Windows UX Taskforce (soft-launch)

Windows UX TaskforceI really opened Pandora’s Box last Saturday when I asked the community what Windows user interface quirks they’d like to see fixed or improved in the next version of Windows.

The way I originally imagined it was to go through each of the suggestions by hand and add them to my post along with a pretty screenshot. Needless to say, I got tired about 20 entries in and couldn’t imagine doing 140 more. I had to come up with something more manageable.

With PHP in one hand, MySQL in another and some duct tape in my mouth, I’ve put together a voting-centric community feedback portal over at www.istartedsomething.com/taskforce.

It’s not done yet, but it’s at a stage where it’s complete enough for use and I can add functionality (hopefully) without destroying the database. One key functionality missing for now is the ability to edit the entries you’ve submitted, so keep that in mind and double check everything.

I’d like to ask everyone who’s submitted an entry in the blog post resubmit their own entry using their own account so credit is given where credit is deserved. You are free to use the screenshots I’ve already published.

I have an exam in the coming days so I want everyone to start playing with it now and when I get back I should have a nice stack of bugs to iron out. Have fun.

67 insightful thoughts

  1. 1. folder views are not retained, they revert whatever they want
    2. windows mail watched messages doesn’t work (they know and won’t fix)
    3. can’t run compact manually in windows mail
    4. starting defrag recreates the deleted scheduled tasks without warning. (after i’ve intentionally deleted them)
    7. can’t edit file version and revision in explorer
    8. doesn’t show the file size on the status bar

    Annoyances

    2 cannot drag toolbar from taskbar to desktop
    3 when autohide is selected, cannot drag shortcut to taskbar without dragging it over start button area
    4 takes more clicks to change time
    5 take more clicks to update time
    6 can’t right click on network icon to get properties
    7 No network repair option, only diagnose (whatever the hell that does)
    8 entire line has focus when view files in explorer details view
    9 can’t right click on a folder to search
    10. windows mail autocomplete holds 29 addresses
    11. can’t get rid of ugly blue theme in office 2003
    12. folder layout flawed. To add menu, details, Preview and navigation, you have to go through the menu system 4 times. Click organize, then layout then the option you want. This has to be repeated 3 more times instead of being able to select any combination in one operation

  2. Thanks, it works now.

    I submitted my common file dialog font issue. That’s the only case I know of that a single dialog uses two fonts. If you expect me to submit every single dialog in all of Windows that still uses MS Sans Serif or Tahoma, I’ll be busy until 2025. :-)

  3. Genius. These things have bugged me for so long – even MS developers don’t read their own UI design guides and there’s clearly not enough motivation for product managers to enforce them. ‘Close’ goes at the bottom of the right-click Window menu, godammit!

    Great job anyway.

    Would you mind sharing what font you use for your ‘started something’ logo and the logo on the Windows UX Taskforce page?

  4. Just did some improvements to it, the submission form now validates input fields.

    @Andrew: The font starts with a “S” and ends with a “e” and has the characters “go” in the middle.

  5. It works now, but the transparency in the PNG image was lost. The functions imagealphablending($new_img,false); and imagesavealpha($new_img,true); should fix that. It’s been a while since I’ve dabbled in php.

  6. @Xiphi: We’re on the same page with the PNGs, but I’m doing caching and what not so trying to get it fixed :)

  7. I appreciate this effort, and I’d gladly submit more stuff, but how much of a chance is there that whoever you’re submitting this to will actually sit down with the list and ‘get things done’? I’m personally not looking forward to finding and submitting a whole lot of stuff to this portal only to see nothing having been done with it when I install 7 in two years.

  8. @Frank: From what I’ve heard inside Microsoft, a lot of these bugs have been or will be worked on by the guys working on Windows 7 so the feedback is definitely going to help.

    I don’t know if you noticed already but I have a field called “Status” in the submissions which could potentially be updated over time to track how they are performing. Somewhere down the lin I’m going to try and get official Microsoft employees to help update them and add comments to them as well.

  9. @Andrew: When I set out to build this, I didn’t have Digg in mind but IdeaStorm http://www.ideastorm.com so it never occurred to me to use a Digg-clone. The ‘voting’ functionality was actually an easier part of the whole project so far.

  10. I have similar concerns as Frank so it’s good hear Long that someone at MS is taking this more seriously.

    The last time before Vista’s launch MS set up the site shellrevealed for end users to report UI bugs to Microsoft and give feedback only for many of the bugs to be ignored and then the site basically died with no-one for either side participating in it any more.

  11. @Roz: Right. Another reason why I’ve started this now because we are still early in the development process.

  12. You’re probably already working on these suggestions and/or they may already be there but..

    - Ability to change your promote/demote vote
    - Ability to sort by categories/severity and other things instead of just popular/new
    - Ability to change password/email
    - Possibly add our own mock-ups of a solution to whatever problem we’re submitting
    - Ability to add/update/amend other people’s entries [with their permission]
    - Make it prettier (:P)
    - Ability to update/delete your own entries (I haven’t submitted one yet so I’m not sure if this is already possible)

    Ace job so far.

  13. @Long: “I don’t know if you noticed already but I have a field called “Status” in the submissions which could potentially be updated over time to track how they are performing.”

    Yeah, that’s why I posted. My concern is that they’ll all still be on “unresolved” on launch day. :P I guess we’ll see how things go in the first public beta. It’d probably be a breach of the NDA if you updated them based on what anyone might have seen in a closed beta, right?

  14. Long, how many people are working in your team? Or are you just using every second of those 48 hours a day?
    This is a good concept and you’ve worked it out faster than the speed of sound. Deep respect!

  15. Wouldn’t it have been great if that website had existed before Vista had been launched.. it would have been great to insert it into Fista reviews.. let all potential buyers see just how rubbish the actual experience really is.. its not really much of an improvement on XP at all when you start seeing all the window dialogs that have had jackshit improvement to them…and poor features (real poor) heck if Vista wasn’t such a crap heap I might have actually felt inclined to install it again just to submit a bucket load of pictures/dialogs myself and provide more problems and suggestions for improvement.. but instead I’ll just see how all those with current Vista users pick out the shit.

    And why hasn’t someone put in a entire picture of the “Explorer” window with problem being the whole thing is fcking shit.. I mean its like one of the most important aspects of Windows… and its seriously shit.. barely..I repeat BARELY an improvement on the XP explorer.. the 1man qttabbar addon for explorer is like just 20% of improvement on the crap Explorer effort Vista shipped with!!! ..way more could have been done.. plenty of room for improvement MS!… they could have done soo much to improve Explorer functionality and provide better features, customization..instead you get shit like breadcrumb links.. my ass.. wasted pixel space status bars with a shitty little abstract picture in the corner. :S wtf.. don’t even get me started on default application save/open dialogs used by other applications another section of many other areas of Windows diabolical shit heap of piss poor improvement..

    Windows7 get it right! it shoudl’nt be too hard all you gotta do is improve things from Vista onwards and whipp some of those slack hardware developers ( like Nvidia. who need a right slapping) into shape this time around. (seems to be the only thing we are hearing ).. and don’t let the Orifice team make there own custom theme (not talking about ribbon) that says f# to the users main systems theme settings ie toolbar,title bar , minimize,close button, graphics styles.. or maybe go give them a slapping for not releasing custom addon themes that allow you make the rest of your windows use the same theme, menu, graphics,… and provide better color customization.

  16. Long, I’m not sure this is a good idea. People can’t handle being given a platform to talk on; a bunch of the submitted problems are just people complaining about subjective problems.

    You wrote:
    “Most of us who use Windows Vista have probably come across a couple of user-interface QUIRKS during our times ”

    This about UI quirks not our likes, dislikes and high level design suggestions (some seem more like rants). Any valid UI inconsistency and its solution should be explainable in a few sentences. Long, if you want this to be useful to Microsoft then you should change the system to refocus it on what it was intended for.

  17. @Jonathan: You’re right about subjective problems, but I think that’s why ratings is so important. If a large majority of people rate highly of these subjective problems, then maybe it’s serious issue that should be addressed. Remember you can also “demote” submissions if you feel they’re too ranty and not valid.

    It is my understanding that “quirks” are very subjective. What ticks me off might not tick someone else off and vice versa. I can’t stand icons that don’t line up properly, but to someone else that’s not as bad as clicking 10 dialogs to change permissions. A

    t the end of the day, ratings add weighting to these “subject problems” which then become a list of prioritized concerns. Obviously some are easier to fix than others, but I think it is best to take every criticism and let the community decide what’s important.

  18. Hello long

    i have a question,can you tell me if WINFS or a similar file system will be implemented in Windows 7? or if you’r debating to implement it or not,have you thought about this?

    Cheers

    Eduard

  19. What a great work, Long! Thank you. I have submitted the things that annoy me.

    How do you know what is fixed in Windows 7? You have said this for some issues on your original list. Insiders or did you used the M1 screenshots to verify?

    And while I really like your Taskforce website, I also have one suggestion. It may be helpful to make the “newest subbmissions” view the default start page. People who just take a look at the website may vote for the even highest ranked issues. This may result in unbalanced ratings.

    Yeah, and good luck! :)

  20. I have just read the suggestions list and its mostly GUI and icon issues. Just shows that whois ever job it was to replace the old school icons must have not bothered. Clearly the hard task is programming and GUI and icons is the fun task and creative task. Just imagine microsoft actually took this list and decided that they will sort every feature on it now that would certainly make me want to buy windows 7 asap.

  21. Thx so much for this Long. As said before, the Dell IdeaStorm concept for Windows… I wished Windows Connect would launch something similar before.

    Ok, now I see little things that I hadn’t noticed yet, and this is bothering me ! ;)

  22. When will Windows UX TaskForce have ability to edit/fix/update or delete our posts? I’m looking forward for these functions!!

  23. I love this list but I think some sort of search interface is needed. There are going to be a lot of submissions (already are) and it would be nice to know if something you want to reported has already been reported.

  24. @Long Zheng, I’d still like a separate list for minor feature requests (and only minor features); that way people will hold back from submitting their feature requests on the UX list.

  25. my question is why the hell they dont just adopt this into the beta and planning program for Windows 7 as it seems to be quite popular and serves the prupose extremely well.

    They should do stuff like this for all their betas seems to be pretty solid

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