Windows7 – So close!

26 02 2010

I’ve been using Windows 7 on my laptop at work for a few months now, and I have to admit, grudgingly, that Microsoft has removed 95% of the irritating problems that make WIndows nigh on impossible to use. The new GUI is smooth, clean, has some very smart behaviours (things that the Linux desktops have been doing for years), and for the most part, it just works.
There’s tidbits that drive me absolutely up a tree, and I’m flat out boggled that Microsoft could make mistakes that I’d expect from a junior hacker whipping up their first app.
Here’s a few highlights.
* One of the BEST enhancements is the ability to grab and drag a window that is maximized. In WinXP, you would have to un-zoom it, move it, then re-zoom it to move it to another monitor. In Win7, a zoomed window can be grabbed and moved. When a window is pushed to the top of the screen, it automatically maximizes. Fantastic. BUT. This behaviour… wait for it… does not work in Office 2007 applications. That’s right, kids, Microsoft’s flagship office suite takes so many shortcuts in their innovative (COUGH HACK) menu and window designs, that it breaks Windows7 default behavior. Stellar work there, guys.
* It’s a universal pattern. A scrollwheel on a mouse will scroll the window or component you’re hovering over. Browser, document, or spreadsheet, move the mouse to a pane, scroll the wheel, and the view scrolls. Except in the Windows 7 explorer (or whatever they call the filesystem browser). Open up the explorer, and resize the window so you have scrollbars on both the left and the right pane. Now scrollwheel on the right – it scrolls. Move the mouse to the left pane, and scrollwheel again. The right pane continues to take the scroll actions. This wouldn’t be a major problem if it weren’t for the next oddity…
* This one isn’t a Windows7 issue in particular, but something that irritates me about Windows in general. Having been using my Macbook Pro for the last 6 months or so, oddities in UIs jump out at me. On a mac, if you click on a non-focused window, the window becomes focused, but the mouse event does not get transferred to the new window. All the click does is make the window active. On windows, the click event does get applied to the window. This is particularly problematic when trying to raise a browse window back to focus, since so many websites have that irritating “click anywhere and I’ll pop up an ad!” – or other javascript idiocy in place.
For the most part, I have to agree with the Penny Arcade folks. “Windows 7. It’s less bad than you expected.”




2 responses

26 02 2010

Couple of comments as a Windows Systems guy (who uses a Mac a lot…) – it’s not truly fair to bitch about Office 2007’s behavior as being inconsistent with Windows 7 – it was released 2 years previous, and wasn’t built to match Windows 7’s UI setup. If Office 2010 still doesn’t fix these behaviors, then it’s a real problem.
And as for Penny Arcade, I rebut with XKCD.COM’s opinions.

26 02 2010

@Colin – Oh I can totally blame Microsoft for 2007’s oddities. I run dozens of Windows apps, most are > 2 years old, and all of them work correctly under windows7, because they do NOT go around Windows ‘standard’ UI tools.
Office 2007, in order to look slick and new, rewrote and went around many of the standard calls for window interface behavious (just as Media Player does). By doing so, they negate the whole purpose of a ‘platform’, requiring client updates everytime an OS updates their interfaces.
So, I can totally gripe at Microsoft for this. They should have known better.

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