Tag Archives: user-experience

Windows Vista RC1: a Piece of Sith

The last thing I wanted to do upon returning from Alaska was rip Windows Vista “Ultimate” a new one. I also don’t want to go through my list of Vista UI nitpicks, as several of them still have not been addressed – and likely never will be. Even after installing RC1, I find myself feeling like I did after I first saw Star Wars: A Phantom Menace. For whatever it’s worth, I left the theater disappointed and dejected.

Sadly, the first release candidate for Windows Vista feels more like an alpha to me (or early beta, at best). I’m not talking about performance issues, which will most likely be improved upon before this OS goes gold. No, it’s all about a cohesive user experience / user interface for me. Vista fails on most UI fronts. It doesn’t look or behave similarly across any part of the operating system. Even more sad? That’s by design, folks.

I never thought I’d say this, but… we’ve finally seen the day when KDE / Gnome look, work, and feel “better” than Windows. Vista is schizophrenic, and that disorder has been further enabled by the range of vigilante software development teams who are providing code to the core without cross-checking with other teams for UI consistency. Unless Microsoft is sitting on major detail revisions, I’m afraid they’re sitting atop a “Phantom Menace.”

If OS X had a decent desktop PIM, I think Vista would push me to switch. As far as the inconsistency of Apple’s UI is concerned, that’s already been UNOfied. There’s no such app for Windows Vista, and I’m not holding my breath for Stardock to produce anything I want to use for longer than 3 minutes at a time (sorry, but 99% of Windowblinds skins are bloated and inelegant).

Robert and Robert: Duh!

McLaws says Vista Needs More Time and Scoble says McLaws is right on Windows Vista ship date. Pirillo has been saying this for several months now, and has been labeled a “nitpicking whiner” for his attacks on Windows Vista’s UI and UX. Welcome to the club, boys – I’m happy to no longer be standing out here alone. I’m singing the “I Told You So” song today, which sounds a lot like the Blackeyed Peas hit: “My Humps.” Microsoft Windows is bleeding influencers like never before. And now, further commentary from the memetic echo chamber:

Windows Vista will not be a failure on the scale of Windows ME – but it’s certainly looking to be one of those “Growing Pains” releases that Microsoft must bounce back quickly from. And by quickly, I mean: Microsoft must issue a significant upgrade of the OS within a year’s time. Security is important, but future service packs best be laden with performance increases and feature refinements. I tried telling y’all long before the McLaws admission – VIsta just ain’t comin’ together.

George is getting very upset!

Windows Vista: Lipstick on a Pig

I wish I was making this up – I really do. I also wish that someone at Microsoft would wake up to the fact that the user experience in Windows Vista is 10x worse than it was in Windows XP (if only because they couldn’t get developers to adhere to XP guidelines, and now Vista apps look even more Frankenstined). I wish Microsoft would hire somebody to look at this stuff before it ships – and do something about the problems before the world has to deal with them.

I wish users didn’t have to put up with this level of sloppiness from a multi-billion dollar company. I wish I didn’t have to play the “bad guy” and point out that Classic Mode is still the only way to experience a clean, consistent Windows environment. I wish more people would look past Vista’s translucent veneer to see that it’s nothing more than lipstick on a pig. I wish people would see that I care more about this product than most Windows users do. I wish geeks cared more about UI… so that I wouldn’t feel like such a sore thumb here. Thanks to Brandon for posting this – and thanks to Ryan for pointing out that Windows 3.1 is still alive and well in Windows Vista (screenshot).

Users vs. Developers

In prepping for my talk at BloggerCon tomorrow, I thought I’d incite a riot tonight. Most of the world won’t be there, but you can tune into the live stream at some point right after lunch (when I’ll be leading the discussion). I put all of this in tonight’s Lockergnome report for the Windows Fanatics channel, but I figured it was worth repeating here… where I’m likely to get flamed out of existence.

What would the world of software be like if the inmates were running the asylum? I’d argue a lot more useful, and a lot more beautiful. But users are usually in the back seat when it comes to the evolution of a utility – from beginning to end. We have all the control in the world, but few of us ever choose to exercise that power. We are expected to treat developers like they’re gods – but they’re no more important in this cycle than the average user. Let me put it to you this way: software is useless if there isn’t anybody using it. There are certainly users who are content to take whatever programmers hand to them, but I don’t believe that this Utopian level of interaction will exist for too much longer. The world of software is getting larger by the day, and more people are finding new and different ways to improve lives with digital code. I got sick and tired of meeting programmers and developers with attitude, so I decided to get an attitude myself – as a power user. I expect better, I expect faster, I expect smarter, I expect more.

Base functionality is crucial – but I would argue that software should look twice as good as it runs (which should be fast to begin with). I’ve been labeled a “nitpicker” for pointing out font inconsistencies and pixel discrepancies. But if you don’t complain about the things you’d like to see change, how do you ever expect them to change? Developers develop, users use – but it’s up to both parties to communicate with one another. When I see a new piece of software that holds promise, I call out its shortcomings in the hopes it will be closer to perfection with the next revision. Programmers believe that they’re in charge – but I believe the true power lies within the user. Years ago, when I started Lockergnome, there were few people writing publicly about good (or bad) digital tools on the desktop or the Web. The blogosphere has since exploded with a flood of positive and negative opinions – and if you’re not a part of that revolution, then you’re missing out on an important part of history. I’ve seen countless developers struggle to get their apps recognized – but most of those same programmers suffer from an overinflated ego and miscalculation of a uesr’s wants, needs, and desires. Users don’t talk – but I’m asking you to start flappin’ your electronic gums for the sake of making the software landscape better for all of us.

FWIW, I love developers – couldn’t live without ’em. Can’t live with ’em, either. 🙂

User Interface

Dinner with Lili Cheng and her band of Merry Men (and Women) indicated that there were still a few more Vista UI fixes coming down the pike in pending releases. I’ve been reporting and recording as much as humanly possible, but until Microsoft officially assigns Lili as the Goddess of ‘All Things UI’… we’re screwed. Guess what else is probably not going to be fixed in Vista? Errant ToolTips. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy – but this is an oversight that will likely slippy, slippy, slippy.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lili’s team needs to be given the final say on whether (or not) an app is ready for core inclusion BEFORE it’s included. As of right now, there’s no UI accountability; any team can submit any code they want at any time – with nobody signing off on UI. Since this isn’t handed down from on-high (where I believe Lili sits anyway, but not with a true ability to clean these problems before the world sees them), we’re left with the classic Microsoft “it works, therefore it’s good enough” mentality. The inmates, indeed, are running the asylum.

…and I get labeled a “nitpicker” for pointing out ways that Windows Vista can look better? Give me a break. It’s obvious that some of Microsoft’s developers aren’t designers – painfully so. The only people who have the right to call me a “nitpicker” are those responsible for user interface and user experience. IMHO, Jim Allchin’s legacy isn’t necessarily Windows Vista – it’s the power he hands to people like Lili moving forward [a thought that is equally shared with Ed Bott].

“User Interface” isn’t just about software design – it’s the communications gateway between a company and its most vocal supporters.

65 More Windows Vista Mistakes

I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Even after my problems with Outlook 2007, and my original feedback on Windows Vista, I went deeper into Windows Vista’s second beta. This time, I didn’t concentrate so much on the font issues (so that I couldn’t be accused of being such a nitpicker). Don’t get me wrong; there are still thousands of UI oversights still sitting within Windows. I intend to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t just want to hear about how some of my problems were addressed – I won’t rest until all of them are. I keep being told that a lot of it will be happening soon, but… I’ll believe it when I see it. This isn’t just about fonts and icons, my friends – it’s about something I intend on using as my primary operating system for the next… seven (?) years.
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