Accessibility in Windows 7

This post is from Michael Bernstein, a development lead on the User Interface Platform team where he focuses on accessibility. Accessibility is the term we apply to the APIs and features that enable Windows to be used, to be accessible, by as many people as possible so that, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities, everyone has the ability to access the functions of Windows. To enable this, Windows includes both built-in accessibility utilities as well as APIs used by third party assistive technology aids and by application developers to make sure their software is also accessible. This is a topic that is extremely important to Microsoft and one that is a key tenet in the engineering of Windows 7. Microsoft also has a corporate-wide group dedicated to making sure that PCs are easier to see, hear, and use. You can read more about Microsoft’s accessibility initiatives on --Steven

Hi, I’m the development lead for Accessibility and Speech Recognition experiences in Windows 7, and I wanted to write about how we thought about Accessibility in Windows 7. 

We wanted to make Windows 7 the most accessible operating system that Microsoft has ever produced.  It became clear as we planned this release, however, that the notion of Accessibility is not as simple as it may appear.  It is tempting to think about Accessibility like Security: either you have a known failure, or your system is believed to be secure/accessible.  This definition turns out to be limited, though.  How do you deal with the fact that the needs of customers who are blind are very different from the needs of customers who are deaf?  The needs of customers who are blind are even different from those of customers with reduced vision: a magnification tool is useless for one group and crucial for the other. And what do we make of cases where something is technically accessible but practically frustrating, like a common user scenario that takes 36 keystrokes to execute?  Clearly, Accessibility wasn’t going to boil down to a simple yes/no question.  It is really more like a particular kind of usability, but usability for a specific set of audiences with individual needs.

Since the questions we were asking were complex, the answers ended up being complex, too.  We chose a four-part strategy to improve Accessibility in Windows 7.

I. Build a firm foundation with UI Automation

In Windows Vista, Microsoft delivered a new core component for Accessibility called UI Automation.  UI Automation enables a user’s assistive technology (AT) to programmatically drive the UI of an application, and allows applications to expose their accessible functionality in a richer way than was possible in previous versions of Windows.  More questions can be asked about a piece of UI, and that UI can be manipulated in richer ways.  UI Automation also introduced the idea of Control Patterns: any given piece of UI can decide how it should be controlled.  Buttons expose the Invoke pattern, indicating that they can be pushed; Combo Boxes expose ExpandCollapse, indicating that they can be opened and closed.  We let different controls be different, instead of trying to force them all into the same mold.  All this was introduced in Windows Vista and adoption is still ongoing.

In Windows 7, we invested in improving the performance of the UI Automation system and created a new, native-code API for UI Automation to make sure that it can be used effectively by a wide range of assistive technology software.  Now applications written in C++, as well as those written using the .NET Framework, can take advantage of UI Automation. 

We also did a bunch of work to make sure that the UI Automation system was integrated even more closely with the legacy Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) system and developed new bridging techniques between the best of the new and the old technologies. UI Automation Clients can read Accessibility information from MSAA applications, and vice versa, to ensure maximum Accessibility regardless of which accessibility API an application used originally. Since the UI Automation and MSAA systems cooperate closely in many scenarios, we decided to name the combination of the two, calling it the Windows Automation API. This architecture forms the foundation for the rest of our Accessibility effort, and we’re pleased to have this Accessibility foundation Windows 7.

II. Improve our included Accessibility utilities

We also improved the Accessibility utilities that we include in the box with Windows.  Microsoft works closely with many different AT software companies who deliver software to make Windows more accessible to customers with disabilities, but we also include a set of utilities to make sure that our customers’ early experiences are accessible, even before installing any other software. We decided to enhance two of those utilities in Windows 7: the On-Screen Keyboard and the Magnifier.

The most noticeable change to the On-Screen Keyboard is the improved look and feel, but there are also more subtle enhancements.  The appearance of this utility had not changed since Windows XP; our customers were also asking for it to be resizable.  We addressed both of these by working closely with Tablet developers to share a common code base between the Tablet Soft Keyboard and the On-Screen Keyboard.  Both keyboards now have an attractive appearance that is in tune with Windows 7 and both are now resizable.  The keyboards still are distinct, though, because customers use them differently: Tablet users may want to switch dynamically between handwriting and typing, whereas On-Screen Keyboard users may need modes where they can hover or scan to keys, if they have disabilities that prevent them from clicking.  Along these lines, we also added basic text prediction to help customers with disabilities enter text more quickly.  If you have ever tried typing with an on-screen keyboard, you can appreciate how significantly text prediction can improve text entry speed.

The Magnifier came in for a deeper overhaul.  The Magnifier in Windows Vista and Windows XP was not an intuitive experience: when you pointed at part of the screen, the magnified content appeared in a separate window, usually docked at top of the screen.  You had to point at one place and look at another.  We considered two basic solutions to this problem: you could zoom into the entire screen or you could make the magnified area follow the pointer while leaving the rest of the screen the same.  These became our two primary modes for the Windows 7 Magnifier: Full-screen mode and Lens mode.

Full-screen mode is great when you want to increase the size of everything on the screen at once.  As you move the mouse or keyboard focus around the middle of the screen, the view stays still; if you move towards the edge, the Magnifier scrolls the view to keep up.  One downside of this mode is that you can lose track of your context.  To address that usability issue, we added a context animation that zooms out to show you where your work area is relative to the whole screen, and then zooms back in. 

Lens mode, on the other hand, is nice when you just want to zoom in on one particular thing.  In this mode, the lens centers on the mouse pointer, which feels much like using a magnifying glass.  You can re-size the lens to be very wide and short, which can be nice if you are reading a document and want to magnify it line by line.  We based our design on the popular Microsoft IntelliPoint magnifier, a design you can now enjoy with any mouse.

We also addressed customer feedback about the Magnifier window taking up too much space on the screen.  We moved the most commonly used controls like zoom in/out to a small toolbar, which fades out to a semi-transparent watermark when you aren’t using it.  The remaining options are available in an Options dialog when you need them.  Last, we gave almost everything a keyboard shortcut, so if you really don’t want to see the UI, you don’t have to use it.  Win-+ will zoom you in any time you are using Windows 7.

These tools directly improve Accessibility for customers with low vision and dexterity disabilities. It should be obvious, but making the PC easier to see or interact with benefits everyone and so these two examples also show the broad appeal of AT tools – at the PDC we showed both the On-Screen Keyboard and the Magnifier and I think it is fair to see everyone saw the benefit of using these tools themselves, regardless of abilities.

III. Make it easier to build Accessible software

Windows APIs cannot provide Accessibility all by themselves; it is vital for Windows-based applications to do their part in providing Accessibility data for AT programs to use.  For example, a screen reader may sound excellent, but if it can’t read your favorite web browser, what good is that?  Assistive tools like screen readers and magnifiers are clients of the Accessibility system, while the applications that you want to use, like web browsers and word processors, are providers.  It takes both to make the whole experience accessible--you need both a high-quality client and a well-written provider to have a good Accessible experience.  There are more providers in the software ecosystem, so it is hard for us to work one-on-one with every provider to make sure they are well-written.

To address this challenge, our team developed the UI Accessibility Checker (AccChecker for short) and UI Automation Verify (UIA Verify) utilities, which can scan an application (a provider, really) and report on common Accessibility problems.  Software developers can use AccChecker and UIA Verify to detect problems in their provider code before a customer ever uses it.  Quality assurance engineers can use them to verify the quality of their firm’s work.  We believe this is so important that we released AccChecker and UIA Verify as open-source software to make it available to the widest possible audience.  If you are not a programmer, you may never use these utilities directly, but you may well benefit from the bugs they helped to eliminate before they ever reached you. 

IV. Plan for Accessibility from Day 1

To make sure that Windows features themselves were good providers, we borrowed an idea from the Software Development Lifecycle, risk assessment.  Before a line of code was written, each planned Windows 7 feature was rated on its Accessibility risk.  Features that use more basic, off-the-shelf common controls are usually more accessible because Windows provides built-in providers for off-the-shelf components; features that do fancy, custom drawing have more work to do.  This planning process made each team aware of how much accessibility risk it was taking on, so that they could plan appropriately.  Once the features were all rated, the list was sorted by risk so that our team could reach out to teams with high-risk features and make sure that they had the resources and tools they needed to make their feature properly accessible.  We also ensured that they received more hands-on testing and validation.  As a result, most Windows features are more accessible than they have been in previous releases, making for a better overall customer experience.

To wrap up, we've emphasized Accessibility in engineering Windows 7.  We’ve made good progress on improving the core architecture for Accessibility and enhancing the included tools like On-Screen Keyboard and Magnifier.  The AccChecker and UIA Verify tools have made it much easier to validate applications to ensure that they will be compatible with current assistive tools as well as future tools based on the Windows Automation API.  Our approach to Accessibility for the features and providers in Windows itself has become more thorough, consistent and integrated, thanks to the hard work of hundreds of engineers across the company.  We’re proud of what we have accomplished in Windows 7 and hope that it will help customers with disabilities to realize their full potential and have a more enjoyable experience with Windows.


Comments (65)
  1. domenico says:

    Nice post!!

    We are increasingly excited


  2. Meph says:

    It’s great that Microsoft have been working hard to fix all of the problems in Windows. They’ve made a great new operating system that’s going to make life great for all end-users. Well done!

  3. AssistiveTech says:

    This I look forward to — in  my job I work with (almost!) every blind and low vision assistive program out there.  Having Windows 7 contain usable basic assistive products would be a godsend for my clients who don’t need the full power of the commercial programs.  MacOS has done very well with their magnifier, and you can use LINUX Compiz to very good effect as a full screen option.  Kudos on not abandoning assitive tech!

  4. domenico says:


    The maghifer of Windows 7 6801 is the BEST!!!!

     right Windows+ or Windows –  keyboard


  5. screwballl says:

    There needs to be a way to make each of these items modular.

    No one in my family nor myself has any need for any of the options available for the deaf, blind or otherwise incapacitated.

    So allowing this to be a modular addition is a strong desire of the community.

    A simple spot in the Control Panel, as well as the option during the Windows installation itself. Something like this as you are installing Windows or as an OEM product, when Windows is started up the first time, not some buried "custom install" menu buried under 30 clicks:

    "Windows 7 allows for increased functionality for people with disabilities including the deaf, blind as well as other handicaps. Do you want to install the Accessibility Module?

    1) Yes, install everything

    2) Yes, install but keep it inactive for later use"

    3) No, do not install"

    (but allow this to be installed at a later time from the installation media or downloaded).

    This will not only allow minimalists to keep a slimmed down Windows install but also keep the option available in the future if the computer is sold or something happens to the person.


    I would suggest and prefer each and every portion of Windows, including those mentioned in these blogs such as the taskbar and everything else to be modular, this way we can use a minimalist install on an AthlonXP or netbook system and the full blown install on a 8 core 4GHz Intel i7 (future) CPU.

    Otherwise XP support will need to continue through 2014 and linux will continue to make gains (not like thats a bad thing as it is already happening)…

  6. JohnCB says:

    I know I’m going to be stoned to death for even just mentioning this, but I think the default shortcuts for keyboard accessibility aren’t well thought-out.

    The shortcuts I’m talking about are Sticky Key’s five-times-shift, and Filter Key’s shift-for-8-seconds. Toggle Keys’ num-lock-for-5-seconds is much less likely to be invoked accidentally, likewise Mouse Keys is almost impossible to trigger accidentally.

    This could be solved by avoiding to use common keys for the shortcuts, like I mentioned above the ones using num-lock are mostly safe from accidental invocations. You could have a single shortcut that pops up a window with all 4 keyboard accessibility features with big toggles (both clickable and keyboard-selectable), this way it’s also easier to remember since you reduce the number of shortcuts to one.

    Just a thought.

  7. says:

    1. While speech was a major advancement, I feel Vista took large steps away from accessibility for normal people by making it difficult to do tasks by requiring more keystrokes and more mouseclicks than ever. At so many places in the UI (e.g. Default Programs), there is only one way of navigation, either the mouse or the keyboard but not both. Lots of ‘tabbing’ is required if using the keyboard.

    2. What features does Windows have for customers who are color-blind? The ability to output a grayscale display would be nice. Is is technically possible on a color monitor?

    3. It would be awesome if the Windows 7 accessories were made available on at least Windows Vista.

    4. How about the ability to pin/temporarily stick the magnifier lens to the desktop when right-clicked so it only temporarily doesn’t follow the mouse?

    5. A better voice than Anna, why not license a cool one from partners such as NeoSpeech?

    6. I too agree the keyboard shortcuts for sticky, filter, toggle keys need to be changed, first thing I do when I install Windows is turn off the shortcuts to prevent accidentally triggering accessibility features.

    7. For FilterKeys, why are users limited to fixed predefined repeat rates in seconds? Why is it not possible to type in any value for seconds?

    8. Correct me if I am wrong but AFAIK, the MouseKeys feature is impossible to use on some laptops because they don’t have a numeric keypad.

    9. Windows’ keyboard layout viewer/IMEs should be universally accessible/have keyboard shortcuts. MS should also update Character Map to make inserting special character easier and update it to support the OpenType font typography features.

    10. The new onscreen keyboard seems to have lost the numeric keypad, the ability to customize font and whether to keep it always on top.

    I hope all these are addressed.

  8. tryon says:

    Here are my thoughts on acessibility (a "legally-blind" person talking, with a very low vision):

    – Remember the Zoom’S setting in IE according to the url and/or a setting, if for example I want all my msdn webpages to be zoomed at 125% with a "full page zoom" (versus text zoom) it should be zoomed automaticly each time the browser starts and remember the type of zoom.

    – Make higher-DPI available in a per-application basis. Not all legacy aplication respond well to high-dpi, but I still love it and would like to use it wherever I can (and as the population gets older, more and more people will love that feature which should be made even more acessible on each program setting). It should be possible to run a programe twice, with low and high dpi, because some part of an application may respond well to high-dpi and others not.

    – When using high-dpi, I’ve encountered many pop-up error messages where I can’t read the whole error message (the end of the sentences are simply "cut"), you could certainly do something about it in the way windows handles api…

    I really love the fact that microsoft is taking acessibility seriously.

    PS: I’ve dicussed this in the windows 7 taskbar comments, but I thought this might be a better place.

  9. csm120 says:

    I would really love to see some thought given to accessibility when in safe mode, or while repairing/reinstalling Windows. I am a blind computer users, and it is frustrating to either create an answer file, or get help to repair/reinstall windows, or to just use safe mode. Perhaps some audio support for safe mode at least?

    Thanks for any thoughts you may have alon these lines, and I appreciate what you are doing within windows itself to make it more accessible.

  10. GRiNSER says:

    Didn’t have the chance to already use any Win 7 Builds so I don’t know this: Is there a Windows + Scroll Wheel option alike the Ctrl + Scroll Wheel on OS X for the magnifier? This is really handy because you don’t have to move your hand away of the mouse to use the magnifier shortcuts on the keyboard.

  11. tryon says:

    @csm120> It would be nice to have some high-dpi or audio support when booting into safe mode indeed.

    The problem is when you’re pressing F8 and choosing in which mode to start, it is the motherboard constructor who manage that, my friend has a motherboard that talks to him through the whole boot process or when error popup, that’s really great even for me because I can check other thing without having to wait on the screen for the next "message/error"

    @GRiNSER> As far as I can see there is no such thing, that is a really important feature that is missing. Maybe there is some obscure shortcut but it isn’t showed in the properties menu, which should be easily visible and customizable.

    All the acessibility option should be available as custom shortcut as I don’t want them "on" all the time and I hate the navigation in the new start menu, it’s simply aweful (can’t find the old one, which is way less "click", it works with hover only).

  12. says:

    This looks even better and better!

    One of the functions that I am excited about, is the speech recognition program. But the minus with this function is that it is with Windows ass default, and therefore, it uses a lot of diskspace. When you install Windows, you should have been asked if you want to install some of these functions.

    But in the future, I can see us wring on a "paper" that is connected to the PC, and the PC recognize the letters we are writing on the paper. A familiar function is in the Windows 7 build 6801. If I had a touchscreen, I had used this function a lot, like when i write an essay.

    But you guys in Redmond are doing a great progress on Windows 7, and keep doing it! But, please do not go in the same trap as you did with Windows Longhorn that the half OS was too complex, and the release date where placed many years after the release date you tough the Longhorn platform was finished.

    Keep up the good work!


  13. marypcb says:

    There’s the usual conflict of priorities to ponder with the shortcuts – whether to make them memorable/easy to guess or make them easy to use. I can’t press Winkey-+ with one hand and I’d like it to be a one-hand shortcut. But nothing is ever going to be as discoverable and memorable as Winkey-+ for zooming in.

    I’m thinking the next rainy afternoon I get bored, I shall try cycling through the Winkey and the rest of the keyboard, because I only know 9 Winkey shortcuts (+,-,E,R,P,S,D,F,L) and I bet there’s a few more…

  14. locolorenzo says:

    I just am so excited about what has be and will be the most progressive and user friendly OS that is on the Market!

    Thanks for all the hard work.

    I discovered these features to be just great, I use when without reading glasses, I also really have to give the thumbs up to the font/display tuning for ease of use for older user such as my self!

  15. anonymuos says:

    Can you make the 5 key of the numeric keypad (which currently sort of simulates a left mouse click) behave exactly like the left mouse click like the button we have on laptops? For example, it is currently not possible to drag or hold the 5 key down and simulate a drag or hold. Also, there is no real key for right click (though most keyboards have a context menu key however that really brings up the context menu where the keyboard focus indicator is, not where the mouse pointer/cursor is).

  16. domenico says:


    Windows 7 Beta is coming for Developer !!!


    OPS!! Im Not Developers 🙁

  17. says:


    And also at January 13 for you others…

  18. domenico says:


    I saw the article Ed Bott where he hopes the Beta for 13 January,

    I have also seen that $ 99 can sign up to receive the DVD

    If it were possible from Sign from Italy to receive the DVD in Italy (although im not developers)

    would i immediately register.

    I can not resist

  19. Eghost says:

    What I would like to see is Microsoft address one of the major complaints from the Beta’s Vista, the ability to move and edit the tool bars, address bars, icon bars, menu bar.  For the life of me I can’t not understand why Microsoft still puts up a wall when it come to this small aspect of the UI. It was and is still a major complaint by many, Microsoft ignored it in the beta’s of Vista and still to this day has continued to ignore this simple and modest request. Come on Windows Seven team, stop locking down the UI, is really that difficult to add a few lines of code back in to Windows? Will it really hurt the operating system to allow users a choice? It such a simple request, Windows Seven team, Why can’t you do it????? so disappointing, so very very disappointing….

  20. burgesjl says:

    I’ll assume you’ve carefully thought through all of the implications of UI Automation. Sounds to me like a potential avenue for malware to exploit this API.

    I’m not a user that needs this functionality, but I see it as very important for MS to think really hard about this. If you can make it easier for someone with a limitation, its going to make it easier for all the rest of us as well. I understand the desire to have multi-key press activation of commands (Win + X key), but surely this has to be very difficult for people with limited hand dexterity or only a single usable digit. This may also be a problem with multi-touch on touch screens. Maybe some thought needs to be given to gesture-type interfaces (I’ve seen some stuff with cameras that follow hand movements), as well as the speech interface. Thinking about how these things might be used, even if the functionality isn’t there built into the OS, may lead you to some new ideas.

    Please make sure you have as many physically-challenged users as possible on your usability review teams. I’m constantly surprised by the enterprising and innovative ways people have of overcoming their limitations, and finding a way to get stuff done. They come up with ideas that us able-bodied folks don’t and for good reason they’re passionate about it.

  21. blargsoup says:


    I think removing the ability to totally customize the toolbars in explorer was done on purpose.  It makes it easier to support the software if you know someone hasn’t hidden or squished the address and search bars down to nothing.  You might just want to suggest what icon you need to be quickly accessible.

  22. marcinw says:

    I still don’t see any valuable information about new system on this forum + I have found some new articles (like "Windows 7: Simple vs. Easy" and "Microsoft exec: Windows 7 is no service pack"). I decided to comment all these facts on my page:

  23. domenico says:


    Pls stop your SPAM!!

  24. marcinw says:


    You’re commenting for example fact, that testing beta of Windows 7 costs 100$ now and I’m commenting some other facts.

    If you think, that my last post was spam, I can start writing comments again directly on this forum.

  25. says:


    I dont think that your posts will help anything…wy not just say…i hate you, Microsoft…every post of you, in your wiki, is about how bad Vista, maybe the best OS on Earth, and 7 are, and that XP is the only good OS…do you know wy everyone likes XP…7 Years of working with the OS, and not becouse its easy…

  26. Eghost says:


    I actually want to be able to squish and change tool bars around, by the way I never have had to call support.:)  It’s just options and choice. I remember this was a major complaint in the Betas of Vista, and again its really a minor request, but it’s a suggestion for Microsoft, I would love to see them allow access to the tool bars, icon bars menu bars, address bars it is the reason why I don’t use Vista on a regular basis, and for many it’s a major flaw in Vista, I just hate to see history repeat itself.

  27. Eghost says:


    Actually Vista has not been well received,

    "7 Years of working with the OS, and not becouse its easy…"

    I actually find XP a lot more intuitive than Vista. Almost every major complaint about Vista was major complaints in the betas of Vista, Microsoft ignored them,that was a mistake.

    I think saying sums it up.

    "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."

      –George Santayana

  28. marcinw says:


    Vista hasn’t been received well by market, because system has got some disadvantages. This is not only my opinion.

    Microsoft starts to repeat some mistakes from Vista in Windows 7 and I’m writing about it and only about it (in my opinion system can be wrong received by market, if development will be done like now). Microsoft need to change some rules and go into some other direction – if they will say "we have excellent Vista codebase" only, they will fail again. As Eghost said it would be good to return to history:

    there were Windows 98 SE and NT 4.0 quite good received by the market. Microsoft proposed Windows ME, which wasn’t excellent. They had seen it and resigned from it. Concentrated on successful NT 4.0 and we had 2000, XP, etc.

    now there was XP very good received by people. Microsoft proposed Vista, which isn’t excellent. They don’t resign from its’ solutions, but say: we know better, what market need. And we will give something looking and working similar. And I’m writing about it.

    I don’t say, that I hate Microsoft – there are many nice and hard working there people and they’re making very good job there (for example with Visual Studio). I know, that Steven is making his job as good as he can. But some decisions (decisions, not people) are wrong and I’m writing about it.

    Windows 7 will be maybe received a little better, because our computers are better (faster). But it can be failure too. If you think, that’s different, please show concrete technical reasons. Not marketing words about excellent taskbar or touch screen support. I’m really opened for discussion and I’m waiting for it.

    As Eghost said similar critic comments were ignored in beta stage of Vista. Will be good for Microsoft to ignore them now ? We will see.

  29. domenico says:


    NO!Beta is TOTAL FREE!!!!

    I wanted to pay  $ 99 only for a DVD collector.

  30. Vistaline says:

    >>Vista hasn’t been received well by market, because system has got some disadvantages.

    …which have absolutely nothing to do with accessibility.


    I’m not particularly blind but I make regular use out of 6801’s screen magnification, it works but text reproduction at some (most) levels of magnification is horrid. At 125% (and many other levels) some lines of text look slightly compressed (making them slightly difficult to read), have rainbow edges, and are otherwise in dire need of anti-aliasing. These effect sometimes make text somewhat harder to read zoomed. And giving me headaches, I think, which was plenty of reason for me to sadly put it down. DirectWrite and Direct2D are coming in the beta, I assume. Is it safe to also assume they will aid magnification? And will the magnification tool move to tracking the mouse rather than having to be dragged by moving to the edge of the screen? Dragging the view from the edge of the screen feels unnatural and I find it to be imprecise (not too big a deal) and difficult to use.

    And how will Windows 7 handle high-contrast mode and magnification? As things currently stand it’s impossible to use the new magnification tool with high-contrast because WDM isn’t running. The new magnification tool has to be used with Aero, which I imagine is bad for people that required high-contrast.

    And a suggestion: map magnification to Win+Scroll Wheel as well as the keyboard, using slightly  smaller incriments to better utilize smooth scrolling on some mouse wheels.

    And, of course, I should again mention these are the opinions of a person with no real _necessity_ for the tools. My eyesite is terrible but I can see with my trusty-dusty glasses, these just help.

  31. Eghost says:


    >>Vista hasn’t been received well by market, because system has got some disadvantages.

    …which have absolutely nothing to do with accessibility.

    it has actually everything to do with accessibility, that type of blanket denial is what happened in the beta’s of Vista. Vistaline were you part of the Vista betas? I know I was.  All Microsoft could say was no, go over to IE 8’s blog, all Microsoft is saying is no. Microsoft is really not open to suggestions, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. There are many reasons why Vista has failed, but first and foremost is, they dismissed user feed back as just reluctance to change, that they knew better. Microsoft lost, the industry lost, they need to learn from their mistakes, they need to listen even if it is not what they want or the majority wants. What it comes down to is options, Microsoft need to stop dictating. They need to understand that just because they think it’s a great idea, doesn’t make it so. "Life with out Walls" is not just a marketing ploy, its a philosophy that Microsoft needs.  

    "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."

     –George Santayana    

  32. AssistiveTech says:

    Does the full screen magnification work like the commercial products (ZoomText, ZoomWare and MAGic)?  In other words, does it transparently magnify the screen so that your cursor still operates icons and applications as if the magnification was not there?

    I am looking forward to obtaining the beta – and I do not get to go to CES or the developers conferences 🙁  and trying out the features.  I have clients who just need basic screenreading and magnification in their lives, NOT the full power (yet) of the commercial products.

  33. domenico says:

    Team is in Holiday?

    Pls new thread 😀

  34. says:


    Yes like its how you look just on a little part of the screen…


    Also waiting^^

  35. FireRx says:

    Hey Folks,

    Product is great. However I found an issue that should be addressed before beta1 gets released to the masses.  Don’t know if anybody tried to innstall the latest build in a dual boot situation with Windows Vista, but there is a boot screen malfunction. The "Animated" bootscreen that everyone is "ga-ga" to get in beta 1, is in conflict with Vista’s Boot manager. It seems to go to the default bootscreen instead of the new animated one. I was diappointed when it didn’t work for me. Now imagine me x 100,000. I tried all kinds of thing including deleting the bootmanager, and installing windows 7 bootmanager. Still no love! Aanyways, please pass this to the proper channels to fix .

    This occus on both x86, an x64 platforms.



  36. domenico says:


    Hey you have a bad dump from VHD , wait Beta.

    @ Team Windows

    Remember  this Beta will pass into the hands of journalists bad who will try in every way to create negative reviews

    PLS  Unleash Hell.

    – Domenico

  37. says:

    I saw @ WinHEC that if you hover the mouse over a live preview, you see the window in full size. Wy dont add this feature to the [Alt] – [TAB] window switching?

  38. says:

    + If i have a window minimized in Vista and also in PreBeta of 7(6801) the live preview do not update and you see always the old preview. I hope you will change that for the Beta…

  39. domenico says:


    You wont Update PrePreBeta? Noo 😀

  40. PsironTech says:

    Still using 6801.  Some minor issues, but still a darn sight better than Vista was (not a hard goal to achieve, mind..)

    I am hoping the problems of Vista are gone now that you guys have changed the dev process.  It seems to be working so far.  

    Keep it up guys… and get on with the next post already!  😀

  41. domenico says:


    were is a problem in Vista?

    Fud or problem?

  42. BogdanPopa says:

    No problem in Vista if you know how to manage. i think W7 is much more productiv and more easy to work with it.

    so i belive problems in Vista is fud.

  43. PsironTech says:


    Personal experience?

    Wireless resets, inconsistent USB file transfer speeds, incredibly slow UI response time, slow boot, slow shutdown, power management not functioning properly – no sleep/hibernate).

    It’s a far sight better than it was pre SP1, but it’s no-where near stable on any of my personal systems.  Both of them fare much better on XP or Win7 (though Win7 seems to still have issues with USB at this point).

    Drivers have gotten much better. It’s _almost_ usable now, but what’s the point?  Especially since it looks like a July 1 RTM for Win7.

    No FUD.  Just personal experience.  I can put XP or Win7 on either of the two laptops and have a quick, responsive, stable system.  Putting Vista on them … Not so much.

    Really, the wireless issues are the worst though.  Sure, it could be my router+Vista=problems, but since the router works flawlessly with XP and Win7, why fight it?


    If it works for you, great!  But don’t tell me I don’t know how to manage my systems just because it works for you/not me.  Talk about ego tripping…  I’ve been doing Enterprise IT for 12 years now.  We’re skipping Vista (though had it looked like Win7 would have been delayed anywhere near as much as Vista, we’d have gone to it for the security benefits alone and made due with the other issues).

    @ devs:

    Keep up the good work, guys.  Can’t wait for Beta 1!

  44. snaven says:

    I just took a look on the Task Bar in 6956. It looked a kinda nice, but you’ve done some terrible mistakes there.

    Where is the "Network" shortcut in the Start Menu??? I use all the time. I need it!!!

    It’s very annoying that the Internet shortcut no longer are in the Start Menu (exept "all programs").

    Also I would like to have the Run command available.

    Please listen to this. You should not make to many differences in Windows 7. Good Luck! Can’t wait to get a Beta key to Windows 7!

  45. domenico says:

    Ok ,

    indeed the team is on "vacation" 🙂

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ALL!!


  46. tryon says:

    snavenÀ You can edit your whole start menu yourself, although some change could be made to improve the UI used to do this I managed to get mine with a lots of shortcuts that are very useful, here is a screenshot:

    bluefisch200> Totally agree, Aeropeek should be use too for alt-tab windowsswitching, I hate the mouse.

  47. pverhoe says:


    Since 1998 I’m the editor of and the community there is exited about full-screen magnification in Windows 7 as mentioned in this Blog.

    But in the latest beta, there is no screen magnifier with full-screen and lens mode at all!

    Only the help files are suggesting, that there is a screen magnifier with full-screen and lenz mode, but the magnifier itself does not support this features?

    Peter Verhoeven

  48. ShakaUVM says:

    The worst part of accessibility in Vista is navigating around through directories. You used to be able to use the arrow keys, return, and backspace to navigate around arbitrarily through the folder structure. Now backspace is "back" which breaks this behavior when working through shortcuts, and choosing an arbitrary folder above to click on is slow and tedious. The old up-arrow button (which does something) was replaced by a "refresh" button which does nothing, and placed in a prime spot of screen real-estate.

    Get rid of the damn green button, and bring back up-arrow.

  49. RCC2k9 says:

    Here are some comments on Windows 7 accessibility, now that I’ve had a chance to try the beta (build 7000). I’ll keep them in two separate posts for coherence.

    1. Narrator: A lot has been said about changes to the OnScreen Keyboard and Magnifier, but Narrator is being neglected – and it’s in need of some serious help. Back in Windows XP, even better in Windows 2000, Narrator was quite useful for its purpose. Then Vista came and Narrator took a huge downgrade. Despite the nicer voice of Microsoft Anna, Narrator in Vista is noticeably less responsive than Narrator on Windows 2000 or XP, and it isn’t Anna adding the extra weight. I’ve tested Narrator in Vista with other speech engines, including the open source eSpeak, which is extremely responsive, except in Narrator. No matter what speech engine you use, Narrator takes forever to read menu lists or items as you move with the arrow keys, making browsing through lists unbearable. Not to mention the extra time it takes to announce "Down arrow", which is extremely annoying – maybe that’s why respectable screen readers like JAWS or WindowEyes don’t announce arrow keys and stick with announcing what control or list item you have landed, which is what you really want to hear. Please, please, PLEASE make Narrator in Windows 7 responsible and usable again, as it was in Windows 2000 or XP!

    On a separate, but not totally unrelated note, I also agree that a Safe Mode option with basic sound support is really needed so blind users can troubleshoot their own systems.

  50. RCC2k9 says:

    After commenting on Narrator, here is my second comment on Accessibility in Windows 7 beta build 7000.

    The Magnifier. It was nice to see Microsoft’s Magnifier enlarging in full screen mode; this is something that should’ve happened back in Windows 98 or Windows 2000 at the very least. But the Magnifier in Windows 7 really misses the point.

    1. Tracking UI controls and typing focus is annoying. That "smooth scroll" effect leads to some violent screen jumps that can make you dizzy.

    2. The new Magnifier only works with Aero enabled. Why??? Although disabling Aero is yet another gripe I’ll discuss in the next post, the truth is that once you start a full-feature screen reader, Aero gets automatically disabled. Kiss goodbye to the idea of using the Windows 7 Magnifier together with a screen reader such as WindowEyes or JAWS; you get the old-fashioned Vista magnifier instead. The only way to use MS Magnifier is if it is the only accessibility tool used. (Well, it works with Narrator, but Narrator really doesn’t work – see my previous post.)

  51. RCC2k9 says:

    This is the last one of these posts, I promise, until things change for either better or for worse.

    Themes: Unless you can survive with the built-in accessibility tools, your theme options are extremely limited. Back in Vista, Microsoft designed the system so that when a mirror driver (used by full-featured AT tools) is loaded, Aero goes away and you are downgraded to the extremely depressing and hard-to-use Vista Basic theme. From all the themes I’ve ever seen used in any OS, Vista Basic has to be the worst of the worst, not only in how ugly it is but also in the extremely poor contrast it has – you can hardly see when a menu item is highlighted, for example. Some of you might think "oh, blind people don’t care about the theme." That’s like saying a blind person doesn’t have to dress fly or look good. While it’s true appearance is not in most blind people’s priorities, it isn’t necessarily out of their list. I’ll give you that one though, but remember, low-vision users can see the Vista Basic theme (just renamed "Windows 7 Basic" now) and suffer with the ugly it is and the low-contrast it provides.

    What are our options? According to Microsoft, just switch back to the way outdated Windows 95-ish themes. I think Microsoft should’ve designed their accessibility so other AT programs can work with Aero. Or at the very least, provide updated themes options that are more usable and visually-appealing than the "basic" theme that replaces Aero when you need to use a fully-feature screen magnifier and/or reader.

  52. handtomouth says:

    For those of us who navigate by keyboard and voice, the search box in the start menu is a NUISANCE. I can’t just press the Windows key+a letter, or say an item; I have to get the focus out of the search box first. It is clumsy and tedious. Have an option to turn the thing off, PLEASE!

  53. thoeg says:


    I   am a blind user using jAWS for windows, and very soon I am going to test out windows 7 64 bit with JFW 64 bit. there are some hardware issues I have to resolve, and a friend has to burn the dvd first, since the only dvd writer I have is on the new computer that has no OS installed.

    So since to my knowledge there is no way for me to install windows 7 without sighted assistance, nno way of using a script or any other silent installation, I will have to both find a screen, and a sighted person who is willing to use 30 to 60 minutes I hope before Narator or JAWS is up and running.

    I am sure that many blind users like me is frustrated over this serious lack of accessability! especially when users of voiceover the screen reader for mac has all the advanced possibility. voiceover can be started on any mac running 10.4 or later, no special installation. Voiceover can both do roleback and an OS reinstall something no screen reader, narator, or JAWS or any other windows screen reader is able to do. I understand that the scope of the accessability features also in windows 7 is limitted seen from a blind users perspective compared to mac users, so a way to do installs without sighted help is for me at least very very important. yes it is nice that 7 runs faster even on slow hardware, and all the visual changes are of no practical use, so I think many blind users will look at important practical features like beeing able to manage the system or help on frends computers without sighted help!


  54. Yalin says:


    About Magnifier in Window 7, I am wondering if I can run it with some CMD

    command like "Magnify.exe -lens/fullscreen -somerate"?

  55. tabela says:

    since I used msdos, I have been using windows products. I was interested in eachimprovement of windows. but I cant say samethig

    for windows 7 . I cant adopt windows 7.

  56. The accessibility options in Windows 7 are WORSE than they were in Windows XP, and they were not very good in Windows XP! It seems like no one in your team has made use of them for any significant period of time because of their poor design. I will admit that they are significantly better than on a Mac, but they contain some serious design flaws. I depend on the Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys on a daily basis for 8 to 15 hours per day, and have to keep on reminding myself that at least they are better than those on a Mac!

    Here are my problems:

    1) Windows 7 IGNORES the BIOS. My BIOS tells Windows 7 to TURN OFF the Num Lock, but if Num Lock was on when I shut down my computer it TURNS ON when I turn on my computer! I wrote a program which changes the Num Lock setting, but changing the Num Lock setting has no impact on Mouse Keys. I have looked through the registry and the system files but I am unable to figure out how to progmatically turn on Mouse Keys.

    2) Windows 7 occasionally is neglegent in its duties to turn on Mouse Keys. Instead of hitting Num Lock once to turn on Mouse Keys I have to hit it thrice. Now do not tell me that I am not using enough force, because the status of the Num Lock key changes each time I hit this key.

  57. As I was writing the problems I was having with the accessibility options it suddenly became apparent why I had had so many problems with them in Windows XP: 1) I had neglected to clear the check box labelled: Turn on Toggle Keys by holding down the NUM LOCK key for 5 seconds. I had assumed that I did not need to clear this check box since I had already turned on this feature. In reality the label of this check box should read: Toggle the Toggle Keys Feature by holding down the NUM LOCK key for 5 seconds. 2) I had unwittingly assumed that by not setting the check box labelled ‘Turn on Filter Keys’ that this option would not be available, but Windows sets the toggle switch for this option by default. The label of this check box should read: Filter Keys has been Set by Default. Activate It when Windows Boots.

  58. Peter OKelly says:

    What is really frustrating me in Windows 7 is the lack of visibility on the selected menu item. This only uses a very thin line of cyan colour which does no contrast well at all.

    I do not want to switch to the classic Windows style, this is a retro step.

    Pls pls allow some customisation in this area.

  59. Lee Toni says:

    Is there an equivalent, "Linux AccessX" like software that is compatible with Windows 7?

    This software will need to have a persistent display and control GUI on the display in order to view and control mouse status.

    You may get an Idea of the Accessx software particulars at the following website:

  60. Michael Milne says:

    I have a more or less default install of 7 Ultimate – I also have an Sidewinder mouse – there is an obvious problem with the magnifier – launching on its own, changing pointer sizes – etc. In the ass panel it is turned off but is still on – I need it un-installed – ????

  61. Lee Toni says:

    I do not see any real acessibilty in any Windows O.S. nor have I found a add-on  application similar or even an attempt to give one handed Disabled, stylus users any accesibilty such as Linux Accessx. Since Windows and Windows like products seem to be prevelant, it stands to reason Microsoft should make the investment to develop an application suchas AccessX for Windows O.S.computers for disabled.

  62. says:

    Hi..I am just an end-user consumer with no accessibility issues.  I have a laptop without a number pad.   I saw that the onscreen keyboard has BOTH number pad and NumLock key, yet I cannot access the character map using alt+nnnn keystroke sequence…Is there any chance a fix for this will come in the future for Windows7 consumers?  Thank You.

  63. Marc says:

    I would like to highlight GRiNSER's comment.

    "Didn't have the chance to already use any Win 7 Builds so I don't know this: Is there a Windows + Scroll Wheel option alike the Ctrl + Scroll Wheel on OS X for the magnifier? This is really handy because you don't have to move your hand away of the mouse to use the magnifier shortcuts on the keyboard."

    Finding a similar solution to that of OS X is paramount for me. Also, the ability for the full screen view maintain the mouse pointer proximate to the center of the display rather then waiting for the user to move to the screen edges would be additional desired behavior.

    OS X really has this solution pinned well. It is so effortlessly intuitive that I, as a short sighted user, can comprehend the real estate of a full desktop display and intuitively navigate to magnified areas of the screen.

    Please heed my feedback.

  64. MIMI says:


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