Wow, a task bar, what a novel idea


Some of my colleagues were struck by a sentence in this old Newsweek article about Microsoft's advertising campaign from last year. The sentence wasn't about the ad campaign, though. It was about Windows 7:

The user interface has a slick new feature, a "taskbar" at the bottom that shows what apps you have open. The new system is due out later this year.

Wow, Windows 7 has a "taskbar". If only we had thought of that sooner.

Comments (29)
  1. Matt says:

    I hear the next version of Windows is going to have a feature that allows you to install applications that aren't from an App Store. Pundit's are already saying it will never work.

  2. Dan Bugglin says:

    I liked this gem:

    "Dual-pane views (hierarchy on the left, contents on the right) are also intimidating and unintuitive.  Novices have difficulty understanding the connection between the logical tree hierarchy on the left and the contents pane on the right."

    Vista now has the folder pane on by default.  I'm not even sure you can turn it off anymore…

    "Large icon views are much more comfortable than list views."

    "To ensure backwards compatibility with the universe of existing MS-DOS and Win16 applications, extensions have not been eliminated, just hidden from view by default."

    Nice ideas at the time, but imo it's all too easy for a malicious EXE to have a TXT file icon and call itself README.  Fortunately increased security measures help to "mark" dangerous files downloaded from the internet to help mitigate this.

    "The "Network" Control Panel tool consolidates all networking configuration in one location.  Solves difficulty of configuring Windows networking under Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups 3.x."

    Hey, didn't Windows 7 claim this as a feature too? Hehe.

    "New Help Engine: Accessible and Useful Online Information"

    Wasn't this just a 32-bit version of WinHelp?  That's what the screenshot shows and it doesn't seem to talk about HTML Help.  Ironically WinHelp was deprecated with Vista.

    Info Center looks neat.  Probably a bit more trouble than it was worth but being able to do e-mail right from Explorer would be cool.

  3. David Walker says:

    "To ensure backwards compatibility with the universe of existing MS-DOS and Win16 applications, extensions have not been eliminated, just hidden from view by default."

    I don't think that sentence is even correct.  It conflates two unrelated things.  It's also not in the Newsweek article, but the other one, which confused me at first.  Hmm…

    I don't like "large icon views" because they don't show the detail that I want to see.  If only there was a "Details" view…  :-)

  4. It sounds like someone tried to write about the new and improved taskbar in Windows 7 and then somehow it got edited into oblivion.

  5. egh3 says:

    Preempted Nitpick Corner: They were probably referring to the redesigned taskbar.

  6. Jack Mathews says:

    Well what he maybe meant was the new taskbar organized things by application rather than being a list of open windows.

  7. James Schend says:

    Maybe the writer was a hack. Since we're all giving our theories…

  8. mikeb says:

    I liked this little gem: "Not everyone wants a machine that's been washed with unicorn tears"

  9. Anonymous says:

    I'll bet this started with a somewhat reasonable blurb about the new taskbar, then some non-technical editors started asking all sorts of questions, asking to define all these jargony terms, and what ended up getting printed was this jibberish.  It seems like journalists often tend to make things "accessible" by missing the point entirely.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh, how I miss that old-school animated "<- Click here to bein"! Can I suggest to bring it back? :D

  11. Yuhong Bao says:

    "Wasn't this just a 32-bit version of WinHelp?"

    It was a lot more that just that. It had a lot of new features, like full-text search, and a different UI.

  12. Andreas Beer says:

    …and actually an idea stolen from Risc OS, one of the most inventive and progressive OS out there back in the 90s…

  13. Danny says:

    …bla bla bla taskbar bla bla …and more bla bla…

    Hey!!! When we will get back our floating toolbars? I liked my QuickLaunch to be docked on left side of the screen for my productivity, now I need to use 3rd party application to achieve that (like I really need one more application to eat my RAM, W7 does not eat enough :D:D).

  14. Anonymous says:

    But Windows 7 does have a "new" taskbar that behaves considerably different:

    •  Number of combined programs isn't shown but only a useless border appears to indicate that.

    •  Clicking a grouped application's taskbar button or thumbnail when it is active (in the foreground) does not minimize it like XP. Only ungrouped application buttons minimize upon being clicked again.

    •  Ctrl+clicking taskbar buttons to selectively group close or group minimize doesn't work.

  15. Nick says:

    @Danny

    How is a docked QuickLaunch any different than the new Win7 taskbar?  Pin the apps you have in your QuickLaunch to the taskbar and you get pretty much the same behavior.

  16. Anonymous Coward says:

    The new taskbar. Yet one more compelling reason to stick with XP.

  17. Drak says:

    Heh, if you try it for a couple of days you get used to the new task bar surprisingly quickly. I tried to make it look like the old taskbar, then decided to give the 'new' way a try anyway, and 3 weeks later I'm wondering why I wanted the old way again :P

  18. IanET says:

    Some days I miss the Windows 1.0 icon bar.  

  19. Medinoc says:

    It's fun that you link to this one website, considering all the Windows-bashing it does…

  20. Danny says:

    @Nick

    How?!!! You ask how?!!! Jesus…did you ever used QuickLaunch in XP? I mean really use it, like having 30 icons there, and using them on hourly basis for your work?!!!

    That is how is different then the pin on the "new" taskbar of W7. And the pin is no different then the old XP taskbar having the QuuickLaunch there instead of being docked on left side.

    I don't want to scroll throughout my list of opened applications and i don't want to scroll throughout my icons I use; I want my list of application ungroupped in taskbar for fast click on them and I want my QuickLaunch on left side for the same reason.

    Now you got the big picture…"Nick"?

    I want my floating toolbars back!!!!

  21. Just me says:

    Microsoft needs to attract new users with shiny new invented toys, that's understandable.

    But I can't understand those childish comments of the users which look with disdain over us who are comfortable with our habits and don't want to change just because someone needs to make few (million/billion) bucks.

  22. Random832 says:

    "Vista now has the folder pane on by default.  I'm not even sure you can turn it off anymore…"

    Right, but it doesn't act like it anymore – while you can expand them out as a tree view, it doesn't automatically do so as you navigate – so to a new user it seems like a static list of places.

    ""To ensure backwards compatibility with the universe of existing MS-DOS and Win16 applications, extensions have not been eliminated, just hidden from view by default."

    I don't think that sentence is even correct.  It conflates two unrelated things."

    Well, it's correct only in so far as 95 could have moved to storing file type info somewhere else [like MacOS's finder metadata] but didn't do so. But without any particular reason to think such a thing was ever considered, other than a general sense that Windows 95 was more "mac-like" in some other ways than its predecessors, it's kind of a random thing to say.

  23. Marquess says:

    Some days I miss the old MS-DOS prompt. The one that allowed only 8.3 names and all that. *sigh*

    (And real mode. But hey, there's LoseThos!)

  24. rs says:

    That OS advertised by the second link looks really clean and easy to use. Awesome.

  25. James Schend says:

    Danny: Try decaf

  26. Nick says:

    @Danny

    Wow, settle down.  Clearly your usage scenario is much different than was original thought of when the QuickLaunch was developed.

    To more closely emulate this behavior, try change the Win7 taskbar to use small icons and dock it on the left-hand side of the screen.  That will give you a very similar setup to QuickLaunch (but obviously QuickLaunch and the Taskbar are integrated into a single control now — something most people agree is a Good Idea).

  27. TheCyberKnight says:

    Raymond,

    From the functional angle, the Windows 1.01 bottom screen area (the icon area) was in fact a task bar. We're talking close to 7 years before the Chicago beta if I am not mistaken.

    The concept was later diluted with the 2.x version where icons could roam anywhere on the screen.

  28. john says:

    And what I really want is a clipboard that can hold more than one item.

  29. Danny says:

    @Nick

    Ok, let me say what I do, perhaps I was not clear – my bad. I open my workspace which means a IDE (Visual studio or Delphi or any other classic "edit code + compile" tool) + a Database tool (can be a browser for browsing MySQL OR MicrosoftSQL OR pgAdmin OR plain old good Microsoft Access, depending on what kind of DB my current project is working with) + a documentation reader (Acrobat Reader OR Microsoft Word/Excel or Notepad or another browser tab/window, depending where the requirements documentation for the project lies) + file explorer tool (usually is the old good WIN+E one:) ). So far I have 4 opened windows that lies in taskbar all the time. And I really like them to be there with full names so I know what documents are opened in them (if is the case).

    Now, besides them I need shortcuts to the following intensive used but "short living" application: Calculator, Notepad, Dictionary, Spy++, Paintbrush, Resource editor, Screen capture tool, Photoshop, Total Commander. The "short living" term means I start them, do my current task with them very fast then I close them by usually copy/paste their short living outcome into my project.

    So far how many shortcuts? 4 + 9 = 12;

    Now, beside them I really like to have shortcuts to some music compilations (not many, 3 or 4, depending on my mood), Mozilla (my everyday browser), Skype, Yahoo Messenger, entire word suite (from Outlook to FrontPage) + some more I wont mention here. The result is the original ~30 shortcuts I really like to have at my hand.

    Now, during work I have in my taskbar from 4 to 10 different opened windows, which taskbar is really good at showing me every info about them I need. So those 30 shortcuts lies in the QuickLaunch which is docked on left side, while the taskbar is docked at the bottom.

    Above scenario is my classic use of XP.

    Going from XP to 7 I found out that I no longer can have my QL in left so I need it to emulate it with a application from Internet, thus my above comments.

    Your scenario does not apply to my needs. If I pin 30 shortcuts to taskbar then the space for showing the opened windows is drastically reduced. And those 30 shortcuts do occupy the entire height of the QL. So what originally QL was designed for is fitting my needs perfectly on XP, but not on W7 :D. And I never said that QL being integrated in taskbar is a bad idea, what I said is that the feature existing in XP, which is that if I want to have my QL floating on my screen and/or docking where I want, is no longer in W7. Which is what bothered me. Now I hope this cleared the entire big picture I was referring to.

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