WinInfo Daily Update, July 10, 2006: Microsoft Improves Vista UI for Low-End PCs

Microsoft Improves Vista UI for Low-End PCs

In the beginning, there was Aero Glass. And it was good. But Microsoft also begat a crummy, ugly UI for Windows Vista called Vista Basic. And it was bad, really bad. We complained vociferously. And Microsoft listened. How sweet is that?

Over the weekend, two Microsoft employees blogged about the change in Vista's low-end UI, which will appear on machines not graced with Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM)-based drivers. These include many older PCs, especially Tablet PCs and any machines that use previous-generation integrated graphics chipsets. The original version of the Vista Basic UI was pretty grim, a horrific grayish thing that was far uglier than even Classic mode. Now, all is well with the world.

"Many community members have expressed concerns over the visual experience of the Windows Basic theme, and we heard you loud and clear," a posting on the Windows Vista Team Blog reads. "In fact, we too wanted something better, and we've overhauled this theme with an all new version .... This is a good, clean interface called the Basic or Standard theme, but lacking the glass window frames of Aero."

Microsoft reports that the new low-end UI will appear in a future prerelease Vista build, but the company won't specify when. I'll post screenshots and a discussion of this UI on the SuperSite for Windows later today.

Firefox Market Share Approaches 13 Percent

According to researchers at, a Web analytics firm, market share for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser jumped to nearly 13 percent this month, an increase of 1.14 percent since May. Meanwhile, market leader Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) saw its market share fall by similar numbers: IE commands 83.05 percent of the Web browser market, down 2.12 percent from May.

"It seems that the global usage share of Mozilla Firefox starts to grow rapidly again after a period of no growth," Niels Brinkman, the cofounder of, said. Firefox's numbers, curiously, are even higher in certain countries. In the United States, for example, Firefox users account for 15.82 percent of all Web traffic, and Firefox usage is a whopping 24.23 percent in Australia, 39.02 percent in Germany, and 20.41 percent in Italy.

In related news, The Mozilla Foundation will officially release the first public beta version of Firefox 2.0 on Tuesday, though the prerelease software is actually available now from FTP sites around the world (see URL below). Firefox 2.0 includes an integrated spell checker, antiphishing functionality, and numerous UI changes. Versions are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

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