Skip navigation

Microsoft: Seriously, we're listening to your Windows 7 feedback (Part 2: The Quickening)

LOL. Microsoft is now so hell bent on proving that it is listening to user feedback that it has actually published a comprehensive list of the changes it is making to Windows 7 between the Beta release and the coming Release Candidate (RC). The changes are the result of Microsoft "working through all the feedback [they've] received on Windows 7" so they can "deliver a refined RC where the changes we made are all the reflection of feedback we have received."

So it must be a pretty impressive list of huge changes, right? I mean, the dangerously deficient default Taskbar view where multiple sub-windows are all hidden under a single obscure icon, thus uncluttering the system while simultaneously making it harder to use, has been changed, right? Right?

Not exactly.

Instead, what we get is a laundry list of tiny changes, much like one of the "300+ NEW FEATURES!" lists that Apple makes every time it ships a new version of Mac OS X. "It's like getting a new computer ... for your computer!"

Anyhoo. Obviously, any improvements are welcome. And some of what they're changing is certainly valuable. Some of it, however, is silly. I'd point out this little bit of "doing the opposite of what they should be doing" as an example:

3. Needy State

“Needy window” is the internal term we use for a window that requires your attention. Since the ‘90s, the taskbar has always provided some type of visualization to alert the customer to this state such as by flashing the button. A careful balance must be struck between providing information and not irritating the customer. With the new taskbar, we received feedback that Outlook reminders or a Messenger chat sometimes went unnoticed because needy windows were too subtle. For example, Mudassir opened a bug to say “The flashing is not obvious enough to get user's attention. Sometime I don't even notice it. It flashes for a little bit and then stops. If I am away the icon flashes and stops before I come back. The icon is not noticeable.” We’ve made three changes that should address the issue. First, we changed the flashing animation curve to make it more noticeable (from a sine to a sawtooth wave). Second, we used a bolder orange color. Finally, we wanted to double the number of flashes which is currently set to three. As a nod to Windows 7, we decided to go with seven flashes instead.

Um. Right. As any Windows Live Messenger user will tell you, what we really need is a way to turn off the flashing "needy" notification, not make it more prominent. In fact, it's so annoying in Messsenger--I don't think it ever stops blinking until you address it explicitly--that I'm ready to stop using the application. So ... they're doing the reverse. They're making it more annoying. Nice!

Here's the thing: I have a fix and it actually addresses all usage needs, not just my personal preference (nice that Mudassir over there is getting Windows 7 to change for him specifically, by the way). But they won't do it, because this is in fact an actual change to the system, the type of thing they aren't doing: Just make the blinking configurable. Put in a switch. If you want it to be worse, make it worse. If you want it off, turn it off. But Windows 7 isn't about doing things the right way. Windows 7 is about simplification. And adding that bit of UI would add clutter to the system. It will never happen.

You see this in so many places in Windows 7. The tray area that hides application icons but doesn't give you a way to stop them from running in the first place. The cleaner taskbar that hides windows under a single icon all while making new window opening undiscoverable . Etc.

Still, check out the list. There are a slew of changes coming in the RC. As we expected.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.