The look of Luna

Luna was the code name for the Windows XP "look". The designers did a lot of research (and got off to a lot of false starts, as you might expect) before they came to the design they ultimately settled upon.

During the Luna studies, that people's reaction to Luna was often, "Wow this would be a great UI for X," where X was "my dad" or "my employees" or "my daughter". People didn't look at it as the UI for themselves; rather, they thought it was a great UI for somebody else.

It was sometimes quite amusing to read the feedback. One person would write, "I can see how this UI would work great in a business environment, but it wouldn't work on a home computer." and the very next person would write "I can see how this UI would work great on a home computer, but it wouldn't work in a business environment."

(And interestingly, even though armchair usability experts claim that the "dumbed-down UI" is a hindrance, our studies showed that people were actually more productive with the so-called "dumb" UI. Armchair usability experts also claim that the Luna look is "too silly for serious business purposes", but in reality it tested very well on the "looks professional" scale.)

Aero is the code name for the Longhorn "look". With Aero, the designers have turned an important corner. Now, when they show Aero to people, the reaction is, "Wow, this would be a great UI for me to use."

People want Luna for others, but they want Aero for themselves.

[Raymond is currently on vacation; this message was pre-recorded.]

Comments (76)
  1. Louis Parks says:

    I wonder if this means that Aero will make people less productive? ;-) I certainly hope not.

  2. Ben Hutchings says:

    Fitter, happier, more productive. Like a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics. (Radiohead)

  3. If the Luna or Aero are considered to be the next generation of the UI, and both are for home use and professional use, then why doesn’t Windows Server 2003 have them on by default, or even as a selectable option?

    Additionally can someone please help me out and explain why property pages are sometimes rendered differently with Luna, is it the same with Aero?

    For Example:



  4. Erbo says:

    I know that, when my wife got her new machine that had been preloaded with WinXP, one of the first things I did was to switch her back to the Classic look and feel, getting rid of Luna, or, as I put it, "that damned Fisher-Price UI." (She’d been using Win98, so the Classic L&F was familiar to her.) I hope the Longhorn designers have taken comments like that into account when they designed Aero.

  5. quanta says:

    "Armchair usability experts also claim that the Luna look is "too silly for serious business purposes", but in reality it tested very well on the "looks professional" scale."

    Are these the same usability groups who thought AutoPlay was the best thing ever?

  6. Michael Entin says:

    Chris – Luna is available on Windows Server 2003. Enable the "Themes" service (disabled by default) and you will get the same theme as Windows XP does.

    I guess it is disabled by default as part of off-by-default compain, and because it slows down access via remote console connection (which is how people typically access servers).

  7. OmegaSupreme says:

    Can we see ‘Aero’ or is it top secret hush-hush type stuff ?

  8. Brian says:

    Since you’re hearing from a lot of people who don’t like Luna, let me chime in and say I love it. It’s beautiful. The best Windows look yet, by far. It’s great for home and for work. Just my 2 cents.

    But it’s great that Microsoft continues the tradition of letting the user decide whether they like it or not, and if they don’t they can customize it. (Although I do think it would be nice if XP shipped with more than just three Luna color schemes for those who don’t want to pay extra for the Plus pack.)

  9. John Brown says:

    If the screenshots here are any indication…

    …they’re going even farther down the "waste an incredible amount of screen real estate for no reason at all" road. That’s the same road they’ve been on since they started filling up explorer.exe with "web content" space-wasters, gargantuan toolbar icons, extra useless toolbars, and other crap. Oh, and that idiotic "thumbnail view" with 48×48 icons surrounded by an ocean of empty space. It must be great for people with very poor eyesight (which is a GOOD thing), but for the rest of us it’s hilariously broken.

    My impression is that the folks at MS have finally realized that users don’t have 640×480 resolution any more, so they have to add lots of whitespace, gigantic meaningless images, and huge fonts to get us back to the old Win 3.1 days of seeing at most only one thing (or even just PART of one thing) at a time on the screen.

    Why they want to do THAT, I have no idea. It’s like figuring that somebody driving on an interstate might be confused by all the cars and road signs, so you paint the car windows black to make it easier.

    Oh, and they’re going to screw up the filesystem, too, aren’t they? To "help" people. God only knows what that means, but I’m willing to bet it means denying information and control to the user.

    As long as these anti-user features can be turned off like the "web content", they’re harmless; it’s a stupidity tax on people who can’t figure out how to disable them, and stupidity taxes always serve the public interest. And with the GUI stuff, at least, MS is usually pretty good about providing a "stupidity tax amnesty" somewhere in a preferences dialog, so people who actually want to get some work done (and bright enough to do it) can turn the crap off.

    But will an escape from the defaults be possible with the filesystem, or will the vertebrates among us be trapped in the same hell MS has planned for stupid users like my Aunt Hilda? (She’s scared of computers and refuses to use one anyway, because she’s afraid it’ll stamp a UPC code on her forehead and she’ll miss out on the Rapture when Jesus returns, due to having been Marked by the Beast. She’s got more brains and imagination than the average participant in MS usability tests, albeit considerably less than a garden slug.)

  10. Michael Moulton says:

    I’m with John on this one. A week or two ago there was a site going around that had UI pictures from previous versions of Windows. Notice that from MS-DOS Executive, to File Manager, to Explorer… with every new release of Windows, we get more "stuff" surrounding the actual view of the files.

  11. Kevin Eddy says:

    I have to agree with Matt Hall about the colors. I don’t like the default blue scheme. In the image I created for my employer, it defaults to Silver – and ClearType is on by default.

    When XP 1st beta’d, I turned off Luna most of the time. By now, of course, I’ve gotten used to it. I still change the Explorer views for myself to something more "admin friendly", but I do admit that most users don’t need to see the system and hidden files and wouldn’t know what to do with them if they did.

    Perhaps the readers of this blog should keep in mind that most people aren’t developers or admins. The Luna UI was made so that tasks are discoverable – so you don’t have to be an admin to figure out how to install a printer for example. If you long for those bad old days, there are several Linux distros you can use.

  12. Mat says:

    I just switch with styleXP and get on with life. The Silver Luna has been palletable, but I think everyone is sort of missing the point with usability. Isn’t it more annoying that (like was said above) the encroachment of "do you wanna do this" choices is excessive?

    When we talk UI, the first thing I think of is the "These folders are hidden" bluescreen. Bull-oni. If we want to idiot-proof something, we give that person a limited account. Don’t hamstring the admin into doing all of that "click here to show…" stuff.

    Amen to losing the Active desktop.

    If we want to make inroads to how LH looks, fine — just allow it to be skinned (as it is). If you want to talk usability, keep finding annoyances and eliminating them.

    Oh, and can a brother get the size of a folder’s contents in explorer?? I don’t care if it has to calculate it and takes an extra second… I want to look at my r00t, list the folders in detail view, and see where all the stuff is. That’s usability.

  13. mike says:

    It would appear that the consensus is "I want Windows to look the way I’m used to." :-)

  14. While I am sure the new UI will be nice (I quite like the spaced out with big pictures look) and I don’t mind the XP themes, I do wonder how easy it will be to develop for.

    Assuming a lot of people will still be using Windows 2000 and XP when Longhorn is released there will be at least three UIs to develop and test for (classic, Luna and Aero) and it would appear that Aero will have to be programmed using .net. I think this could make it hard to develop high quality desktop apps that look ‘right’ on all the platforms.

  15. Jerry Pisk says:

    People like what they know. Marketing folks have known this for quite a while…

  16. Dan Maas says:

    There is a difference between "dumbing down" and "elegant simplification." "What do you want to do…" is IMHO dumbing down – it takes an existing interface and puts a prettier face on it without actually reducing the complexity. For an example of elegant simplification, look at the process for burning a CD-R on Max OSX (insert CD, drag files to it, burn). Marginally improving usability scores (15% more clueless secretaries were able to print the document successfully) is one thing, making computers fundamentally easier to use is another.

  17. Mario Goebbels says:

    I don’t like Luna. I hope Aero will be a balance between great visual design and professionalism. As others said, Luna looks too Fisher Pricey to me. But I don’t mind it being in Windows, aslong I can switch back to the classic style.

    Now about that socalled space wasting on the current Longhorn explorer. Well, it’s ONLY the explorer that uses that navigational breadcrumb window border, or whatever you wanna call it. And aslong it’s only the explorer and not every application, I don’t think anyone has a point about that part of space wasting. Actually, I like that navigation window style. Now the other thing however is the content "preview" area (that big HTML/XAML/somethingelse area right over the file listing, that shows properties and all). I think 2/3 of the size of what it’s currently in the PDC build would be better. Or even better than that, include different versions of it to be chosen by the user, versions like Off, 33%, 66%, Fullsize.

  18. John Brown says:

    Kevin Eddy should bear in mind that "making tasks discoverable" is not the same as "showing a very small amount of information surrounded by a vast wasteland of brightly-colored dead space". Huge bitmap images of disk drives don’t help anybody discover tasks.

    Hiding system files from the great unwashed is probably a good idea, too. Again, that’s not the same as, for example, MS’s newfound belief that save directories shouldn’t persist: If I open a file in a given directory, why should I have do go off and find that directory again to open another file there? If I demonstrably DO have files somewhere other than "My Documents", can the application not infer from that fact that I DO HAVE FILES ELSEWHERE? In other words, even an algorithm can reasonably be expected to notice that a thing which is identifiably itself, IS ITSELF. If I bother "navigating" there in the File Open dialog, that’s because I want to BE there. Losing that state is not going to make anything easier for anybody. It’s not consistent with the rest of the metaphor. It sucks. I hate it. I can’t even SLEEP at night I hate it so much. CHRIST, I’ve got ulcers now. My hair’s falling out. I buried my wife in the basement. Now the kids want to know what the smell is. The neighbors are monitoring me with radio deceivers. You can see the antennas spinning in their trees. They make little chirping noises, all night and all day. The neighbors, I mean. The antennas are silent. Silent as the grave.

    And worst of all, hey, fine, if the Freemasons want them to ram "My Documents" down the throats of the droolers, that’s no skin off my ass, but they do it IN DEVSTUDIO, TOO! Not always. Just sometimes. Just once in a whle. Just to shatter your composure and wreck your nerve when you least expect it.

    They think I’m not onto them, but I am. Ohhh, I am.

    And some day, there’ll be a reckoning.

  19. Alex Karpowitsch says:

    Can someone explain this?

    I’m not sure what they’re trying to say here. Brand new release or a Beta 1 release?

  20. Tim Smith says:



    I want pictures of empty beer cans and questionably dressed women. I want the interface to look like it hasn’t bathed in a few days and KNOWS it!


  21. Kevin says:

    When we talk UI, the first thing I think of

    > is the "These folders are hidden"

    > bluescreen. Bull-oni. If we want to idiot-

    > proof something, we give that person a

    > limited account. Don’t hamstring the admin

    > into doing all of that "click here to

    > show…" stuff.

    Tools -> Folder Options, click on the View tab, and check "Display the contents of system folders."

  22. Raymond Chen says:

    "If we want to idiot-proof something, we give that person a limited account."

    So everybody in the family gets a limited account – who is the administrator?

  23. asdf says:

    I’m with Mike on the combo box annoyance (and I recall it doesn’t autoscroll if you go beyond the boundary too). Everybody I know (including programmers) that uses XP thinks I’m on crack when I mention that. Another thing that irritates me is that toolbar buttons shift to the right instead of down/right when you click on them (even with themes disabled).

  24. Vigor says:

    I personally like the feel of Luna, and I can really see how a big red X might help people closing a window. The idea that every button gives the user visual feedback that the mouse is hovering over it helps especially beginners.

    But I still don’t use Luna because I think it’s ugly. In the default blue theme, the colors of the window borders distract me from their content. I really like the silver theme except that green Start button. It is painful just to look at it.

    So currently, it’s classic theme for me. I really hope my Aero experience will be better.

  25. When I first installed XP, I thought "eww, this is ugly", and turned it off. Then I turned off all the XP shell enhancements. I hated them all.

    After a few months, I turned back on the Start Menu. The commonly-used programs made life easier because I didn’t have to manually update my QuickLaunch. Eventually, I ditched QuckLaunch alltogether.

    Then I tried using taskbar guping. Hated it at first, but eventually, I got used to it, and decided that it really did make my life easier.

    Finally, I turned the theme back on. I like blue. The real cincher for me was that in Theme mode, my systray clock displays three lines of text instead of two. I’m not one for eye candy, but if it gives me some pratical benefit (like the improved clock), then I’m all for it.

    At this point, I have most of the XP features turned on.

    Remember, we are not typical PC users. If we were, we wouldn’t be reading this blog. Most of us have use Windows for years. When the new UI was released with XP, I kept hearing the same thing over and over again: "Eww, it’s different. I don’t like things that are different". Some people may say it’s "ugly", but what they really mean is that it’s different than what they’re used to.

    With novice computer users, I saw a totally different reaction. Most novice users I talked to said they liked the new interface. They found the visual cues like green and red buttons to mak things easier. The empty desktop wasn’t as intimidating. One person told me the brighter colors made the computer seem "friendlier".

    The lesson here: Just because you don’t like Luna doesn’t mean it’s flawed. You may just be having a hard time adapting to something you don’t know. Give it a chance. Once you get used to it, it might actually make your life easier.

  26. Marc Wallace says:

    John Brown: no kidding, I hate the whole "My" thing. I go to someone else’s computer, and suddenly it’s mine.

    So: on a shared computer, it’s just wrong. On a single user computer, it’s ludricous. "My Photos"? Well, yeah, I hope so.

    You can get rid of just about every vestige of "My Documents" if you work really, really hard. Like going through the registry and changing every occurrence.

    Sorry, a bit off topic.

    I agree with Raymond’s aside that most people don’t seem to know what they want.

    And, yes, I have 2kpro tuned down to look like 95. I’m used to it. Someday I’ll have to change, but not today. It’s too much of a short-term performance hit.

  27. Mat Hall says:

    I *hate* Luna. It makes the whole thing look like a Fisher-Price "My First Computer" type machine (in the default blue-and-red configuration, anyway; the silver one doesn’t look too bad, but the horrible olive green thing is best left unmentioned).

    Not only does it look daft but the buttons and other widgets are too big and waste a lot of real-estate, it confuses casual users used to 95/98/Me, and it slows everything down. Did I mention it looked stupid?

    Of course, this is mostly opinion (in the same way I can’t stand taskbar grouping or the MRU list on the XP start menu, hate the task-based Explorer view, etc.) but it’s a view shared by many. Sure, 95/98/Me/2000 weren’t going to win any style awards, but the interface was relatively clean and neutral.

  28. quanta says:

    No kidding. Mind you, I like the *feel*, just not the look. The lockable toolbars and Start Panel are great.

    I use a uxtheme.dll patcher and run a visual KoL’s Panther style, which gives my desktop an elegant MacOS X-esque appearance.

  29. DrPizza says:


    I thought that Watercolour was great /for me/.

  30. Mike Dunn says:

    I don’t mind the Fisher-Price UI anymore, after 2 or 3 years or however long it’s been. I still don’t *like* it, but it doesn’t make me gag anymore.

    The one thing I’ll *never* get used to is how they changed the combo box in XP. You can’t do click->drag mouse down->release to select an item anymore. I still do this all the time because I use 2K and XP on various machines and that motion works on 2K.

  31. John Brown: no kidding, I hate the

    > whole "My" thing. I go to someone else’s

    > computer, and suddenly it’s mine.


    > So: on a shared computer, it’s just wrong.

    Which is why on a shared computer, you have "My Documents", "Simon’s Documents" and "Other Person’s Documents" if you look around the folder hierarchy.

  32. Catatonic says:

    I will be the first to stick up for My Documents. It makes perfect sense to me.

  33. maxyvits says:

    MS should hire designers from Apple. These guys know how to design! MS has always struggled to be as good but unsuccessfully. I’ve always been a Windows user and I’ve always had Aqua envy. Aqua shells don’t cut it for me. I run Windows. I simply want MS to be as polished and innovative as Apple in this regard. MS always leaves something to be desired.

  34. Brian says:

    The "professionalism" argument reminds me of

    > back in the early ’90’s when people were

    > criticing Windows vs. DOS for the same

    > reason.

    Right on. I work on the UI of business software. I hear this argument all too often. But it’s telling that I practically

    never hear it from the users themselves.

    > Which is why on a shared computer, you

    > have "My Documents", "Simon’s Documents"

    > and "Other Person’s Documents" if you look

    > around the folder hierarchy.

    Not to mention Shared Documents.

  35. Roy Green says:

    I *MUCH* prefer the Luna look, the Blue version suits me fine, but the Silver is good too, and the green one is an abomination.

    The "Classic" look has just gotten boring to me.

    The "professionalism" argument reminds me of back in the early ’90’s when people were criticing Windows vs. DOS for the same reason.

  36. Centaur says:

    The “My” prefix hinders quick search where you type the first letter of a file or directory name and it is instantly selected. You suddenly have three extra characters to type in quick succession, if you want to distinguish between My Pictures, My Music, and My Something Else.

  37. When I hear people complain about the "Fisher-Price" or "cartoonish" look in XP, I ask them what specifically they don’t like. Quite often it’s been those gigantic titlebars.

    That’s easy to fix! Go into the Display control panel, Appearance tab, Advanced button, and you can reduce the height and font size of the titlebar and other display elements.

    I always go through and change all of the fonts to small sizes of Verdana. This gives me nice small titlebars and menu bars, a real improvement over the defaults.

  38. I admit I really like the Luna UI. However, one of the first things I do after a fresh installation is reducing the titlebar’s height from 25 to 22 :-)

  39. Petr Kadlec says:

    I don’t know, maybe some beginner users like that, but I’ve never understood the concept why all those "My *" are there. OK, "My Documents", I take that, but "My Music"? "My Pictures"??? (IIRC there should be even more of that in Longhorn…)

    So why aren’t there "My text files", "My spreadsheets", "My Delphi sources", "My VC++ sources", "My DLLs", "My EXEs", … or, even better, don’t use folders at all, throw everything into root and let us recognize them by extension. Wasn’t that here some time ago..?

    Well, If someone likes that, it’s his decision. But WHY OH WHY does the MSI installer create the folders every time I install something?? I KNOW where I have my music files and pictures stored, and it IS NOT in the folder the installer thinks. WHAT reason has the DX SDK installer to create "My Pictures" ??

  40. Subzero says:

    Jordan Russell


    >Anyone know if this is fixed in

    >Windows XP SP2? Is Microsoft even

    >aware of the problem?

    It is NOT a "problem". You prefer the other way doesn’t make that a problem.

    I can see why the "drag-down mouse" thing don’t appear in xp.

    Without the "drag-down mouse" thing, you can quickly slide along the long~~~ drop-down list. Your finger doesn’t have to attach to the mouse-button while you looking at the list thinking about what to choose.

    But of course, not everyone using computer the same way. So, a options of turning the function "on or off" will be nice.

  41. Subzero says:

    I prefer the win98 looks on the XP.

    The Luna GUI is not that bad, but the "title bar" (the bar with Min/Max/Close buttons) is way too big.

  42. Shaun Newman says:

    Luna is fine except for the damn colour scheme and the size of the taskbar and Title bar. I have always been surprised that Microsoft have never "unlocked" UXTheme.dll themselves and provided better themes, perhaps this time they decided to leave it to the pro’s ;0) ?

    the colours of the Windows 2003 Luna-esque themes are much better though still a bit big.

    It’s not just the general look and feel that makes a difference, the whole colour scheme changes things incredibly. I can’t use Luna under WinXP but after patching UXTheme.dll and applying the Windows 2003 theme downloaded from things look much better.

  43. Chris says:

    If memory serves, the Drag-Mouse-Down behavior is intentional because of accessibility issues. I believe for people with limited dexerity the behavior would cause too many false clicks. And if you want to bitch about that, you can try to get the Americans with Disabilities Act repealed.

    As for My Pictures, I bet that’s there because someone complained about an "idiotic thumbnail view" so when you limit the defaults of those features to be in specific content-defined folders, it just plain works better.

  44. John Topley says:

    Aero hasn’t been seen publically yet (I’ve not seen it – unfortunately). All of the screenshots on sites like Paul Thurrott’s are of the Longhorn PDC build which does not include Aero.

  45. Jordan Russell says:

    Mike Dunn wrote:

    "The one thing I’ll *never* get used to is how they changed the combo box in XP. You can’t do click->drag mouse down->release to select an item anymore."


    Anyone know if this is fixed in Windows XP SP2? Is Microsoft even aware of the problem?

  46. Paul Thurrott says:

    Not true, John T. Many of the photos on my site show Aero prototypes, either at the PDC or from elsewhere.

    The whole I hate/I love Luna thing is almost always broken down into people who are experienced with Windows (and very anal about how things look) and people who just want to get work done, and aren’t as concerned with spending two weeks getting a system set up just right. For the latter group (we might call them "normal people"), Luna is not only more attractive than Classic, it makes them more productive.

  47. I find that the "My" prefix can sometimes be obtrusive. Ok, it differentiates the folders from those that belong to another account. But if "My Music" is inside "My Documents", doesn’t it mean that it inherits its My-ness? I mean, if its *MY* documents folder, then anything inside should be mine. (shrug, I sometimes don’t like to share.)

    But fine, the problem of the "my" is that it’s a prefix, so typing "My Music" when the directory tree is selected should take me to it, but behold! the space key starts the search again, thus it works as it I typed just "Music".

    Neither I can type the first letters of the folder I want to go to (‘p’ for Pictures, ‘v’ for Videos, ‘r’ for ‘Received files’, etc.) (also note the ‘Visual Studio Projects’ folder, no “My” :) )

    Sad thing is, I can’t think of a good enough postfix, "Music of mine?", I’ll stick with My Music.

    On a related note, is there a way to move the entire "C:Documents and settings" folder to another drive? I noticed the %userprofile% environment variable, how can I modify it so that the entire user profile moves to another location (without having to configure each folder with utilities such as TweakUI)?

  48. "The Luna GUI is not that bad, but the ‘title bar’ (the bar with Min/Max/Close buttons) is way too big."

    "Luna is fine except for the damn colour scheme and the size of the taskbar and Title bar."

    So guys… Scroll back up to my comment and you will see how to fix this. (The sizes–can’t help with the color.)

    Luna looks very nice to me once I change all the fonts to small sizes of Verdana (with ClearType enabled!) and cut down the titlebar size.

  49. redvamp128 says:

    I would have to agree the startmenu green kind of offsets the intended silver theme. Personally I keep my taskbar locked at 2 widths high. So it Shows the Time Day of the week and the year- also gives plenty of relestate at the bootm for open windows also the quick launch and Windows media player plaing on the taskbar. Now as far as Desktop I use only the default 4 that are needed- Customized The icons to suite me other than the inability to change the Internet Eplorer icon. Which I can deal with that.

  50. Erbo says:

    You know, I liked the change from the Win3.1 UI to the Win95 UI. It was clean, and a distinct improvement. Then, when NT followed suit in 4.0, I was happy with that. Win98 and Win2K added the gradient title bars. OK, not much of an addition, but it looked good anyway.

    Then came WinXP and the Fisher-Price UI. I took one look at that and said, "Yikes! What were they THINKING? WERE they thinking?" My wife turned her nose up at it, too, and she has far less experience with computers than I do. So she’s back on Classic. (I’m normally a Linux user myself, but even so, my desktop themes all tend to have a Win98-ish look to them, without the gaudy colors and stuff.)

    I sure hope it’ll be possible to give Longhorn a Classic look-and-feel, once it’s released.

  51. James says:

    It seems that Luna is popular with MSFT and MSFT-affiliated folks, but remarkably few others. From

    "…he made his argument simply by going around the table and asking who was using the XP’s "dumbed down" interface (call it the Big Icon desktop or whatever). As it turned out, nobody except Microsoft or MSFT-affiliated folks were."

  52. Nate says:

    So Luna was so poorly designed that the very next version of consumer Windows needs a new UI?

  53. Mr. Cynic says:

    Because a table full of computer-savvy high-tech journalists is definitely a representative sample of the entire computing user base, and asking who is using a "dumbed down" interface is certainly not a leading question to individuals who don’t want to appear "dumb" to a table full of their peers.

  54. Jerry Pisk says:

    Daniel, to move the Documents and Settings folder you need to do some registry editing, at your own risk. It’s all in HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionProfileList.

    I personally leave it on C: but map another disk drive to that folder, taking the *nix based approach with a single file system root.

  55. eld says:

    most of you are sooooo stupid , actually i read all your comments

    and got the result :every one of you should go to MS and ask them

    to make WIN as he wants , then if , and only if , MS don’t respond

    instantly , go to BUSH and tell him about MS’s terrorism .

    John Brown : you are sooooo nice poet , can you put all your poems

    in a book , soon i’ll buy it.

  56. Jared White says:

    Regarding Paul Thurott’s comment above, I think it’s wacky. Are we talking about pure graphic design or usability here? The graphic design of Luna will have very little to do with any productivity gains. The only productivity gains you can get from graphic design are related to the clarity of the image (putting green text on a red background will make it hard to read, therefore lessening productivity).

    Saying that the graphic design of Luna will enhance productivity compared to the classic Windows look is just nonsense. There’s no difference other than some minor color changes and widget alterations. The usability of any interface is mostly in the wording of informational text, the placement of widgets, the organization of navigation paths, etc. Whether a button is grey or beige will have little bearing on any productivity whatsoever.

    If Aero will increase productivity compared to Luna, I can guarantee you that it won’t be due to some color changes and a new widget style.


    Jared White

    Graphic Designer

  57. Norman Diamond says:

    3/31/2004 4:27 PM Marc Wallace:

    > You can get rid of just about every vestige

    > of "My Documents" if you work really, really

    > hard. Like going through the registry and

    > changing every occurrence.

    If it’s enough to change the name that is displayed in the desktop and Windows Explorer, without changing the actual folder name in the file system, then I think you only have to change one place in the registry. But I’m not sure how Windows decides when it’s going to change the name back (with the things I rename, they change back at random times).

    4/1/2004 7:58 AM redvamp128:

    > Personally I keep my taskbar locked at 2

    > widths high.

    I keep mine 1 width high, because I want the screen real estate for other things. If I open a lot of windows then the taskbar gets its own scroll arrows. If I click a scroll arrow then the taskbar obeys and I can click a button to reopen a minimized window. But if the appropriate line of the taskbar is already being displayed and I try to click a button then the taskbar autoscrolls to a different line and the minimized window doesn’t get reopened. I have to click a scroll arrow to move the relevant line back into the taskbar and click the desired button again. Despite this bloody nuisance, I keep the taskbar at one line because I want the screen real estate for other things.

    (By the way, in Windows 95/NT4/98/2000/ME, the taskbar didn’t autoscroll away a button that the user tried to click on. This is a new misfeature of XP/2003.)

    (Yeah I could free up even more screen space by autohiding the taskbar, but I don’t want to autohide things like the IME input status or new mail notifications, so I keep one line visible.)

  58. Mat says:

    Ray —

    "If we want to idiot-proof something, we give that person a limited account."

    So everybody in the family gets a limited account – who is the administrator?

    My opinion is that the first user is the admin.; whomever installs. That person *as admin* shouldn’t be blocked from seeing their own folders, etc.

    Think about what windows is saying on install — You may be admin, but I’ma hide the r00t, cuz you ain’t 1337 3nuff, 4 your protection!

    I think that’s crap. If you have an additional account, particularly a limited acct., hide, block, whatever. But whoever installed, s/he doesn’t deserve to get "protected" from themselves.

    Flame away… mat/dbax/com

  59. Jordan Russell says:

    Subzero wrote:

    "It is NOT a "problem". You prefer the other way doesn’t make that a problem."

    Actually there are two lines of evidence that indicate this behavior is not intentional, i.e. a probable bug:

    1. Turn on focus rectangles on the Effects tab of Display Properties. Then try the click + drag motion. The focus rectangle *does* follow the mouse cursor, but the selection does not.

    2. This behavior ONLY occurs in themed apps. Non-themed apps work correctly.

    "Without the "drag-down mouse" thing, you can quickly slide along the long~~~ drop-down list. Your finger doesn’t have to attach to the mouse-button while you looking at the list thinking about what to choose."

    It was never a requirement that you hold down the mouse button while selecting from a combo box, nor would it be if this were fixed. It’s only an alternate (faster) way of selecting items.

    Chris wrote:

    "If memory serves, the Drag-Mouse-Down behavior is intentional because of accessibility issues. I believe for people with limited dexerity the behavior would cause too many false clicks."

    So why is it still possible to use a click + drag motion to select menu items, then? How are combo boxes any different?

  60. John Topley says:

    Paul Thurrott:

    "Not true, John T. Many of the photos on my site show Aero prototypes, either at the PDC or from elsewhere."

    Sorry Paul, you’re right. However there is a lot of secrecy around Aero and I don’t expect the finished UI to look much look the screen shots currently on your site. Robert Scoble is often blogging about great things in Aero that he’s not allowed to post pictures of!

  61. CalvinH [MSFT] says:

    Jerry, Daniel:

    You can move the My Documents folder very easily without going through the registry. Just open Explorer,right-click My Documents, choose Properties. There’s a Move button. It moves the folder and all other "My" folders.

    It’s the first thing I do my computers.

    Applications should respect the user’s choice by calling <a href=""&gt; with various values, such as CSIDL_MYMUSIC

  62. Androidi says:

    While nobody reads these for sure, i’ll add my "Why in the hel* they chose the blue over the silver". I’m a big "blue-boy", but the blue-luna was over the top.

    On the other hand, i hate when i see someone using the classic NT4/2K style. I immediately get the feeling that "that guy" is "one of those". Those being the people who think Windows 2000 is better/faster/whatever, just cause it has more ugly looks. And i know many of these!

  63. Sjoerd Verweij says:

    – You can RENAME the My * folders. You can use a tool called Explorer to do it.

    – If you want to manually muck them about, try downloading TweakUI (look for PowerToys on Microsoft downloads).

    It takes about 5 minutes to reorganize from separate My * folders to a Documents folder with Pictures, Music etcetera in it.

  64. redvamp128 says:

    The only wish I have is the ability to change the "green button" to a more southing darker shade of green or even a black or darker grey backgound. I personally use the silver theme with most of the "eye candy" turned off. I also am what some call a minimalist. 4 Icons on the desktop with just the basics in the start menu. I use the quick launch most frequent for my daily tasks. My taskbar is 2 widths in height where in the top line resides Windows Media Player 9 when in minumized "player mode" The Internet Explorer and Explorer resides in the bottom of the task bar. I like that setup because it shows not only the Time but the full date as well as the day of the week. I don’t use features like the auto hide unused icons or the desktop cleanup wizard. Alot of junk on the dekstop can cause startup issues. I have also used the "Tweak UI" to add a grey backgound slate appearence to my Internet Explorer and Explorer Menus that better suits the Silver theme. So all in all I think Luna is great. It allows customizing the desktop icons which I have found a grey themed set to match the silver theme as well.

  65. Steven says:

    I agree with redvamp128, if you talk to some ppl out there today most perfer darker colors for their eyes, the brigthness adjucement does not really change nothing and sometimes may hurt your eyes. So the Luna look is excellent, now all they need is a dark background. :)

  66. Raymond Chen says:

    Part of the problem is that extremely few monitors are properly color-calibrated. So when a designer picks color X, only a small number of people actually see X; everybody else sees something too bright or (less often) too dark. Gamers often overcrank the brightness so they can see in "dark places".

  67. Dan says:

    Just wanted to make a dissonant note and say I like the green style. The silver style seems just too flashy for me :). Of course, I also have some other issues with Luna:

    1. I can barely distinguish selected list items once the list has lost focus. Plus I can’t change their color in the display properties.

    2. The size of the last line in the console windows depends on the size of the title bar. So if you’ve got a "wrong" title bar size you get to see only half of what you’re writing in the console window.

  68. snoop says:

    wow – the longest blog response i know yet.

    i was a dj many moons back and the dilema then was that you play a tune everyone knew; they will dance, play a new tune; unkown response…

    the point being; stand still with win2k/98 etc or move on..

    i like the choice, but more so, i like the fact there is a future choice

    2 cent rant over :D

  69. I’ll be *much* happier with Aero than any prior Windows if Microsoft will finally learns that a beginner uses a GUI, but often an expert uses command lines, text editors that support cut & paste, and simple yet rich programming languages, all with transitionality where the software "tutors" the beginner to be an expert over time: (,guid,00c2d217-9a23-40d7-8d4c-5fa230df3a29.aspx)

    I’m so damn tired of having to administer a system with point-and-click apps; if I develop expertise let me grab the data as text, edit it, and put it back. Or easily program it.

    IIS 6 *FINALLY* realized that webserver/site configs could be exported to and imported from XML files. Let all of Windows be that way.

    Hopefully for the UI XAML is what I want, and that MS exposes the XAML for everything.

  70. JD says:

    My only complaint with Luna is really speed. Those who complain it is ‘Fisher-Price’ have a small point, but it’s not very valid in my opinion.

    Speed was my major issue. I massively agree with those complaining about the loss of screen real estate due to ‘tasks’ and other stuff being put around the files.

    Now I agree those things will be useful to some people. I won’t even try to argue ‘many’ people, but it was helpful to me the first time I burned a CD on my wife’s laptop. That was the only time, but at least once it saved me from searching help or something else.

    I’m just saying that damn it, I have a kickass machine. But opening a single folder on my machine is SLOW… How long does a dir listing take?? Way too long. And the size of the icons displays few files. So all the time is spent getting thumbnails, loading special tasks, previews of the files…

    I’ve got the PDC Longhorn. I know it will get better, but here’s what I see: open a folder. Wait forever. You have title bar, location, more dead space, a huge preview area (showing nothing), a massive sidebar (with nothing useful), a list of tasks, and massive icons for files. It’s so bad that in a file/Open dialog, I see exactly four (4) file icons. Huge ones.

    I really have faith that big changes are planned for Longhorn. But please, make at least one simple operation take less time than Windows 3.1. [By the way, I think the biggest recent UI improvement by far, which I use all the time, is autocomplete for file names. A great example of how to improve the experience.]

    …rambles onward…

  71. Raymond Chen says:

    Commenting on this article has been closed.

  72. Anonymous says:

    J.P.C. &raquo; Neutered Longhorn – Yawn

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