Action Center

We’re back! We’ve had a pretty incredible couple of weeks at the PDC and WinHEC. Based on what we talked about you can imagine we are all rather busy as we transition from milestone 3 to beta. We trust many of you are enjoying 6801 (or perhaps we should say 6801+). Over the next few weeks we’re going to start posting on the engineering and design of the specifics of different aspects of Windows 7 that we’ve talked about. Some posts will be very detailed and others will be a bit more high level and cover more territory. In all cases, we’ll be watching the comments carefully and also looking for opportunities on follow up posts. Thank you!

One of the big themes of Windows 7 from a design perspective (as you might have seen in Sam’s PDC session and certainly a topic we have talked about here) is making sure that you are “in control” of what is happening on your PC. This post, by senior program manager Sean Gilmour, is about “notifications” or the balloon popups that come from the system tray. In Vista we offered some controls over this area and in Windows 7 we have worked hard to make this an area that defaults to more well-behaved functionality and is also much more tunable to your needs. By improving how Windows itself uses the APIs and “guidelines” we want to encourage other ISVs to do the same. This topic is a great example of how the whole ecosystem comes into the picture as well and so we hope developers reading this will see the passion around the topic and the desire for software on Windows to take the steps necessary to honor the your intent. --Steven

The notification area has been talked about a couple times in previous posts (User Interface: Starting, Launching, and Switching and Follow-up: Starting, Launching, and Switching). This post is going to go into a bit more detail regarding notification balloons as well as one of the ways we’re working to quiet the system in Window 7.

Where We're At Today

Windows can be a busy place – with many things vying for your attention, even while you’re trying to do work. One we hear a lot about from you is the system notification balloons – those little pop-ups that appear above icons in the notification area (typically right side of the taskbar near the clock). In this post I’ll be talking to notifications sent utilizing Shell_NotifyIcon function provided in Windows, not custom notifications, often called “toast”, like the notifications presented by many applications (some like Outlook even from Microsoft). We see these in instant messenger programs, printer notifications, auto updaters, wifi and Bluetooth utilities, and more – these often use custom methods to present these “balloons” from the system tray, not necessary the Windows API. People have made their feelings loud and clear – Windows is too noisy and the noise distracts from the work at hand. Here are some quotes from the Windows Feedback Panel that illustrate that point.

“Too many notification messages, esp. re: security (eg. Firewall), activation”

“Notifications telling me my system is secure, when I know it is secure, are annoying”

“I'm tired of error messages and pop ups.”

And some posts from the blog discussions

@Jalf writes “Having 20 icons and a balloon notification every 30th second taking up space at the taskbar where it's *always* taking up space is just not cool.

@Lyesmith writes “The single biggest annoyance in the taskbar is notification balloons.”

So how noisy is the system? First a quick definition - a ‘session’ is the period of time between log-on and log-off or 24 hours whichever is shorter. As you can see from the following chart, 60% of sessions experience at least one notification. That doesn’t sound all that bad, but if you dig a bit deeper you realize that 37% of sessions see two or more notifications and 25% of sessions see three or more notifications. That’s a lot of distractions interrupting your work.

Number of notification sent per session as a percentage of total sessions - August through September, 2008 

Figure 1: Number of notification sent per session as a percentage of total sessions - August through September, 2008

So we know how much noise notifications create but how effective are notifications? Well, as the following chart, notification click-through rate shows the more notifications the less effective they become.

Notification click-through rate - August through September, 2008

Figure 2: Notification click-through rate - August through September, 2008

So, as shown in the above chart, used sparingly and in the right context, notification balloons can be rather useful. Unfortunately, that isn’t what is happening today. Instead the notification area often feels like a constant scrolling billboard of messages some important, many not. So what’s the answer? It’s a big area to tackle – there are system notifications, third party notification, and custom notifications. For Windows 7 we chose to focus on making sure Windows and its in-box components notify you responsibly and don’t contribute to the noise in the system. Ideally the ISV community will follow suit and as you’ve seen in some sessions, we’re doing this work in Windows Live for example. One of the reasons we focused internally was data showing that Windows components are responsible for at least 28% of the notifications presented. Additionally, we were able to identify seven Windows components that are mostly responsible for that noise. In all, 20 applications account for 62% of the notifications presented. The following chart shows the break-out.

Which software accounts for notifications - August through September, 2008

Figure 3: Which software accounts for notifications - August through September, 2008


Windows 7

Our effort to quiet the system and make sure you are in control took the following approach:

  • Working across Windows 7 to reduce unnecessary notifications

  • Put you in control of the notifications you see

  • Creating Action Center with the following goals

    • Reduce the number of notification balloons sent to you and make the ones that are sent more meaningful

    • Provide a contextual way to address the issues with a single click

    • Reduce the user-interface clutter in the system to streamline solving system issues

While there are many other efforts going around notifications and the notification area I’m going to focus on Action Center. In a nutshell, Action Center is a central location for dealing with messages about your system and the starting point for diagnosing and solving issues with your system. You can think of Action Center as a message queue displaying the items that need your attention that you can manage on your schedule. It serves as an aggregate for ten components in Windows Vista that contributed a large number of somewhat questionably effective notification balloons, but notifications that could not just be eliminated. At the heart of the Action Center effort is the idea that your time is extremely valuable it should never be wasted. To that end we took three steps.

First we looked hard at the messages we were sending and worked to reduce balloons and clarify messages. We took the following steps:

  • Putting messages into one of two categories – normal or important. Normal messages simply appear in the Action Center control panel. Important messages send a notification balloon as well as appearing in the Action Center.

  • Setting a high bar for important messages. A message is only deemed important if the security of the system or the integrity of your data is at risk.

  • Reducing the frequency of notifications so that you’re not seeing them pop-up “all the time”

  • Looking at all the messages and asking the hard questions –“is this something you really need to know about?”

The last filter led to our second step. We decided that all messages need to have an action associated with them - a solution, if you will, to whatever problem we were presenting to you. This meant cutting any FYI, Action Success, and Confirmation messages. It also meant that the way we presented these messages would be action based. For example, we replaced, “Antivirus is out of date”, with “Update Antivirus Signatures.” We believe that we should let people know specifically how to resolve an issue instead of making them guess or read lots of text. This is the heart of the other goal of Action Center – to help people solve system issues quickly and conveniently.

Finally, we designed the user experience (UX) of the Action Center in two parts. The first and most immediately visible is system icon in the notification area, which is a "lighthouse" in 6801. In the spirit of our efforts, this icon replaces five notification area icons from Vista, further reducing the clutter and noise in the system. The lighthouse icon provides a high level view of the number of messages in Action Center and their importance. It also has a fly-out menu on single left click which lists the four most recent notifications and supports you acting on messages contextually. We give the people the ability to click on a notification in that fly-out menu and immediately go to the UI to solve the issue. Again, the focus is solving issues instead of simply notifying.

Action Center notification area icon and fly-out menu

Figure 4: Action Center notification area icon and fly-out menu

The second part of the UX is the control panel, which builds upon the icon and fly-out by serving as a repository for all messages as well as providing more details about the issue and the solution. It is also action based so the layout emphasizes messages and the corresponding solutions with even more detail. Additional actions are available if you expand the UI to view them. Finally, we know that we won’t always have messages about the issues a person might be having on their machine. To make sure you can solve those issues, we provide top level links to Troubleshooter and Recovery options.

Action Center Control Panel with a few messages queued up

Figure 5: Action Center Control Panel with a few messages queued up

Action Center boils down to understanding that your time is valuable and that it is your PC you want to control, not be controlled by your PC. We reduced messages, focused on solving issues not just telling you about them, and streamlined the experience so you can focus on what you what to do not want Windows needs you to do. We are aiming to get most sessions down to zero notifications from Windows itself. This reduction in notifications could significantly increase the possibility that the notification balloon will be effective in delivering its message and prompting user action as shown in the Figure 2 (notification click through).

We will of course be evangelizing to ISV the goal of following this direction and reducing notification balloons – and we believe we’ve taken the first steps to making Windows a quieter place. Hopefully you will find it less distracting and easier to work with.

Sean Gilmour, senior program manager

Comments (112)
  1. Puckdropper says:

    Is there a mechanism to turn off the balloon notification of specific messages?  Every time I log in or return from screen saver, my mouse/touchpad driver tells me the touchpad was disabled because I have an external mouse plugged in.  (Well duh, it’s here right next to the computer.)  Life would be a little bit better if I could get rid of that message.

  2. mynetx says:

    @Puckdropper: In 6.1.6801, you have a small tool icon left to the balloon close icon. You may press it to define which notifications to show and which to hide.

  3. AllTheGoodNamesAreInUse says:

    Perhaps a good step. The need for a user to make windows behave, kinda shows that it’s not behaving?

    On step two, actions, I would make it REALLY clear to the user which actions are focused on longterm solutions.

    What I mean is, watching computer literate but not knowledgeable people everyday with vista for instance. Some actions are future-proof such as UAC removal. Some, are intended to be, but are not. This would be stuff like the need to renegotiate wireless connections on each resume on a laptop.  Or something being reset by local or group policy on each boot, or network login.

    So, for a let’s say gadget-like environment of actions, there should be an option for popups and recurring user events to "wish" for actions, or complain about the functionality of actions.

    This would then lead to a base of actions and knowledge articles or help regarding each action and the actionality of actions, where users in a domain would always upon registering unhappiness with needing to redo actions, be notified that this may be due to group policies re-setting their precious actions.

    Because, if the action you take does not have the desired effect in making something annoying go away, then the # of actions per session will always remain the same on the same version of vista + the same hardware, with the same drivers and programs.

    Logically, from a "computer literate but not more" level person, an action should only be done once to make something go away, and in the case of WLAN resume needing to reconnect to the same only defined secure network on each resume, say 3-4 times should make it clear to windows what is required. Or at least ask the user if recurrence is desired.

    Security with these actions, as always, is really tricky. One recalls the office wizard vulnerability that allowed user helping wizards to do anything to one’s computer.

  4. martinhn says:

    Do you encourage developers to use (new?) Windows APIs to add messages to Action Center as well?

  5. Paralityk says:

    All that sounds nice… but in the last picture

    We clearly see what we don’t want to see…

    At the end of the installation (of Windows) you choose which way your computer should be updated. You know what you choose – so why there is a notification?

    Same with UAC you know you disabled it (though it’s really hard for novice users to find it in Control Panel) so again why there is a notification?

    And a little bit OT:

    "Reduce the user-interface >>clutter in the system<< to streamline solving system issues"

    Let’s do something with Control Panel… Cause for now there is a big mess…

    PS. "We trust many of you are enjoying 6801 (or perhaps we should say 6801+)" Yea I’m happy with it 😉

  6. says:

    if i understand that right …will we see baloons now as messages in Action Center?

    will you ad settings to the AC to dsable just the baloons of an app, i have seen in the beta that you just can disable icon+baloons, just icon, or show up baloons+icon…but i like to see: "Hide baloons and show just the icon" becouse some infos like the Live Messengar is still running arent intresting….

  7. d_e says:

    "It also meant that the way we presented these messages would be action based. For example, we replaced, “Antivirus is out of date”, with “Update Antivirus Signatures.” We believe that we should let people know specifically how to resolve an issue instead of making them guess or read lots of text."

    This was the most important part of the whole article for me. My mom doesn’t understand what it means when Windows had to restart (parts of) the graphics driver.

    This is the way to go!

    One problem I have with the new action center is that it represents another way to make changes. There are IMHO too many task panes, security centers, links, control panel applets, action centers, tips, network centers, …. It would be great to reduce the amount of all those things. But I do realize that this is very hard to do.

  8. Asesh says:

    I am happy with the balloon notifications that Vista shows in the system tray. It’s def. not annoying for me. No comments 🙂

  9. noticias says:

    I think it’s very important to reduce unnecessary notifications especially for people who don’t understand computers. But it’s important to enable for professionals more notifications to be shown.

  10. even says:

    I think it’s a good thing that you’re fixing this. There’s nothing more annoying than having a message pop up telling me that I am now connected to the nettwork, when what I’d rather want to know is if I ever become unconnected, and then have an option to reconnect or other solutions.

  11. gkeramidas says:

    how about the dialog that automatically appears 5 minutes after dismissing the reboot following a windows update that requires a restart? has this been changed?

    i know i’ve been burned because i have intellipoint set to move the pointer to the default button. i’ll be working on completing a project before i restart. i’ll move the mouse to make a selection, this dialog pops up, intercepts my click and all my programs shut down and the system is restarted.

  12. says:

    Yeah,Windows7 is batter than vista.Although,I just a student.But I think I should follow you.

    And I have a question.Why I could install   Audio/video driver for windowsXP on windows7

    But vista driver couldn’t.Does windows7 support it???But I think it’s good for everyone

    that windwos7 support more things….

  13. dstgroup says:

    How about the most annoying noise of all; Error messages in Windows Explorer. I think we have all clicked on the CD drive by accident, only to have an annoying pop up tell you there is no disk in the drive. These kinds of messages should be shown in the files pane etc and not lock the UI and force you to click OK.

  14. network82 says:

    I think the important thing is that the End User OR Network Administrator can decide how to display these notifications.

    I think defaultly they should appear, but we can turn them to a minimal state..

    For example, maybe an icon on the task barindicating how many message/notifications are outstanding, and we can double click the icon and troll threw them.

    Also they shoud appear in the event log.

    allot of applications such as admin utils and anti-virus/malware/etc applications use the windows bubble notifications, so it would be good to get them using this concept too.

    The Thing that really annoyes me is the Unused Icons on your desktop message, It would be good to turn that thing off.. i put icons on my desktop because i’m organised and what them there…!

  15. boen_robot says:


    You do know that "Unused Icons on your desktop" can be disabled, right? And I believe this functionality is already gone in Vista actually.

  16. PsironTech says:

    Looks good in 6801 (superbar unlocked).

    @network82 – Definitely.  They need to do the same with UAC.  The 6801 defaults for UAC are *way* to lenient, hopefully that’s juts a PDC/dev-build thing.

  17. PsironTech says:

    @d_e – One of the largest criticisms of Vista was that they "dumbed it down" way too much by removing a lot of that configuration functionality (or at the very least buried it so deep you had to hunt for it).

    They seem to be trying to find a compromise that won’t be quite as drastic.  

    Some people think the new control panel is cluttered…Those people should use the "new" control panel.  Those of us wanting more options should use the "classic" control panel.  It’s all about letting users decide how they want it, and making it work for both.

  18. domenico says:

    Nice Work!

    Go team go and PLS super PLS

    Pubblic beta for this X-MAS

  19. UserOfManyOperatingSystems says:


    I disagree.   If network admins have control over what notifications pop up, then they will drive their users nuts.  You should never give an admin control over your computer’s interface.  I’m sure that many admins will decide NOT to disable notifications, and then set a policy where you can’t change it.  Then the users will be annoyed by the notifications constantly.

    I’ve had admins who would not even let me remove shortcuts to files that I had no interest in from my desktop, because "all users had to have the same desktop".

  20. PsironTech says:

    @UserOfManyOperatingSystems –

    The point isn’t to drive users nuts.  The point is to streamline, standardize, and generally make things easier for everyone.

    What happens when you’ve deleted all of the standard icons on your desktop and someone else needs to use your computer?  The icons are gone.  Now it either needs to be reloaded or someone has to sit there and recreate all the icons you deleted.

    It may suck from a desktop user point of view, but then again, it’s a company workstation, not your desktop.  🙂

  21. kckabob says:

    Not sure if this is an issue with windows 7 or not but it is with xp/vista. While giving a power point presentation and being in front of an audience and having notifications popup on top of the presentation is incredibly annoying and I can’t believe a case where microsoft controls the OS and the program [powerpoint] would let that happen so easily.

  22. says:

    Looks good so far, but can we get 7 on MSDN please? Early access to software is why we pay for it 🙂

  23. ncgloy says:

    If the overall goal is to reduce unnecessary notifications, doesn’t the Windows Update message shown in the example contradict that ?

    It says "Windows Update is set to check with you before downloading and installing updates."  Why is it necessary to show this message to the user ?  What is the user supposed to do in response ?  The only response to that message that I can think of is "So what ???"

    This seems like an example of exactly the kind of useless annoying messages that you’re supposedly trying to get rid of !  It is just filler that drowns out other messages that may actually be important.

  24. PsironTech says:

    @NCGLOY –

    Uh, dude?

    That was a screenshot of the "Action Center", where one would enable or disable certain pop-ups.  It is not a pop-up itself, but a configuration applet.

    You can disable notifications of this nature (and I have) by clicking the blue link under that message you quoted stating "turn off messages about windows update".

    Neat, huh?

  25. ncgloy says:


    It says "Review recent messages and resolve problems.  Action Center has detected one or more issues for you to review."  Below that are the messages/issues.  One of them is that you have to restart and one of them is "Windows Update blah blah blah".

    Those are the actual messages that the user is supposed to be reviewing.  It is not merely a configuration screen for turning things off.

    So somebody thought that the Windows Update notification is a useful message that the user should be forced to review.  Yes, I can turn it off, but why is it there in the first place ?

  26. LCARS says:

    This is a WONDERFUL change that will indeed make Windows less noisy.

    On an unrelated note, I would like to see Windows 7 include richer APIs for interacting with the window manager. It would be great if you could allow developers to extend it so they can write their own Flip3D/Expose style window switching methods. I am certain the community would bring forth a number of innovative ideas.

    Also, is it possible to use the window preview APIs to host a window preview which includes the custom interactive elements. For example, the play and pause buttons for Windows Media Player.

    Keep up the good work, Wi

  27. LCARS says:

    This is a WONDERFUL change that will indeed make Windows less noisy.

    On an unrelated note, I would like to see Windows 7 include richer APIs for interacting with the window manager. It would be great if you could allow developers to extend it so they can write their own Flip3D/Expose style window switching methods. I am certain the community would bring forth a number of innovative ideas.

    Also, is it possible to use the window preview APIs to host a window preview which includes the custom interactive elements. For example, the play and pause buttons for Windows Media Player.

    Keep up the good work, Windows 7 looks awesome.

  28. LCARS says:

    Hmm… so my hand brushed the trackpad and accidentally set focus to the submit button as I was typing. Then I pressed the spacebar key and well…

    Sorry for the double post. :p

  29. marcinw says:

    I still don’t understand one thing. Why can’t I simply press with right mouse button on EXE file in Explorer (or in icon representing run application in TaskBar), click "Properties" menu option and check/uncheck two options:

    1. don’t display icons created by application in Notification Area

    2. don’t display notifications created by application in Notification Area

    and check last few notification messages

    (it can be some addition to proposed by you solution)

  30. PsironTech says:

    @ncgloy –

    The original quote you posted was in the Action Center…not the pop-up.

    It is warning you that a restart is necessary and that your setting for Automatic updates is not the "recommended" (automatic) setting. It is also giving you the option to set it to no longer inform you of those issues.

    The pop-up is there because, by default, all notifications are enabled.

    This is quite a jump from the past where you would have gotten *multiple* pop-ups and would have had to disable *all* security center warnings in order to get rid of them.

    Having them disabled by default would be a bigger issue because the vast majority of users would never know where to look to enable them, or that it was even an option.

  31. marcinw says:

    generally speaking you could make WIndows much more simple, when every object will have Properties in right mouse button menu (the same it could be very good to join COmputer Management and COntrol Panel and have one central place for managing system)

  32. marcinw says:

    I’m looking once again into Action Center picture and asking: why can’t we have simple one big window in style similar to used in Excel/Word 2007 options windows and tree with options on the left:

    1. Printers

    2. Power Options

    3. Disk management

    4. Device Manager

    5. Network Connections

    6. TaskBar

    7. Sounds

    etc. etc.

    and detailed options on the right. It will be joined Control Panel, Computer Management and thousands of other dialogs. Why ? Too difficult to implement ?

    Currently (in Vista and WIn7) we need to jump from window to window…

  33. ncgloy says:


    I agree the Action Center is a big improvement, for exactly the reasons you describe.

    I was merely complaining about the (unrelated) issue that some Windows component generates a useless notification message about Windows Update settings. Yes, Action Center can be used to suppress that annoying notification in the future.

  34. PsironTech says:

    @marcinw –

    I *LOVE* that idea.

    For Win7, they should make that optional: Current(default), Classic, Tree.

    That would be spectacular.  Not having to open and close a million different windows to configure your system would be a *HUGE* benefit.

    Are you listening devs?  This *right here* will stop a thousand MSFT trolls in their tracks.  Heck, even make it a hidden registry unlock so normal users never see it.  

    That is an exceptional idea, marcinw!

  35. brockh says:

    Hey Stephen and Sean.

    It’s great that you guys are outlining the process of developing Windows 7 in this blog and I hope you continue to do so throughout its lifetime and for your future projects.

    I’ve been avidly using Windows 7 6801 (+ even, :D) since PDC2008 and it’s spectacular. I’d like to start off by saying I loved Vista and used it since its beta version as well, but this is easily trumps it in the quality of code and UX already.

    I don’t have much time to type, but I’d like to offer a suggestion: integrate tabs (akin to Internet Explorer for example) into the explorer shell. Not only will this increase the UX and efficiency of many tasks greatly, as well as fit in to the new task bars concept nicely. I’d imagine this would be relatively easy to implement and would be immensely popular. I’d love to help see you implement it and help you refine it along with the other innovations I’m sure you’re going to introduce. 🙂

    Another question quickly also, are the gadgets (previously sidebar gadgets) going to be more closely integrated with explorer, or is the functionality (still sidebar.exe in 6801) just going to be renamed and made more efficient?

    Hope to hear your response and/or comments. 🙂

  36. cym104 says:

    Try this 3rd party soft: QT Tab Bar

  37. yopmaster says:

    I do not have the opportunity to use the Windows 7 pre-beta so I’m sorry if some issues I point out there are already solved.

    Action center seems nice but the biggest problem is not the balloon system. It is the messages themselves, in two ways:

    – the "so what" messages, like the one of Windows Update (why should it disturb me to recall the way I configured it ?)

    – messages which appear again and again

    So being able to deactivate a ballon is good (for third-party applications which displays messages like "hey dude I’m here !") but it is not enough:

    – we should be able to have settings like "show it once" and "do not allow successive messages separated by less than XX minutes"

    – Windows in itself should avoid all those pointless notifications. The message we have from Windows Update should NOT appear (but it is OK to show an emphasized text in the Windows Update panel)

    – notifications like "you are connected to the network" should be there but less invasive (like a 75% transparent area on the bottom of the screen). In effect, current system adds a new icon in the already crowded notification area, which changes the layout of the task bar, then makes a balloon appear, sometime slowly

    This last point leads us to the next point: the notification area is always too crowded: every applications want to be there (who use it to launch Nero seriously ?). It might be cool to not only hide them with the too-small icon, but also to delete them using a manager like the Action Center (deleted icons being accessible via this manager in last resort)

    Another subject which has be pointed out in comments is the control panel, which is a big problem in windows in my point of view, and especially with Vista. I have two screens at work and every time I want to unplug or re-plug it (by the way, why is it not automatic like on my MacBook Pro ?) I have to think: where is this f#$@*ng option ?

    i)  I hate the "dumb view" because there is too many text and some options are very far from the welcome panel (but I like the classification)

    ii) The "classic view" is a mess for many reasons:

    – a lot of unsorted icons. Why not separate them into category (via meta-data) ?

    – all icons look the same, in the way they have a lot of colors and a lot of idioms. How am I suppose to differentiate between the "User account" and "Parental control", or between "Internet options" and "Regional options" at a first glance (and there is a lot of other examples) ?

    – some icons are sometime too abstract for me: what is the link between "Ease of access" and its icon ?

    – options do sometime have obscure names:

    why resolution options are in "personalization" (of what ??)

    what does "System" or worse "Program and feature" means ?

    why can’t I set up my sound driver and voice recognition options in "sound" ?

    – some simple actions are sometime very hard to do. For instance, where can I get the information about my IP ? (I usually use the command line "ipconfig")

    Windows is very powerful and has a lot of functionalities, by if we can not use them they are pointless I think.

    By the way, when I see the motivation of the team (partially through this blog) I ams sure than Windows 7 will be a great product. Good luck !

  38. M.Hassaan says:

    I’m with "d_e" about reducing the number of all those "centers" across the system, its somehow annoying for some users to have all those "centers" around, they may even consider the system "hard to use" – and I already know 2 of those people – because of the number of the "centers" they have to deal with, so if you can do something about it, it would be great.

  39. Knipoog says:

    Can and will anyone from Microsoft react on this article?

    It states that w7 is as slow as Vista, with a almost similar kernrel, etc etc.

    That is not the w7 I hoped for!

    Regards Knipoog

  40. steven_sinofsky says:

    @Knipoog — no need to take our word for it, check out the comments on the article. I think it is more valuable to let the experience everyone else is having speak, rather than to make first party claims (especially at the pre-beta stage where I think we can all agree benchmarks are probably premature).


  41. Vistaline says:

    Really, who reviews a pre-beta? I’d, at very least, wait for the beta release to do some benchmarking or testing of any kinda. While I (and likely many others) honestly believe Microsoft won’t be making any large gains in performance or resource usage for Windows 7, you don’t see anyone using 6801 to say Windows 7 sucks for a reason: it’s not even beta. They’re probably counting more on Velocity and technology improving over time. You can actually hear people noting faster navigation but no word has come down about applications, nothing from trustworthy sources, at least.

    …did anyone notice he mentioned MinWin?

  42. UserOfManyOperatingSystems says:

    submitting seems to always dump me to the main blog page for some comments, but not for others.  Huh?

  43. domenico says:


    THIS IS PRE-FUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pls Mr. Steven pls Microsoft

    convened a meeting with THIS journalist of infoworld and Mark Russinovich

    hours throw water on the fire!!!!


  44. says:

    @Knipoog: I think the writer of this review is a Mac or Linux Fanboy…cant agree with any of the Problems he had…i was very surpried when i first started my Windows 7 6801…it was a jump of performance away from Vista(and Vista is not slow)…i see benchmarks of Games on 7 with the result of 10-15% more fps. Also i am very happy about the point that programms dont need to wait for devices, best example, the Explorer. Install Vista and 7 put the Vista DVD in the DVD Drive and open Explorer after reboot. In 7 you dont need to wait for that the OS is loading the DVD, in Vista the Explorer locks up and you need to wait for the DVD Drive to get ready…the Pre-Beta is good for Benchmarks…i start up a machine with just 250 MB of RAM in 1 1/2 minutes…i hope for a near public Beta…

  45. domenico says:

    @ TROLL journalist  who are passing here

    This is for you

    published this instead of doing FUD!!!

  46. domenico says:

    Dispel a myth : AKA No Mac zealots, Apple didn’t invent the dock

    journalist  published this, the people must know!


  47. Vistaline says:

    >>Ars CS4 review.

    I think the situation for OSX on large images will improve with CS5 when they get x64 support, not to mention by then OSX 10.6 should be released. If it’s an improvement over 10.5 (and Apple, I feel, is more likely to delivery on promises) it could probably edge out Windows on large images as well as small. Maybe CS5 will take advantage of DX11 and/or D2D but who knows, it would be a lot easier for Adobe to keep using OpenGL for platform compatibility and I think they’ll go that route.

    Notice CS4 has access to 228MB more memory on Vista x86 and 2776MB more in x64, by the way. Not that any of this matters. Just pick your platform of choice and use it. It doesn’t matter how many tens of thousands of times faster or more easy to use OSX is… or Windows, whichever way you want. 😛


    Does it matter? The dock was popularized by Apple and now its being used by Microsoft (someone who hasn’t used a dock-like interface in years). I can guarantee you the taskbar and jumplists will be brought up at this upcoming MacWorld and hilarity (a photocopier joke) will ensue. To stay positive (I’m trying not to totally berate Microsoft as a whole on each post), there are some interesting ideas coming out in Seven.

  48. domenico says:

    Hey Vistaline

    I no wait no matter the future,

    Photoshop 64 bit work awesome on Vista 64 ,

    The test was performed on a standard machine GPU

    We want to do a test with Nvidia Quadro for Windows? Example Nvidia Quadro 5800 FX

    What should be clear to all that is apple has never invented anything

    Stop off topic now

  49. PsironTech says:

    @Knipoog –

    I love you guys.  You’re constant entertainment is so enriching…

    Your issue:

    A pre-beta, development OS is *AS FAST AS* the current, released, production OS on the same hardware…

    …and this is a *bad* thing???

    What do you think might happen when they remove all of the debug code?

    …and really?  Using a video encoder (CPU benchmark) to bench an OS?  Really?

    Grow up already, kiddo.  The MS Trolls are already failing miserably at spreading FUD.

  50. AzuRe10 says:

    The concept of action center seems good. But are we trying to more complicate the UI through this? Instead categorizing the notifications and displaying a blinking icon with colors that indicate the severity of the notification at notification area. Instead of displaying some message alert the users using animations

  51. AzuRe10 says:

    The concept of action center seems good. But are we trying to more complicate the UI through this? Instead categorize the notifications and displaying a blinking icon with colors that indicate the severity of the notification at notification area. Instead of displaying some message alert the users using animations

  52. marcinw says:

    My few notes about article from

    First of all, Microsoft is corporation. We have low level employees, managers and managers for their managers. Now imagine, that managers on high level decide – our product needs feature X (they will do it from very various reasons). Low level employees will work hard on implementing it. Their managers will speak about progress, will create reports and will work hard too.

    Now imagine, that product must be released on time. Employees will do what they can, but product can be not the best.

    How can we estimate it ?

    Employees and their followers will do say only good things about product, their competition only bad.

    In my opinion new product is good only, when it gives more profits than old one (here: old version and in my opinion it should XP, not Vista).

    And now article: I understand, that we can’t base our estimation on M3 version (it’s too early and could be not fair) in 100%, but from other hand: we have here first try of finding, if new system will be really faster, smaller and working with more programs than Vista and if it will give more profits than XP (or not). And we can see, that there is potential possibility, that it can be not better than Vista. IF (I repeat: IF and spell: India Foxtrot) this is true, it’s not good sign. And there is potential possibility, that it’s true. Why ?

    I don’t believe, that M3 contains a lot of debug source (Microsoft wanted to make it working as fast as possible). Additionally product must be released on time and it’s simply not too much time before Beta 1 (Microsoft doesn’t have time for making revolution and M3 probably contains big part of changes). And additionally: have you notified, that even some Microsoft people start to speak, that (for example) "16 GB of HDD will be enough for new system" and don’t try to give numbers showing, that new system will need less than XP…

    So, what is worst scenario ? We will have another Vista, big part of new features will be unavailable for ordinary people (I speak about GPS and multitouch for example) and they will be not too happy. What, if it will happen ?

    We will have few years, when Microsoft will have to give big money for advertisement. Users will be not happy from product and companies will have to think about buying new hardware (and they will not give these money for paying for developers work and creating really NEW and really EXCITING software and technologies).

    What is the best scenario ? We will laugh at it in 2009 year 🙂

    What will happen ? I think, that Microsoft managers know it already. If "worst scenario", they should think about changing some managers to people, who have fresh view and will force for example implementing some real architecture changes before releasing WIn 7 (it will have to be moved into future) or they should think about engaging some people with fresh view even from this forum…

    I hope, that at least some of you will notify, that I don’t want to troll here or make FUDs… And sorry for my horrible English.

  53. Knipoog says:

    @all replieants.

    Thanks all!

    That gives convidence for the future!

  54. boen_robot says:

    I’ve always thought Vista was (and still is) too harshly judged. The same appears to apply for Windows 7.

    OK, so let’s say the number of threads and memory footprint is indeed too close to Vista, and is still too hoggish in comparison to XP. But as Steven has already said on this blog, performance is measured in different ways.

    Even if Vista/7 lose at those numbers, the question is what they deliver for them. Everyone seems to forget prefetch and indexer which are great productivity enhancements and time savers for everyday work (the "often" in the Design Principles presentation). And there may be even more stuff under the hood I’m not aware of – the point it all those things create a faster OS, which unfortunately is only visible on more powerful hardware. Run XP and then Vista on a 2 GHz/800MHz, 1GB DDR2/800MHz, 160GBs SATA2 or more and then don’t tell me numbers, but tell me in which one did IE open faster (try to open it multiple times and average it), in which you were able to do a quicker search (XP’s search add-on, or Vista’s built-in one), and in which one were you able to open up more windows, up until you consume all of your memory. For maximum accuracy, disable all visual extras on both (you know the "Adjust for best performance" setting, right?).

    As far as my results for this kind of test goes, Vista is better.

    END USERS DON’T CARE ABOUT NUMBERS. They care how fast they can open their app and do their work. If 7 can deliver on that better than Vista, then so be it, even if it means keeping the numbers on that level.

    I do agree with one point mentioned in the article(s?) though – the Windows Kernel can’t REALLY be altered without breaking lots of drivers. As mentioned, even the small changes break Daemon-Tools, which uses its own driver. And if the Kernel is not altered, the numbers remain.

    What do you prefer – a very lightweight OS (and possibly a very tweaked kernel) that creates many new back draw compatibility problems, or a barely tweaked kernel and OS that hardly creates a problem, yet gives a much better performance than its predecessor? I prefer the latter. Keep the numbers, give more for them – that should be the motto.

    Oh, and… has anyone compared Windows 2000 to 98? The difference is probably as big as between XP and Vista. Well, maybe in numbers its less, but *proportionally*, it’s basically the same. I mean, think for a moment what hardware was available in 2000 when it debuted in terms of what was "the most", what was "recommended", what was "current" and what was "worth it". The only difference is that less people were "into computers", so the fuss was less, and thus people weren’t as drastically affected. XP came into the picture, bringing the 2000 legacy with it, thus creating less BC problems (since a lot of vendors already had programs and drivers for Windows 2000). History is repeating itself, this time with more people into the picture (thus more fuss), larger adoption of the new core (Vista that is), and larger expectations for the OS to take that legacy (7).

  55. marcinw says:


    my opinion:

    Vista was harshly judged because of some decisions from Microsoft managers about implementing some very unpopular features (not only DRM). When these features will be removed, system based even on current kernel has got chance to win… XP was so popular, because decisions were different.

  56. Hino Musouka says:

    @marcinw, Knipoog et al.

    Frankly I’m quite disappointed of what Windows 7 M3 is. I’ve already written about my concerns under previous post in blog but here it seems a good place to express them.

    The aforementioned article to great extent elaborates on issues I found during my first experience with M3. I tend not to benchmark a pre-beta system, but didn’t Mr. Sinofsky claimed in this blog that the new process of developing system assumes that the system could be made RTM at any time because all changes which are given way to winmain are already thoroughly tested? Therefore I’d expect little or no debug code (BTW I have some notion of Beta builds of Vista – of course Win7 is more, astonishingly, stable but was the difference in memory footprint so different between beta Longhorn and Vista RTM?).

    However, I do understand that the footprint or CPU usage is a very relative towards concepts of speed or usability of system. It would be satisfying if Win7 performed better in how the user feels the performance, even if under the hood memory cost etc. were the same. But a lot of people started writing fud on Vista because XP’s after-install memory usage of 80 MB was less than 600 MB of Vista’s. And it didn’t change in 7. If debugging is removed, we’ll have 500 MB?

    Someone claimed that people do not like numbers. But I’d like to express quite different opinion. There are many people whom I know, that tend to have some computer knowledge (and they know what the capital of USA is) and though it’s only some experience with Word and installing printer, they can differentiate between numbers. And although many of them would useful in a Mojave-type experiment, they wouldn’t leave their Holly-XP for a system that is a little better than Vista.

    Personally I like Vista, I got used to it and it works fine. But M3 was a bitter disappointment to me. Mere cosmetic changes (many of which demanded at Long Zheng’s Aero Taskforce) do not deserve, in my opinion, to be called a major release. Putting SE after Vista would be sufficient.

    I liked how Mr. Sinfosky and his team presented ideas on this blog, but I feel, they’re quite far away from reaching all the goals. Of course there are many wonderful changes in M3 that are very appreciated, but still they are minor. More out-of-the-box color schemes for color of Aero or making networking easily usable is not enough. Nor Libraries or Superbar are such. Some cleaning within applets of Control Panel is not a feature worth of mentioning. It’s a sign of past that would better be forgotten.

    It’s all fine and cool and cocky and pleasant and so on. But it is not revolution, but mere evolution; and the stadium hasn’t reached yet to the new species. Will Beta 1 of Windows 7 will be so much more convincing? I hope so. I’ve been waiting impatiently for it so long, but after using M3 I decided to uninstall it after 3 days. I hope Beta 1 would bring more fresh air and somehow ease the bitterness of unfulfilled ‘major’ word.

    As I Microsoft fanatic can I see it happening? Because my friends have started worrying about me since I told them I was sad after seeing M3.

  57. marcinw says:

    @Hino Musouka and others,

    thanks for your opinions – the more, the better (it’s important especially, that systems from Microsoft are still widely used).

    As I said before: we will see, what scenario (worst or best like described in one of my previous comments) will be proposed by Microsoft. If worst, Microsoft will of course sell many licenses…but it will be good in short term only… Anyway, we will see.

  58. csmikle says:

    Are notifications enabled by default? I ask because while things like "Updates are available" are not important, I’m not going to ever remember or think about it until I’m notified. Sure, I hate notifications that come up *every* single time I start Windows, like "UAC is off" and "Can’t connect to your network drive", but in general, toast notifications that come up because something is happening (like "download complete") are not so distracting that they will drive my work to a halt.

    I guess my attention span is better than others, but I just don’t want Action Center hiding everything from me and forcing extra clicks just to find out if my printer or flash drive is finished installing.

    So, are they on by default?

  59. I like the idea of "eating your own dogfood"… When Vista came out you couldn’t even use Microsoft hardware with the Microsoft OS (thinking about the fingerprint reader and Vista x64).

    Reminds me about MS Office: does it use .Net 1.0? 2.0? 3.0? 3.5? None of the above???

  60. lyesmith says:

    I get notification that I pluged-in my microphone. I know THAT I just DID it. You cannot do this by accident.

    I know this is third-party dirt, but there should be a way to turn notifications off.

  61. Saad says:

    I installed Windows 7. it is nice. but have some bugs. my internet speed was optimized by a program in xp, but now in W7 is some slower.

    Internet Explorer sets "Offline browse" to all apps as YahooMessenger. when i have disabled offline browse and i’m connect to internet windows failure show connect windows.  start menu of XP is better than Vista’s start menu. why when i click start and take mouse over "Connect To" windows does not show my internet connections auto?, and i should click it to open a tiny window and then use it for connect to internet.

  62. Saad says:

    sorry, my antivirus update is running and slowing of internet maybe for this reason.

  63. steve30x says:

    As much as I love what you guys done with Windows 7 I would still like to see a few changes. For example the boot screen. That lonely scroling bar is a bit too minimal. It would be nice to see some kind of background picture on there.

    I havent used the 64 bit version of Windows 7 because of the compatability problems I have seen with any other version of windows , but with the new intel hardware there is a big need for a 64 bit version of windows. I BEG you guys please do something about the compatability problems with the 64 bit OS. Maybe you guys could add a 32 bit emulator for the software that refuse to work with the 64 bit OS.

    Also maybe in the future you guys could add an option to boot into a game OS that resembles the XBOX 360 NXE. You guys could work with the hardware developers and update the game OS so that we have the OS updated with the necesary drivers for any new hardware on the day of the release of any new hardware. This is a lot to ask but us gamers need some kind of gaming os.

    Another thing I would like to see in windows 7 is to have DirectX 9 already installed in the OS from the first install instead of relying on us to instal DirectX 9.

    Can we have tdifferent coloured themes? I like the Vista theme but the white bar on the right in Explorer , I would like to change that to blue or grey but keep the glass effects.

    Can we have more control over our TCPIP settings and internet settings. I have 30mb/s internet and the settings you guys give us is a bit restricting. I had to work around your settings in Vista to make my internet work properly.

    I will finish off with something I said before. Please dont have so many versions of the OS and dont charge so much. I will never pay over 400 euro for an OS which is why I bought Vista Home Premium OEM. My mistake because I have a limited ammount of installs> Can you remove that Limited Install thing on OEM OS’s too.

    Sorry for the long post

  64. steve30x says:

    Sorry this will be short. I forgot the file system. You guys were working in a different file system. I think it was called winfs and was supposed to be better than ntfs. We need a file system that reduces fragmentation and increases access speeds of files. Maybe you guys could work on this for vista or Windows 7 and add it to a service pack. Also you guys needto work in the Defrag program you have. It doesnt do a good job like other Defrag software. Maybe work with some guys (Like the disktrix guys who programmed Ultimate defrag)

  65. Eghost says:

    Very disappointed in Windows 7 explorer, only really cosmic changes. You can not move the address bar menu bar nor the command bar.  Microsoft put out numerous amounts of PR say, we learned from our mistakes, Windows 7 will be different. You will be able to customize windows 7. Changing colors is NOT customization. Why can’t you give back the ability to change and move the Menu bars,tool bars, address bars.  This was a major complaint about Vista and Microsoft is still ignoring this complaint…..

  66. Luna M says:

    How about integrating these messages into active applications? Forget the balloon; make it easy for Windows applications to integrate a(n optional, of course) ticker or field in an unobtrusive spot, that will display system messages like low battery warnings/print job complete/you need to restart/etc, without any kind of aggravating popup or balloon stealing valuable screen time. You know how browsers display link and page info in the status bar at the bottom of the window? Make some use of that ever-present status bar space to display (in suitably eye-catching boldness and color) potentially important system messages. That way they won’t get in the way to begin with, and the user can be alerted and respond/disregard as they see fit.

  67. Tihiy says:

    So why ‘Reboot computer’ is red while it’s important, not critical?

  68. boen_robot says:

    @Hino Musouka

    I’m not saying end users don’t "like" numbers. When you present it to them, they do like to see lower numbers. What I meant was that only power users really care about the numbers enough to start measuring them and later show them to others. Non-power end users simply take the word of power users for granted:

    -Power User: XP is older, but it’s faster. *numbers go here*.

    -Non-power user: OK. I see and understand the numbers. Point for XP.

    -PU: Vista is more secure, but more annoying with all of its promts. *numbers go here*.

    -NPU: By "more secure" do you mean it’s immune to viruses. Wait, don’t answer that. The numbers show it – it’s affected by less viruses, and for all the rest, it gives you the option to stop them. So… it’s still not completely secure, yet it’s more annoying and expects me to make an educated guess? If I knew a virus is a virus, I wouldn’t start it to begin with! XP has one more point in my book.

    -PU: A certain "special" program I’m using is not running, so there’s a potential other apps won’t run as well. *numbers showing the total apps/error apps ratio and a few names*.

    -NPU: Oh, I don’t want to take that risk. Can you check out if ALL of MY apps run please?

    -PU: Sure, which ones do you have in mind?

    -NPU: *program list goes here*.

    -PU: 1 out of *number of apps* is not compatible.

    -NPU: Oh, crap. I don’t want to contact THAT programmer… he’ll ask me for a support fee again. One more point for XP.

    -PU: It’s pretty.

    -NPU: Oh… point for Vista.

    Try to tell an NPU that Vista is faster, more secure and that everything (s)he knows should just work. Repeat it enough number of times and don’t let him/her hear negative opinions. I’m betting that (s)he will trust you, go ahead and try it. NOW, you can let him/her hear negative opinions. Thanks to YOUR good opinion and lack of number presentations, its more likely that you’ve created a Vista lover than a hater.

  69. Asesh says:

    @steve30x I agree with you. There should be a Windows 7 logo or some thing else that states Windows 7 is booting. I have Vista and Windows Server 2008 installed (dual boot). Vista and Windows server 2008 have the same boot screen so it’s just no possible to figure out which OS is booting by just looking at the boot screen and sometimes I get confused which OS is booting and have heard that same complain from many people. And the boot screen is boring too 😛 guys please change it!!

  70. locolorenzo says:

    I like this new interface, it has become comfortable to use in a short time. Great stuff guy’s!

    I still have only one gripe though…seperate the sidebar from WDDM, it must run in a low end machine…I have patched the process and know that it can be started with out WDDM drivers.

    You guys gave us the Sidebar/Gadget thingy and it worked so well in later M1 builds that I had hoped for more improvement in this area.

    (P.S. Thankyou for actually getting rid of the sidebar itself!)

  71. Asesh says:

    @steve30x: yup man that’s true. Microsoft should make Windows much cheaper if they don’t want Linux and Mac OS X to take their market share like they are doing right now. And the worst part of Windows is product activation. After spending so much money on it, I only get to install up to 5 times? I have seen so many people getting annoyed of product activation because of the installation limits and Microsoft won’t allow them to activate more than 5 times then they either move to Mac or free–Linux.

  72. steve123 says:

    I like the notification method used by Windows Home Server (network health). A simple icon that lets me know if there is a problem, ie notification messages which need my attention, then once I have read the messages I can click on them to acknowledge that I have read the message. I have not used 6801 but your description seems similar to this.

  73. manicmarc says:

    From what I have read about W7 on channel 9 there are many reasons why it will be faster and easier on laptop batteries. The kernel isn’t everything, you know.

    Is Windows Explorer still the same one based on Windows 9X code?

    I’ve read the Microsoft tried re-writing the shell in .NET before the Longhorn reset, but it was too slow. Is it time to have a new file browser written in .NET/WPF?

    I’ve also read on thio blog that a high number of explorer crashes are due to third party extensions. A new file explorer that cannot be extended would get rid of this.

    Thats my two cents anyway. Can’t wait to get W7 and Aero peak on my laptop 🙂

  74. bobharvey says:

    The most annoying culprits are peripherals manufacturers.  Why on earth would I want 3 tiny icons for my scanner when it has 3 buttons on the front that I never use because I use twain from Serif Pageplus for nearly everything.  I scan for a few hours a month, why clutter the view for the rest of the time?

    And I can guess when my printer needs ink by looking at the paper coming out.

    Why would I want a digital camera adaptor in the notification area for months when I can bring up windows explorer & copy pictures with that?

  75. Tim Long says:

    Unfortunately I don’t think this is really an engineering problem. It is a marketing problem. Certain vendors think that if they show more notifications, then the customer will perceive a greater value in that product than, say, the components that are built into Windows. No matter what Microsoft does, that problem is not going to go away.

    Another part of the problem is that the notification area, originally intended for status notifications and alerts, has been hijacked by vendors who think it is quick launch menu. Microsoft is not immune from this, either. I’m thinking of programs such as Windows Sidebar, Dynamics CRM Outlook client, Live Mesh, Groove, OneNote, Sync Center and many aothers that constantly display icons even when they having nothing to report. They are being used a quicklaunch shortcuts.

  76. Saad says:

    Quality of video files show in Vista was less than XP. and now Quality of video files show in W7 is less than Vista!

    W7’s explorer take error and restarting as XP’s explorer.

  77. steven_sinofsky says:

    @Saad — please feel free to email me with the details of what you’re seeing with respect to video quality — graphics card, driver version, video format and playback tool, etc.


    (click the email link for the blog)

  78. jdelidc says:

    instead of just worrying about reducing the number of notifications, why not also tackle the cause of them. for example, you do almost any update, and windows update will be annoying you every 10 minutes until you restart the machine. why does the machine even need to restart? why cant it be like linux and just run with it? (imo) or just wait until the user restarts the machine normally

    (though i still cant wait to see the beta)

  79. phil1970 says:

    I would suggest that the message that it is safe to remove a disk would be a notification and would automatically be dismissed when either the peripherical is removed or after a timeout.

    Also, If the only reason that such peripherical are in uses is because we have Windows explorer showing that drive, there should simply be a notification that it is safe to remove it and the Explorer Windows would close automatically.

    Under Windows XP, at least the system allows to remove a peripheral that is not really in uses (only displayed in Windows Explorer).

    It would be nice when the peripherical is in use to be able to display what application use it.

  80. Saad says:

    Windows should have a registry optimizer to clean and defragment registry. i have 27 portable registry cleaner programs! that each of them can clean keys that other programs cant. is very good if microsoft build a main registry cleaner that be best of all others. if windows have a registry monitor than on uninstalling can clean all registry keys of the a program is very good.

  81. steve30x says:

    To follow up on my suggestion of having some kind of picture with the scrling bar on bootup. I would suggest that we should be allowed to put a picture of our liking into the boot screen and login screen.

  82. marcinw says:


    Registry cleaners and similar tools would be not necessary in situation, when each process (application) will have own Registry file and will not be able to change settings for other (of course, there will be some very small parts shared because of compatibility, but probably in read-only mode only)… It could help in giving much bigger security and other things.

    For now Microsoft thinks, that current solution (given more than 10 years ago) with central Registry is OK and I think, that nothing will be improved here…

  83. boen_robot says:


    Regarding your poor video playback and registry cleaning tools… maybe they are related? I mean… registry cleaning tools, in my book at least, create more problems than they solve. If a registry is there, it’s there for a reason. If a program has not removed it, there’s often a reason behind that. Not always though, but if there isn’t, that’s just a sloppy programmer, and there isn’t much Microsoft/Windows could do to make a difference between a carefully thought (but rarely used) setting and sloppy programming. And whatever they may decide to do, it will involve new constructs that may be abused just as well and unmodified, applications will be the same crap. And if you were to use the new APIs for that, you’d be a careful enough programmer not to leave registry entries on uninstall to begin with.

    The different tools you use try various heuristics in order to determine if a registry stays or leaves. Removing a registry may often result in another tool (or the same one) being affected and find additional stuff. Way too often, they delete things they shouldn’t be deleting. A case in mind – I once used Norton Internet Security 2005 (in 2005, obviously). Once System Mechanic got to clean my registry, NIS kept prompting me for everything, even when its settings were set to automatic. That didn’t happen before the cleanup.

    Unless Microsoft can come up with a SOLID method for determining whether a registry is in or out, I’m not using registry cleaning tools, and I’d never recommend any tool to anyone either.


    +1 on the boot screen idea. For the sake of sanity, I’d like to add that the progress bar at the bottom should NOT be changeable or hideable.


    I don’t think a per-application registry is a solution. The whole point of the registry is to allow multiple applications to work with (i.e. read AND write) the same settings. The only alternative would be an SQL like database, but that would still have the same problems that the registry has and in particular,  the "ability" for an application not to clean its settings once they are not used by any application, etc.

    The only better solution I can think of involves a some performance overhead and compatibility problems – extend the permission system of the registry to include applications. In other words, enable applications to register as their own user, initially including all files and registries that were created during the installation. When an app wants to interact with another, it may look for it (or its files and settings) upon installation, or a privileged configuration option. When uninstalled, Windows may (later) automatically delete all registry settings that are not in use by any installed application, but still have a mark on them (i.e. it may delete registry entries that only X uses when it knows that X is no longer installed).

  84. manicmarc says:

    jdelidc: I use Ubuntu daily, and I am often told I need to restart my system before updates become available. Windows might prompt the user more often, which is a good thing. If you don’t restart, the system is in a dirty state.

    See for a more in-depth discussion.

  85. marcinw says:


    Current Registry idea was created about 15 years ago, when threats were different. It’s possible to leave it and have still thousands of problems (yes, it’s "a little" obsolete) or change it – leaving only some small parts shared and separating everything other per application will definitely clean the mess.

    Please note, that in fact in 99% we don’t need situation, when application X is using (changing for example) settings for application Y. 1% can exchange data using shared DLL libs (with new well defined API) or something.

    Adding permissions per application can only decrease performance.

  86. manicmarc says:

    On the registry front. Why not have a folder called "Settings" where each application places it’s settings, in an XML format. Just like Mac OS X.

    Program messed up? Delete it’s xml file and reset it.

    The registry API could be made to write to this folder.

    If a program wants to hide something from other programs, then hadn’t it better use some form of hash or encryption ? Let developers worry about that. Just make it simple for users/Administrators.

  87. marcinw says:


    I was speaking on this forum many times, that bigger separating applications including Registry (in sandboxing or other form) should be implemented as soon as possible (we have today x applications and in the future we can have 2x applications for Windows and it can be more difficult).

    It looks, that Microsoft is not interested in it and still prefers old architecture decisions, which make all these Windows platform problems and implements UAC and similar stuff instead or resolving them.

    The same with fragmentation in NTFS and other "modern" solutions…

  88. Saad says:

    I never used registry cleaners in Vista or W7.

  89. orelzion says:

    Hi! I know my comment has nothing to do with the action center, but I didn’t know where should I comment, so I did it here.

    I heard you’re going to change the way gadgets are going to look in windows 7. Me personally I liked the sidebar the way it is in vista, is it possible to keep that option not by default? Thanks  

  90. anonymuos says:

    1.  Please remove the dialog box with OK button notification from Windows 7 that is presented when a USB device is safely removed. XP had a less intrusive balloon notification.

    2.  Let users have the ability to customize how many times to show each notification, that is, stop displaying it after x number of times. And ignore and completely hide certain notifications.

    3.  Ability to show those notifications which the user wants outside and separate from the Action Center and vice versa (group and put separately shown notificationss into the Action Center).

    I’m liking M3 but the issues commonly cited by users on this blog with Windows Vista’s Explorer, Start menu and networking UI are still not addressed. That and the features which Microsoft removed from Windows Vista.

  91. Mantvydas says:


    to my opinion the action center should have a quick button to silence all the balloons until I take a look at the Action Center myself.

    Like Skype sometimes shows the flag, showing me, that it wants to say something and doesn’t bother me, until I click on it myself.

    In addition, all its behaviour should be controlled by group policy properly for in Windows XP two most annoying balloons were "Tour Windows XP" and "Clean Up Your Desktop" with the former almost impossible to turn off, unless you turn off the "Fast logon of Windows XP".

  92. Mantvydas says:

    I very much agree on the comment of anonymous, that Windows should understand itself if I clicked three times on the cross of the baloon, that it shouldn’t come up anymore.

  93. Saad says:

    How i can disable "share" feature in W7 ?

  94. boen_robot says:


    In Vista there’s no tour (instead you have a welcome center which can easily be disabled after the first reboot). And "Clean Up Your Desktop" is all gone thank god. I really hope that W7 follows THAT trend.

    As far the action center goes – I like the idea and would like to see it too, but like you say, it should be an option. It must certainly not be the default.


    You’re (implicitly?) bringing up an interesting point I’ve always asked myself every time I hear that "sharing has become easier" – security and privacy. If sharing becomes too easy, people are going to be doing it without realizing it, thus compromising their security and privacy… or at least they’ll loose the granular control we’re enjoying with XP and Vista.

    If sharing is really easy to turn on, it must be as easy to turn off, and for better security, it should be off by default. As I once heared Chris Wilson speak for IE7 protected mode (if I recall right) "Protect the user by default".

    If you’re asking how to turn it off, that’s not a good sign from my point of view.

  95. Asesh says:

    I would prefer balloon style notification rather than the one that’s show in the picture. Why not add multiple layers or column to a single balloon notification?

  96. techmdrn says:

    This is unrelated to the topic of this post, but I would like to request that tabs in Windows Explorer be considered for inclusion in Windows 7.

  97. faramond says:

    I hope those screenshots are not any indication of how the final UI will look. We’ve held off moving to Vista at my company in great part because the UI is not legible enough (too busy, too many gradients and shadows, and too much glare, i.e. "glass.") Please consider including an easier-on-the-eyes theme: simple design with solid colors, straight lines, and no effects.

    Although it may be tempting to try to outdo Apple in window dressing, keep in mind that larding up on special effects isn’t the only way to make a name and a fortune for yourself. Clean, simple, and even sparing design, can also work. (Case in point: Ikea & the iPod.)

  98. PatriotB says:

    (Sorry that this is off-topic.)

    I’m hoping that there’s an upcoming post about the new UAC settings and how you can loosen it without opening up huge elevation of privilege holes.

    The key reason UAC is required is because when a program wants to either launch an elevated process or create an elevated COM object, the system has no way of knowing that you, the user, actually want it to happen.  There is no way to track the program’s request back to an explicit click on a button or file, versus the request coming an attacker’s code running via a code execution flaw.

    The Win7 setting says something like "notify me when *a program* tries to make changes" versus notify me when I try to make changes.  But what is the difference?  There is only a user (your user token) running code.  Double-clicking a file, a prgram (explorer) requests the elevation.  Does that count as "me" or "a program"?

    Are you trying to whitelist requests that originate with, say, Explorer?  Or whitelist the target processes (the ones requested to run elevated)?  In either case, you are opening up huge elevation of privilege holes, and I can’t imagine this passing any sort of threat modeling or SDL review.

    I’m hoping that there’s something huge that I’m missing… and looking forward to a post about this!

  99. Asesh says:

    faramond: If you don’t prefer Aero then switch good old classic or Vista basic theme.

    Though Vista theme is so ugly and I find it really unpleasant to my eyes.

  100. marcinw says:


    As we can see in this forum, some architecture things in Windows will be not changed (although they could improve dramatically security).

    Microsoft is afraid, that it could break compatibility with some applications. In the same time we can see, that Win 7 will have probably broken some compatibility with low level applications (because of UAC or other changes).

    I’m asking myself sometimes – maybe real reason is in some other place ?

    With current architecture many programmers have to work on antivirus software, Registry cleaners and other tools… With some problems closed they will have to search for new job… These tools will need HDD space, more RAM memory and CPU time. And this is additional profit for hardware manufacturers.

    Yes, yes, I know, that words above can be controversial. But I hope, that my post will be not deleted, will be good start point for discussion and will give Windows architecture designers good reason to think, how should future of Windows look like and how current solutions are estimated by some people.

  101. Ren McCourtey says:

    Hello Windows team!

    I’m here with you from the very beginning, waiting for the right opportunity. Well, here it comes..

    Noisy tray? Common, we both can see it is mostly not MS’s fault. This problem is with OEM systems loaded up to roof with crapware, and users who install everything they meet while browsing the web. If I’ll buy a load of stuff in a supermarket I can’t complain my fridge is full, can I? First of all, not. area was meant as destination for messages which could be ignored, or delayed. I like this new Alert center thingy a lot, good job. But there are other things which need to be re-thought. If point of not. area was put less important messages out of sight, why in Vista we have to click ‘now you can safely remove device’ dialog box while in XP we used to have balloon? Exactly what area was meant to be used for.

    You started great in Vista, trying to have less clutter in all windows and settings, control panels now often share windows, you can go back and forth. On the other side there are panels/settings which were split to many more, so result is the same state as before. Don’t you agree those are things which need more care than users/3rd party’s faults? Of course, if you change things which are fully in your control, then we all welcome if you make a few steps forward to help 3rd parties to make less annoying applications, till then we usually can choose better behaving apps from different vendors (this is mostly case of AVs, security solutions, and often also hw controlling applications, you know them all).

    Another thing, not related, which I noticed lately and which really scares me. You removed all the icons from window toolbars. We can already see it on Live apps and W7 screens. Why? The icons were there for years, providing much faster orientation than simple text labels. This way you changed it to plain old Alt menubar. Very few ppl uses ‘Text only’ labels in their browser, much much less than those with ‘Icon only’. Isn’t it the same situation with toolbars? Make it possible for users loving simplicity? Fair enough. But complete removement? Why? Where is productivity improvement in this?

    Those issues are step back again and I do not see this is one of those ‘more truths’ things. I know you read all posts here, if you’ll find a moment in your busy program atl for brief talk to those topics, I’d love to hear it.

    Sometimes I have this feeling I am the only one who see only pictures from W7 while everyone around uses ’em.:-) Can’t wait to get my hands on them, and see all the changes by myself. Do not get me wrong if I sound like complaining, I’m very happily using Vista from beginning, and I welcome this chance to say to all of you on team, thanks for the hard work!

  102. snaven says:

    My windows 7 can`t find my other computers in the network. I Vista that works just fine. They both can access internet.

  103. n00b says:

    Now i am just waiting for the mega launch of windows 7 final 😀

  104. Defensive Driving says:

    Even if Vista/7 lose at those numbers, the question is what they deliver for them. Everyone seems to forget prefetch and indexer which are great productivity enhancements and time savers for everyday work (the "often" in the Design Principles presentation). And there may be even more stuff under the hood I’m not aware of – the point it all those things create a faster OS, which unfortunately is only visible on more powerful hardware. Run XP and then Vista on a 2 GHz/800MHz, 1GB DDR2/800MHz, 160GBs SATA2 or more and then don’t tell me numbers, but tell me in which one did IE open faster (try to open it multiple times and average it), in which you were able to do a quicker search (XP’s search add-on, or Vista’s built-in one), and in which one were you able to open up more windows.

  105. hanlyone says:

    Excellent post,thanks for sharing.

  106. a very successful site. Also very revealing article. Thanks to the contributors.

  107. PETER BEVERLEY says:

    "Turn on Windows Security Center Service (important)" is showing itself from the red-flagged flag-pole icon in the bottom-right of screen – but how do I turn it on? And why am I getting this error message anyway (apart from the obvious answer that it is switched off).

  108. Water Pod says:

    My Backup hardware program is acting up. Even though my e mail client, Incredimail, is set for default, Clickfree tells me that I don't have an e mail listed. WaaaaaaaaZUP??

  109. Ronald Micallef says:

    Good on you Mr. Gilmour; I am sure there will be many users that will be happy with what they are reading. Thanks, Ron'

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