A Little Bit of Personality


Greetings!  Based on the data we’re seeing we know a lot of folks on MSDN/TechNet/Connect are probably busy using the RC (Release Candidate) for Windows 7.  Thank you!!!  And of course many folks are looking forward to downloading the RC and using it as we expand the downloads—we’re looking forward to the participation and seeing the data that will help us validate the RC.  We’ve talked about making sure that you are “in control” of Windows 7 and one of the ways that people are in control of their PC is to personalize the experience.  With the RC you’re going to see some of the new personalization “elements” in Windows 7.  In this post, Denise Trabona and Samuel Moreau of our product design team provide a behind the scenes look at some of the work.  Be sure to check out the links below the images as you can see a lot more work by these talented artists.  Note, these are just thumbnails for this post so be sure to enjoy the full screen images in the RC.  –Steven


PS: Just a reminder, that just as with the pre-beta and beta we’ll be testing out Windows Update and the system for doing patches and updates.  So along with new drivers you might also see some other updates flowing through the system. 



One of the most exciting parts of engineering Windows 7 has been the wide variety of work that gets done over the course of a full product cycle. As evidenced by the variety of topics just in this blog, one can see that we are hard at work at all levels of the product. For fun, we thought folks might enjoy hearing some of the story behind the new personalization work in Windows 7.


As some folks have noticed, we are unveiling some new personalization content (wallpapers, glass colors and sounds schemes) in the RC build which allows people greater flexibility to personalize their experience. One thing we know is that Windows users love to express themselves by changing the desktop background and like many past releases, Windows 7 includes content in the box that allows you to begin customizing your experience immediately.


A picture speaks a thousand words


In developing the personalization features, we knew that we wanted great content for people to express their personal style. Because the desktop background is such a vibrant surface, we wanted to focus on providing quality content that demonstrated how creative people could be with this feature. When folks send us screenshots using the feedback button, we are regularly inspired by the rich diversity and personality of the wallpapers that people choose.


As we thought about how we wanted to approach personalization in Windows 7, we knew one way was to honor our lineage. In the past photography has been featured heavily Windows. Some of that photography has been quite beautiful and has become a proud tradition we wanted to maintain. In addition, we also wanted to explore new territory and expand our visual palette. In the realm of photography, we kept a theme focused on landscape photography which is our tradition, but added new themes for architecture and nature. Much of the this imagery is from our stock imagery partners, but we also had the good fortune to work with a talented local photographer named Will Austin, who has photographed all over the world on many subjects with an emphasis on architecture. Will’s photos provide a little bit of the local flavor of the Seattle area that we are proud to call home.


image


image


Raising the bar of inspiration and delight


With the photography covered, we tried to broaden our coverage to include additional images that would inspire, delight and invigorate people’s imaginations. We wanted to stretch into some new content that felt unique, timely, and with a distinct point of view. Our goal was content that balanced the timelessness of great photography with graphical illustrations that are energetic, modern, and fresh. On top of it all it was also important to achieve a rich variety in the illustrations to appeal to different tastes, genders and ages, color ranges from quiet to loud, and from large compositions to small and detailed.


Inspired by our neighbors in Zune, we worked with an agency called 72 and Sunny to search for illustrators around the world to create one-of-a-kind art work for you to have in Windows 7. In the process of looking through tons of samples, we sought a group of artists whose styles seemed both incredibly varied, to cover the broad diversity we were after, and maintained a common thread that we felt was applicable to the overall tone we were striving to achieve. Then began the fun part, with little more than some simple guiding words (light, energetic, inspiring, optimistic, etc.), the artists went off with a blank canvas to create concept sketches of their original pieces.


Iterate and refine


We still remember the first chance we got to review the artist’s initial sketches and concept work, and right from that moment, we knew that these images were going to be a lot of fun. The next step was to iterate back and forth a few times to make sure certain goals were achieved and get little details just right. For example, a couple of things that were important to us were how the image flowed under the new task bar and striking the right balance between visually compelling, and not too distracting when it came to finding that important file on your desktop. It’s tricky to find the right balance and we were fortunate to have an amazingly talented set of artists and our friends at 72 and Sunny to work with on this project.


Windows is for the whole world


Finally, we wanted to recognize the global audience of Windows by seeking out illustrators with varied backgrounds and styles with the intention of representing and appealing to people all around the world.


With that, we are honored to introduce the amazingly talented artists and the work that they contributed to Windows 7 personalization.

image

 


 



Yuko Kondo
From Japan, now resides in London, England


 


image



Katharina Leuzinger
Born to Swiss and Japanese parents in Zurich, Switzerland, Katharina Leuzinger now resides in London, England


image 



Osmand Nosse
Wicklow, Ireland


image



Klaus Haapaniemi
From Finland, now based in London, England


image



Chris Sickles of Red Nose Studios
Indiana, United States


image



Punga
Buenos Aires, Argentina


image



Pomme Chan
Born and educated in Bangkok, Pomme Chan now resides in London, England.


image



Kustaa Saksi
Amsterdam, Netherlands


image


 


 


 


 


 



Paul Hwang and Benjamin Lee of Nanosphere
Los Angeles, California


image



Adhemas Batista
From Sao Paulo Brazil, now resides in Los Angeles, California


image



Kai and Sunny
London, England


image



Nan Na Hvass
Born to a Danish father and Chinese mother in Swaziland, Africa, Nan Na Hvass now resides in Copenhagen, Denmark.


We hope this post has given you some insight into the Windows 7 content. We also hope that we achieved the goals we set out for ourselves with this element of Windows 7.


-Denise Trabona and Samuel Moreau

Comments (90)

  1. XX55XX says:

    Wow, those wallpapers look like crazy acid trips. Word up, Microsoft.

  2. wguimb says:

    Overall, the work of the Windows Development team has been fantastic.  You have turned out a release candidate that is fast, fun, and exciting.  Great job!!

  3. fuchueh says:

    update all previous-version ICONs to win7style

    Problem:

    Many ICONs is previous-version (vista style).

    The style of these previous-version icons does not match that of the new version.

    Solution:

    update all previous-version ICONs to win7style

    screenshot:

    http://www.windows7taskforce.com/thumb/icons_need_update1.png/x/560

  4. Meph says:

    I don’t really like a few of the artworks. Then again, not everyone likes everything. It’ll be interesting to see how well these new types of wallpapers take on.

  5. cosmin.tataru says:

    look grotesque except maybe the last two ones, and the first two pictures (i’m talking about what’s shown in this article) and this time i think you mixed up things without thinking of cultural and perception differences with all these horribly childish-cartoonish-anime-crazy-minded looking illustrations. i hope none pass trough in pro and higher SKUs. Come on Microsoft, some of these wallpapers make me feel sick and dizzy just by looking at them, really. I hope I’m the crazy man and everyone else likes them, so help you God.

    Sorry but I had to be honest. I respect your great work but this is crappy.

  6. Victor V. says:

    For the first time since Windows 98 I’m using default wallpapers and I’m quite surprised about all these negative comments. While the "Scenes" pack was not to my taste, all others are awesome. The "Characters" pack was a hit on Digg.

  7. Chugworth says:

    Hey, I like that Windows is getting a bit more personality.  It could use some humor, too.  I remember many years ago when I was installing Red Hat Linux for the first time, the installation was naming the different packages that were being copied over, and each one had a description.  Some of the descriptions seemed pretty funny, and I thought to myself, "you won’t see that in Windows."

    I know that since Windows has such a large audience, there’s a need to be careful about perception differences between cultures.  But anyone who gets offended by the backgrounds above needs to get a life.

  8. dsmtoday says:

    Speaking of personalization, you really need to fix it so when in Aero Glass mode, a user can still set the colors of menus running in Legacy apps.  The default baby blue color you guys have chose is very annoying.  I’d like to make it so my legacy apps use the old WinXP Zune Theme colortable.

  9. javamdk says:

    I really love the personality that’s being added into Windows 7 along with all the other work!!

    The abstract and unique designs provide users with more choice and can tailor to just about anyone. The designs don’t need to appeal to all, but knowing that their is a large selection is assuring that Microsoft is focusing their attention to the user.

    Good work!

  10. jakalope242 says:

    Much like many people that have commented, i am delighted that Microsoft is ‘gettin’ some personality’, and i am equally surprised at all the negative comments..

    Personally  i think the larger selection of wallpapers is a really good thing, and i know that when i download the RC i will be using one of the default.

    Although, i must agree with ‘fuchueh’..

    i was expecting some new icons as well..

    when i first upgraded to Vista the new icons where dazzling and exciting, can everyone expect the same from Windows 7?

  11. GaryK says:

    sorry, but putting a picture on the desktop doesn’t constitute "personalizing" to me. anybody can put a picture on the desktop, who cares?

    what about being able to put the ie icon on the desktop? how about getting rid of full row select? or the ability to have explorer windows open in the size i want them, instead of the size "you" want them (all he same size)? why do you block the ability to change the version number of an xls file in file properties and allow it for an xlsm file?

    this is customizing the os to my needs, not some stupid picture on the desktop, or any other useless aero effects.

  12. RotoSequence says:

    @GaryK:

    I rather like the addition of these crazy new desktop backgrounds. I wouldn’t want to have all of them necessarily on my desktop at some point, but I’m sure someone will.

    Not everyone is a performance freak, so lots of eye candy and fun makes for a more enjoyable windows experience for those people.

    I say good on you, Microsoft developers.

  13. Happy-Dude says:

    Okay…

    YES, YES, YES!! I love this!! Finally 🙂 !!

    On a side note, I still woulda loved a tweaked UXtheme.dll to the XP-extent, but as long as things become flexible, let’s see how things might turn out?

    Oh, and think that there might be options that turn Explorer.exe into a WINDOWS-ONLY manager? We have a desktop, but no icons (no constant managing needed for it), and I do believe it saves resources. I believe Ubuntu’s Openbox windows manager does this, and let me say, it is so much speedier than even XFCE (due to the nature of desktop-vs-window managers).

    Overall, amazing job. And please, pass on a congrats from me to the photographers. I like how you guys are expanding your horizon — maybe now MS notices that we aren’t all inert and apathetic users 😉 ?

  14. Panda X says:

    I honestly don’t see much here. Wallpapers, sounds, cursors, icons could have been done since XP. Glass Color in Vista. The only major difference is slideshow and the shipped content. Why not make MSStyles for the themes.

    For example. The Architecture theme: Make an architecture type MSStyles.

  15. dwasyl says:

    I like that you’re adding something less…corporate.. as far as backgrounds go.

    Total side note, any idea what happened to the Microsoft Generic 802.11b/g/n USB driver in the RC? It was in the earlier beta builds but it seems to have disappeared (which seems odd..)

  16. TheDesperationOfAntiMicrosoft says:

    (With all due respect to the artists), it’s not that I don’t appreciate good art but I can see where the effort is going instead of providing half-decent features like for instance, a usable file manager or taskbar. Here I am totally unhappy about how Windows Explorer has turned out to be Windows 7 and Microsoft is interested in enhancing the personalization experience which keeps you in control and lets you vibrantly express yourself.

    Where is the user in control when: (straight from Wikipedia)

    –  The user can’t create a secondary file association action which he would in Windows XP.

    –  The user can’t set security properties/ACLs/permission on multiple items from Properties because there is no Security tab like Windows XP for multiple files or folders.

    –  The user can’t add or remove toolbar actions in Explorer, can’t change their order as was possible in Windows XP.

    –  The user can’t do anything about metadata unless developers write shell metadata handlers unlike Windows XP.

    –  Useful and powerfull shell extensions like Folder size won’t work.

    –  Windows 7 makes it deliberately and extremely difficult to view small useful information like file size and free space when it should be available to the user at one glance. This was available in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot turn off autosorting of files if even he’s finding it extremely hard to work with when dealing with large number of files, unlike Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot execute multiple actions on a set of files from the GUI which was possible in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot press Shift to bypass autologon as was possible in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot see set multiple connection icons, cannot customize connection icons, cannot view network activity using indicators, cannot access connection status quickly from the connection icon all of which was possible in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot quickly access the Network Connections folder and actual wired/dial-up connections when it is the most visited places in Windows. It is buried several clicks inside the UI.

    –  The user cannot customize his search using the GUI as could be done in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot disable grouping (placing next to each other) similar taskbar icons, whereas he had a choice up to Windows Vista.

    –  The user cannot disable thumbnail previews as could be done in Windows Vista.

    –  The user cannot disable jumplists in favor of old context menu.

    –  The user cannot group close applications as could be done up to Windows Vista.

    I am getting so sick of the machine-like PR language used here. Microsoft seems to believe they have invented something out of this world by changing Display Properties to "Personalization" and they simply can’t enough of it and stop drooling over it since Vista. I don’t want more personality, there’s no lack of free high quality artwork and "personality" on the internet to help me customize my PC, I want to see genuine concern from Microsoft about certain huge and long-standing issues users have the usability and design of NT 6.x series. Microsoft is only doing lip service and conveniently ignoring these while claiming improved productivity. With so many issues in the core FILE MANAGER! and Taskbar, I don’t see how Windows 7 improves upon Windows XP’s experience. Windows 7 is a FAILURE to truly address users’ concerns. Just because the media and fanboys are showering praise and telling any critics to shut up and shoo off doesn’t mean these show-stopping problems don’t exist.

    If anyone wants these fixed by RTM, be vocal and send your feedback to Microsoft.

  17. wtroost says:

    The Landscape and US themes are amazing, and it’s awesome how you can activate them with a single click!

    Compared to the beta, I’m missing my favorite wallpaper. I was able to copy it from the Beta partition at WindowsWebWallpaperimg9.jpg.

    And there appear to be "hidden" themes in WindowsGlobalizationMCT !  The one labelled South Africa is especially nice.

  18. limulus says:

    Like some of the other posters here, I am a bit skeptical about the addition of this kind of artwork.

    At least two of those artworks – those by Klaus Haapaniemi and especially the one by Punga – come across as creepy rather than pleasant. They certainly don’t look neutral and IMO are not something that should be included by default.

    I also must concede that one of the posters (the one with the long name) is right – I do not quite see the point of adding many wallpapers by default at all. There certainly is no lack of suitable, free, beautiful wallpapers on the web. Anyone interested in personalizing his desktop will most likely find his pick there.

  19. nwoolls says:

    @TheDesperationOfAntiMicrosoft

    Some of those sound like good points, but some are questionable or just flat out false:

    –  Useful and powerfull shell extensions like Folder size won’t work.

    Sounds like it would be up to said shell extensions’ developers to fix them – or wait to see if they work in the RTM release. Have you reported these issues to the PROPER channels?

    –  Windows 7 makes it deliberately and extremely difficult to view small useful information like file size and free space when it should be available to the user at one glance. This was available in Windows XP.

    I have no idea what this means. These details are all visible on screen by default, in columns, tiles, detail windows, and tooltips. How could it be easier?

    –  The user cannot execute multiple actions on a set of files from the GUI which was possible in Windows XP.

    What does this mean?

    –  The user cannot quickly access the Network Connections folder and actual wired/dial-up connections when it is the most visited places in Windows. It is buried several clicks inside the UI.

    Click the network icon in the notification area, click Network and Sharing Center, click Change adapter settings. I count three clicks. Wasn’t it three clicks before?

    –  The user cannot customize his search using the GUI as could be done in Windows XP.

    I see lots of GUI for customizing search. What does this mean?

    –  The user cannot disable grouping (placing next to each other) similar taskbar icons, whereas he had a choice up to Windows Vista.

    False. Just not true at all.

    –  The user cannot disable jumplists in favor of old context menu.

    Jump lists do not replace context menus. The context menus are still there. Jump lists are menus for the shortcut/group, the context menus are still there for each individual instance.

    –  The user cannot group close applications as could be done up to Windows Vista.

    Wrong. Not true.

    Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. And – if you choose to – I wouldn’t suggest blindly reposting it.

  20. Tihiy says:

    Well, Windows 7 themes are cool and will be no lesser hit than Windows 98 themes =).

    Would we get finishing touches on icons? It could be pretty nice if main icons (like My Computer, Recycle Bin, Folder, etc) were slightly restyled like Windows Update icon was.

    That will make Windows 7 less like Vista :).

  21. milan475 says:

    Hi Guys,

    I don’t know if this actually the right please to leave comments on the ui of windows 7. Yesterday I saw a blog about the changes in the UI since RC1 but I lost the link so I put my comments here.

    First off all. Windows 7 Rules, it is actually even better than leopard! And 1000 times better than vista. But there are a 2 things I’d really like to see changed:

    1. I’m a fervent user of dual screen. with areopeek, you made the great feature to span the window horizontally for 50%. But for example on my left monitor it isn’t possilble to span the window for 50% on the right side.

    2. My laptop isn’t very energy efficient. And windows 7 it (still) gives a shorter battry time than with xp. But I noticed that that I can use my laptop longer on the battery when I disble DWM and the Windows Search service. Is it possible to add an option to set the powerplan so that when I unplug my power cable, the DWM and Windows Seach service will be automaticly disabled.

    Thank you were much. Say it if this the wrong place to post my comments and sorry for my crappy english. I’m Dutch

  22. ericduran@hotmail.com says:

    I’m going to repost a few of the bullet points that @TheDesperationOfAntiMicrosoft is spot on. It is borderline insulting to dedicate a post to personalization when key customization features are missing. I really hope that at least one PM from the Windows Explorer group reads this comment and consider most of these issues.

    – The user can’t create a secondary file association action which he would in Windows XP.

    – The user can’t set security properties/ACLs/permission on multiple items from Properties because there is no Security tab like Windows XP for multiple files or folders.

    –  The user can’t add or remove toolbar actions in Explorer, can’t change their order as was possible in Windows XP.

    –  The user cannot turn off autosorting of files if even he’s finding it extremely hard to work with when dealing with large number of files, unlike Windows XP.

    Please, I think several users agree with me on the first bullet point, as proved here:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itproui/thread/8463dbfe-52f3-4cd2-9118-f07323a83d6e/

    Please, somebody at Microsoft, restore the advanced customization features!

  23. steven_sinofsky says:

    We might distinguish between customization and personalization.  This post is about personalization–like picking the color of a car, bumper stickers, and so on.  Customization is more like putting on different shocks, new wheels, changing out engine parts.  Windows supports both of course, and pretty extensively.

    Personalization is "to change something to reflect personality".  Customization is "to alter something to make it fit somebody’s wishes".  Of course one person’s customization might be another person’s personalization and we definitely understand that.

    There are many places where we know people want to do more and more to alter Windows–that is to change the way it works.  We’re always trying to balance compatibility and robustness with the set of items that can be reliably customized.  We definitely understand the feedback that some elements of customization have changed from release to release.  We’ve also done work to listen and add some of the elements that have been discussed.  

    Where we make engineering tradeoffs is in how much customization to provide support for because each new release we run the risk of blocking further advances as the combinatorics of what is allowed can get unmanageable very quickly.

    Many people have enjoyed the ability to personalize Windows and this post was about some of the work we did to allow this broad set of folks to reflect their personality in Windows.

    –Steven

  24. Vacui says:

    Oh come on! Get a real OS all of you people.

    The Illustrations are really, really great, but i don’t think they are good wallpaper material. They are intrusive, distractive and really complex. The only things that MS gets mildly right are the ones that they copy from other OSs.

  25. EddyS says:

    Hi Steven

    Nice backgrounds, I think a lot of people are going to enjoy it. Very nice.

    As you can see there are a lot of people here (and on the Internet) that care about Windows 7 and that they vent a lot of anger. Mostly regarding the explorer. And yes they are right.

    MS should reconize that pain (mostly caused by Vista => MS) and act on that, don’t you agree? This is not about engineering tradeoffs. That sounds almost like an excuse not to act.

    I really hope that MS listen to the comments on this blog and the other blogs to make number 7 the best ever. We don’t mind 3 other rc’s.

    Sincerly Ed,

  26. TheDesperationOfAntiMicrosoft says:

    Well there was never a post on Windows Explorer on this blog (maybe MS didn’t think the file manager was important enough). These are issues since the Vista betas that have been ignored, not a single one I’ve listed above (XP->Vista) has been fixed, documented in MSDN as to why the change was made or the feature was completely eliminated.

    @nwoolls, let me clarify some of the issues which you (and MS) might not have understood:

    – Developers can only "fix" shell extensions or redesign them if a way exists. In case of Folder size, Microsoft removed the IColumnProvider interface that broke the shell extension. The replacement, the Property system was probably introduced to enumerate properties out of the process and asynchronously, rather than using shell-item specific IColumnProviders, however it doesn’t have a way to display dynamic data, only metadata.

    – Not everyone uses Details view and even in Details view, size is only shown in KB instead of MB or GB. Where is the size on the status bar? Why are there now two clicks required just to see size on the Details pane?

    – "Network Connections" was earlier accessible from the Start menu (1 click), or right-click notification area. Same goes for connections/connection status/connection properties.

    – Executing multiple actions on a set of files means selecting more than 1 item in Explorer and performing the same operation on all of them. Even if this had concerns like accidentally triggering some action, Windows XP warned the users before performing the action. Now it is removed altogether.

    – In XP, search parameters could be set using a GUI. Vista reduced the customization from the UI instead forcing the user to remember the advanced query syntax, which isn’t even present in Vista’s documentation but instead is located online.

    – Try setting your taskbar icons to "Never combine" mode and then try separating two IE windows or any two windows of the same app. Not possible in Windows 7.

    – The user cannot group close applications as could be done up to Windows Vista. In XP/Vista, try holding down Ctrl and click to select multiple taskbar items. That too isn’t possible under Windows 7.

    I am not believing everything I read on the Internet and blindly posting. These are serious usability issues several users are having everywhere since the release of Vista (a simple web search will reveal more). Why were things moved around and thrown away if they weren’t broken at all?

  27. mgough says:

    I love the variety of themes in Windows 7, and customizing is one of the first things I do when I install a new version of the OS.

    This is my favorite Windows 7 theme, and I actually wish it was part of the OS: http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/archive/2009/01/25/my-windows-7-theme-pack.aspx

  28. Hairs says:

    "We’ve talked about making sure that you are “in control” of Windows 7 and one of the ways that people are in control of their PC is to personalize the experience."

    This statement at the head of the blog summarised not only MS’s attitude to the user since Vista, but also the failure to appreciate what "user control" is.

    Changing wallpapers is *nothing whatsoever*, NOTHING to do with my control over my PC.

    Yes, you’ve got some pretty pictures up there. News: I’ve been able to put pretty pictures on my desktop for over 20 years now. "New" users simply aren’t aware of a time when the desktop wasn’t customisable.

    Desperation has made all the salient points here, and should be lauded for them, not avoided. Engineering is about facing difficult decisions, admitting mistakes, and fixing them. Time to stop running away, time to stop focussing on what Marketing or OEM Sales staff want, and start acknowledging and fixing *VERY MAJOR* architecture, interface and usability issues. "Sort by folder size" is something users have been screaming for for decades – not months, or years. DECADES. Sort it out already.

    What affects my control of my PC?

    Focus Stealing: Under no circumstance should any non-elevated or non-kernel process be able to steal focus from the user. UAC should. Some app telling me that a download is complete, or a connection was lost… no. The functionality should simply not exist. There is nothing more fundamentally annoying than being in the middle of typing or using something, only to have another application steal focus because some ******* developer has decided "hey this is important to my application and screw what the user is doing". I don’t think it’s a wild stab in the dark to suggest that 99% of the time, the focus-stealing app is not telling you anything vitally important – a virus scanner might, but then, I’ve always believed that virus scanners should get elevated rights granted to the developers by Microsoft-provided security certification.

    It does not get any more basic in terms of "user control" than "only the user gets to decide what they are doing".

    "Default" folders spammed all over the OS partition and virtually cross-referenced against other virtual folders in an endless loop. eg: "Docs & settings" -> "Users…" -> "UserswhoevertfDocs & Settings" -> some other record keeping area.

    Mind bogglingly stupid arrangement. I know that’s not a nice way of putting it, but it’s true. I brought this up during the discussion of "libraries" where I was accused of "not appreciating the power of libraries" when I pointed out that "Libraries" was nothing more than the "My Music" folder relabelled and made needlessly complicated. I have a "Music" folder already, so I don’t need Windows to attempt to organise and tell me where my stuff is. I know where it is – I put it there! More to the point, if the OS gets corrupted, or needs to be re-installed, or the registry goes titsup, guess what happens to the oh-so-useful "Library"? You’ve got it – it’s buggered. Guess what happens to my backed-up "Music" folder if Windows gets hammered? Absolutely nothing.

    This is control. Putting my stuff where *I* want it. Using the application *I* want to, when *I* want. Getting at my files by getting *out* of my way instead of shoving "enhancements" *in* my way.

  29. Mike43110 says:

    See the TURTLE of enormus girth

    on his back he holds the entire earth!

    Way to flashback on the Dark Tower series!

    But I hope that personalisation can be both simple and advanced, some users just change a background, while some customise WMP’s colour, set a specific transparency colour then do the background to match that, then go to the toolbars etc.

    One question: can we have changing transparency colours to match changing backgrounds, no one wants a blue and brown system, I think

  30. warrens says:

    ""Network Connections" was earlier accessible from the Start menu (1 click), or right-click notification area. Same goes for connections/connection status/connection properties."

    This reflects a different philosophy of networking that was introduced with Vista — the idea being that it’s the /networks/ that you’re connected to that are most important; the /device/ you use to connect to it is secondary.

    You really should never need to look at your list of network devices on a day-to-day basis.  You’re doing something really wrong (or really 1990s) if that’s the case.

    Get your network connections set up right… and then Let It Go.

    If you want quick access to the Network Connections control panel on /your/ Windows 7 desktop, hit the Start button, type "Network Connections" and press Enter (or navigate to it by clicking the Network notification area icon, clicking Network and Sharing Center, then clicking "Change adapter settings").  You’ll be presented with an Explorer window with your network connections.  Drag the icon to an empty spot on the taskbar, and it will be pinned to the Control Panel icon on the taskbar.  This will also have the effect of pinning the Control Panel icon itself to your taskbar.    

    Now all you have to do is right-click on the control panel icon, and choose "Network Connections".  That’s the beauty of Windows 7…. you can pin short-cuts to pretty much everywhere in the Control Panel, and they’ll all be collected in one place.

  31. warrens says:

    "- The user cannot group close applications as could be done up to Windows Vista. In XP/Vista, try holding down Ctrl and click to select multiple taskbar items. That too isn’t possible under Windows 7."

    As for this, YES YOU CAN do this in Windows 7.  Hold down the SHIFT key, not the CTRL key, and right-click the grouped icon on the task bar.  

    Also, try Shift + Right-click on taskbar icons that aren’t open — it gives you the context menu for the application’s shortcut icon, including an option that’s never been so easily accessible in Windows before — "Run as different user".  Fabulous.

  32. commongenius says:

    "Focus Stealing: Under no circumstance should any non-elevated or non-kernel process be able to steal focus from the user. UAC should. Some app telling me that a download is complete, or a connection was lost… no. The functionality should simply not exist. There is nothing more fundamentally annoying than being in the middle of typing or using something, only to have another application steal focus because some ******* developer has decided "hey this is important to my application and screw what the user is doing"."

    This has been one of my biggest frustrations with the operating system for years now. It quite frankly boggles the mind that, not only has this not been addressed, but it apparently has not even been acknowledged as a problem. How can anyone talk about "making sure that you are “in control” of Windows 7" when input focus, the fundamental mechanism that determines what the user can control and how, is still not in the control of the user?

    I am glad that this blog is trying to open up the development process of the operating system. But at the same time, it is very disheartening to see all of the effort that is being put into mostly-useless trivialities while major user issues are being completely ignored. It makes the entire marketing scheme of "user control" seem…disingenuous at best.

  33. jakalope242 says:

    Okay, i think everyone has lost sight of what everyone is talking about..

    This post is about wallpapers and themes and people are arguing about not being able to get to Network Connection in one click..

    Microsft is getting some attitude, which is very good, i really want to see how far that will go.. and while yes, Windows doesn’t let the user customize (or personalize) EVERYTHING it still has many options which both novices and (so i would assume) pro’s alike can use and enjoy, so instead of complaining you could

    A) Enjoy what we have – which is an absolutly brilliant operating system, which does have alot of useful features, BUT could still be inproved

    or

    B) If you are really that urked about not being able to see the folder size the way you want, or not being able to get to Network Connections with a single click; don’t complain here, email someone (Steven perhaps?) and suggest these ideas, get your ideas heard.

    Oh, and i saw someone mention something about ‘pain’ ..  well i daresay that it isn’t easy to make and OS to please millions of people..

  34. gh05t says:

    My opinion:

    It’s nice to see more effort put into the way an ‘average’ user sees and customises their desktop. Personaly I find it to be quite a nice experience using the Windows 7 personalisation features. It was very surprising to find out that my desktop wallpaper changes by itself (I’m a bit thick, obviously, because I never noticed the feature until it changed by itself).

    My compliments to the Windows 7 Development Team for creating something that I believe the masses will flock to and love. Keep up the innovation and good work.

  35. ismell says:

    I could not agree more with you guys on the file manager. I have tried switching to vista, and even win7 multiple times but I leave it for XP every time because the file manager is just unusable. If there was a way to bring back the XP explorer or something similar I would consider switching, but until that happens I’m sticking to XP.

  36. PatriotB says:

    Have to say I agree with dsmtoday about the icky menu background color in Win7.  Unfortunately it’s unchanged from Vista — the same purple-tinted blue, ever so slightly different than the blue used by Explorer’s toolbar.  It looks even worse on apps like Firefox that try to do the dutiful thing and use the proper system themes.

    For whatever reason, a slightly different color — one that looks good — is used when viewed over remote desktop.  Any chance that you can swap in this better color for normal usage?

  37. jestempies says:

    Please don’t listen to the naysayers. It’s great that you finally give the subject more thought, and obviously the wallpapers you show here are varied, so nobody is going to like _all_ of them. Good job..

    Perhaps you could create an application (or a tab in some kind of Windows Marketplace app) that would let users share their backgrounds?

  38. Hairs says:

    @warrens:

    Providing new ways of doing things doesn’t mean that the old functionalities have to be abandoned.

    Please tell me exactly what the point is of changing from Ctrl-click to Shift-right click to group taskbar icons? Did keyboard makers suddenly stop shipping keyboards with Ctrl keys? Are left mouse buttons an infection vector? Or did some Vista committee decide to make an arbitrary and pointless change, and then not tell the users about it?

    Making the user right click this, pin that, and switch around the way the OS arranges something just so that you can get to a useful part of the OS in less than 2 or 3 clicks is an example of why Vista adoption is so poor, and the OS got so much heat. Hiding the network connections doesn’t represent a change in networking, it represents a waste of the user’s time and energy. If the aim is to "set it and forget it" then why have any network notifications at all? Answer: because networks are finicky, unreliable, changing things. When they go wrong you need to be ably to get at them and there’s no reason why the OS should attempt to stop you. If the argument was that Network Connections was too tech-heavy for the average users, then there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been made more user-friendly *and left in the same place*. It’s a head in the sand "we haven’t addressed the issue but we moved it somewhere else" attitude.

  39. schildr says:

    AFter upgrading from Vista Ultimate to Windows7 RC1, if you click on "All Programs" in the Start menu it is empty.

    Where’s my workaround:

    1. Click on the Start Menu.

    2. Right Click on All Programs.

    3. Select Open All Users.

    4. Open the Programs Folder.

    5. Create a new folder named A.

    6. Drag all the other folders into the A folder.

    7. Close Windows Explorer.

  40. bananaman says:

    Lots of negativity overshadowing the cool artwork on here, congrats to the artists for some excellent work and to Microsoft for taking this initiative.

    I agree they’re all a bit too distracting to use as wallpapers, but then I’m often a solid-color wallpaper guy anyway.

    Back to the negativity; it is a bit annoying to see Microsoft considering wallpapers to be a way of offering customization.

    Even without going as far as one of the excellent open-source window managers from the Linux world, we should still be able to change the shape, size and behaviour of a lot more things, at least to the extent you could in older versions of Windows.  I shouldn’t have to swap DLLs and whatnot just to re-skin things.  "Glass color" is a start though.

  41. warrens says:

    It’s been pointed out to me that the "shift-right-click" functionality in Windows 7 is not quite the same as the "ctrl-right-click" functionality in Windows XP.  Ctrl-click in XP lets you select multiple taskbar icons and perform the same action on them (i.e. treat them as a group), whereas Shift-click on a single grouped taskbar icon gives you the group actions for that icon.

  42. pepkaro@hotmail.com says:

    @Eric Duran, re "It is borderline insulting to dedicate a post to personalization when key customization features are missing."

    I consider myself a power user of my PC, and nothing you listed are considered "key customization features" to me.  Stating things that you think are important do not make them important; this is known as an "I am the world" logical fallacy.  There are a number of usage cases for PCs equal to the number of people who own.  Features don’t exist until they’re made, and when existing features have been replaced or superseded, they are removed.  Engineering software is an exercise in trade offs: you can’t have everything and the kitchen sink and still ship your product.

    @Warrens: bravo.

    As a follow up: changes to core systems (like the taskbar) can’t always have no changes between versions.  Example: TheDesperationOfAntiMicrosoft’s your logic, we should not have the windows key after going from 3.1 to 95, and Ctrl+Esc should suffice for all time.  If "power users" can’t re-learn moving your hand one quarter inch to the left and pressing a different key to use a key combination that I would suspect 99% of windows users have NEVER heard of or used before, not upgrading is an option.  Or those same power users can use many of the excellent benefits that the changes to the taskbar have given us along with the minor changes to key combinations, and have the best of both worlds.

    @commongenius, re "Focus stealing apps":

    The only apps that can bring programs to the foreground are ones that have already been given permission to bring apps to the foreground.  You, the user, have to give those apps permission.  The primarily way is by having them selected.  If you hate apps that steal your focus, then don’t use those apps.  If you don’t have a choice, it’s not Windows’ fault that your system administrators installed those apps on your PC and gave them the permission to do it.

  43. vickyl says:

    I would love to see a simpler and darker wallpaper featuring the windows logo for the minimalist Win7 fans 🙂

  44. jrronimo says:

    I think that this move is bold and fantastic. Some of the pictures look very… Katamari-esque, to be a gamer about it, but there’s nothing stopping anyone from using their own images. The photography from Microsoft and its partners is as awesome as ever, and I’m proud to see such fine-quality imagery in my OS of choice.

    I know it would probably require more lawyers than you care to think about, Steven, but I would *love* to see a contest where everyday users like me can submit a picture and one picture is chosen to be included with Windows. (Or maybe one per region). I’d be honored to have a picture I took be a part of Windows.

    One last thing: I love all of the customization in Windows. Now, can I please make the Start Menu MORE transparent and glass-like? It seems darker in the RC than it was in Beta and I really prefer it to be clear and light and glassy. 🙂

    Keep up the good work! RC is fantastic, so far.

  45. ShadowChaser says:

    Love the new artwork – lots of variety and all extremely creative!

  46. Hairs says:

    To the negativity complaints: I don’t see anyone complaining about the quality of the wallpapers. What people are complaining about is the inclusion of "New wallpapers in Windows 7" in a blog with "ENGINEERING" in the title, with marketing fobbing us off with "personalisation is control over your Windows experience" twaddle.

    Rule #1 when speaking to a base of engineers: Lock marketing in a cupboard and hide the matches.

    @pepkaro

    You’re totally missing the point. When the windows key was instituted (to universal disdain), Ctrl-Esc wasn’t removed. Vista, however, changed a lot of learned behaviours *to no benefit whatsoever* – either in UI terms, structure, or architecture.

    Your comment about Focus stealing is entirely wide of the mark too. It IS Window’s fault, because MS provided the functionality in the first place. These apps haven’t been "granted" permission by the user *at all* – in fact, the only way to get around it was to install a downloadable registry tweaker, and all that did was switch from stealing focus to flashing madly in the taskbar. They shouldn’t be given the tools to do it, and it shows a total disregard for what we, the users, want in favour of what a subset of developers want.

  47. commongenius says:

    @pepkaro

    I confess that I did not know that I could set permissions to allow or disallow applications to steal focus. If you would point me to the location where I can change those permissions, I would be forever in your debt.

  48. domenico says:

    THIS IS ART!!!!

    Congratulation to ALL!!

    -Domenico

  49. lyesmith says:

    The W7 backgrounds are generally very nice. However please consider to add some less dramatic background as well. These vibrant backgrounds can be confusing and for some professionals (f.exp photographers) annoying.

    I was a bit disappointed with the explorer preview plane. It is not very useful for most case. Some detachable preview plane would be nicer.

    Also a bit strange thing happened. Maybe it was the same in Vista but I have not used the file explorer a long time. When I renamed a file to a name that was already existed it did not offered option to overwrite. Only to add some increment after the name. And when I renamed that file I ended up with 2 file with the same file name in the same folder with different size and date!!!

    Is that a bug or  a feature??? Anyway pls add overwrite option.

  50. manicmarc says:

    Great work W7 team. The bottom line is you wont please everyone. If someone doesn’t like a desktop wallpaper, then they wont set it as their background! Doh!  No harm in including it now is there?

  51. gstrock says:

    I got all excited there for a minute.  I thought this post would be about personalizing my window manager and it is about wallpaper.  This is why windows disappoints me.  Where’s the info about window managers, changing window managers, configuring window managers, specifying a mouse-windows focus model, having a choice of desktops, etc.

    wallpaper?  you can go any where on the internet and get wallpaper.

  52. Hairs says:

    Thank you.

    We know that the powers that be either haven’t read it, or are carefully avoiding it, but thank you for pointing it out again.

    Wallpapers are nice.

    Please spend more time fixing some of the massive problems that Windows still has (some of them very very old indeed) next time.

    Good luck with Windows 8. Hopefully it’s a new, 64bit only OS rather than Vista Fixed.

  53. Vistaline says:

    The new Desktop Backgrounds and Sound Schemes are quite nice, it is very refreshing to see Windows’s sense of style expand past the usual images of landscapes. And the artists who created these works definitely deserve some praise, the art is interesting… and unusual, of course.

    Now that we’re on the topic of personalization though, I’m a little more interested in the command bar. Across the world, the Explorers of Windows 7 will iniformly be a pale blue color. While I like the color and do not mind this, I was wondering why it is the case. Why is there no color picker in Personalization so command and menu bar colors can be changed similar to Live Mail?

    If there are any ‘softies available to answer my question, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    —–

    >>I also must concede that one of the posters (the one with the long name) is right – I do not quite see the point of adding many wallpapers by default at all.

    It’s about selling a complete product. Wallpapers are sold with every version of Windows, 7 being no exception, as an out-of-the-box value.

    Another poster said this is where the effort was going to instead of adding features. I doubt any of the coders for Windows 7 put in any work regarding creation of wallpapers. Adding these didn’t impede them in any way, the features weren’t added because Microsoft didn’t want to add them.

    >>"Default" folders spammed all over the OS partition and virtually cross-referenced against other virtual folders in an endless loop.

    I’m sure you know the purpose of these links, so why complain? Would you rather we not have them? Do you think it should fall onto the user to create them? Simply hide the links you don’t want to see.

    >More to the point, if the OS gets corrupted, or needs to be re-installed, or the registry goes titsup, guess what happens to the oh-so-useful "Library"?

    Absolutely nothing? Libraries are similar to saved searches, they don’t contain actual data themselves. If you wanted to you could take music files from another drive, another computer, and a WHS box and view them together through the library. Libraries are a clean way for Windows to handle managing files from multiple sources. Windows could go fall over and your data will be just fine where it is… hell, the PC could explode and your data would be just fine.

  54. Konstantinos says:

    I can’t say I like all of the new wallpapers.

    I hope, when you release Win7, you add the old wallpapers (that came with the beta version) too.

    Also, when using small icons on the taskbar, the spacing between pinned links is too big.

    See here:

    http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/5190/capturep.png

    Really ugly, isn’t it ?

  55. Konstantinos says:

    Why don’t you add some icons on the context menus ?

    E.g. when you right click on a file, the appearing menu is huge and it has no icons at all. If it had some, it would be much easier to locate what you want to select (and it could be more beautiful too).

    Look at that:

    http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/9388/51005012.png

    Image what will happen aftr a few menu extnsions…

  56. Konstantinos says:

    Try this:

    Right click on the taskbar, choose properties, go to the "taskbar" tab and on the "taskbar buttons" make sure the "Always combine, hide labels" is selected.

    Then open IE8, open three or more tabs and minimize IE’s window.

    Why when you click on taskbar button for IE8, IE’s window doesn’t get restored ?

    If the setting for "taskbar buttons" is other than "Always combine, hide labels", IE’s windows gets restored normally.

    I would like to use the "Always combine, hide labels" option, but I don’t, because I don’t think it’s working fine. Am I wrong ?

  57. Konstantinos says:

    I wonder if it would be easy to add some "tree lines" on the TreeView control of the start menu (where the programs appear).

    It would help a lot to distinguish what program belongs in what folder.

    I would also love some more customizations (generally talking).

    Can you also make the "Spinning Tool" open the copied image on the clipboard after the user presses the "Print Screen" button ?

    Generally, Windows 7 seems to be a nice piece work !

    But you don’t seem to take much into account any of the suggestions posted on this blog, ahhh ? 🙁

  58. Konstantinos says:

    OK. How about this:

    I am a Windows XP person. As a Win XP person I like seeing my explorer files ALWAYS in lists.

    However, when I set the view to list and select "Folder Options…"->"View Tab"->"Apply to folders" this setting doesn’t apply to folders with images (where I get thumbnails), the desktop, etc, etc.

    So. What is going on ?

    Does Win7 have design flaws or it’s just me ?

    Any way to see lists and only lists ?

    Finally, look how much better the Win7 TreeViews would look if they had a few lines:

    http://img206.imageshack.us/img206/3338/capture2o.png

    Which do you think is better ?

  59. thartist says:

    "Wow, those wallpapers look like crazy acid trips. Word up, Microsoft."

    harsh way to say it, but VERY TRUE.

  60. thartist says:

    i am really trying hard to understand, how did MS accept this kind of works for their OS?

    the illustrations look "too inspired", rather like what freakish artists do when they are high on something.

    it may be a very avant-garde move by MS, but i doubt ANOYONE WOULD USE THOSE AS A WALLPAPER. Have you thought that?

  61. Konstantinos says:

    Well, since Windows 7 will be distributed into a DVD (thus you ‘ll have much free space to use), why don’t you put MANY wallpapers (including those presented here – I’m sure some people will use them – and the ones from Vista+XP collection), so that the user can choose from.

  62. Konstantinos says:

    Generally, I like to use wallpapers that are simple (not too many colors and usually close to uniform) so that I don’t loose my icons in it…

    And don’t forget to fix this:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/05/02/a-little-bit-of-personality.aspx#9598179

    Good luck with the Win7 release.

  63. Chris-Gonzales says:

    Come on, the new wall papers are childish. Stop pleasing the little kids who have no right to be on the computer in the first place.

  64. Online software engineering degree says:

    Be sure to check out the links below the images as you can see a lot more work by these talented artists.

  65. Online degree in teaching says:

    Finally, look how much better the Win7 TreeViews would look if they had a few lines:

  66. Network management degree says:

    We’ve also done work to listen and add some of the elements that have been discussed.  

  67. Online special education degree says:

    Then began the fun part, with little more than some simple guiding words (light, energetic, inspiring, optimistic, etc.), the artists went off with a blank canvas to create concept sketches of their original pieces.

  68. Psychology degrees says:

    As we thought about how we wanted to approach personalization in Windows 7, we knew one way was to honor our lineage.

  69. arpit21 says:

    When i open my personalisation window in my windows7 it says the page is not available in your edition of windows and you must do windows anytime upgrade but i have windows 7 ultimate and it has personalisation what do i do???

  70. ciprian says:

    Speaking of Will Austin: we just published a very cool interview with him about his work on Windows 7.

    You can all find it here:

    http://www.7tutorials.com/will-austin-about-his-trip-desktop-millions

  71. lebesnec says:

    Ok I know it is a little bit late for suggestion but please please wouldn’t it be awesome to have a background featuring the Windows OS-Tan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS-tan) ?? With of course Seven-Tan in front 🙂 and in the background the previous version of windows.

    I’m serious : it will add a lot of personality to Seven, and people will love it just because the OS-tan are so cute 🙂 Think of all the positive hype if you include such a wallpaper ! People starting to create fan art etc …

    the biggest nerd in the world

  72. cash gifting says:

    windows 7 is an all around better os

  73. SamC says:

    Sorry pepkaro but you totally miss the point. Focus should not be in the control of ANY program. Just like cooperative multitasking failed, it is a dumb idea. Even a UAC prompt should not steal focus. It should wait until it is addressed. The user should decide what they focus on.

  74. casey says:

    @samc

    You can change UAC so that it doesn’t steal focus.  However, I generally find that’s a terrible option, because a program can appear locked up/hung, when, in fact, it’s just waiting for you to respond to a UAC prompt.

    It’s analogous to saving a file to a file name that already exists and instead of having the prompt take focus asking if you want to overwrite it, that prompt sits under the window, so as not to steal focus from your file dialog.

    With that said, I do agree that some apps that steal focus should not.  Southwest Airlines Ding app falls under that category.  And unfortunately, there’s a bug in it where it sometimes continuously steals focus for no reason at all….that’s when I kill that sucker.  It seems to mostly happen in XP, not in 7, IME.

  75. L. Peters says:

    I am SO GRATEFUL for this information. I recently started with a new company and am using Windows 7. I started to personalize my work station and came across the character options for wallpaper. I immediately fell in love with each and every one. I then wanted to find out who the artists were that created the fantastic work I have displayed on my desktops. Thank you so much for publishing this information. You’re the only site that had it and I’m so thankful because now I can check out their work overall. :o)

  76. Earthy Warrior says:

    You can check out the websites listed by the other answerers but, you can also watch Big Bang Theory and focus on Sheldon. He does, in my opinion, done the absolute perfect portrayal of a narcissist.

  77. I really like the pictures in this article.

  78. pratikmankawde says:

    I have edited some resource files that changed the look of windows 7.

    I want to know that where should I submit it to Microsoft for their evaluation!

    I will be glad to here the comments from Microsoft on this topic!

    Some of the Screen-Shots are posted here>>

    http://picasaweb.google.com/PprrATeekK/PprrATeekKSWin702#slideshow/5446277808436158514

  79. I confess that I did not know that I could set permissions to allow or disallow applications to steal focus. If you would point me to the location where I can change those permissions, I would be forever in your debt.

  80. Anna says:

    Personality Quizzes are also a good way for a good head start with some companies.

    Two thumbs up for this article!

    <a href="http://www.careerpsychometrics.com/career-personality-testing&quot; target="_blank">Job Personality</a>

    are also a good way for a good head start with some companies. Two thumbs up for this article!

  81. portugaluvaloda@gmail.com says:

    Bravo!  To GaryK….absolutely right!

  82. anais says:

    please does anyone know the name of the caracters in wallpaper by punga fro buenos aires? love them and wanna get pics of them but dont know the name. thankx for help on those who  wanna help

  83. anais says:

    hi . love this

    also wanted to see who can help me finding the name of the caracter on punga art. love them but cant find their name

    thank you for those who can help me. its the 6IMAGE BY PUNGA FRO  BUENOS AIRES.

  84. Wendy Wissler says:

    Yes thanks.  I just launched my themes, and chose the illustrators.  And was very enthusiastic to learn who they were.

  85. Melissa says:

    These desktop wallpapers are so, so, awesome.  I'm shocked and amazed to find them on my new Windows system- compared to the more traditional ones of the past.  Good work creative team!

  86. Karen says:

    Got a new computer with Windows 7. This wallpaper art is fantastic! Very creative and cool. Thanks for identifying the artists also and giving their work some mass exposure.

  87. Cheryl says:

    Like "Punga" above, I chose those cute little "tumbling" characters for my wallpaper.  But, can anyone tell me what those characters are? Are they from a cartoon?  A movie?  Another planet?  

  88. Travthemanwithoutaplan says:

    Damn straight the guy who said these wallpaper are crazy acid trips. I had my background set to random and went on my comp one day while trippin and was just like Wow I have so much respect for Microsoft they are reppin' trippers. Thank you MS!