+Tab suggestion avoids the grouping problem as well.

  76. Kosher says:

    Niklas (MS):  That’s kind of where you guys are not getting it.  The UI could be enhanced quite a bit to make it much easier to do things.  It’s not just about how easy it is but it’s also about how smoothly the user transitions between common UI workflows and tasks.  This is a bit like explaining the difference between a Ferrari and a Toyota to someone that has never driven a Ferrari though, so I don’t know if it will ever happen.

  77. hrvd says:

    Please consider providing the following shortcuts for windows 7 –

    <windows-key>+x to maximize the current window

    <win>+n to minimize the current window

    <win>+t to tile the windows currently not minimized

    <win>+c to cascade the windows currently not minimized

    and may be <win>+s to save the current window state that will be used to open it the next time it’s launched?

  78. says:


    I think a multi-desktop concept is pretty worth to think about and windows need to adopt it.

  79. csmikle says:

    The best way to minimize switching is to put more focus on MDI. The most switching is done to copy and move files around with Windows Explorer. I use QTTabBar (excellent software, you guys could buy them) to turn Explorer into a tabbed interface. I think the Windows team could implement this much better.

    On another note, the Office team should really consider tabs or some other MDI for their applications.. they’re the main reason taskbar grouping was invented. If we didn’t have to manage so many Office document windows at a time in the course of work, this post might not have been as necessary.

    I have one more thing to say about managing windows and the whole issue of focus and being on top: sometimes transparency can really help, if applied correctly.

  80. TimOR says:

    @Triple, @aaronsteers, @GRiNSER, @ddahlstrom et al.

    Windowspace 1.01 adds "Always On Top" to every windows’s control menu. It also has snap to grid plus other sizing/movement facilities. I find the keyboard shortcuts to move windows are particularly useful.

    Works in 2000, XP and Vista.

  81. Cuppa says:

    Does no-one else find the ‘Distribution of native monitor resolution 2005-2010 est.’ graph incredible? (Incidentally, would it be possible to use higher resolution images in this blog? They always seem to be tiny…)

    If I’m reading it correctly, it’s suggesting that 75% of users are running at resolutions of 1024×768 (‘XGA’) and 800×600 (‘SVGA’) in the year 2008. That’s completely out of line with my experience. It also seems to conflict with a table posted on this blog a few weeks ago:

    The graph also puts ‘WXGA’ at about 15% in 2008 – just how much of this sample was made up of laptops? Is there such thing as a WXGA desktop-monitor? (Because I haven’t seen it.)

  82. lyesmith says:

    I would like to see a feature where you can snap two window together and the copy/move files between. This Ctrl+C, ALT+Tab, CTRL+V is five key presses more than comfortable. In this "dual" mode a Ctrl+C (or F5) would copy the file(s) to the target window. In general you have to reduce the key presses and clicks. Also I would like to see a "mass rename" tool. Try to rename 40000 files with sequential serial numbers and pre-, post-fixes. Also a nice compare and directory synchronization feature would be nice. File aliases too.

  83. indeed356 says:

    I’d like to see an alterante/advanced version of "show desktop". Instead of minimizing all windows, it would be great if all windows became 90% transparent and inactive (i.e. I can select icons on the desktop through the transparent windows). As soon as I drag a file and I pass over a window, this window should become active so I can drop the file. For me this would be the best solution to the desktop switching problem.

  84. RyanLM says:

    The basic problem with managing Windows on Vista/XP/Etc is that the model it is based on is broken. I didn’t always think this, but once you use OSX you see a huge difference, just more simple.

    The main difference is in what the windows are, in Vista, a window can be a Application, it can be a document, it can be a application hosting multiple documents, often times if you have two of the same type of document open, you have two instances of the same executable running.

    In OSX, it is stricktly, or least appears to be, a document window manager.  Applications normally only run one instance.  In fact, it seems the whole notion of "is this program open" is transparent on OSX, which I think is a good thing.  

    Because OSX is a document manager, things like Expose work very very well.  On Windows, you see several applications trying to mimic this functionality,  Word and Excel both try hard to fake the user out of MDI, and god only knows what goes on under the hood to acomplish this.  When you try to do Expose on Windows, how do you show MDI windows? What would excel do if you had multiple books open? Its quite a mess.

    If I am looking at 10 text documents, I will have 10 copies of notepad running, seems dumb to me.  

    Anyway to really fix what is broken, I think we need to move closer to this model, its simpler, simply makes more sense.  MDI (at least how it is implemented) is just to windows 3.1.  One Document, One window is the way to go.  

    I hate to bring it up again, if you want proof, look at OSX, very good window management becuase it folows the above principle.  

  85. student.driver says:

    With respect to using the taskbar, I would have to agree that whenever I use multiple monitors I can’t be bothered with the taskbar.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t mind a single sidebar with all my icons and widgets that would run in the taskbar on one monitor, with a clean look everywhere else.

  86. steve.thresher says:

    Please, please, please, document whatever interface you come up with. It’s great to have documentation for all the visual style API’s but developers need to know how the controls are composed. This is a great example:

  87. UltimateSephiroth says:

    >.> The main comment was not to be deleted… Posting it again.

    I’m somewhat disappointed when I realized there was nothing about the more advanced caption bar features which have appeared in many other OSes: most notably I was looking for transparency and stay-on-top features. Also, there was nothing about rearranging the caption bu770ns.

    These are some of the features I would REALLY like to see in Windows 7. Though even if adding them may seem like copying the other OSes, they still are pretty useful features. I know there are third-party applications to achieve these things, but they tend to slow the system down while running in the background.

    The new caption bu770ns could not be taken into use without first implementing the possibility of rearranging, hiding and displaying caption bu770ns. Some users (for example Linux users) may prefer to have one or more of the three default bu770ns on the left side of the title bar. I’d use this because of I like having the task bar on the top of the screen and therefore all the tray icon pop-ups appear on the top of the caption bu770ns of maximized windows (which I use often) – and I have first to close them. That makes one more, virtually useless click.

    Also, this feature, as already said, could make it possible to have even more caption bar bu770ns. Of course, you should make it that by default everything looked like the same it looked like in Vista, so you wouldn’t scare off the more inexperienced users.

    Stay-on-top feature could really make it easier to use multiple windows at the same time. You had less trouble thinking which window goes to the top and when.

    Another thing, especially combined with Stay-on-top is the complete transparency of the whole window. Whether you needed to see a glimpse of a window behind that maximized window or you just wanted to make a window shine through, this feature could be handy.

    The new aspects you brought on the table (for example just maximizing the window height) could as well really make use of customizable caption bars – just make the common ones visible by default and more advanced ones available through customization.

    I actually think the worst aspect of Windows is at the moment the level of customization features and the number of power-user tools. Why to allow only Microsoft-made themes? I’ve patched my uxtheme.dll with VistaGlazz and randomly use a fan-made Metal Luna theme (I tried to find an authentic blue Luna but didn’t find) – I think you should really think in a more open way. bu770ns should be possible to be dragged around and reordered anywhere as well as any text field etc. – but in most cases they are not. Also, while Vista was in many ways user-friendlier than XP or earlier systems, it removed or made many good features worse, and I’m going to shortly say my opinion about a few of them.

    Where is my "Go up one level" button? I know that you can click the name of the previous folder on the navigation bar, but especially with long folder names I have to open the menu which contains the higher-level folders. This is very irritating at times.

    Why is this defragment program like this? No progress bar, no anything! When it comes to tools like this, people actually WANT to see how long the process has taken and preferably an estimate of how much they still possibly have to wait after they’ve finished with anything else and are going to shut the computer down as soon as that defragment tool finishes.

    Why there is no tool to monitor the network activity? I know there is a kind in the MMC but in my opinion that’s quite hard to find, and even if you happen to find it, it’s still clumsy and in my opinion not very usable.

    There are dozens of other "incomplete" or missing features I’d find useful as well. You probably can name a few too yourself.

    Please think a second time and ponder if you could in one way or another add these features into your OS. I’ve been always using Windows – Win95 was the first one we had, now I have Vista Home Premium – and while I am quite a MS fanboy, I’ve began using Linux too, though at least now I use it quite seldom. Please let your OS evolve so people like me would not have to leave Windows in the future because of its stalling with old, stub and worn-out feature setups.

    Any response to this message is appreciated. If there are any grammar errors, they are most probably because of English is not my native language – please do not mind them.

    Yours, UltimateSephiroth

  88. bobharvey says:

    If you want to fiddle with the UI how about some things that have been missing for a while?

    1.  File lists.

    It would be good to be able to cut-and-paste  & drag-and-drop the left hand folder list or the right hand file list into text editors, to help with documentation issues.

    Notepad would get a plain text representation, Word a structured, editable, representation of the window.

    Dragging to the icon for a printer would print the list.

    2.  Customisable views

    It should be possible to save the current view, with its selected location and the expansions in the folder view

    Instead of saving view settings as desktop.ini on a folder by folder basis, they should be named, so that in effect they are saved back to the desktop or quicklaunch icon that opened that instance of explorer

    Although a file menu option for saving such sets will logically be required, we won’t need a save dialogue on exit – changes should just be saved.

    3.  Preview size and location

    The preview in the left hand pane is lost when folder view is used.  A third pane for previews, positionable under the folder list or to the right of the files would be good.

    4. Mouseless operation

    When cursoring up an down the folder list the cursor sometimes has to cross a removable device.  The error box that results if no media is mounted is a real irritation.

    5. Hiding file types

    The saveable view settings should include the ability to hide a user selection of file types, with a show/hide toggle somewhere in the frame.

    6. List older than/newer than

    A simple way to separate files on date – for archiving or deleting, perhaps, or just for auditing – would be useful.  

    date/time to be entered by hand or by using a file as an example.

    7.  Bulk options

    A simple form-filling option for all the files listed/selected would be good.  This could be as simple as bulk renaming, or simple processing in turn (conversion with lame or image magic, for example)

    8.  Robocopy-like copy by drag-and-drop

    I use robocopy to update my mirrored backups of e.g. audio or CAD files.  I know that there are complex things for synchronising folders, but why can’t we simply have a version of the file explorer’s drag-and-drop copy that skips matching or newer files?

    You could even, with the named saved views, save a default set of robocopy-like parameters for a particular icon invoking explorer.

    9.  Retries/resume on drag-and-drop copy

    I have to archive my work files over a VPN to a remote server.  I have to use robocopy (see above) because the windows explorer drag-and-drop copy crashes out at the slightest problem.  Why not allow retries, or resumption of interrupted copies?

    10.  File associations

    The method of making file associations is rather scattered and clumsy.  How about making it accessible from any file by right-clicking on it?  I can imagine a list of executables and a list of file types, and using drag-and-plug type graphical interface to set them up.

    It should also be possible to associate a type with more than one applicaiton, and have a simple chooser pop up when one tries to open the data file.

  89. Jalf says:

    Ooo, virtual desktops… Yes please! It’s really amazing how much time that can save you. In some ways, it even beats multi-mon (that gives you precisely two monitors, and if for whatever reason you want something on one specific monitor, you still have to fiddle with dragging windows around between monitors. Virtual desktops just let you swap out windows in sets, which is often extremely convenient, because you often want specific windows to go together. In fact I’ve noticed that on systems with virtual desktops, the amount of time I spend moving or resizing windows is essentially zero. I don’t need to. Even multi-mon can’t beat that.

    Anyway, as others have said, I think the entire windowing model on Windows is broken. You have MDI and SDI and tabbed windows and multiple instances of Notepad, and in a way, every single Windows application tries to play OS and window manager. There’s no clear definition of what a window is, or what it contains.

    The result is that the OS can assume basically nothing about a window. Nothing about its size or shape, nothing about how many documents it contains, or about what should be shown as a preview/thumbnail (just taking a scaled-down screenshot may not be optimal for complex MDI apps). Alt-tabbing gets screwed too, because it doesn’t let me go through all the individual documents in a MDI app.

    On a side note, one thing I really miss in Windows is better integration of a command line. It would eliminate a lot of the need for window management. I wouldn’t need to line up two explorer windows side-by-side, if I could just easily copy the file in a command line (without having to start a command line, cd to one dir, copy to the other, close the command line). Perhaps even integrate it into the file explorer window somewhere. Perhaps a toolbar at the top, with a small command line interface. Anything to avoid the excessive drag&dropping and moving/resizing windows when dealing with file explorer…

  90. raz0rskyl1n3 says:

    One of my biggest complaints with Windows has always been the interface every aspect of it. Improving the window management, alone would be a big step in the right direction. I am one of the people under Windows who always run windows maxed. One on each display. Under *nix, i have ~3-4 windows to a monitor. Window management in Windows is such a mess it is ridiculous. What takes me no time at all under *nix takes me a good bit longer under windows.  Which is why i dont bother having windows at anything but max. Two things that i think would be reasonable to implement and not asking too much, are the typical hold down a button say alt. Right click=resize, Left click=move. Hell you can give it a nice marketing name, as well. Secondly is a virtual desktop system. I am aware that there are 3rd party applications that give these features, however the windows don’t seem to work properly.  Also please include, window remembering. I don’t know if gnome or kde has this. But the interface i use, has window remembering. Since my desktop, is always the same as to window layouts. I have it remember the window positioning. So i don’t have to bother with resizing. Also a lite window border would be nice. Say ~10 pixels or so, very small and very lite. So the window border doesn’t take up much space. Basically look at any *nix window managers and give those features.

  91. OneFingerSnap says:

    Hi there. I’m not commenting on the specific post, but since it’s UI related I’m using the opportunity to bring attention to a site called Windows Aero Taskforce. It’s a very well made site that allows people to post UI annoyances and rate them. Now, a lot of them might not make much sense, some might be to difficult to implemente, nevertheless, I think there are a lot of excellent suggestions for Microsoft to consider for Windows 7. Check it out at:

  92. divinglog says:

    What I really want to see is, that MDI child windows has also a glass frame. I’m a developer and my app is using MDI windows and on Vista the child windows looking really ugly. There is also a display bug on Vista when child windows are maximized and there is no side panel in the MDI parent window.

    And please make the non Aero look in Windows 7 nicer. Aero looks really great, but the basic color theme is terrible (e.g. when an old app disables Aero or used in MDI child windows).

    And my last feedback is regarding toolbars. The toolbar color in Vista (used for example by Firefox’s Vista theme by default) is not really nice. The colorful Explorer toolbars are great in Vista, btw! And please don’t remove the icons from these toolbars like seen in the Live Wave 3 software tools. I don’t want to read each button, I want to look at the symbol.

  93. Carnitron says:


    I was really excited to read your post.  I think you guys are really on target with trying to make it easier to see two Windows at once.  At this point, I probably waste more mouse actions on this task than on any other single activity in Windows.  Crazy as it sounds, solving this one problem well would be enough to convince me to upgrade to Windows 7.

    Some other things to consider:

    1.  It would be useful to have whatever model you choose extend to 3 windows side by side.  Once people hit 30", that becomes the sweet spot, in the same way 2 windows is the sweet spot for 24".

    2.  Visual Studio’s docking palettes certainly have their advantages at times, but I can see how they might be too heavyweight for novice users.  So what if power users could launch a "frame" app and then dock apps inside it?  This way an end user could have three side-by-side views of IE, like a developer might have source files viewable in three tabbed side-by-side columns in Visual Studio.  Using frames, power users could launch "clusters" of presized windows, and minimize and restore them as a whole.  There would be no complexity cost to novices, since regular Windows would still work as they always have.

    3.  The preview pane and details pane in Vista’s Explorer are both highly space inefficient when one tiles Explorer windows side by side.  On a 30" monitor you get a preview area that is 4-6 times taller than it is wide, meaning you see dinky movie previews and large amounts of blank space.  Ditto for the for the details pane, but in the opposite direction.



  94. says:

    I was disappointed to see in Vista that a number of windows still have fixed sizes.

    This usually occurs on properties windows.

    Most of us have screen with reasonable resolutions yet we get these tiny windows that pop up that can’t be stretched out despite containing long strings in them.

    Some examples?

      The msconfig window.

      User properties window.

      Environment Variables window under advanced properties of the Computer properties.

    There are heaps more as you start looking around. In fact this text input box that I am typing in now is highly reminiscent of them 🙂

    I also agree that Focus theft is highly annoying.

    Not strictly windows management related, but still a user interface issue that annoys me greatly is the click to rename feature on icons. I can’t turn this off. There’s not even a registry entry to do it (that I’ve found).

    With a sensitive mouse, you double click rapidly but if the mouse moves even a pixel between those clicks, instead of launching what was clicked on, the icon’s text comes up highlighted with a flashing cursor waiting to be renamed. Argh! Happens to me all the time! I figure having rename on the right-click menu, or using F2 is enough. Even if the clicking is restricted to just clicking on the text itself and not the actual icon, would be a big improvement.

    The windows copy thing giving up and not letting you try again upon failure is also annoying. Even if it un-highlighted the selected files that were successfully copied so at least you can re-grab and drag the remaining highlighted files  would be enough. Also when copying a group of files and one of them fails, why not carry on with the rest rather than stalling the copy at that point? After all, the other files may be okay and at least they can be done if you aren’t in front of the computer at the time.

  95. pacifika says:

    Some of the data might be a result of working with the current implementations though rather than the desired way of working.

    I always found the cascading / tiling options to work the wrong way round mentally: you have to open the windows and then tile them, however mentally you decide to tile something then worry about the windows involved. So it would make sense perhaps to rework around that notion. Also in vista it’s possible to select two tasks from the task bar, but when i then decide to show side by side or stack them then my selected tasks are not used but the current open windows.

    As a power user, another issue i’m constantly fighting with is keeping an overview of / managing more than 10 or so windows. It takes progressively more time than I’d like to find the right button to click on, and the taskbar is only useful when docked to the side in this scenario, otherwise space runs out.

    Rather than virtual desktops I think windows should be grouped by task and then one should be able to cycle through all windows belonging to one task. Some real time strategy games do a good job of organizing many similar objects.

    Imagine you are working on an administration task, a programming task and a web research task. It would work so much better if you could switch to the web research task (minimizing and grouping the other tasks) then alternate between several windows in that task, doing work until you’re ready to switch back. Hopefully you’ll read my suggestions.

  96. stryqx says:

    Some really nice features that I enjoyed using in RISCOS OS 3.x and have sorely missed on Windows:

    – moving/resizing windows without changing the z-order of windows

    – obtaining window focus without changing the window z-order

    – right-click on scrollbar to get 2D panning

    – right-click on scrollbar arrow to reverse scroll direction

    Although I imagine these "features" will be right down the list and left to the third party packages.

    Time for the GUI to be built on WPF?

  97. TedHoward says:

    bpaddock said "I don’t understand how you consider focus-stealing to be a "security" bug."

    I don’t understand how someone would *not* see unintentional dialog confirmations as a security bug. You seem to not believe that it even occurs which completely blows my mind because before I switched to Mac OS X, I experienced it 100’s of times a day. Here’s a repro:

    1. Use Windows Live Mail for RSS feed reading

    2. Click a feed to read it in your browser

    3. Browser launches, but you want to queue up lots of tabs of RSS-links to read, so you click back immediately to WLMd.

    4. Oops! IE suddenly appears in front of WLMd, which you just clicked to give it full foreground and focus. At this point, IE is displaying nothing, I don’t think it would even have the title bar up implying that this focus theft is before the html is even downloaded.

    5. Well, that’s annoying so you click on WLMd again to give it focus. Moments later, IE steals focus from the application that I’m using *again* all for one page.

    So, twice for every single RSS feed item clicked, IE takes focus from the application that I am currently using.

    Now, go try Mac OS X with Firefox and NetNewWire (NNW). Set the NNW option to open links in the background. Perfection! Firefox doesn’t block my use of NNW.

    Again, any application can do this. Once a week while using Windows Vista, I would accept a prompt or dismiss a dialog inadvertently due to this issue. I have no way of knowing what was happening, not even the application. I could be argued down to this not being a full data-loss bug, but even as a full power-user Windows Vista was not Trustworthy due to these mysteries.

  98. illegaloperation says:

    Royal theme from Windows XP should be included in Windows 7 as many including me miss it in vista.

  99. novan_leon says:

    Why not let there be an invisible grid, a lot like Visio, that windows will automatically snap to when resizing them? This would allow you to easily resize windows so they align with each other or the edge of the monitor without having to introduce any new features/functions to existing users.

    You should be able to disable "Snap To Grid" and fine tune the dimensions of the grid to whatever you desire but I think this would solve most of the problems with resizing, snapping to the edge of the screen, etc.

  100. illegaloperation says:

    Windows should have the Royal theme like the following: To me the Royal theme give me the present feeling that Aero never give me.

  101. illegaloperation says:

    Window Title and Icon should be shown in  Windows Explorer which is shown in this image:

  102. Zod says:

    I really really like all the "upgrades" you’re taking into consideration to get even better our windows experience. So,i really love the whole Windows Aero look and feel,and as I understood you’re going to keep it and even get it better for Windows 7. This is great in my opinion,it’s such a great interface. As i’ve seen in the screens of Windows 7 milestone 3 (i know it’s still a milestone and that final version is gonna be a lot better or different),i really like the different touches you gave to Aero Glass,and I also appreciate the fact that windows keep trasparencies if maximised. Another thing i would love to see in Windows 7 is a better animation when opening windows ect. The one in Windows Vista may give a feel of slow,i don’t know how to explain,not much responsiveness with the rest of the menus and toolbar (even though it’s fast). I’d really love to see Aero improved,even faster. I know that performance is one of the key words for Windows 7,everything is gonna be less-cpu dipendent,more powerful and faster. Keep up the good work Microsoft 🙂 and don’t revamp totally Windows’ Gui,improve Aero and other elements. Thank you for givin’ us the opportunity to suggest you stuff.

    Bye and can’t wait to see Windows 7 (PDC is coming,among other things)

  103. Matthew Murphy says:

    One thing I’ve always wanted to see within Windows is the support of user-created visual styles and support of the Windows customization community from Microsoft. Where in Windows XP it was easy enough to place in a modified uxtheme.dll file to allow for custom visual styles to be used, Vista’s raised security against modification made it rather frustratingly difficult to do the same.

    In example of what I mean, here is a promo screen of a visual style I have been using with my instances of Windows XP called Concave VS, done by the talented George Harrison.

  104. sorpigal says:

    I have a few thoughts on this.

    The tile/cascade functions are, to me, effects. Not useful for actual window management. I avoid them because they interfere with windows I don’t want to touch. I would favor restricting these options to only operate on e.g. non-minimized windows. This would allow me to, effectively, select a set of windows (say, two) which I want to arrange and have just those tiled, or whatever. This allows the existing features to be useful again without adding any complexity.

    In Enlightenment(0.16.x anyway), a *nix window manager, right clicking and middle clicking on the maximize button causes the window to "max x" and "max y" instead of x and y. In other words, a middle click maximizes the window vertically without changing the width and a right click maximizes horizontally without changing the height. Obviously this is just a resize operation and not a true Maximized state. Adding this involves no UI-cluttering changes and gives users a powerful feature.

    I would be a fan of some kind of stepped snapping: As you resize (e.g.) horizontally if the window could initially snap to every 128th pixel on an initial mouse movement, then step down by halves every 0.6 seconds or so as the drag continues until resting at 1px movement, that might be helpful. I’d have to experiment.

    Certainly it would be helpful if *all* windows supported "snap to edge" the way Winamp has worked for years. Few people ever want to place a window almost but not quite against the edge of the screen or the edge of anotehr window. Within 8px or so the window should snap-to and have a little resistance to unsnap. That would reduce time required in precision window placement operations.

    While it would be a radical feature to add to  Windows I also highly recommend that anyone working on window management issues be familiar with Fluxbox and its tabbed window management feature.

    More options in the operations menu (context menu of a window, sorry not familiar with its technical name) would be nice for power users and not too detrimental to others. Most users do not know about this menu anyway. A "always on top" option would be one I’d definitely like to see, along with a "send to back." There are many options, obviously adding all of them would confusingly clutter the UI, but a few could be quite helpful.

    Another thing I would love to see, but again a radical move for Windows, would be an option allowing window shading/rollups. This is one feature I, personally, have a hard to living without. I understand it is thought that this confuses users so perhaps a control panel setting registry tweak to turn it on.

    In general I would request that experimentation in window management by *nix and other platform window managers be examined. There are a lot of crazy ideas out there, some of which are useful.

  105. sorpigal says:


    I suggest that the Win key is the obvious mod key to use for window dragging. Hold Win, click anywhere within a window or a window’s decoration, drag to move. Alt is ‘traditional’ but may interfere with many things. Other than that I concur, this is another useful feature which could be harmlessly (IMO) added to Windows.

  106. pepe_ki says:

    One of a few features, which frustrates me a lot is the free use of setForegroundWindow API…

    I hate when a window steals a focus, while writing…

    I have tried the TweakUI from "PowerToys for WindowsXP", but it did not work…

    Obviously this should be fixed, but I can see a more intelligent solution, where I would define this rule (do not steal focus) on an application bases (or window title).



  107. bdodson says:

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much is explicit UI for multiple monitors. In particular, I’d like to have keyboard shortcuts that help me manage windows in multi-mon. I’m of the Alt-Space-x to maximize crowd, and i’d love to have a simple shortcut (Windows-<number key> perhaps) to move the active window to a different monitor.

    A particularly irksome scenario: I have media player in fullscreen mode on monitor 2 and click to open another window, which defaults to open on that monitor for some reason (probably the last closed thing). It opens behind the always-on-top media player. Once I figure out what happened, I have to take WMP out of fullscreen, move the window, and put it back.

    Additionally, I tend to keep dozens of windows open (based on your stats, apparently I’m rather unique in this), although most of them are maximized. It would be awesome if there were some shortcut key to open up a temporary workspace where I could use a set of windows, and then I could minimize or close the whole set (or even hibernate – which would be incredibly awesome).

    I’ve tried to write such a system myself, but the window management APIs were a little lacking (the examples of multi-desktop app managers I can find just end up hiding and showing windows, which has bad side effects).

  108. killeraardvark says:

    A simple start menu and task bar for each monitor would be awesome.  It would allow you to open up apps for that monitor only and having the task bar on that monitor would allow you to know what is on that monitor.

    Also would be cool if you could add two mice to the system and lock mouse 1 to monitor one and mouse two to monitor two and so on.  

    Also if you are in a window it would be nice to have a send to monitor button.

  109. killeraardvark says:

    One more thing.  If you could right click on a icon and there was a option that would let you choose which monitor to go to would be nice also.

  110. Eghost says:

    After surviving the beta’s of Vista I have learned one thing.  You need choice, not everyone wants the same flavor, Vista is the same flavor, no choice. Ribbons are fine if you like them, many people don’t.  Again give us a choice, allow more easily customizations to the UI.  There are many companies out there who are willing to sell add on products to allow users to customize the UI to suite their needs. Microsoft failed to do this in Vista, they are still failing to do this in the IE 8 beta, If you go over to the blogs of IE8 there is no mention or even discussion on the UI, it is locked in, it is what it is, and that is a mistake.  That’s my only hope for the UI, allow users a choice, if we want to use an xp style UI so be it that is our choice, if want to use a vista style, or a ribbon, or want tab’s in explorer, we should have a choice.  Do I believe Microsoft will do this, No I believe it will be the same walls they put up in Vista, and they continue to put up the same wall in the IE 8 beta, It will be this is the way you will do it and you don’t have a choice. That is why I like your new advertisement, "Life with out walls" I just would like to see Microsoft walk the talk. If anything your do to many six sigma projects and over annualized the UI. Just leave the UI open enough to allow other companies to give your customers the CHOICE they should have…      

  111. novan_leon says:

    How about this:

    – Multiple virtual desktops

    – Dragging a window to the edge of your monitor would automatically cause you to scroll to the parallel virtual desktop, allowing you to simulate multiple monitors (sort of) with a single monitor and manage your applications per virtual desktop via drag-n-drop.

    – Dedicated task bar for each virtual desktop

    – "Snap to Grid" style feature allowing window dimensions to automatically snap to the edge of the monitor and to an invisible grid (similiar to Visio) for easy Window resizing.

  112. Vistaline says:

    No one mentioning having to have a Window in focus to interact with it using the mouse wheel? It’s not exactly window-management but I like being able to scroll with my mouse wheel on inactive windows, Ubuntu does this and I think it works very well. It makes things like the file tree (in navigation) much more usable.

  113. CRMMario says:

    Exposé is a good approach, the argument than when the number of windows increase is not valid because the medium user open 6 windows at same time and with this quantity expose works well, very more useful than flip 3D

  114. burgesjl says:

    Some windows need to be big and some need to be small. Example: a window for the Calculator app never needs to be full screen. It might need re-scaling to be readable, but thats all. Arguably, its better to have them as a gadget in the Sidebar rather than a full-blown app. This applies to lots of utilities and applets or monitoring functions. My biggest problem is working with apps like Excel and Powerpoint. Many times, I want to be working on one document while referring to another. Its almost impossible to do. If you’ve got multiple Powerpoint windows open at the same time, trying to switch between them is a nightmare. I think the answer has to be with a configurable ‘dock’. In this case, you setup how many docking locations you want and their layout, and how many active locations you want and their layout. For instance, 2 tiled vertically or horizontally as active, and the others in a ribbon say on the right side as smaller windows/rectangles, still large enough to view the content of the window but not able to interact with it. To activate or deactivate, either click & drag the smaller window docked to the larger active window (which puts the currently active window in place in the dock) or click the active window and somehow select which smaller window you want. The current tab concept for example in IE forces you to switch from one full screen to another full screen and back again, so you can’t see both at the same time. I think users want to control the layout, and its hard to do. I also think users get frustrated with z-order. If you think about a messy desk, the most annoying thing is having to locate your document, which you know is there somewhere, within the z-order. Follow that analogy. Typically, you start at the top and then have to lift and look, re-select the next layer, lift again. Transparency doesn’t actually help. Example: the old film based slides you used to use with a projector. Find the one you want in a stack of those transparencies, its impossible. At work, I’ll have an enterprise app (possibly multiple windows/sessions) like SAP, a Word or Powerpoint doc, and Excel doc (or several) and my email client open all at the same time. Thats typically a LOT more than 6 windows.

  115. PeanutGallary says:

    One feature that would be awesome is alt-tab with intellisense.

    This means you hit alt tab, start typing FI and then all programs except FIrefox, FIlezilla etc… is automaticly filtered away.

    Look at quicksilver for OSX and you’ll get the idea.

  116. gonzc900 says:

    Please rethink the text only toolbar. Best way to do this is by having it USER customizable, like it was from 95 up to XP.Now I wont recommend going back to the old boxy toolbar, keep it slim, but offer 3 views: Text only, Text + icons and icons only. This way everyone will be happy and we can change them on the fly or even to certain folders. Being able to add what we want to the toolbar is a must, as well as WHERE on the toolbar. If I want e-mail to be first and open last, let me chose that. Alow us to also change the color. This can really work well with the libary feature to, color coding "centers" thouhg it might cause confusion for some.

    For me, I would like to have all my media (music, pictures, videos etc) to be under a folder thats colored eirther ruby red, Navy/royale blue or black. A simple color picker will do just fine and users can label their folders if they wish or simply "hide" the color picker or even turn it off via control pannel.

    Now the current formatt as seen in the leaked shots is fine for the out of the box experience, but alow the end user to chose how they want their systems to run.

  117. gonzc900 says:

    one more thing, Since your cleaning up the UI in windows 7, please keep in mind not to make it to clean to the point where everything seems washed out.  Windows live mail beta is a fine example of a washed out UI.

    so please take my last comment in to consideration. We need more customazation in explorer, that includes being able to change the color so it wont be all washed out.

  118. alpha-centauri says:


    I liked the article. Just to give you some ideas of my workflow:

    I often use my fav 2 programs side to side: Left, Firefox, Right Skype, chatting with friends.

    So, lets just do one step with windows xp:

    Try, to put Firefox, using 3/4 of the space, and skype 1/4 with at least effort as possible?

    Thats a hassle!

    Well, you can click the 2 taskbar buttons with CTRL, and let windows display them side to side.

    But in most cases, that wont work. Skype is somewhere, FF is somewhere overlapping skype, and so on..

    Like me  too, I own a 22" with lots of space. Most time, I don’t have more than 2 or 3 apps on top.

    Also a Nice way would be to have a bar between 2 programs, so that you just would have to press on bar to resize two windows.

    Just imagine the example with FF/Skype, having to touch 2 apps.

    And the next one: Like you mentioned: Most apps miss a "reading layout". You really dont want to surf with a 22" and 1680×1050 Browsing Window.

  119. Eghost says:

    The more photo shots I see of Windows 7 the more I realize, Windows 7 is just Vista warmed over, again no choice, it’s Microsoft way or nothing. The Tool bar, ADDRESS BAR, Menu bar, Icon Bar need to all be customizable. Someone anyone explain to me why do won’t you allow customizations to the ADDRESS BAR? Microsoft you started this in the beta’s of Vista and IE 7 and you will not give in on this!  WHY? Why is it forbidden to change the address bar?  The address bar is a huge WALL THAT MICROSOFT KEEPS ON PUTTING UP. It’s in Vista, it’s in IE 7, it’s in IE  8, and now it looks as it is the same Windows 7, and again WHY?

    In closing, I defy anyone from Microsoft to answer WHY THE ADDRESS BAR IS FORBIDDEN TO BE MOVED OR CHANGED?   I know in IE 8 you can make the search bar bigger, wow! I want to be able to completely customize the ADDRESS BAR as I could in pre Vista incarnations of Windows, again how is that wrong?  Microsoft STOP PUTTING UP WALLS……    

  120. gonzc900 says:

    I agree with eghost, but remember this is still in development so things could change.

    I also want more control over how I use my computer. Microsoft thinks its cool for them to lock everything down and have no customzation whats so ever,

    if you dont want another vista then change your attatude and listen to us customers microsoft.

  121. Asesh says:

    I agree with divinglog. Child windows in MDI applications look so sick (Vista basic theme) when Aero is enabled. Make the child windows use Aero too. Make windows 7 themes use sleeker interface rather than that sick Vista basic theme

  122. dunski says:

    I think I posted a comment about this in the wrong place!

    When using multiple screens (in extend my desktop across both screens mode) I would like to see a display option to extend the taskbar across all screens. Also with this set up it would be good if the taskbar tabs for programs are on the screen in which they are open (if that makes sense!).

    ie I have Word open in my left hand screen so the taskbar tab for that is on my left hand screen in the usual place but I also have Outlook open on my right hand screen so the taskbar tab for that one is in the extended taskbar on the right hand screen, rather than in the lefthand screen.

    I think this would be quite intuative.

  123. dunski says:

    further to my post just above.

    One major annoyance in Vista for me is the amount of clutter in Windows Explorer ie a lot of screen space is taken up by menus and dead space ie huge icons, wide empty borders.

    It would be very nice to have a minimal look for a change. If you’re working on a laptop say 1280×800 screen (which is fairly standard) you loose a lot of vertical working space very quickly.

  124. Tanveer Badar says:

    I seriously don’t like that way windows lose transparency when maximized. I have resorted to manually maximizing my apps within a margin of 10 pixel from each side so that they don’t lose transparency and I also get the shadow around the edges.

    There should be a policy to enable/disable the currently enforced behavior.

  125. guinness says:

    Just please, Please PUHLEESE remember the reason many (most) end-users are buying Macs today.  It looks cool, it feels DIFFERENT, and this implies innovation.  Please fols, give us something that feels 2010 and not something that looks like just another version of Windows.  Otherwise, prepare to feel the wrath of Apple, Google, IBM, and everyone else looking to replace the tired old desktop.  Windows is smart, powerful, and has amazing features ofr the IT Pro and Developer….but this does nothing for the end-user or the father who is looking to buy a new laptop for his son, daughter, mother etc.  Please give this market a simple, intuitive, and FAST interface that shows that Microsoft can innovate.

  126. aelij says:

    Non-standard DPIs are still not working properly in Vista. The DWM scaling is certainly an improvement, but some apps just don’t work well with it (dragging, for example, can make the mouse go crazy).

    When working with an HDTV (1080p) and higher-resolution screens this is crucial. You can’t read what’s on the screen unless you switch to a higher DPI.

    I would love to see improvements in this area in Windows 7.

  127. Lenen says:

    I think you guys are doing a hell of a job! Good work!

  128. JKJK says:


    Make it possible to minimize the windows volume mixer again!

  129. anuragkalia says:


    i don’t like the idea of current window dominating the others. if we have to write something off from another window to word document, for example, i have to resize both of them. what is much easier is that i maximise the word document and type into it. plus, the other window i’m writing off from can have an ‘always on top’ option in the context menu of title bar alongwith close, maximise etc.

    it can make our time consumption very less and provide more space for me to write on.

    also, i don’t exactly know if such an option exists in windows, but if it is buried inside somewhere, please make it visible!

  130. anuragkalia says:

    Also, i would like to have control how much we want to maximise our window. we can have an option which shows us how much our window will gain space after we maximise it. And we can change it, make it somewhat more or less according to our needs. it’ll enable users to have an area upto which the window will maximise and still have some space around to see, for example, gadgets that one, otherwise, can’t see.

  131. Tobias Schmidbauer says:

    I would like to be able to customize the glass color per application. Besides fun and aesthetics, this would be a great way to distinguish windows.

  132. jean123 says:

    I would like to be able to designate a default width for ‘maximize’ and then have a button to override this that would use the full width of the screen.  I would use the ‘ultramax’ for wide spreadsheets but nothing else.

  133. Sparax says:

    I would like to see the right pane of the startmenu drag and dropable so you can customise the order in which the menu items are displayed.

  134. cirurgia plastica says:

    I always found the cascading / tiling options to work the wrong way round mentally: you have to open the windows and then tile them, however mentally you decide to tile something then worry about the windows involved. So it would make sense perhaps to rework around that notion. Also in vista it’s possible to select two tasks from the task bar, but when i then decide to show side by side or stack them then my selected tasks are not used but the current open windows.

    As a power user, another issue i’m constantly fighting with is keeping an overview of / managing more than 10 or so windows. It takes progressively more time than I’d like to find the right button to click on, and the taskbar is only useful when docked to the side in this scenario, otherwise space runs out.

    Rather than virtual desktops I think windows should be grouped by task and then one should be able to cycle through all windows belonging to one task. Some real time strategy games do a good job of organizing many similar objects.

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