UX Taskforce: they’re listening

If you had doubts whether or not it is worthwhile to submit your feedback to the Windows UX Taskforce, then have a read of this comment left by an anonymous Microsoft Windows developer/designer.

… Just know that this website HAS gained attention in the WEX org, bugs are being filed as new suggestions are posted, and many are even being FIXED for beta. I’ve been surprised at how many good, detailed bugs have been found; even features I own had bugs from Vista I wasn’t aware of. Keep submitting posts everyone! Screenshots are really helpful too. There are “real” ways MS takes customer feedback, including newsgroups and MVP forums, but this is one of the few “everyday user” sites I’ve seen that is really simple and straightforward. Great work, Long!

Keep up the votes and good submissions everybody!

Update: Whilst the authenticity of the author is disputable, the message and spirit can be confirmed by several other Microsoft employees.

50 insightful thoughts

  1. It’s great that MS staff have shown interest in blogs like these. Nice to know they’re concerned humans too ^^

    But didn’t MS come out with a feedback form a few months before Vista shipped off to the enterprise market? It was highly extensive and covered many grounds plus it was pretty open to the public.

    Will Windows 7 be ‘the people’s OS’ ?

  2. I really hope the next Windows would be as appealing as OS X when it comes to the design. Minimalism is always better than glass, effects, shadows, etc.

    It’s really good to hear that they’re listening.

    If Microsoft doesn’t release a proper OS in two years, I will definitely switch to a Mac.

  3. Hi, I’m a Microsoft employee (I wish to remain anonymous), and I just wanted to state that the so-called Microsoft employee mentioned above is a fraud!

    I’m kidding, of course, but see how easy that is? have you actually had two-way correspondence with this guy on a microsoft.com email address?

    Anyway, sounds great. I can’t wait to see the beta.

  4. “If Microsoft doesn’t release a proper OS in two years, I will definitely switch to a Mac.”

    …that has glass, effects, shadows etc. 😛

  5. @Frank: Your argument is entirely valid and I only posted because this I have heard from actual Microsoft employees who has said similar things but of course I’m unable to quote them word by word.

  6. Long, you and the other bloggers know enough microsoft people, why cant you get an official quote from them… i mean its a great idea i love voting and suggesting… but it would be better even if we knew microsoft was really listening and acting on it…

  7. Given that this seems to have gotten some attention, I think it would be awesome to see this expanded (as has been mentioned before)–and not just stay constrained to UI stuff. I really think someone could do a website (fixit.com?) that used the framework you built (which is rather well-done) and portion off by program/platform. It would be a way for users to easily note bugs, problems, and other polish things along with feature requests, not to mention voting on them to help indicate how much they care. It could provide a useful complement to actual user-based studies done by the companies.

    It’s a bit of a pipe dream, but I’m eternally annoyed at how hard it is to provide feedback for various programs. Having a particular website for all programs and platforms (iphone.fixit.com, office.fixit.com, and so on) would be a step in that direction–and companies wouldn’t have to do a thing for infrastructure, and could choose to ignore it or pay attention to it as much as they wanted.

    I think other people have expressed this before. If there were a website where I could vote on features of the Internet, this would definitely get my vote!

  8. @Keith Bertelsen: Thanks for the idea. Is definietely under consideration but there are a few backend things that would need to change to accommodate that.

  9. Keith Bertelsen>> Wouldn’t such a website rather be called “connect.microsoft.com” ? 😉

  10. There’s a guy in there named “redmond_coder” making comments about how things are fixed in win7. You might try to validate his location and if so, start marking stuff as fixed he comments on.

  11. @Jim: Yeah I’ve noticed him too. I want to give the official team a chance to “come out of hiding” before I rely on these anonymous posters.

    If you’re reading redmond_coder, shoot me an email.

  12. Also, not sure if you’ve noticed this but there seems to be a number of bug reports cropping up that have busted screen cap images.

  13. @FAS: I never knew about that site. However, that’s just Microsoft’s stuff, and I’d like to see the site expand beyond any one platform–things like the iPhone, or Photoshop, or Gmail.

    Also, the UXTaskforce website just looks a lot cleaner than the Connect site, in my opinion. Plus, I like being able to look and immediately see how I can vote for things, or suggest things, or browse for things. But that’s a UI thing.

  14. I’d like to preface my comment by saying I’m not a Mac zealot by any stretch; I think it’s right about time they start looking into the UI. Apple did the right thing and cleaned things quite a bit up with Leopard (from Tiger’s and all previous 10.x inconsistencies). Hopefully, it’s the not Windows Live folks doing the cleanup; the “Live Desktop” apps have bajillions of UI inconsistencies too and I don’t think they’d contribute much. Outsource it to a design/usability firm or something; I LOVE Vista and Aero Glass to pieces, but the UI inconsistencies just leave a bad taste in the mouth.

  15. while i can’t speak for the WEX team specifically, I can tell you that this site is making a buzz around campus, and we are aware of it. i dont work on the windows UI team, so I can’t tell you if anything is actually being addressed, but we have noticed! Development for windows 7 is far from over, and anyone who followed the betas of Vista should know that UI changes can come rapidly and drastically. i share your hope here that all of these issues can be addressed.

  16. Good thing you did this post, I was skeptical and tired of posting it again, I’ll do it now if they’re listening.

  17. Hopefully these Microsoft contacts are legit. It will be easier to wait for Windows 7 if they are.

  18. Long, I visited the Windows UX Taskforce site and it’s showing a phishing alert in IE 7 for about a second.

  19. I certainly hope they are listening. You’ve come up with a great way for the community of enthusiasts to get involved and interested in what I think is a really helpful way that they would be foolish to ignore.

  20. Long, When you click “edit” in any UX Taskforce page for example this “http://www.istartedsomething.com/taskforce/view.php?id=184” IE7 brings up a suspicious warning (phising) site.

  21. I can’t understand why is ballmer still at microsoft he has the energy but not the pull. most people of today don’t have the time to crack the back of the pc and take a look around in the system like days of old today people want the products to work. Microsoft you can buy as many company as you like but you still lack the strength to create new a productive idea. You have the money I can’t understand it, has any one climbed the hill and told the king
    BILL Gates that pc repairs are low and internet is growing. I worked on pc ‘s for many years and so I moved into macs where they do the work and I get to play. Start creating a new direction for this company and not rely on the name because the name is slowly becoming extent. with that being said Microsoft Xbox is amazing you guys got that right I loved the original Xbox and I just got my hands on the xbox 360 amazing peice of equipment.
    keep moving forward with great ideas you have the money to wait until the products you like to create is near done then release them and blow everyone away. adverage people don’t care about how there security is they want to have fun with the products they brought today.

  22. I can’t understand why is ballmer still at microsoft he has the energy but not the pull. most people of today don’t have the time to crack the back of the pc and take a look around in the system like days of old today people want the products to work. Microsoft you can buy as many company as you like but you still lack the strength to create new a productive idea. You have the money I can’t understand it, has any one climbed the hill and told the king
    BILL Gates that pc repairs are low and internet is growing. I worked on pc ‘s for many years and so I moved into macs where they do the work and I get to play. Start creating a new direction for this company and not rely on the name because the name is slowly becoming extent. with that being said Microsoft Xbox is amazing you guys got that right I loved the original Xbox and I just got my hands on the xbox 360 amazing piece of equipment.
    keep moving forward with great ideas you have the money to wait until the products you like to create is near done then release them and blow everyone away. average people don’t care about how there security is they want to have fun with the products they brought today.

  23. WHAT ABOUT OFFICE?

    First of all my congratulations for your work and your passion to make Windows a better OS.

    But when speaking about “annoying design” of user dialogs within Microsoft products, I would very much appreciate a similar plattform for the OFFICE family as well as many, many annoying dialogs not only survived the step from Office XP to 2003 but also that step from 2k3 to Office 2007.

    Just have to ask the rest of the world: When will Outlook stop to pop up with its reminder window just in that moment I began to type a longer sentence (with looking at my keyboard not at my screen). Sometimes I just think Outlook is just waiting for “the right moment to drive me insane” with that beahviour. And what about sizeability? 24″ TFT screens and a reminder window that isn’t sizeable in any way – that’s not what I really would name a brilliant designed dialog 😉

    Warm regards from Germany, Holger

  24. I love the site, dont get me wrong – but with 50K people working at MS – why do we have to tell them about these issues? If they cant see it for themselves, or care to even look, can you trust them to actually make it right?

  25. Cool.

    Will be great if MS do the same thing to get feedback for next Windows versions. In fact, I actually try to solve (nearly in a illegal way) many of my own Windows issues with tools like Ollydbg, Restorator and Hex Workshop because I hate bugs!

  26. Back in the digital stoneage, MS released Word 95 ( I think) with an option to allow all those people who had grown to use (not love!) the WordPerfect dot codes a way to revert Word to emulating WordPerfect. Secretaries (they weren’t called Admin Assistants yet) loved that feature because it kept them productive when the Boss drank the KoolAid and brought Windows into the office.

    All that has to happen is somebody writes a SHELL to replace Explorer (or whateverthehell they call it in Vista). Before the “know-nothings” get involved, I design Windows XP Embedded systems for the oilfield. I can drop a user shell on ANY Windows XP or 2000 OS product and dump the standard user interface that comes with XP or the Server products. It seems that if you want the XP Exploder shell, you should be able to drop it on Vista and run with it. Now if Microsoft has “damaged” or modified the code base so much that that won’t work, then they truly are idiots. The shell has to interface to the security model so it won’t work exactly the same way on all menu options but if its menus you want, you can probably get them back if you work at it a little.

    If Microsoft wants to hire me to do the work, I can make an XP Explorer shell probably work with the caveat being that I would need access to source or to someone who does that can modify the shell components I find that don’t work right. All of the bitching I’ve seen so far has been with the UI or UX or whatever, its the SHELL. That can be shucked off and something else patched on. Microsoft has the talent, has the money and resources and has the SOURCE code to make the SHELL be wahtever the customer wants. The Problem with Microsoft from the beginning to the end has been they DO NOT LISTEN TO THE SMALL CUSTOMER and they act like they don’t. I can tell you that they listen to the OEMs and the big 10 thousand seat plus licensees.

    You want a choice of shells? With Windows you have to work at it. With Linux you download it.

  27. great to know microsoft is listening. thumbs up.
    people think that vista is a complete mess, but i have vista and its great.
    and SP 1 deffs improved things,
    microsoft like never has a good first product,
    they always improve.
    so windows 7 will porbs be sweet considering all the garbage they had to go through for vista

  28. @xwindowsjunkie
    “All that has to happen is somebody writes a SHELL to replace Explorer”
    That’s all that has to happen…for what? Did you comment on the wrong article? I honestly have no idea what the point of your comment is. Who said they wanted their choice of shells? That has nothing to do with this article, or the UX Taskforce website. This is about refining and existing Windows user experience.

  29. Nate you are truly the biggest idiot ever. If you couldn’t understand what xwindowsjunkie wrote I guess you’ve missed on the basic fundementals of computing.

    And yes I do agree with you xwindowsjunkie, Linux is the sh*t

  30. @Andreas
    Where did I say I didn’t understand his post? What I said was it has nothing to do with this article. It goes from him talking about Word 95, to being proud of himself for making streamlined XP installs and being able to install third party shells a-la Litestep, to claiming MS (or I’m sure you’d say M$) is ignorant if the “XP Exploder” can’t run on top of Vista, to claiming he could write his own XP shell for Vista, and finally to OMG JUST USE LINUX!

    I’m truly the biggest idiot ever because I questioned how his comment related to the article or the UX Taskforce website? I don’t even know what to say about that. I’d suggest calming down, maybe having a drink or some sex, and trying not to be so insulting. If he’s claiming that all the issues tracked on the UX Taskforce website could be fixed by dropping in some other shell (that he would write?), that was the clarification I was looking for. Of course, if that’s the case, I think that’s pretty far-fetched.

    Have a great day :)

  31. well to be fair to him the Vista shell does kinda blow, but he’s got different reasons for it mine are more at..specially explorer .. not just in it aethetics but just lack of decent featuresexplorer is just *jaw droppingly bad* , and yet such a common area of file management.. then the save/open dialogs of immense shitness and.

    quite frankyl mosy of these vista ux taskforce submissions are kinda weak and just little patch up changes to things really isn’t the solution to most of them like most of these submission sollutions ask for… most are pretty weak.. 80% of suggested sollutions i’d say are only about addressing small issues, when really much more should be done to improve even these little areas of suckyness… I get the impression MS just doesn’t have what it takes anymore to make much better changes to areas of its software for fear of stepping on anyones toes.. quite franky i woudln’t care if they made changes that pissed someone else off if the changes were really beneficial to the end users.. thats how progress is made.. afteral end users aren’t developers and most developers seem to be from noob skool and don’t have a friggin clue. MS needs to get better at the balancing act of improving its junk or leaving in junk because some third party software/developer. I support the first point only if MS actually makes a good job of the changes.. otherwise they might aswel not bother which is most likely what they’ve been doing so far which is just lazy. In Vista case they’ve stepped on some developer toes and most of there so called improvements to the OS have been shit..

  32. directimpact – What do you not like about Windows Explorer in Vista? I know it has its faults, and we’re working hard to improve it, but I believe it is far more functional and feature-rich than, for example, the Finder. For both search and browse scenarios.

  33. Brandon: nice to see a MS guy here, imho, explorer is now very nice and usable, but I find it hard to understand how it decides on display mode for a folder – I would expect that when I set the folder item display mode to ‘list’ (from anywhere – explorer, openfile dialog), it would appear always as list, which it doesn’t (especially for subfolders of My Documents). And I would welcome a feature to force selected display mode to all subfolders as well (recursively except for symlinks) – it could be well hiden, but it should be there.

  34. Brandon : ” What do you not like about Windows Explorer in Vista?”

    Well, I will give you my list in no particular order, but I would bet the first will be the ones that annoy me the most.

    1) Folder Settings do not stick, at all, ever. I set a folder to how I want to view it, close it, open it – good. Come back to it an hour later, Explorer has decided its now a list view, with only “name” as a column. Or, perhaps Explorer dediced folders like my C Drive are “Pictures and Videos”. The check box that says “Remember each folders’s view settings” is non functional.

    2) Still WAY to laggy. When I open it it should show what it can instantly, not a blank empty window while it is looking at my 8 in 1 card reader, 4 mapped drives, and 3 regular drives. Open when I say open, and put a spinner or something on things you are waiting for – that is much more acceptable. And, help me god if as I drag a folder over explorer with treeview enabled and I happen to cross a network drive, the whole thing will just lock for about 5 seconds.

    3) Color of Toolbar should match the color theme I have picked. Perhapes I dont like blue? Should have when picking color, a second color so we can still have a nice color fade from left to right.

    4) No way to color or highlight a folder, all yellow, this is a nice feature of OSX, and as a cool idea I am giving a way now – on vista since we have that colored toolbar – it would be nice if I colored a folder “Red” the toolbar also was colored to match (pick an nice second color to fade to for me here) – dont change Glass though. That should stick as theme color. Now I can easily spot this folder when it is open too! OSX only does this with an ugly behind the text highlight on the folder – I would say just tint the folder instead, that would look much better!

    5) folder view is worthless.

    6) Favorite links – see to change at times but, apple has done this whole bar WAY better. scales better, and is far more usefull with network drives.

    7) Thick status bar in the bottom doesnt give me size of folder now for some reason. It is very thick for showing almost nothing most of the time (yes I know its resizable, but as I have said earlier, vista will just change it back at some point). Also, sometimes when you click on it it focus the window, in other places it does not. Dont get it.

    8) Previous version button removed from toolbar – dumb – was a great feature most will now never see.

    Brandon : “For both search and browse scenarios.”

    Maybe on par with the second, maybe.. But search? no. Seriously search is terrible in vista. The UI for search in vista is just so bad, I only use it for filtering start menu items. The advanced UI is rigid and I cannot stack filters which is so easy on OSX. Also the results are poor, very very poor. Over all I would give vista a 5 out of 10 for search UI and a 4 out of 10 for the results. Granted it could just be how they are represented that makes the results seem so useless. so so so sad.

    There is a task force item about this already:
    http://www.istartedsomething.com/taskforce/view.php?id=90

  35. More on bad search:

    If there is a search box on the upper right of a window and a list of items in the middle – it should always begin by filtering that list. In some places it does this, in other places, well it doesnt. Take the control panel for example. Search boxs helps you find the right applet. Good, but say you pick on that has a ton of tiems? Like File Types. Type in doc and it starts looking for a control panel applet to match, instead of filtering the list. Now, the Uninstall Programs screen does filter the list. Some work right, other dont, all feels like its held together with tape, cheap tape.

  36. Also (sorry this should be my last comment) I do not think Explorer at this point is more feature rich than the OSX Finder. I mean, what really has changed since XP? Tried to make it multithreaded, but failed at that still lags often, search “acts” just like it did before, etc.

    OSX has a much nicer side bar, it has many more ways to view the content, it also has the quick preview thing which is really really nice. Although I think that iTunes album animation look is just dumb. But again, the quick preview thing is not, that rocks. So quick! I can view all my pictures one by one before Vista even gets a slideshow of pictures started. (wth is going on there anyway, screen flashes, pauses, etc then the pictures start – should just start up instantly).

    Also OSX has and uses native support for drive images, dmgs. Very very useful.

    The only thing that I personally really like about the vista explorer is the new address bar, and how the breakcrumbs can be dropped down – that is fantastic.

  37. This covers more than just the Vista “OS” but every program should remember (and allow you to change “permanently” its defaults) you changed the “options” the last time thru any dialog box. For example, in Excel you can “Paste Special” but the defaults for PS make it the same as regular Paste and it never remembers you’ve selected something different.

    Secondly, and maybe more important, MS must realize there is more than one way to accomplish a task/function and let the user select/modify/replace the they set as the default – I’ve too many users that moved back to Office 2003 “cause the ribbon was just too hard to use.

  38. One more thing I forgot to add about explorer, that actually just happened.

    Unable to delete files with even a 90% success rate.

    For example, I had shared a folder for someone else to grab a file, granted it was vista to vista so that didnt work either, not even a login prompt just a flat out “denied”, I FTP’d it. Went to delete the folder – BOOM – “Folder In Use”. Its not shared, now actually its empty. Its not open anywhere, but it is in use… Rebooting is the only way I have found to fix this. This gets terrible with really large files (4gb or so), try coping them over a network. Always in use….

    WTH is going on with File sharing anyway? I have public sharing on so “Anyone” in the network can view. But when a machine connects they get flat out denied. NOT EVEN A login prompt. Now, if I make an account with the same name as their username on the other computer, they do get a login prompt. THAT IS STUPID. Over protective….

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