Nested fly-out menus are a usability nightmare

The Windows Vista Start menu abandoned the flyout model for the "All Programs" menu because nested fly-out menus are a usability nightmare, and not just for novices.

Research has shown that once you have menus more than one level deep, you have the problem that the slightly wiggle of the mouse can take the big, complicated menu hierarchy that the user spent enormous attention to build and make it all disappear in a flash. I run into this a lot. "File, Open Multiple, By Searching..." oops I moved my mouse too far upwards and tickled the View menu and boom my menu vanishes and I have to start all over again. Menu navigation has turned into one of those mouse dexterity games where you have to guide your character through a maze without hitting any of the walls or you die and have to start over.

The All Programs menu has turned into a unwieldy mess thanks to all the programs that shove themselves into every nook and cranny. As a result, navigating it as a hierarchical menu has turned into a common source of frustration due to the "collapsing menu" problem. The solution? Reframe it as a tree view which acts only when you click. The hierarchy is still there, but it's much easier to navigate.

This ease of use comes at a cost: If you're one of those people who can guide a mouse with pixel-perfect precision, then you're going to find mouse-based menu navigation a bit slower due to the extra clicking. But if it's speed you're after, then put down the mouse and stick to the keyboard: Type the name of what you want into the Start menu search box, and you'll be taken straight to it.

(No nitpicker's corner today. We'll see what happens.)

Comments (74)
  1. This is great! I’m so happy to have the Official Microsoft Position on mouse dexterity games!

    Just kidding.

    Yeah, I liked nitpicker’s corner, but it’s your perogative to take it away. I’m not going to whine about it :) I just hope that with or without it, you keep on blogging…

  2. mastmaker says:

    Thanks, Raymond. I am glad to see the back of nitpicker’s corner. It lost its novelty and was beginning to be an eyesore.

  3. AB says:

    Now, if I only could resize the Vista Start menu.

    The problem is that on sufficiently large displays, usability suffers because the menu uses only a tiny portion of the desktop, yet there is horizontal scrolling (eek!).

  4. ERock says:

    Strangely enough, I still started most of my programs through the Run dialog. Automatic completion is great and the drop down stores all my major apps and a few little commands it remembers that I might have used once or twice.

    That said, I love those mouse skill games. Found one recently that hid the mouse pointer and set up targets for you to click on, so you have to "instinctively" know where your cursor would be if it were visible. Cool stuff.

  5. Glaurung says:

    They would not be as much of a usability nightmare IMO, if menu activation followed the old windows 3.1 convention instead of the new windows 95 (and later) convention.

    Under 3.1, menus and submenus opened when you clicked on them, and then stayed open regardless of where you moved the mouse until you clicked again.  Under windows 95 and later, this was changed, so that activation slavishly followed the mouse; moving the mouse through the list of entries would cause each submenu in turn to open, regardless of whether you wanted them to or not.

    The old system was, I think, much more friendly to people with poor muscle control (elderly, those with parkinsons, people who suck at hand-eye coordination), less visually distracting, and generally more usable and less aggravating.

    At one point there was a program called "old mouse menu" which reverted mouse behaviour to the old model, but the author never updated it to work with the enhanced windows 98 & later shell, so it’s pretty useless today.  Moving the slider on mouse activation delay in tweakui all the way to the slowest position helps a little, but does not solve the problem, and the mouse activation delay setting can (in my experience) get "forgotten" in a crash, or reset by "helpful" programs who think you shouldn’t have it set too slow.  

    Why, back when Windows 95 was being developed, was the menu activation pattern changed from "activate on click" to "slavishly follow the mouse even when it’s being moved by accident" anyway?

  6. Lorenzo says:

    I really hated the new Start Menu in Windows XP, especially for this "nested popup menu" issue. The new Vista version is much better, but it’s still a step backward in usability compared to the classic Start Menu, due to the limted size of the menu when you have a lot of program installed.

    However, now I rely on the Vista Start Menu, but only due the integrated search box: i type the first letters of the program I want to start, et voilà.

  7. Adrian says:

    The cascading menus are a usability problem.  I’m glad the Vista team recognized this, but I would have preferred a different solution.  I find the usability problems in the Vista model worse than the than the huge cascade of menus.

    Vista always segregates folders and shortcuts, making it impossible to organize everything alphabetically.  I don’t remember which programs were installed in subfolders and which have direct shortcuts.  Now I have to (scroll) scan, scroll, and scan again.

    Vista closes the All Programs menu if you just hover over the Back item (which just happens to be where I tend to hover while trying to scan through the list of programs).

    Vista doesn’t use all this screen real-estate I paid for, so I need a different kind of mouse dexterity to scroll through this list (for some reason, the mouse wheel doesn’t work reliably here either).

    I’d prefer the old cascade menus with a simple pinning feature.  Click on a submenu, and the flyout will appear and stay until you click somewhere else.  I find I do this anyway, since I’m too impatient to wait for the hover to trigger the flyout.

    And I’m lame with a mouse, especially double-clicking.

  8. Lorenzo says:


    You have just to deselect the option "Open submenus when I pause on them with my mouse" in "Customize Start Menu" -> "Advanced". OK, it solves the problem only for the Start Menu, and not for every other program…

  9. James Schend says:

    Apple solved this problem by making the "area of the screen where the mouse can be without the menu disappearing" (I don’t know if there’s a shorter name for that!) much larger than the graphic of the menu. With the result that you can drag diagonally from different levels, and the menu won’t close if the mouse pointer is outside of the menu area.

    That said, I think pretty much everyone agrees that submenus, especially more than one level deep, aren’t a very good idea.

  10. mccoyn says:

    I had forgetten that Win 3.1 behavior.  I remember missing it.  On menus the change didn’t make much sense to me.  Opening the edit menu still requires a click, so how come after I open the file menu the edit menu no longer needs a click?  It just seems like the computer went out of its way to create a mouse maze.

    It seems the XP start menu attempted to compensate for this problem by adding a delay so that the user can get back into the maze, which means when you really want to popup a different menu you have to wait a second.

  11. How about Office Ribbon style Menus? Though that seems like a nicely decorated version of a tree view :)

  12. bmm6o says:

    The way I run into this is because my mouse is old and sometimes jitters on its own.  I frequently use the keyboard to access the start menu, and if I left the mouse over a place on the screen where the start menu will cover, there’s a pretty good chance that the menu will collapse in response to a mouse jitter.

  13. Kemp says:

    I don’t know if it was my imagination or an actual feature, but I noticed since Windows 98 that if I click on an entry in the start menu before moving into the submenu it becomes less prone to accidental activation of other menus items. Maybe it just gave my hand a split-second to stabilise on the new position or something, I don’t know, but either way it worked.

  14. Jules says:

    bmm6o: there’s a worse version of that problem in the autocomplete in form fields in Program X… if you leave your mouse pointer in the area that the autocomplete will appear in, and start typing in the box, the autocomplete list will appear, and the one under the mouse will be highlighted.  Then, when you press enter, it will replace what you have typed with the autocomplete entry.

    Really annoying, and doesn’t seem to require mouse jitter at all.

  15. Andy Den Tandt says:

    I hate the new Start Menu if I didn’t immediately find the app with the search function.

    How do you make the Start Menu as large as the entire screen?

    I’m at the brink of creating a shortcut so the Start Menu opens in Windows Explorer that I can resize as needed.

    Reframe it as a tree view which acts only when you click.

    How do you get the Tree experience?

    In 99% of the cases I use the search function (love that!), but if I don’t remember the name, I want to use a large part of the screen to show all the installed programs. It’s a lot easier on the eyes to display everything at once.

    I have only been able to get a small list that I have to scroll through (only 50% of the height of my screen and 20% of the width is used) and AFAIK I can only expand a single folder.

    I agree with you post about clicking instead of mouse-positioning – but the old cascaded menus expended to 100% the size of my screen and I want that back :-(

  16. Evan M says:

    Thanks for dropping the nitpicker’s corner.  I hated it.  Surely 99% of your readers aren’t jerks about footnote notation or whatever and it pains all of us to see you twist your posts around the nagging minority.

    (I wonder if it’d be more effective for you to write a FAQ, including responses like the "not an official position"?  Then you could address those sorts of responses with a link to the FAQ, which serves the dual purpose of saving you time as well as informing the commenter they ought to have RTFMed [well, RTFFed].)

  17. jeffdav says:

    I hate all the start menus.  Always have.  Since Windows 95, I haven’t used any of them.

    I love the quicklaunch and I love WINDOWKEY + R.  I do use the search box feature in Windows Vista for programs like spy++ which I use fairly frequently, but don’t deserve a place on the quicklaunch bar.  

    I still wish I could put the desktop into report view… that might make having icons on the desktop useful.  :)

  18. Josh Goldshlag says:

    AskTog covered the Mac?PC differences on this a while ago – (see question 6) and

  19. Benn says:

    I loved the Windows 3.1 menu behavior and I was baffled by the change in Windows 95.  There really needs to be an option to enable the 3.1 behavior.  That would join the myriad options I change immediately after installing Windows, right along with enabling the underlined keyboard shortcuts.

  20. CornedBee says:

    Thanks for removing the Nitpicker’s Corner. Please, never bring it back, no matter what people do.

    I used to love footnotes. They tend to offer nice little side info. But every time I looked at a footnote recently, I only found some trite "not MS’s opinion" or so. It was … disappointing ;-)

  21. A. Nitpicker says:

    So I may take it as that Microsoft officially hates people who can guide a mouse with pixel-perfect precision?

  22. Damian says:

    For you windows xp users out there, try Launchy ( You’ll never look at the start -> programs menu again.

  23. Ben Hutchings says:

    The Vista start menu is an improvement in terms of searchability. I can type what I’m after (no need to click!) and it usually appears quickly as the first search result, at which point I can hit Return to run it. However, searching takes an unpredictable time, which sometimes leads me to press Return too quickly. Unfortunately that doesn’t result in doing anything useful.

    I am much less happy with the sub-menus, which aren’t well differentiated. They have icons, but they only appear when you hover, so they are more decorative than useful.

  24. Ian Argent says:

    "How do you make the Start Menu as large as the entire screen?"

    Expand the number of MRU programs to display. I just bumped from 9 to 15 on a 1920×1200 screen @ 120% and it went from covering half the vertical space to roughly 2/3 of the vertical space.

  25. Cooney says:

    I actually don’t have a problem with the XP cascading menu – I tend to use the keyboard a fair bit, so Window-p + arrow keys and autocompletion within a menu level works for me. Only problem is when the horizontal nesting runs past the edge of the screen. It’d be nice to fix that.

  26. Morten says:

    I originally hadn’t intended to ever use Vista (being a KISS type of user new features don’t ever lure me unless I really, really need them – and GUI "features" mostly suck big time) but this seems like a worthwhile feature. If all the verkackte eye candy can be killed, I might even consider taking a gander at it. Nothing like a UI designed by a kindergarten with finger paint to ruin my day (I find XP tolerable because it can be dumbed down to Win98 level – Gnome and KDE are much, much worse, but that’s another story). The problem with the existing menu regime is not so much wasted time but the potential for carpal tunnel syndrome and worse. The more exact mouse control has to be, the more the hand and arm will tense up. Try it, you’ll see. I never figured out why MS went to the trouble of creating ergonomic mice and then made them irrelevant by requiring so exacting hand-eye coordination that any benefits of shape are lost. But that’s probably got something to do with the left hand not knowing what the right hand does, them being a big corp and all.

  27. Triangle says:

    At the risk of being a nitpicker, "… once you have menus more than one level deep, you have the problem that the slightly wiggle of the mouse can take the .."

    should have just ‘slight’.

    And will this be backported to Win XP ? :)

  28. Nick says:

    I was glad to see the keyboard get a breath of life back in Vista’s Start Menu.

    Now if only other Microsoft product teams will follow suit. One change that drives me nuts is when Program Foobar prompts about an invalid SSL certificate you cannot use the keyboard to continue to the website any longer.  This is most certainly a step backwards.

  29. raul.igrisan says:

    Why not let the customer customizing the UI by choosing between XP/cascading and Vista menu styles?

    Is it so costly to implement it’s worth rendering the old players less productive? Following this trend, should we expect a future release of Windows to start in the accessibility mode by default?

    [Oh, now you’re asking for backward compatiblity? Should Vista really have three Start menus? -Raymond]
  30. raul.igrisan says:

    There is a chance I won’t agree with my previous comment in the far future as I swith to and get used with Vista… hopefully it has been the frustration of accommodating with the Vista UI surfacing…

  31. James says:

    Actually, that was one thing that bugged me after the move to Win95 – where Program Manager forced developers to put their apps exactly one level below the root (no apps in the root, no nested groups), the new flexibility both clutters the root (half the apps put themselves straight off Programs) and complicates (the other half putting themselves under CompanyApplicationDeveloper’s Pet CatPhase of Moon When Compiled…).

    As I recall, the early Win95-era office suites tended to be offenders, putting all the suite components right on the Programs menu; the two I use regularly don’t do that these days, so maybe customer feedback persuaded them to change their ways.

    I like the new Vista arrangement, although it takes a bit of getting used to; after hating it for a while (to the extent of uninstalling the beta), even the Ribbon is starting to grow on me.

  32. felixk says:

    +1 for eliminating the nitpicker’s corner. Thank you!

  33. - says:

    It’s not slower due to the extra clicks: the delay in XP already makes fast users click every time since they can easily outrun the automatic expansion, unless they have manually ser the delay to zero, which is the ideal solution providing the machine can keep up.

    Navigation is slower in Vista, but for other reasons. I’d say having to use such a small space is the worst offender.

  34. JM says:

    I’m one of those people who can guide a mouse with pixel-perfect precision, I keep my Start Menu neat, and I’ve set menu delay to zero. It works for me, but I can see how other people would find it unusable (and even I have trouble if the expanded menu is too big to fit on the screen, and starts going left or right and/or adding scroll arrows — usability goes in the can if that happens).

    That said, I’m also a frequent user of Start -> Run (or rather Win+R), having memorized quite a few names of EXEs. (Win+R, "calc", Enter is faster than navigating to Accessories.) Vista’s find-as-you-type sounds like it should be right up my alley, but I’m not thinking about upgrading any time soon.

  35. Ben says:

    I think that the start menu on Vista is one of its greatest features. I had to revert back to XP because of video/sound driver issues (going to try again in January), and I *really* miss the start menu. Google Desktop can help me find programs, usually, but it’s not as easy to use.

  36. D says:

    Re: (No nitpicker’s corner today. We’ll see what happens.)

    Thank you!

  37. Windows Vista’s new start menu, in the form of the scrollable tree view, is probably the biggest reason why I upgraded to Vista.  On both my tablet and my laptop, XP’s fly-out start menu overfills their relatively small displays (1024×768).  I’m also a fan of Mozilla Firefox’s scrollable bookmarks menu – it’s a good compromise between a tree-like view and a nested menu.

  38. Dean Harding says:

    There is a chance I won’t agree with my previous comment in

    the far future as I swith to and get used with Vista

    But, if they HAD included the "Windows XP"-style start menu, then you’d NEVER get use to the Vista-style one — because you’d never have used it!

    For me, I use the search feature all the time. For my "day-to-day" apps, I have a custom toolbar (NOT quicklaunch — I don’t want app automatically putting stuff in there) which I’ve dragged all the way to the right of my taskbar, so I click on the little chevrons and it pops up a menu of JUST the apps I use.

  39. Nidonocu says:

    As a tip for people wanting bigger All Programs lists, you can at least make it taller by either pinning more applications or increasing the number of recent programs displayed when you first open the Start Menu.

    On my system with large icons enabled, 13 pinned + 9 recent = 44 items visible on the All Programs list.

  40. Johnny Leung says:

    I think the old XP start menu is better because it use the desktop space better.

    I do not need to be restricted in that small areas for all my programs

  41. Gene says:

    They’re HORRIBLE.

    They’re my biggest beef about GUIs as an uncoordinated pasty-white computer geek, other than frequently-used icons/controls that are too small to reliably hit with a mouse. (If I had that much hand-eye coordination, I’d have been on the football or baseball team instead of ending up in computers)

    “Menu navigation has turned…” is the best way of putting I’ve ever seen.

    There’s a add-on for Firefox (Product X) which is otherwise great, but has menus nested 6-deep. And since you use it by right-clicking on a web page item, the menu might pop up or down depending on how close to the bottom of the screen you are.

    Then the submenu might pop left if you’re close to the right of the screen, but the submenu to that one pops RIGHT because it’s further left, which means it appears on top of the main menu. God forbid your mouse zigs when you need it to zag for a fraction of a second… not only does the entire menu structure disappear, you end up clicking something you really didn’t want to click and *boom* the DOM inspector window appears or something worse happens.

    So actually you end up using by right-clicking then going back to the keyboard and using all the accelerators. Nice.)

  42. Igor says:

    What?!? No nitpickers corner? You gotta be kidding! Now there is nothing funny left to read, just some boring facts!

    :) (jk)

  43. Wolf Logan says:

    I’d *prefer* that the Start menu not include a hierarchy of folders, with every manufacturer putting their own folder in there (so that I have to remember the manufacturer’s name to find the program itself), and some (who shall remain nameless) putting multiple products into their own folders, making this huge tree for very little reason.

    But that’s the model we’ve gotten to (from the original Program Manager, through the "Explorer" model it developed into, to the flyout menu view of the same data). And as Raymond is constantly pointing out, once Windows provides a mechanism for something, it’s kind of stuck that way.

    The Vista Start menu is an improvement, and given the backwards-compatibility restrictions, probably close to the best answer for now. I just wish I could adjust the *width* of the thing — most monitors are wider than they are high (and getting wider every day), so I wish I could make better use of that width with my Start menu.

  44. Kip says:

    I’d like to say THANKS!!

    This is by far my favorite feature of Vista.  Hit Windows key then type *part* of the name of the program you want and hit enter.  It’s so much better than using a mouse.  Especially on a laptop!

    This makes it easier to find programs for another reason:  a lot of companies will create the start menu folder with the name of the company, not the name of the app.  So to find application X you have to remember that it was made by company Y, to go to Start/All Programs/Company Y/App X.  Now you can just type X and find it.

    I immediately feel crippled when I use an XP start menu now that I’ve gotten used to Vista on my laptop.

  45. hari says:

    +1 for no nitpicking corner so there wont be any nitpicking about the nitpicker’s corner.

    Why not use the quicklauch for frequent apps. You can even double the height of the taskbar if you want.

  46. Miral says:

    "How about Office Ribbon style Menus? Though that seems like a nicely decorated version of a tree view :)"

    Dear god no!  I hate those ribbon bars with a fiery passion.

    "[Oh, now you’re asking for backward compatiblity? Should Vista really have three Start menus? -Raymond]"

    Yes.  Yes it should.  (I really missed the XP menus when I first started using Vista.)

    "But, if they HAD included the "Windows XP"-style start menu, then you’d NEVER get use to the Vista-style one — because you’d never have used it!"

    This is also true.  I’m actually getting used to the Vista menus now — although the result of that is simply not using the tree navigation at all.  Either I use Windows+R and type the path to something directly or I just hit Windows and type the name of the application.  (Win+R gets more of a workout because I commonly use it to open folders, and several of the apps I use don’t have icons in the start menu.)

    Now if only I could figure out how to get Vista to not open another window when I double-click something (despite telling it not to in the options), then things’d be a lot better :)

  47. steveg says:

    As soon as you get used to an MRU you lose the ability/tendancy to discover and/or remember that you have FeatureFoo. A great example (IMO) why that’s a bad idea is the Personalised Menu in Office and the Start Menu. Show me *everything* please (and more to the point show non-techie users everything so they don’t ask me where the so-and-so feature is).

    And then… once marketing realises that nobody uses FeatureFoo, they want a popup to remind users about it. "You haven’t used FeatureFoo recently…"

  48. Robert says:

    There is a system setting that prevents unwanted nested popup menus from taking over control without an explicit mouse click:


    The example in the post remains valid, though, because the setting has no effect on top-level menu bar items. Besides I could not find a way to access this setting directly from the user interface.

  49. Sam says:

    Mouse usability for menus is dreadful – I always navigate them by keyboard and am sometimes very annoyed when by accident I forgot to move the mouse out of the way: even when you navigate a menu by keyboard it is very annoying if a popupmenu opens where the mousecursor is.

  50. DeGustibus says:

    > I’d like to say THANKS!! This is by far my favorite feature of Vista.

    It’s funny.. this, combined with that breadcrumb thing instead of the "up-folder button" (it’s slower and doesn’t allow to spawn a new window with ctrl-click) and the full-row select on explorer’s listviews are the three major reasons which brought me to switch back to XP.

    But I guess I have no problems with menus, since one of the first options I change with TweakUI is the menu delay to 0.

  51. Marcel says:

    +1 vote for the free (and OS) Launchy utility. Hit alt+space, enter a few characters (one or two at most here) and the program I wanted is already selected. Also has plug-ins that can do quick calculations etc. Definitely worth a look.

  52. Worf says:

    I admit, I hate the new menu in Vista. Then again, I’m one of those pixel-perfect guys as well.

    Ah, but Vista takes care of me that way too! I just switch the style of the start menu to the oh-so-hard "Classic" mode! So… Microsoft can design a UI for those who like it the old way *AND* simplify it for new users, while still making it easy to switch.

    (Yes, I run the "Windows Classic" theme. I like the look and everything. Alas, Aero doesn’t work, but no big loss here.)

  53. Leo Davidson says:

    Thank you Nidonocu, I hadn’t realised that and it makes the All Programs list much nicer to use.

  54. AndyB says:

    It is possible to get an old-style cascading start menu, try this (note, I havn’t but thought about it. Maybe I will if I get more stuff installed)

    You can resize the whole thing, and I think the search box remains in place, so you get the best of both worlds.

  55. Bob Snyder says:

    Personally, I would prefer being able to arrange and locate things By Position. I happen to think that my brain is wired that way. In the real world, I put physical objects, including tools and documents, in various places. When I need to retrieve those objects, I find it easier to remember their locations than to remember their names or descriptions.

    When I am speaking on the phone and I reach for a writing implement, I don’t need to remember a class noun like "pen", "pencil", or "writing instrument". I don’t need to remember a manufacturer name like "PaperMate", "Bic", or "Parker". I only need to recall the location where my writing implements are kept.

    The contents of my desktop do not scroll vertically or horizontally. I do have drawers which slide in and out. These drawers effectively increase the surface area of my desktop.

    I’ve been using Vista since the day it shipped. I still have more difficulty starting programs in Vista than I ever did in Win 95-XP.

    When the Programs menu needs to scroll, I never seem to know which way to go. It is hard to figure out whether the thing I need is above or below my present position. I find myself pausing and struggling to recall the names of things that I used to locate mainly by position in Win 95-XP.

  56. Jess Sightler says:

    "(No nitpicker’s corner today. We’ll see what happens.)"

    Is that an official position of Microsoft Corporation?  :-)

  57. Dan says:

    It’s kind of sad that you had to have the nitpickers corner anyways–while amusing, it reflected poorly on the nerd community.


    p.s. i forgot to capitalize some stuff and left out an apostrophe somewhere. guess what? it doesn’t matter.

  58. England says:

    "But if it’s speed you’re after, then put down the mouse and stick to the keyboard: Type the name of what you want into the Start menu search box, and you’ll be taken straight to it."

    Search is awesome (except my computer is slow with results, but that’s just me).  What does bug me though is that the priority of search results is based on the whole ‘frequently used’ calculation.  

    What this means is that when I type "visual studio 2005", even though there’s an option that matches exactly that, it takes me to "visual studio 2005 documentation".  

    Yes, I can just cursor down, but I usually type the name and hit enter, thinking – wrongly – that the exact name would be enough.

  59. Drew Hoskins says:

    " of those mouse dexterity games where you have to guide your character through a maze without hitting any of the walls or you die…"

    Did this bring to mind the annoying root maze in Space Quest II for anyone else?

  60. nand says:

    When I learned to use a GUI, I was told to hover over the menubar, then click & hold the mouse button, hover the item I want and then release the button.

    I *still* do that (at least 15 years later), and it irritates me when Windows thinks I’m moving something around. Probably my fault though (or a lame mouse button) but it happens.

    Also, if you move diagonally to an item in a submenu quickly enough, the submenu doesn’t go away. This saves me a lot.

  61. John Anthony Kazos Jr. says:

    You folks should have stopped complaining about the Nitpicker’s Corner a long time ago. Don’t you realize he was doing it to punish all of you who were piddling and needling him? So behave and don’t screw around again, and the non-nitpickers will heave great sighs of relief.

    (And personally, I derived ginormous amusement every time he did it, because in my current position, I deal with more idiocy, stupidity, and mental regression than any tech-support agent ever born. You deserved it: You know whom you are.)

  62. Hayden says:

    Ah, well, but…

    That was what TweakUI was for. You increase the "menu delay" to some large value, and the menu will now respond ony to clicks, and ignore mouse movements. you can now wobble the mouse around as much as you like, and the menus stay put until clicked. This is all fine and dandy until you hit an app like Visual Studio, that re-implements the menu controls, so that clicking on an item does not fly-out the submenu. Grr.

  63. ::Wendy:: says:

    I surely hope that the perosn on the Product X team that owns the menu under the icon next to the minimize icon in the programs frame read the post.

    W a nitpicking nerd

  64. Miral says:


    Sez you.  Where’s your research?  ;)

  65. Vladimir says:

    The only thing that bothers me with all these anti-nitpicker comments: I’ve seen the whole story from the beginning to an end, and didn’t spot any nitpickers at all.

    While one may say this is only because I am a nitpicker myself, that’s not true. Wasn’t it Raymond himself who started the whole mess trying to improve something? It’s not like somebody here asked him to go that particular way he choose. No one. No single person. Whom all these happy commenters are reffering to when they mention “those nerdy nitpickers”?

    [The most common category of nitpicking is people who like to point out that Microsoft programs violate some principle I expounded upon. The original nitpicker’s corner was written specifically for these people. It expanded to cover people who read each sentence out of context or take issue with my choice of funny/provocative headline. -Raymond]
  66. Reginald A. Simon III says:

    Raymond, please stop playing favorites and remove the product name from ::Wendy::’s post.  Thank you.

    [I figured I’d leave that in to show I was a good sport, but I guess some people think I’m playing favorites, so fine, out it goes. -Raymond]
  67. Cooney says:

    [The most common category of nitpicking is people who like to point out that Microsoft programs violate some principle I expounded upon. The original nitpicker’s corner was written specifically for these people. It expanded to cover people who read each sentence out of context or take issue with my choice of funny/provocative headline. -Raymond]

    I thought the proper response to pointing out some inconsistency in MS’ behavior is to accept it and say ‘yes, we aren’t perfect, and we don’t all agree on what perfect even is’.

  68. cjm says:

    For all you keyboard- and mouseclick-ophiles, I use a tablet PC, and the fewer clicks, the better.  The XP start menu and clickless menus are fine with me.

  69. I *loved* the Vista start menu until I started using it regularly.  List of issues (not feature requests, like resizability):

    – It appears to use the indexing system.  This can make it awfully slow to come up with the text that you are actually typing for.  We’re talking 6-8 seconds on a 2GHz T42 with 1.5GB of RAM.  This is absurd.  The entire text of the program list could fit in an always-in-RAM buffer and be brute-stupid-simple searched faster than that.  I know, I konw, it could cost entire kilobytes of memory… kilobytes!

    – On 3 of 5 Vista installs, my index has somehow gotten corrupted to the point that typing in "photo" (no quotes) won’t find Photoshop or Windows Photo Gallery.  Typing in "photo" (with quotes) will.  Photo is not the only word that ends up like this on these systems.

    – Folders don’t show up in the culled list.  This encourages developers (or users) to use longer shortcut names to show up in the start search.

    These can be fixed, but eggs and baskets come to mind when talk turns to Vista search.

  70. Illuminator says:

    The failure of the Start Menu is that it organizes by developer rather than by the job needing to be done.  Then the redundancy and minutia with submenus for a single icon, readme links and help file links (does anyone click these outside the program??) and uninstall icons and blah blah blah. The Start Menu even a with large installed application load would be pristine if not for these, and flyouts would have never been accused.

    The Vista “All Programs” menu feels very clunky and unnatural to me.

    [And yet if the All Programs menu didn’t allow submenus, people would complain that it was clunky and unnatural. -Raymond]
  71. change for the sake of change says:

    Interesting, the start menu behaves more like 16-bit windows 3.1.

    Now we all know how the start menu in 128-bit windows will work. :)

  72. So you don’t lose a big menu because you lost a mouse dexterity game.

Comments are closed.