Everyone wants a shiny new UI

Surfing around the web, I often run into web sites that contain critiques of various aspects of Windows UI.

One of the most common criticisms on those sites is "old style" dialogs.  In other words, dialogs that don’t have the most up-to-date theming.  Here’s an example I ran into earlier today:


Windows has a fair number of dialogs like this – they’re often fairly old dialogs that were written before new theming elements were added (or contain animations that predate newer theming options).  They all work correctly but they’re just … old.

Usually the web site wants the Windows team update the dialog to match the newest styling’s because the dialog is "wrong".

Whenever someone asks (or more often insists) that the Windows team update their particular old dialog, I sometimes want to turn around and ask them a question:

"You get to choose: You can get this dialog fixed OR you can cut a feature from Windows, you can’t get both.  Which feature in Windows would you cut to change this dialog?"

Perhaps an automotive analogy would help explain my rather intemperate reaction:

One of the roads near my house is a cement road and the road is starting to develop a fair number of cracks in it.  The folks living near the road got upset at the condition of the road and started a petition drive to get the county to repair the road.  Their petition worked and county came out a couple of weeks later and inspected the road and rendered their verdict on the repair (paraphrasing):  We’ve looked at the road surface and it is 60% degraded.  The threshold for immediate repairs on county roads is 80% degradation.  Your road was built 30 years ago and cement roads in this area have a 40 year expected lifespan.  Since the road doesn’t meet our threshold for immediate repair and it hasn’t met the end of its lifespan, we can’t justify moving this section of road up ahead of the hundreds of other sections of road that need immediate repair.

In other words, the county had a limited budget for road repairs and there were a lot of other sections of road in the county that were in a lot worse shape than the one near my house.

The same thing happens in Windows – there are thousands of features in Windows and a limited number of developers who can change those features.   Changing a dialog does not happen for free.  It takes time for the developers to fix UI bugs.  As an example, I just checked in a fix for a particularly tricky UI bug.  I started working on that fix in early October and it’s now January.

Remember, this dialog works just fine, it’s just a visual inconsistency.  But it’s going to take a developer some amount of time to fix the dialog.  Maybe it’s only one day.  Maybe it’s a week.  Maybe the fix requires coordination between multiple people (for example, changing an icon usually requires the time of both a developer AND a graphic designer).  That time could be spent working on fixing other bugs.  Every feature team goes through a triage process on incoming bugs to decide which bugs they should fix.  They make choices based on their limited budget (there are n developers on the team, there are m bugs to fix, each bug takes t time to fix on average, that means we need to fix (m*t)/n bugs before we can ship).

Fixing theming bug like this takes time that could be spent fixing other bugs.  And (as I’ve said before) the dialog does work correctly, it’s just outdated.

So again I come back to the question: "Is fixing a working but ugly dialog really more important than all the other bugs?"  It’s unfortunate but you have to make a choice.


PS: Just because we have to make choices like this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t send feedback like this.   Just like the neighbors complaining to the county about the road, it helps to let the relevant team know about the issue. Feedback like this is invaluable for the Windows team (that’s what the "Send Feedback" link is there for after all).  Even if the team decides not to fix a particular bug in this release it doesn’t mean that it won’t be fixed in the next release.

Comments (55)

  1. senkwe says:

    Well the thing is, it’s hard to understand your argument when you don’t spell out whats actually involved in changing a dialog like the one in your screen shot. As devs we’re sitting here thinking, thats an hours work at most.

  2. senkwe: I didn’t include a description of how long it takes because it depends on the UI.  Some changes take minutes.  Some changes take days.  Some take months.  

    If it’s just moving a control a few pixels one way or another, it might be a matter of a few minutes work.  If the change involves getting new artwork, it might take weeks (there are even fewer graphic designers than there are developers and they’re constantly overbooked).

  3. asf says:

    this UI will never be correct, you can style a text input with css 😉

  4. Guido Robben says:

    I’m a developer too and agree with you about the point that you can’t do both…

    But.. We cannot vote what we want in and what not. If Microsoft decides they want to update the calculator with a ribbon instead of fixing GUI problems, we have no vote in this.

    So it depends on the issue what I prefer to get fixed.

  5. Ron Krauter says:

    Mr Larry,

    What really bugs me about certain windows dialog is the inability to resize the window. I am forced to use the scroll bar inside the dialog to see the contents. I shouldn’t have to scroll to see all the contents at a glance on a 1280×1024 screen.


  6. Yuhong Bao says:

    One of the most infamous examples of "old style" UI, BTW, is the Add Fonts dialog, which looks like it dates back to Windows 3.1.

  7. Robert says:

    There’s another way of dealing with these particular issues, one that a certain competitor who’s name rhymes with "mapple" has employed: make calls to build the old style dialogs, windows, and other forms simply return a new style form, dialog, or other form and say to hell with the consequences.

    Of course, this has potentially untold repercussions, like breaking untold millions of legacy programs out there, which would run counter to what seems to be the core of MS’s philosophy when it comes to the OS.  

    Perhaps the auto-replace-with-new dialog (optionally, only for calls made by internal MS apps and optionally turned on for legacy apps) could be something that’s a windows-8 feature?  🙂

  8. Robert: Yes.  And you’d be surprised at the amount of applications that depend on subtle internal behaviors of dialogs unfortunately.

    Yuhong: That’s actually been fixed in Windows 7 (the dialog was simply removed I believe).

  9. Fred says:

    You need to allocate time and resources for keeping the cosmetic issues, year around.  It’s part of responsibility if one is going to change the theme of the OS, and it’s part of maintaining a software.

    If you leave it in the hands of technical people to decide, they’ll always get to threats about trading features vs cosmetics, because they do not believe in the value of cosmetics in user experience, and in this case the example Microsoft sets for the community.  It’s not really about rational, but rather contempt for visuals, graphic designers, user interface in general.

    Cheap arguement, I know, but Microsoft has 90,000 employees, 4 bilion$ of profit per quarter, the lack of resources is not an issue.  The cosmetic work does not take time from the senior developers who are tackling the more difficult problems, it’s something that easily given to juniors or off-shored to India or China.  

    Programmers often fix dialogs that bother them, no matter what the priority is, if their in that code anyway.  It’s not really about time or resource, but they just don’t want to be told they have to fix a cosmetic issue because they don’t believe it’s important, and they want to make a point to the world that it’s not important.

    Personally, I’m in charge of running a team and forcing developers to the right thing with regards to user interface, and I’m used to hearing these justifications given to myself or our users on mailing lists, by developers.  Steves Jobs wouldn’t accept it, and neither do I 😉

    The proper reaction is to say to the user that he’s right, not trying to suggest that he shouldn’t be asking that in the first place, which is the programmer’s natural reflex.

  10. sburr says:

    Larry, following the tradeoff logic in your argument a step further, isn’t it reasonable to expect the Windows team to have made the same kind of decisions when it came time to decide what types of enhancements would comprise a given version of the OS?

    "We can make sweeping UI changes and the associated boring work to make things consistent, or we can add feature XYZ, but not both"

    (aside: in practice, it seems like Microsoft often tries to take half of each option)

    I think the rub is that many believe that UI consistency should be a given, and therefore not on the list of negotiable features in the first place.

  11. TK says:

    To this complaint I would say "Who f*cking cares?"

    You developers get so caught up on the *stupidest* things. Meanwhile you cant write a secure application to save your lives because you are so worried about your precious little images.

  12. note to self: don’t feed the trolls.

    TK: "you cant write a secure application to save your lives".  

    You do realize that this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, right?  Part of the reason that bugs like this aren’t fixed is exactly because things like security and reliability take priority over working but old UI.

    And I’d love to see your data that shows that MSFT does a worse job of writing secure applications than anyone else in the industry.  I’d stake our record (since 2003) against anyone elses.

  13. wbkang says:

    You are absolutely right that it is a trade-off. And as you pointed out, it might take much more work than people think to fix that tiny UI inconsistency. But getting those UI right is one of advantages that Microsoft holds against other "free software" desktop and MS should really focus on those things.

    These are one of the most tedious jobs to do and inevitably, in free software world, they lack resource to get these things right-those hackers are more interested in fun-to-implement new features than UX. Yes, UI is hard. Just saying.

  14. wbkang says:


    The first part: It’s about the craftsmanship.

    The second part: your arguments don’t make sense.

  15. Pierre B. says:

    "You can get this dialog fixed OR you can cut a feature from Windows"

    So, if this gets fixed, we get one more feature in Windows? Either change "get this dialog fixed" to "keep this dialog as-is" or "cut a feature" to "add a feature".

    But worded as it is, I request that as many dialog as possible be fixed. Even fix dialogs that are 100% correct. 🙂

  16. John C. Kirk says:

    I see your point, but this also reminds me of a recent blog post by Raymond Chen:


    To quote: "Generally speaking, programmers don’t do the visual design." So, if you have some people working on the layout of dialog boxes, and different people working on (say) IPv6 support, there isn’t a conflict. Or is it a question of how many staff Microsoft wants to employ?

  17. jon says:

    Maybe the largest software company in the world could just hire a few more graphic designers?

  18. Doogal says:

    It’s always a compromise but for me when I see one of these old style dialogs or just dodgy UI in general (and this isn’t a criticism of Microsoft specifically, lots of software companies let this stuff get out the door), I just think the developers of the software don’t care enough. If they are letting this kind of UI slip through the net, are they letting more serious but equally obvious problems out the door?

  19. Josh says:

    Larry, I think the problem is that you are looking at this wrong. The time to fix *all* the built in dialogs should have been accounted for when the theme changes were made and done as part of that project.

    The real question you want to be asking here is if it is more important to have a new pretty theme on some of the UI or to keep everything consistent. We all know which choice MS has been making. I think it is/was the wrong one, but I am not in charge there.

  20. james says:

    Is that "send feedback" button going to be a permanent feature? Can it detect where (which application, dialog) the feedback was orginated?

  21. tsilb says:

    What’s wrong with the UI as pictured?  Add some glass (which I presume to be automatic) and it’s just fine.

  22. Harold says:

    I understand exactly where you’re coming from and I have to deal with this practically every day… except with product management! There’s zero hope users will ever get this point but you’d think a product manager would.

  23. Roland says:

    Larry, being a developer myself, I understand your position. However, *design* is more important than ever, and old dialogs that suddenly appear destroy the impression of a modern, beautiful, and coherent environment (like Vista is intended to be).

    With MacOS gaining market share, MS should react.

    Example: The grey multiple tabs close confirmation dialog in IE8 is just plain ugly. Even Julie Larson-Green stumbled across it in her Windows 7 demo at PDC. Why doesn’t the IE team replace it with the new TaskDialogIndirect API?

    We know that IE8 has to run also on WinXP, which doesn’t have this API yet. OK, then why not use this API just under Vista/7 and the grey ugly dialog under XP?

    This IS more work, of course, but users SEE the ugly dialogs under Vista/7, which simply give the general impression that MS is way behind in design or doesn’t care about it that much – which is sad, because Vista/7 are actually really beautiful.

  24. Tanveer Badar says:

    "As an example, I just checked in a fix for a particularly tricky UI bug.  I started working on that fix in early October and it’s now January."

    Gosh! You are slow Larry. Only joking. 🙂

    Yeah, I agree that things have to be weighed that what goes in and what does not. Its your product after all, you get to decide what’s in it.

  25. Roman says:

    Re: the Add Fonts dialog. It’s sad this relic is being removed. 8=[ I’ve actually been using it for years because I thought that simply dragging the font into the folder won’t make it install properly.

  26. Roland: I’m not on the IE team, so I can’t speak to that particular dialog, but consider this: Because XP doesn’t support TaskDialogIndirect, they would need to author a completely new dialog for Vista and Win7.  That in turn incurs a multitude of costs – localization, test, etc.

    Changing UI often has costs that aren’t obvious on the surface.  So every time someone proposes that UI be changed, a triage team needs to consider the costs.

    This actually gets to Josh’s point above: Does he really propose that the cost of transitioning every dialog box in Windows Vista should have been add to the cost of adding the new Task dialogs?  If so, then in all reality you’d never see the dialogs added, because adding TaskDialogs would be yet another tax imposed on other parts of the organization.

    Instead, the team that added TaskDialogs added them to the OS, let various teams know about them and allowed them to make their own decisions about prioritizing the work to add the dialogs.  There may very well be higher priority issues than UI fit & finish that those teams are working on.

  27. Larry, your post begs a lot of questions about solving the root problem of the Windows development process. Why are the new dialog drawing APIs not simply backward compatible with the old calls? That is, why don’t the dialogs simply update automatically to draw with the new UI? Why does a developer even need to touch this? IIRC, this is how it worked over on Mac OS X when they transitioned from the striped window backgrounds to the gray gradients.

    Second, why must a developer be the only one who can fix this? Is the UI display layer not sufficiently abstracted from the working guts of the OS? If so, why doesn’t MSFT fix this? If it is, then why not let PMs, testers, or other technical staff who aren’t developers get in there and make the change.

    Steve Ballmer was talking about the "tyranny of OR" back several years ago when I worked there. Looks like that never caught on with the troops.

  28. Hansii says:

    When you have a competitor (Apple) which are able to do both (add features and keep the UI consistent) this excuse is just an admission that your product is inferior (which I don`t believe it is, but thats what I get from reading your post)

  29. Yuhong Bao says:

    "When you have a competitor (Apple) which are able to do both (add features and keep the UI consistent) this excuse is just an admission that your product is inferior (which I don`t believe it is, but thats what I get from reading your post)"

    See Robert’s comment and Larry Osterman’s response.

  30. Hansii: Actually Apple was criticized with Leopard because their UI wasn’t consistent – there were still pieces of the system that still used brushed chrome dialogs.

    Even a company as obsessive with fit&finish as Apple doesn’t get all this right.

  31. Patrick says:

    >Because XP doesn’t support TaskDialogIndirect, they would >need to author a completely new dialog for Vista and Win7.  >That in turn incurs a multitude of costs – localization, test, >etc.

    Welcome to the real world…

    At least the IE Team knows how it is to have an nice SDK full with functions but can not use them as they still have to support XP or older…

  32. Thanks for the post, Larry.  It’s interesting to me the level of detail some of these critiques include. Things I would never notice other users notice and document with such specificity you can’t help but admire the effort.

    As a developer, I can certainly understand the trade-off, but I can also see the other side issue. Microsoft releases UI guidelines with the goal of creating a more consistent user experience. It is not entirely unreasonable to expect that each successive version of Windows would lead the way in the adoption of this experience.

    While some users may be unreasonable in their petitions or criticisms, the vast majority simply want to see Windows become an even better product. I think that’s a cause we can all rally behind. 🙂

  33. JamesNT says:

    As far as I can see, there are exactly TWO developers on this blog.

    Myself and Larry.

    The rest of you can’t possible call yourselves true developers without either telling a fib or trying to make a joke.

    As developers, I fully expect all of you to know what it’s like to stay up all damn night trying to figure out why a given algorithm, that should work just fine, outright crashes.  I would also fully expect each of you to understand what it’s like to present a new feature for a software to a customer or your boss only to have them say "I need you to change this, this, and that" and then you shake your head in disbelief at the hours upon hours of work they made for you – and then shake your head in even more disbelief when you try to explain the time needed only to have them shoot back in your face "it doesn’t LOOK like it would take all that long."

    Honestly, guys, try to learn something here and try to understand and most importantly draw from your own experiences as developers – instead of trying to just win another argument and show up an MS employee.


  34. . says:

    @JamesNT.. so what ?

    You are saying exactly the opposite I think -> that it’s better (for your career, your managers, while probably not for the product but it’s debatable) if you work on appearance than internals because everyone can tell between a nice dialog and an ugly one, not everyone is able to tell between a good alg. and a terrible one.

  35. Jeff says:

    I believe JamesNT was making a simple point – "those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones" Based on his many previous comments I’ve read, I think him we’d get along well if we ever met. It’s so easy for people to criticize Microsoft but there are business realities at Microsoft just like there are at any company.

    It’s the constant struggle between the idealists and the pragmatists. Do we complain about other people’s products/processes/etc. being imperfect or do try to understand the picture isn’t as easy as "fix this, it sure SEEMS easy to fix! C’mon!"

    This isn’t about being a Microsoft fanboy – and I can’t believe people would throw that around as an insult just because some of us recognize throwing lots of money/resources at problems won’t magically make everything bug free/perfect. This also isn’t about throwing our arms up and saying "okay, don’t fix it then." It’s simply about understanding there are many pressures (moreso than us Microsoft outsiders probably realize) so our own pet bugs (like an old style user interface) may not get immediate attention. It’s not a perfect world, but it’s a real world.

  36. JamesNT says:


    I love you.


  37. Koro says:

    While I agree with Larry’s argument, I think that ONE dialog that would really benefit from an update is the ChooseColor dialog. That dialog has been there, untouched, since Win 3.1, when 4bpp was still the norm. It’s simply not much usable as is anymore (tip: it should be more photoshop-like, and custom colors should be global to all apps).

    As for people complaining that there is no TaskDialog for XP, think again:


    If I could do that in a month, MS sure can too. They could just port the Vista code as well in a redistributable library, should they want to.

  38. steveg says:

    @JamesNT: I am speechless. Or were you trolling for fun?

    Anyhoo, that said, there are plenty of people who understand there’s limited time and resources on any project in any industry. Whether it’s your kitchen renovation or the layout of your favourite magazine or the production of a new car or the writing of a blog post: there’s a limit to what you can do before you have to move on and either send it to market (or scrap it).

    Many people have an unrealistic expectation of MS; are all (or any) non-MS products you use perfect from version to version?

  39. Ira says:

    I’m afraid the biggest issue is that since Windows XP, with each windows release the dialog boxes have always been pushed to the back.

    If you had planned that with each new windows release we will fix 15 of the easiest dialog boxes, you would be some way to fixing most of them by now.

    As it is you have fixed "nought" since Win 98 because of thinking like this.

    I always liken this to redecorating your house, and leaving the same grotty carpet in. If you guys really want to stop people complaining, then this is an area you have really failed to grasp the importance of.

    Rather than using half a billion dollars on Marketing Vista, use 1% of that fixing your dialogs! You would have found that far more effective, and easier to implement, not to mention cheaper.

  40. Hino Musouka says:

    Dear Mr Osterman,

    I find it quite unappealing to read that my, and some other people’s too, continuous cries towards Microsoft to fix UI are perceived as silly demands while you end with a post-scriptum encouraging to give feedback. For me this blog post was rather discouraging, and after reading Mr Sinofsky’s blog about how wonderful Windows 7 will be and how my input is appreciated, now I feel at least uncertain of what Windows 7 team does with my feedback. I’m disappointed to seem to be just a bothering bug to you.

    While I do understand you have limited resources of time, people and so on, I would like to notice that releasing system without bugs is your RESPOSIBILITY. I do not mean system with no bugs, but just without apparent (e.g. Zune crash on New Year’s Day is a type of a bug that I can bear as it happens quite seldom). According to Mr Sinofsky’s words we will not see Windows 7 until its quality would guarantee great experience – therefore I imply that one way or other the bugs will have to be fixed. This way there is no need to choose between fixing bugs and fixing UI – fixing bugs will be necessary so the remaining question is not ‘weather-or’, it is simply ‘will you fix the UI after having prepared the inner experience?’

    And the question of how important UI consistency is for users can be surely estimated, at least due to telemetry, I assume.

    >>Whenever someone asks (or more often insists) that the Windows team update their particular old dialog, I sometimes want to turn around and ask them a question.

    Well, is it not a privilege of the customer to DEMAND something from the product they paid for (or correctly “licensed”)? Look at Japanese culture – even if somebody comes to the shop, watches everything, comments without appreciation and even utters some not nice words towards the shop assistant, still he must be treated with respect and smile and greeted with cheerful “Goodbye! Please do come again!” when he or she leaves having purchased nothing. And no, those people do not get paid God know how much. So your perceived impatience with this kind of behaviour seems not appropriate from your place, as an employee of a  vendor of some kind of good (here: operating system). It is just impolite.

    And it is not a customer’s problem of how tricky a bug is – it just has to work or look right – the implementation and all problems it brings is an issue for the creator.

    Continuing my not so polite tirade with analyzing ‘road problem’. If we do continue that analogy then the people impeach those in power or they stop paying taxes (Montesquieu ’s ‘civil disobedience’), or they move to other count(r)y. There is a means of changing how things work – elections.

    However, there is one thing I admit is your biggest problem – compatibility. Microsoft did bring up a multitude of programmers to think they can use some silly tricks and it will work one way or another, and now the consequences are being paid – you spend lots of time to assure backwards compatibility is remained even if breaking it would not be your fault. I do, though, praise Microsoft for the approach it took. Thanks to that I still enjoy some vintage software running quite well.

    I would appreciate if you would not neglect the people who do insist on ‘shiny new UI’. Sometimes it’s better to have old UI but consistent within itself. And however I have doubts after writing this comment, I still feel enough upset to post it.

  41. > "You get to choose: You can get this dialog fixed OR you

    > can cut a feature from Windows, you can’t get both.  Which

    > feature in Windows would you cut to change this dialog?"

    Wouldn’t it be great if the developers could focus on implementing new features while the graphics designers could spend time maintaining the layout of the various dialogs. Then you *can* actually get both.

    Oh wait, that’s called WPF…

  42. Phillip says:

    @Hino Musouka

    Well put. But the problem can be controlled in other ways (i.e. there is one "shop" that disregards recommendations from its clients, and there is another "shop" that you can go to that has a different set of priorities and standards).

  43. Phillip says:

    P.S. I like you a lot Larry, but this post made my stomach turn over. I used to have hope. Sigh. 🙁

  44. I say, cut the other feature.  Fit ‘n’ finish work is vastly more important than you seem to think.  

    Your post reads like a GM engineer saying, "Yeah, we have big panel gaps, and the plastics on the dash don’t quite match up and there are some rough edges in the glove box, but guys, that’s really hard to get right, and it takes a lot of time, and wouldn’t you rather we put in a more powerful engine?"

    And meanwhile, the competition has product without the panel gaps, mismatched plastics, and rough edges, and it turns out that now people kind of expect that, and you wonder why they don’t like your product so much.

  45. Bryan says:

    @Mike:  It’s more like "Yeah, we have a minor issue in which the glovebox interior no longer matches the rest of the car, but wouldn’t you rather we focus on improving the instrument panel’s readouts?"  You make it sound like these dialogs people talk about are commonly seen:  they aren’t.  I would bet a good amount of money that you can find a lot of people who don’t even realize they exist.

    Honestly, I think that same comment is worth noting to Philip and Mr. Musouka.  You’re strawmaning his argument and then defeating the strawman.

  46. Tihiy says:

    Bullshit, fixing dialog is like 30 min max.

  47. Tihiy: Sometimes.  Sometimes it’s a matter of weeks and weeks of work.

  48. Ian Boyd says:

    It depends how to define ‘feature’. Vista had a ‘feature’ of a redesigned user interface.

    Except that feature wasn’t fully implemented for the entire user interface.

    One would argue that the last ‘feature’ isn’t complete yet until all elements of the user interface that comes with Windows Vista follow the user interface for Windows Vista.

  49. Ian: I didn’t know that Vista had a feature of a redesigned UI.  

    There were elements of the XP UI that were updated for Vista just like there were elements of the Win2K UI that were updated for XP and there are elements of the Vista UI that were updated for Windows 7.

    To my knowledge, we’ve never had a completely redesigned user interface.

  50. Tihiy says:

    I agree, changing one dialog may bring a lot of complex problems requiring compatibility shims, design review, RTL weirdos, etc.

    But there should be a usability and design review, and it should be done more often than once in ten years.

    IE is certainly stuck in that time; can you even imagine now why this dialog is needed?

    Can you imagine Internet without autocomplete?

    What are those 8* numbers anyway? If they were search terms or at least telephone numbers, it could make sense (it didn’t make sense 10 years ago, too).

    Or the dialogs like:

    Do you see yellow foobar? – "Sorry i’m blind!".

    Do you want to disconnect from Internet when you close browser? – "Sure, it’s XX century now and i’m paying for dialup time".

    Sorry for bothering you with stuff you don’t control.

  51. Justin says:

    @Hino Musouka

    "Well, is it not a privilege of the customer to DEMAND something from the product they paid for ?"  The customer has the right to demand the behaves as advertised.  I don’t see any real reason to _demand_ something here.  I would certainly request an update, but Microsoft can do as it wishes.


    " ‘You get to choose: You can get this dialog fixed OR you can cut a feature from Windows, you can’t get both.  Which feature in Windows would you cut to change this dialog?’ "

    I reserve the consumer’s right to vote with my wallet and not purchase the product.  As a customer I don’t care about why something is annoying, just whether the end result is acceptable and best in the marketplace.  Customer’s don’t have to be sympathetic.

    Now all that said, little things like this don’t bother me and don’t weigh too strongly into my buying decisions.

  52. Gregory Kong says:

    And Tihiy demonstrates exactly why those dialogues are there and still the way they are.

    "Can you imagine Internet without autocomplete?"

    Some people don’t want autocomplete, and some do. If I’m using a shared computer you can bet I want to turn that bitch off.

    "What are those 8* numbers anyway? If they were search terms or at least telephone numbers, it could make sense (it didn’t make sense 10 years ago, too)."

    Ever hear of zip codes? From, say, Arizona?

    "Do you see yellow foobar?"

    Well, not really, since I’m Joe Blow and don’t necessarily pay too much attention to what’s happening in the background.

    "Sure, it’s XX century now and i’m paying for dialup time"

    Yes, and everyone’s living in a high-priced condo with FTTH, there’s no such place as rural USA and Africa where MSFT products are bought and used…

    Good Lord, man! Think outside your boundaries, why don’t you?

  53. Phil Wilson says:

    >>Bullshit, fixing dialog is like 30 min max.

    Let’s assume there’s a minor text change just to make it interesting. Let’s guess 30 languages in Windows. That’s some number of translators getting involved, plus some number of UI review editors making sure there’s nothing inappropriate in the text. Sometimes the translated text won’t fit on the dialog, ok, go back and change size for that language, try again. Then

    do all the builds and hokey things to get the dialogs all shown (if it’s an error dialog you may need a one-time switch to get the error dialog shown). Make sure all the language versions work in all the button-click/dialog close, F1, combinations.

    I know that non-localizable dialog in a relatively simple program can take less than an hour but not in a localizable operating system.  

  54. chris says:

    Larry made this same exact argument nearly 2 years ago before Vista’s release about why Microsoft need not update the 15-year-old font dialog box.  You might think that Larry would have a reformed opinion on UI after the blow-up over the font dialog box that erupted on the Shell Revealed message boards pre-Vista; but apparently not.

    Microsoft made great headway with Windows 7 beta in convincing me that it understood the importance of UI in a world where feature parity nearly exists across all PC platforms and where consumers are now more prone to choose beauty over function and to prefer aesthetics over compatibility.

    Larry didn’t get it 2 years ago and he doesn’t get it today.  If everyone working on Windows shares Larry’s philosophy, then I’m very worried for Window’s future.

  55. Dustman says:

    While your arguments certainly compute on the level of any individual employee, in terms of the entire company they make no sense. If they did Microsoft would *never* invest any resources into new visual themes or UI upgrades. Since the company does so, there must be returns for this investment, in terms of the user experience.

    Since you don’t have any more evidence of how little or how much this return is affected by these mismatched UI’s than do the complainers, I find myself unable to sympathize with your plight. Your contention that these issues are less important than some unnamed feature that would prospectively be cut is no less specious than the complainer’s contention that the UI issue is more important than that same feature. I don’t see any evidence that the triage team is any better at it either.

    You’re awesome at code… why not leave it at that?