Windows Developer Preview Feedback RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I didn't see a way to submit feedback for the developer preview on the Connect site so I thought here was as good a place as any. Please note that most of my comments are from the perspective of someone who will (along with the majority of other people) use this OS on a system with a keyboard and mouse with no touch capability.

    General Feedback

    Overall I would say that the inclusion of the Metro design elements and new start menu (as they exist now) into an OS running on systems with a keyboard and mouse (the vast majority of systems now and in the foreseeable future) can be considered nothing less than an unmitigated disaster. It seems to me that Microsoft has badly overreacted by creating a UI that is optimized for touch and then tacking keyboard and mouse controls onto it. Obviously this is pre-beta software but I have to say I am extremely disappointed with the direction that Microsoft is taking the UI in both their desktop and server OS offerings.

    Additionally, it is hard to see how extending this Metro “initiative” to the desktop is going to work in conjunction with the ribbon style which has resulted in consistancy across the Microsoft product ecosystem

    Specific Feedback

    • Installation and setup was quick and easy, if fault must be found it is with the ugly green color that was chosen. I would suggest something more neutral based on black, grey, and white.
    • One setup is complete I am sent to the logon screen. There is no clear indicator of what to do here, pulling the pane up with the mouse pointer to "lift" it and allowed to enter your password is an unintuitive and poor design choice. They need to disable this on non-touch systems and add a "Press CTRL+ALT+Delete" notification like in previous versions.
    • After logon I am sent to the new start menu which is filled by spots for a number of tiles that will far exceed the number of applications that a specific user will use. Especially since they have chosen to exclude any notification / clock area it makes the start menu seem barren and uninviting.
    • The tile model for a desktop is an unintuitive and poor design choice. The keyboard and mouse are precision instruments and having these giant tiles for your applications makes the OS feel “clunky”.
    • Scrolling across the new start menu is very unintuitive. It would seem to me that if they insist on using the interface, they wouldn’t force users to either take their hand off the mouse and use the Page Up and Page Down keys or move it to a specific spot to scroll, but rather take a hint from games where if the pointer goes to the edge of the screen it automatically scrolls with it.
    • The start menu is missing several key options like the ability to change the color from this ugly green to one the user wants to see. Additionally the start menu needs a clearly visible Shutdown / Logoff combination button or a Shutdown button needs to be added to the menu that appears when right clicking on your user tile.
    • When opening any of the few applications that support this Metro style interface the entire screen is taken up which seems like a very odd and unnatural choice for a desktop. I would like to be able to keep an eye on my other applications, clock and network, notifications, etc. Additionally, sometimes I have 3 or 4 applications positioned strategically on the screen at any one time – it isn’t clear how they intend to support it.
    • When opening applications that don’t support the new Metro style you are subjected to this jarring and grotesque transition from the start menu to the traditional desktop. It makes you feel that you are dealing with two separate and unrelated systems instead of some sort of cohesive experience. The fact that control panel and system setting options are scattered between Metro and non-metro UI adds to this feeling of fragmentation.


    I think it is worth saying that I am and have been what I consider to be a Microsoft / Windows evangelist for a long time. I was extremely disappointed by what I saw in the Developer Preview as it represents Microsoft’s inability to see that the touch (phone, tablet) and non-touch (enterprise, home PC) markets are distinct and the ways in which you have to cater to them are mutually exclusive.

    The release as it exists today is a slap in the face for Microsoft’s power users – the administrators, the developers, and the engineers who depend on the use of their products and are their principal proponents and advancers in both the enterprise and personal space.

    The ways that Microsoft can remedy these problems and salvage what will otherwise be a disaster for them are clear:

    • On machines that are not touch centric (desktop PCs, workstations, etc.) they need to remove the Metro start menu, remove the focus on full screen Metro applications, and give us back the desktop / traditional start menu setup. This combination is a proven winner that allows home users and power users to interact with their applications in a way that is familiar, powerful and tailor made for the precision that a keyboard and mouse offer.
    • On machines that are touch centric (tablets) they need to continue to make this Metro start menu the focus (as it works wonderfully for these devices) and focus on moving everything then user needs out of the desktop (control panel options, various apps that force user to desktop) and into the Metro interface. They need to keep the desktop there for people to use and play around with (as the added ability to access the desktop and work with “legacy” apps would be a big win compared to anything that is out there in the tablet space.

    If Microsoft fails to address these issues and forces this interface on users across the board they are going to not only lose out on sales of Windows 8, but they are going to lose the faith of their chief proponents and I would personally hate to see that happen.

    Friday, September 16, 2011 10:35 PM

All replies

  • even i was looking for a way to give feedback when i cam across this..
    All things you have said are completely true if Microsoft doesnt bring significant changes to the current OS they are cerainly giving an invitation to their demise!! 
    Sunday, September 18, 2011 10:56 AM
  • I have installed windows 8 developer preview 32bit version.It's exciting.I saw most of the people are interested about it and also interested in putting feedback on it.all the people who puts feedback are interested in bugs of start screen.they all are giving feedback about new metro interface.but they all are telling about advanced errors and bugs in win dev pre.i didn't see any one mentioning the basic bugs in win 8.saw i am going to tell you about those.the main thin is with metro style apps,as we all know the mostly used button in any OS is close button.but there is no easy way to close metro style apps in win dev pre,we can only switch between them,running more apps in same time will maze up the computer also it will slow down the computer.this problem will mainly come form offline desktop pcs.we must remember there is still worlds most using computers are desktop pcs not tablets.the second thing is about metro style file system,it can only used for share files between apps saw if there will be a way to access them and edit them with metro interface fans will love it.another problem is in start screen,we can only personalize lock screen,but there is no way to personalize start screen if there will,fans will also love it.next thing is about normal explorer view,it is basically like win 7 explorer.saw if it will deferent and it will also improved fans will appreciate that.also you must add additional way to switch to normal start menu because more people dont like new start screen and metro interface  saw they will use explorer interface.for them start menu will be useful.also i herd about removing ribbon from explorer interface in win 8,dont do that because it is good feature in win 8.remove bad features not good ones.also i must tell you about power button,many people is confused about turning off computer in win dev pre because power button is plased in settings,because it is not very easy to turn off.saw you must place it in start screen,its better.last thing is about new boot system,there is only way to choose new operating systems.but there is no way to choose earlier version of windows.remember still worlds mostly using windows version is windows xp.saw they will not directly change there windows version to win 8 with this bugs saw they will want a way to keep windows xp with win 8.think about that.also i must tell when os choose comes if we choose different os it will reboot system.it is wasting time and speed saw try to create way to directly boot to another os.i forgot to tell you there is lot of technical bugs in win dev pre.you must correct those also.I HOPE YOU WILL CORRECT THOSE ERRORS AND LET ME KNOW ARE THIS FEEDBACK IMPORTANT OR NOT.SEND ME EMAIL TO MY MAIL ADDRESS LASANDALIYADIPITA@GMAIL.COM
    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 7:44 AM
  • I must say that I am in agreement with the author of this post.  I would add, however, that the Metro start menu is designed in a way that will cause it to become very cluttered since it seems to lack the capacity for a tree structure like previous Windows start menus.  Without the tree structure it quickly becomes difficult to locate a desired application.  I have installed a few pre-Windows 8 apps on this computer a found that ALL of the start menu shortcuts that would have previously been installed in subfolders have simply been appended to the end of the metro start menu with no care for organization at all.

    If, as Mr. Raseley states, a functionally equivalent start menu to the ones found in previous versions of Windows were available for desktop/laptop/server systems this would not be a problem.

    Also - I found nowhere else to provide any specific feedback about this (or any) issue with Windows Developer Preview.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011 10:10 PM
  • I Also Found A Bug.

    The sound drivers aren't working. A driver installed for a VoIP headset, but sound wouldn't work. I went to the applet in control panel and it prompted to enable the Windows Audio Service. When I clicked yes, no audio devices were installed.

    Is it possible to have a patch for this sent through update?

    The Programmer Of 7+ Langages
    Tuesday, November 22, 2011 11:18 PM
  • I totally agree. From the point of view of an advanced user, when I look to the developer preview from the point of view of an enterprise, or a profesional user I really want to get rid of the metro style. I know it is great, and for home users I find it also great because I expect to have touchscreens in homes within 5 years, but an Enterprise user finds much easier the desktop normal style.


    On the other hand, apart from the really needed shutdown button, I find really nice the startup time. It's amazing. And everything Works really well with the desktop UI.


    So as Microsoft likes to have many versions of Windows...I would have at least two...one for enterprises withot metrostyle and the other one without. I also found really nice the new notifications...but where is my start menu...


    And finally the last thing that is getting me really angry is the auto Word correction in Internet Explorer, which is changing half of everything I write to capital letters in this message as you can see. Thanks.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011 4:42 PM
  • It looks like Windows7 with a extra to me, but just some little things that are annoying to me,

    Ill quote, 

    One setup is complete I am sent to the logon screen. There is no clear indicator of what to do here, pulling the pane up with the mouse pointer to "lift" it and allowed to enter your password is an unintuitive and poor design choice. They need to disable this on non-touch systems and add a "Press CTRL+ALT+Delete" notification like in previous versions.

    In the Windows Developers Preview I'll miss my windows start button to go to My computer etc. if want to go there now I have to open Windows Explorer and do it there also if I want to execute a program like regedit.exe or anything like these things. 

    Also after installed it on my laptop ill can't connect an other display because the system don't recognized my 2nd display, if ill start with the display attached Windows start only at my 2nd display, that's a bit annoying, if there is a solution to this problem mail me. I needed to be logged on at this site so i think you're knowing my e-mail-address 


    Im still testing the system on bugs, so far ill have found a few bugs buts it's isn't perfect yet, ill think this can be a succes for Windows at tablets, for notebooks and desktops i preffer Windows 7. 


    Gr. Sergej Konijnenberg
    Student IT Manager 

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011 7:54 PM
  • I  googled "windows developer preview feedback" and came across this thread. I fervently agree with the original author. I was quite disappointed with the entire experience from installation to rolling back to Windows 7. It looks like Microsoft had proximate intentions to follow the trend of all other interfaces on mobile phones and tablets. It looks like Windows 7 and Windows 7 mobile merged together. 

    Installation - the installation was plain and uninformative. The green background with white letters was boring and could have been displayed the same on a monochrome monitor. I don't think Microsoft accounted for the new generation of computers users that would be totally lost during a Windows 8 Install. There is no guidance or details about features and the operating system during the installation. Windows XP installation is informative, colorful, and outlines the features of the operating system. 

    First Logon - After the installation, I was actually impressed to see the same user name I had in Windows 7 without a secondary mirror account under Users or Documents and Settings like previous version of Windows. In previous versions of Windows, anytime I did an upgrade, it would not let me use the same "computer name" or "user name" and if I changed the computer name and made the same user name, I would get a folder like this /users/ASUS-PC.User Name which was very annoying. I clicked on my green avatar and was taken to this huge Metro Style interface with 4 inch x 1 inch icons of all sorts of useless stuff that I would consider to be "bloatware". Nothing worked either, every icon I clicked would show splash screen and then go into a blank green screen. I tested this on 3 computers to find the same thing.

    Desktop - I finally clicked the desktop icon in the Metro Interface that took me to the familiar Windows 7 Desktop. Everything initially looked the same except the start button. When I hovered my mouse over the start button, I found this menu that said SEARCH and DEVICES. I thought DEVICES was going to be a mini device manager for convenience, but it only had display options for hooking up a projector or alternate display. Useless!

    Start Button - This has got to be the most annoying feature I could imagine. It does not give me the option of the traditional start menu, including Programs, Control Panel, Help, Printers, Personal Folder - but instead takes me back to the Metro Style interface that has zero options for minimizing or maximizing and no type of modifications. I hope this not whats going to be in the release candidate, because if it is, I am going back to Linux or buying a MacBook pro and dual booting Windows XP and MAC OS X. The start button should expand into two options, Desktop or Metro Desktop. I would personally delete that entire Metro Interface because it is just a waste of space full of flashy oversized icons. 

    Interface - If Microsoft wants to implement a newer type of GUI, they should develop a traditional desktop theme that makes it look like Metro Style with the vertical scroll bar at the bottom to allow navigation of the oversized icons. I could never effectively work in that interface or environment because it is not productive or useful at all. It doesn't allow multi tasking within the Metro Interface. When clicking an icon, it takes twice as long to execute an application because first it has to switch to traditional desktop, then launches the application. I have heard and seen reviews and 95% of them are congruent with the first author of this thread. That Metro Style interface is pathetic and childish. Its a huge disappointment and it needs to be re-built from the floor up. Microsoft needs to get rid of all of their previous operating system source code and start fresh. They should re-visit Windows XP and implement support for the variants of CPU's and GPU's. This will maximize performance and compatibility. The interface should be a uni-interface, one interchangeable GUI that can be modified to look and feel however the user chooses. There should be two ways to do this, Simple and Advanced to accomodate the different levels of users. 

    Audio Driver Bugs - I installed Windows Developer preview on 3 systems and on every one of them the audio driver has failed so there is no sound

    Conclusion - I hate to seem so full of complaints, but there is not much good to say about this Windows experience. I can say that I would never downgrade (yes, downgrade) to Windows 8 if it resembled the likeness of this Developer Preview. Although it looks like it was meant to be user friendly, it is quite a hassle to navigate the operating system and find out where everything is. The traditional Control Panel is missing in action somewhere, so to find it, I typed "Control Panel" in Windows Explorer text box. The improvements that I feel are worth mentioning are:

    * When upgrading from another version of Windows, the user name and personal files are migrated correctly without the creation of extra folders with COMPUTERNAME.USERNAME

    * The Windows Explorer toolbar interface has greatly improved and is easier to work with folders and files


    Saturday, December 17, 2011 1:30 AM
  • I also completely agree with OP. The new start menu feels like its made more for a tablet or cell phone and not a highly powerful and precise device like a computer with mouse and keyboard. 

    1. FOR GOD SAKES MAN who did u guys hire with the plain lego block fetish. Metro is junk plain and simple. It is not for a desktop or a laptop, it is a lazy ui made for low powered cellphones and tablets.

    For desktops - get rid of it easy as that. Bring back the windows 7 start menu. I like being able to have a list on my screen with all my programs or that i can just  type in a few keys and it comes up. two thumbs up for that greatness. You should also realize all my important programs are getting tacked on my taskbar at the bottom for one click access. Why are you gonna make me hunt in a cluttered unorganized mess of blocks for my program when its right there on my taskbar? For documents or programs i dont use as i often i just type in the first few letters and click it? This new full screen start menu makes no sense at all to a desktop user and needs to be nuked immediately. Oh but u want it to look different well take the windows 7 ui and spiffy it up a little bit and add a few cool things like when u went from vista to 7 and be done with it. The start menu has never been broken and has been a staple of windows since i was a kid, if it isnt broken dont fix it. 


    2. I dont want to see anymore vomit green backgrounds, you have this really impressive os and millions of colors, be more creative.

    3. I dont like the startup screen as well, took me forever and an accidental facedesk on my keyboard and mouse, to get to the login screen. 

    4. No fullscreen metro junk or apps. The whole idea of windows was to have programs run in well waht do u know windows!. You can resize windows have multiple windows with programs open. How am i gonna multi task with full screen junk in my way?

    5. Other random junk ui things like mini device manager that only allows hookup to a projector really? If its just incomplete and its going to be a mini device manager in the sense i think its going to be, then great awesome, if not shame.


    summary: All in all I was extremely disappointed with this windows 8. If this is what microsoft has in store, VISTA thats right im using that word. Your going to have another one of those on your hands again. As of right now if this is also what you want to force on your users, I will not be purchasing windows 8 and i will be recommending that my computer science department do the same as well as to my customers at work.Want to fix it?Junk metro immediately, fire ur lego block fetish guy and whoever thought vomit green was an appetizing color. Start over with whats proven to work in windows. And please for god sakes remember the cellphone/tablet market is different then the pc market which is also different than the server market.

    Saturday, December 24, 2011 8:15 AM
  • "Installation and setup was quick and easy, if fault must be found it is with the ugly green color that was chosen. I would suggest something more neutral based on black, grey, and white."

    If you think of Metro as short for Metropolis, and the Start screen as a map of the Metropolis, then the white text and icons on green backgrounds theme makes sense if you visualize road signage.

    I personally prefer the more traditional blue background, and the slightly dark, serious look of the Windows Embedded theme.


    "The tile model for a desktop is an unintuitive and poor design choice. The keyboard and mouse are precision instruments and having these giant tiles for your applications makes the OS feel “clunky”."

    Agree with the second sentence - the first is a more complex issue. An important point worth making about the tiles is their shape. I'm not sure if aspect ratios of 1:1 or 2:1 are visually ideal. I'd like to see tiles that were closer to the Golden Ratio - approximately 1.6:1.


    "After logon I am sent to the new start menu which is filled by spots for a number of tiles that will far exceed the number of applications that a specific user will use. Especially since they have chosen to exclude any notification / clock area it makes the start menu seem barren and uninviting."

    The expectation is that the opposite will be the general rule - the number of apps will far exceed the number of tile spaces on the initial Start screen. This raises several issues, but to stick with the lack of a specific notification area - can data on an offscreen tile reasonably be called a 'notification'? That is, if one has to invoke Start and then scroll to a tile to read its live data, are we really dealing with a true notification? My opinion is; if a notification is both invisible and inaudible without user action, then it isn't a notification at all. Therefore it is at least partially true that the Metro UI does not have a true notification mechanism. More important than the semantics is the potential for live tile data becoming popular on tiles spread out across multiple screens-full. I'll put it this way; if the Vista Sidebar - a purpose-specific area of the desktop - did not result in making app notifications popular, why will the spread-out Metro model fair any better?


    "When opening applications that don’t support the new Metro style you are subjected to this jarring and grotesque transition from the start menu to the traditional desktop. It makes you feel that you are dealing with two separate and unrelated systems instead of some sort of cohesive experience. The fact that control panel and system setting options are scattered between Metro and non-metro UI adds to this feeling of fragmentation."

    Well put, and this is certainly an area that needs work. My preference here would be for the Desktop -> Metro transition to occur by simply minimizing the Desktop to the Metro Desktop tile - just as a Desktop window minimizes to the Taskbar. In affect, the Desktop is treated like just another Metro app. Metro -> Desktop transition behaves in the converse manner, obviously. The transition time should also be similar to the Desktop window minimize/restore time. That is, fast! Not sure if this would be entirely practical, however. If you look at a dissection of the Metro UI layers, making the Desktop shrink to a tile (when the user presses the Windows key) - and back again - might mean implementing the Desktop as the fourth UI layer:

    Background -> Background image -> Tiles -> Desktop

    I'm suggesting something that might not fit with the WinRT display model - i don't know. I also agree there is a fragmentation issue. If the Desktop is to be regarded as "just another app - except one that launches 'traditional' Win32 apps", then system tray widgets and notifications can't really remain on the Taskbar. That would be arbitary. All this stuff should be moved to Metro Start, which is the new "grounding" for the OS UI, replacing the Desktop in that regard.

    One more point - a small but important one. The Desktop Start button should be redone to have the raised look of a running Desktop app (on the Taskbar). This tells users that the Start button now represents an app - not a menu. The Start button should not "lie" to users. It should also inherit the Metro white on green theme.


    • Edited by Drewfus Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:23 AM
    Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:13 AM
  • The problem with Windows Developer Preview is that it treats desktop as an app and yet the desktop is entirely alien to the metro windows. It's like they are two different operating system. You tend to feel that it makes the system bloated and slow which is not the real case. I can copy -paste something in the Desktop interface but can't copy something from Desktop to metro apps. Heck there are no relevant options on right clicking in Internet explorer metro URL sapce. You get nothing.
    Tuesday, December 27, 2011 2:29 PM
  • I've been using Windows 8 on a desktop for a few days and it's the best OS Microsoft has ever created. Here's 3 things I'd love to see that would make it even better:


    1. Picking up a full screen window from the left edge of the screen with mouse is a great gesture. While dragging the window, make shaking it close its task or otherwise remove it from the app rotation.
    2. Add half/half screen split for widescreen users. For Internet Explorer, you already have tab groups. Show the current tab in a group in the left half and the latest tab in the right half. Then, as tabs are closed, combine the halves back to one.
    3. One Windows 7 software integrates almost seamlessly with the Metro style when it's maximized. Give each program its own spot in the app rotation, like it was living on its own virtual desktop.
    Tuesday, December 27, 2011 5:07 PM
  • I have installed Developers Preview on every machine I own  -  including my wife's HP netbook (Atom processor), a Win 32 machine (my laptop) and a Win 64 machine (my desktop - dual boot into Win 7, 32 bit, just in case, but  never use Win 7 any more).  It is a terrific operating system  -  I still have my copy of Windows 1.03 (I lost 1.0), which I purchased the day it came out.

    The "beta" version is supposedly due for release in February.  I hope:

    1.  It will provide me with a choice as a desktop user, to avoid the Metro interface while installing the OS.  I understand how to disable Metro through registry edits, but I haven't yet figured out how to eliminate the MS security warning that appears on the desktop when I do so.  This should not be necessary.  The "old" Win 7 menu/start button configuration should be user selectable during install.

    2.  I will be able to install the "beta" as an upgrade over Developers 's Preview, or as an Update through Control Panel.  It will be very, very painful to have to reinstall the OS and all the applications, especially with each software vendor's unique and often unforgiving DRM/licensing policies.

    3.  Greater backwards compatibility with some Win 7 applications  -  especially Dragon Naturally Speaking 11.5, Diskeeper 2011 and several others, in my case  -  will be provided.

    4.  Greater and more readily available (easier) user control over the Metro interface will be provided.  Now, especially without any meaningful "Help," it is unintuitive and clumsy.

    5.  The Metro IE explorer will have more options, paralleling those in the desktop version.  Tabbing multiple web pages and the ability to print to the desktop default printer, would be nice, for example.  It is painful to have to switch to desktop view very time I wish to get anything "real" done.  I have reset the default program settings to the desktop IE for all .htm and .html pages, but the OS still occasionally switches to the Metro view (I haven't isolated the specifics  - although I think it may be when I use a link provided in an MS Outlook delivered email).

    6.  The Metro interface will be user transportable to and installable on devices, like my Acer Iconia tablet, that now run Android OSs, without the desktop underpinnings.



    Sunday, January 8, 2012 4:10 PM
  • Here's a feature request that I think would help bridge quite a bit of the gap between Metro apps and desktop programs:

    Simply add every fullscreen window separately to the Metro app carousel so that they can be switched between like Metro apps. As a visual refinement, if the program window was in fullscreen when it was closed previously, open it next time using the Metro-style tile-to-fullscreen animation.

    These features would allow desktop programs with Metro-style UI to be almost indistinguishable from real Metro apps.

    • Edited by Timo_Kinnunen Sunday, January 8, 2012 11:29 PM grammar
    Sunday, January 8, 2012 11:29 PM
  • I have Windows Developer Preview installed since it came out. It has been fantastic, even though it's just a developer preview!

    But yes, I found bugs.

    1. In the game "Flash cards":

    2. Explorer.exe crashes (File browsing progress bar loads all the time and the folders/files are not displayed, Metro doesn't respond.)
        -I made a solution for this issue: I called it "Explorer reloader". It's a batch file with 2 simple commands:

    taskkill /im explorer.exe /F
    start explorer.exe

    Kills explorer.exe and then starts it again.

    Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/PRCFlut 

    Thursday, January 12, 2012 1:09 AM
  • Well, hello to everyone. I found something, I thing is a bug between Windows 8 and the way the Windows Live network manages the OS linked to the Live ID. I installed recently on VmWare Player 4 the Windows Developer Preview, and during setup it asked my Windows Live ID, so I linked the OS installation to my ID. The problem appears on Windows Live Messenger on my main Windows 7 64bit machine, it ask you to corroborate the link of your account and the OS. I click there, and it sends me to a webpage, and this screen appears:

    So this is a possible bug also. 

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 2:18 AM
  • These are definitely sensible requests and not old man rants about unfamiliar paradigm. However I’d like to add a few requests that are features that can’t really be considered a feature in this day and age but just things that Microsoft had neglected to put into the OS as they are already present in most other major consumer operating systems such as Ubuntu and Mac OS X (Windows is my primary OS so I am not Mac or Linux ranting).

    Scrolling behavior in Windows

    In Windows, rotating the scroll wheel scrolls the currently active window, which sounds reasonable but there are many circumstances in which this behavior is completely counter-intuitive.

    Consider this window arrangement: You are comparing contents in two windows, there are two windows completely filling their respective halves of their screen. You finish reviewing the contents of the first window and want to review the contents on the second, but there is some content hidden on this window that requires scrolling to reveal. The most intuitive action then would be moving the mouse cursor over the second window and then rotate the scroll wheel, but because the first window is still the active window, this causes the first window to scroll instead (provided there is room to scroll). Then you remember you need to click on the second window to bring it into focus before scrolling. Forgetting to click the second window for focus occurs far too often. Why can’t Windows simply scroll the window that is under the cursor? Keep in mind that is NOT focus follows mouse, the first window is still in focus, keyboard commands are still sent to the first window, only scroll wheel commands are sent to the window under the cursor. Under the focus follows mouse paradigm, the ability to click a text field to focus it for typing then throwing the mouse cursor to the very side to prevent obscuring (due to Fitts’ law, this behavior is very common) is lost. Focus follows mouse is also an annoyance in Microsoft Word.

    The annoyance of this behavior becomes even more apparent in the following windows arrangement (Figure 1):

    Figure 1

    Window A fills the left half of the screen and window B fills virtually the entire screen but is inactive and below window A. This scenario is commonly encountered when you are comparing an email on Outlook (scenario is specific to Outlook as it is one of the few programs with an unusable snapped state unless you manually collapse calendar and folder panes, I request an improvement) to a webpage. You finish reviewing contents on window A, but need to scroll on window B to reveal the hidden content. You need to click on window B to get it into focus to scroll it, but doing so will cause window B to raise and obscure everything. To get things back into the original arrangement will require you to go to the taskbar and re-open window A, this is cumbersome especially when repeated.

    This behavior is should not just be amongst active and inactive windows, sometimes there can be several scrollable panes within a single window (see Figure 2). The most frequent encounter of this exists in windows explorer with the folder tree pane on the left (A) and files on the right (B). After scrolling through the files pane, a click is required to scroll though the folder tree pane. The scroll wheel should ALWAYS scroll the contents in the pane directly under the cursor without the need to focus by clicking.

    Figure 2

    3<sup>rd</sup> party software that emulates stated behavior: WizMouse, certain scripts in Autohotkey

    Summary: Windows should change the scrolling input to always affect the contents directly below the cursor rather than the focused content but should retain a click to focus paradigm for all other inputs.

    Trackpad integration

    Let’s face it; trackpads on Mac laptops are superior to trackpads on Window’s laptops. It’s just one of the areas in which they shine (other areas I say are disputable). Trackpads originally seemed like a makeshift way to point and click without a mouse, but multi-touch completely transforms them into a new human interface device. Now trackpads feel on-par with mice and in some areas surpass them.

    You’d be forgiven for thinking this smooth multi-touch support in only possible through the tight software-hardware integration afforded by Macs, but you’d be wrong. There were many laptops I used that regardless of how updated the installed driver was nor whatever third-party programs I installed; two-finger scrolling could not be enabled. Given these trackpads were small and pathetic; I was led to believe that this was not capable by hardware. However, when I installed Ubuntu on those machines, I discovered that there was a trackpad multi-touch gesture configuration menu native to Ubuntu’s control panel and managed to allow the trackpad to perform two finger scrolling in both horizontal and vertical directions regardless of how sub-standard the trackpads were, I even enabled diagonal scrolling (so called “360 scrolling” in Macs).

    In Windows, trackpad integration with the OS is poor despite the continual boasts from Microsoft about how it keeps up with the way mobile technology. There is no multi-touch gesture configuration menu native to the OS at all and the only way to configure multi-touch gesture is via the trackpad OEM’s driver settings, though a respectable handler, it has a multitude of problems:

    -The fact that trackpads that I originally could not enable multi-touch in Windows were easily enabled in Ubuntu leads me to believe that manufactures are simply crippling their lower end products by not releasing the correct drivers. Given how hardware manufacturers are often at the mercy of Microsoft, this is the kind of behavior that Microsoft should discourage OEMs from engaging and enforce some control over hardware quality.

    -The OEM drivers do not always respect the action protocols set by the OS, this leads to inconsistencies and performance issues. My Synaptics’ driver implements two-finger scrolling using a completely different protocol from standard scrolling, as a result; all scrolling done using the trackpad was incremental despite the fact that Windows fully supports smooth scrolling. The evidence for the latter is that when the “two-finger scroll” third-party program was used in place of the OEM driver to interpret two finger gestures, virtually all applications exhibited the full smooth scrolling experience.

    -Even the most pathetic of trackpads had 360 scrolling in Ubuntu, I cannot recall any Windows setup capable of doing that

    Summary: Windows should have a multi-touch gesture configuration menu native to the OS, instead of relying on OEM drivers or third-party programs which do not always respect OS protocols. Doing this is essential to for a consistent Windows experience (of which Microsoft needs). Smooth horizontal and 360 scrolling for trackpads MUST be implemented in this day and age and horizontal scrolling for mice configuration should also be native to the OS.

    Though Microsoft seems to be doing things correctly in implementing touch in Windows 8 (except for the fact that you can only switch between metro apps in one direction, Windows should utilize more multi-finger gestures for something like this, after all; multiple points of touch are enforced), it seems they are neglecting the old desktop paradigm which is probably going to remain as the primary method of computing for non-touch screen laptops, which is also arguably the largest market; therefore trackpad usability is very important to Windows 8. Metro apps also may not bring the same flexibility as current desktop apps, such as Photoshop drawing and live annotation of PDFs for lecture note taking using Acrobat hence why Microsoft should not neglect the desktop mode. This also why I believe x86 may reclaim the tablet space as they become more efficient. Another feature that should be added to the desktop mode is the ability to bring up the taskbar (under auto-hide mode) by swiping from the side of the screen. Hiding taskbar is useful as screen real estate is limited in mobile devices.

    Microsoft should know that people don’t use the scroll-bars unless they are absolutely necessary in nowadays, they should be inconspicuous (but not non-existent unlike OS X Lion even though you can bring them back).

    If you bothered to read all my ranting, you must really be a true Windows 8 enthusiast and really want a good operating system for the future. All these features should be very simple for Microsoft to implement, they’re simply UI tweaks. I wish Windows 8 becomes an extremely capable OS for my current desires. 

    Saturday, February 25, 2012 10:59 AM