Microsoft training video reveals older prototype of Windows 7 “superbar”

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I’m glad at least someone is paying attention to the French. A couple of days ago Pinnula.fr noticed some interesting screenshots from a presentation at the Microsoft France training event “TechDays 09” of what appeared to be a different user-interface for Windows 7. However contrary to his speculation that this was to be the speculated theme refresh under wraps for Windows 7, it is in fact a screenshot of an old “superbar” prototype.

In this version of the superbar (presumably by default) labels are still enabled. Unlike the labels in the version of Windows 7 today which just feature an application window’s title in a single line, it appears to be a multi-line label separating the name of the application and a subtitle indicating the contents of the current window.

This is an interesting concept because still to this day, the label that appears in the taskbar is a duplicate of the title of the Window it represents, not the application. For example, your Windows Live Messenger windows are labeled by the username of your conversations, not “Windows Live Messenger”.

Obviously Microsoft has since dropped this idea, but it’s worth noting this may have provided an interesting method for applications to provide always-visible short snippets of information on the taskbar. For example, a Twitter application could have indicated in the subtitle “4 unread, 3 replies”, and Outlook “3 unread messages”. Of course, the cost of this idea would adds significant size to the taskbar buttons if they are to be wide enough to relay any useful information.

On a similar topic, personally I have found in Windows 7 the default view of the superbar very difficult to adjust to (large icons, no labels). How is everyone else finding the superbar?

50 insightful thoughts

  1. I have my taskbar set to “Combine when full”. I think it would be a much better default.
    The current default is just not informative enough.

  2. Though it was a bit difficult to adjust to, I’m kinda used to it & don’t particularly enjoy Vista’s static previews. However, theres a nagging issue that the Superbar presents to a very certain group of users which includes me, that being:

    If I have more than 1 IE tabs &/or Explorer windows open & I’m watching a video in a window, if I wanted to go to one of the many tabs in IE or 1 of the many windows of Explorer open, the media player goes transparent as to select the tab or Explorer window I have to take my mouse over it which means the rest goes transparent.

    Besides that I guess I’m used to the Superbar now.

  3. I like it as it is now. The icons tell me what the programs are, and the preview title and image points me to the window. Once programs start taking advantage of the new APIs like WLMessenger and WMP does now, it will be really nice.

  4. Took me a while to get used to it. At first, on every new build, I would switch to “never combine”. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot (in part because of messenger). As it turns out (months later), I’m used to it now. I no longer like the messiness of the uncombined (or Vista) taskbar.

  5. I’m also having a hard time adjusting to the default settings of the new taskbar. I’ve been changing it to “combine when taskbar is full” and “use small icons”.

  6. I got used to the new taskbar in just a few hours. Personally I always need to get used on how the old taskbar worked when I get to work, using WIndows XP.

    I use the default taskbar settings, they keep the buttons I use many times on a solid place, no mather what applications are running or not. I got used to click without looking because I just know where that one big icon is.

    I’ve seen the taskbar above with many other previews in a video during MIX09, in that very quick video with tons of little previews, that I guess was also shown here. I thought the one above was one of them.

    The idea itself looks interesting, and if we used the old way of taskbars, then yes, I would have loved that view. I also like the background of that taskbar much more. The current taskbar in Win7 is just extremely boring not to mention how it looks whithout glass. I really hope that Microsoft ads a few small effects in the takbar making it more like a taskbar, and not a faded line.

  7. I’ve found the new superbar to be awesome in its simplicity. I love the fact that my taskbar is now much cleaner, and easier to manage. I found the true test of the superbar by switching back to Vista for a few days, and found out real fast that I just missed what the superbar brought. At one point, I was doing something on Vista that would have taken about 1/3 of the time to do on 7 simply because of the superbar. I had lots of windows and applications open, but had a very hard time switching and finding the right one. 7 removes this issue for me.

  8. I find the default superbar very hard to get used to too. I always customize it to make it show the label. I don’t think the icons alone are a good way of conveying useful information about the open windows.

  9. The taskbar we have now is a major step in what Microsoft need to be doing.

    Multiple instances of the same app is now good programming. I honestly think that once you get used to minimising apps and lettting them just run, you find it much quicker to get productive.

  10. I got used to it pritty quick, and im one of the people who couldent stand the task bar grouping feaure in earler versions of windows.

    Only problem i get with it is with IE8 and the multi tab view. i tend to have 5-20 tabs open at a time, and it can loose tabs in the thumbnail preview or run out of space to show them all.

    What would be nice is when there are more tabs open than it can display thumbnails for, is to compress it down to just show a single thumbnail for each IE window, and then have a clear visual mark so you know its a window not a tab, maby dividers between each thumbnail. Then when you hover over a thumbnail, maby a second tier of smaller thumbnails could rise up so you still get that extra navigation inside a window…. but that might be overkill :)

  11. Got used to the default mode almost instantly. It’s so much more useful on the right side of the screen than the previous taskbar.

  12. I love the new taskbar and love the default settings. It makes so much sense to me to have just the icons and the larger the icons the better, in my eyes.

  13. I love the new taskbar and I’m using it in defaut setting. Having a more or less fixed set of a lot of applications (enterprise developer) new taskbar works great. The biggest problem I have with it is that I would like to have ability to switch to IE by just clicking on IE icon – not having to go through the tabs.

  14. I love the new superbar with large icons and no labels. the only little inconvenience i’ve experienced is that with no labels, i can’t tell when i get an email or chat in gmail. i wish google would make a gmail labs that flashes the titlebar/window when a new email or chat comes. other than that, i love the new taskbar.

  15. i love the new bar a friend of mine had a huge quick launch bar in vista to get only a bit of the functionality of win7. I love your blog but your comment about the bar reminds me of paul. I would think that with how much you guys use the beta you would learn the new way and enjoy as much as most of us do. I just think yall are holding out. To each their own

  16. I decided to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt in with the new taskbar in the pdc build (enabled with the bluebadge hack v1) and I haven’t gone back since.

  17. The superbar only consolidates windows to free up clutter however this introduces more clicks slowing down workflow for switching instead of 1-click which was the old taskbar’s strongest points. Besides, it takes away a few features like:
    1. You can’t set the newest started app to appear on the extreme right. Same app windows are always placed next to each other. Why can’t the USER set this? Why does MS decide this for users?
    2. Network activity animation gone for the silliest reason – performance. MS in control instead of the user. If those little lights affected performance, then seriously something’s wrong with the design of the OS. Dial-up and users behind gateways/routers are going to have a hard time.
    3. Multi-select by clicking Ctrl when set to “Never combine” and group close/minimize. Gone for no reasoon.
    4. For those that prefer right click and Maximize, Minimize or Close instead of jumplists, you must now compulsorily use Shift or right click the thumbnail previews.

    No thank you, this is not my idea of choice and control. I’m having a really hard time too.

    But everyone “has to like the taskbar”, “I can’t imagine how anyone can prefer the zombified horribly dated XP’s” taskbar. “You’ve got to like jumplists, you’re stuck-in-the-past, you troll”.

  18. I like the new taskbar, I like the bigger buttons, I like jumplists. I DON’T like that I have to click twice to tab to to a specific window then they are combined.

    As long as they never remove the ‘combine only when full’ setting in future versions of Windows, I think the superbar is a fantastic improvement.

  19. “-From the moment I experienced the Superbar I immediately laughed at it; I was glad to turn back.-”

    “On a similar topic, personally I have found in Windows 7 the default view of the superbar very difficult to adjust to (large icons, no labels). How is everyone else finding the superbar?”

    It’s s h i t ;) …but then I’ve said that from the first time I ever saw this so called superbar. I’d go into detail about every crap thing to do with the new taskbar features and design and how some things are either fully retarded and should have been done better.. or really could do with allowing more user customization, control and other improvements and then they’d be pretty good features like the jumplists (but then I probably already have at some point)

    I suppose at bare minimum its a good that they just barely added in control to allow users to revert to the more useful classic style taskbar display… The one with a reasonable icon height sized taskbar that doesn’t look like a waste of space. The one with actual fucking window title labels.. where you don’t have to always actually fucking interact with the fucking useless bar just to see what is going on with running tasks. And It’s not like you’re missing much, considering the actual available user interaction methods and design direction of the supershit bar seemed to have been setup and designed by COMPLETE FRIGGIN NOOBS.

    I swear MS just design for noobs because its easier than designing for professionals wanting actual workflow improvements and more intuitive methods of doing things faster.. Microsofts design ui\ux methodology just plain sucks overall really. They just don’t seem to have a clue really.

    POWER FUCKING FUNCTIONALITY NOOBS! like 1 example: taskix – it currently only sets out to enhance a few things on the taskbar(xp , fista).. and yet it does it damn fcking site more useful than the most the fluff shit MS has done to the taskbar. I mean [mmb] on a task button to fucking duplicate it!?!? (when closing would be much better suited) or that you still can’t just use the mousewheel up/down on the taskbar to switch through running tasks(quicker alt tab).. let alone being able to add modifier keys with alternative actions… heck they even got out dragable task buttons done first. And faster method of toggling show desktop… not some crappy and annoying gfx now displacing old time display position that was added to the right side of taskbar.. not only that but previously it was quicker to setup a hotkey shortuct on that ‘show desktop’ icon using (truelaunchbar another taskbar addon that also does a better job making things more useful than the shity job MS has done really) and bind that to a mouse key.. now to setup the same functionality on Win7 it will take longer as the show desktop quicklaunch icon isn’t provided and you’ll have to create it yourself.

    *SMACKS* MS – stop with the stupidity

    Get with the fucking times MS, people want faster methods of doing things and they want customization, not extra workflow steps.. stop trying to please mass idiots with 1 method should be fine for all, seems like you spend more time fagging about trying to make 1 setup please everyone like you actually have a fucking clue and know whats best from all those monkey stats you gather. It seems to me MS doesn’t know whats best …infact it just seems to be a lot of fail after fail in everything they do. When they could have spent less time just making more options easily available for the actual user to decide. NOT hard coding settings, visuals, keyboard shortcuts etc etc and just generally carrying on with the shit design philosophy and making things annoying for those of us who aren’t pc noobs.

    Stop trying to decide whats best and just make it easier for the user to decide.

    You see better more useful actual OS improvements from third parties than from a new Windows releases tbh! I guess that’s why XP just hasn’t died yet. Because only idiots pay for such weak improvements as this.

    Luckily for MS they have such users as this guy to buy this _ _ _ _ :)

    “I love the new taskbar and love the default settings. It makes so much sense to me to have just the icons and the larger the icons the better, in my eyes.”

    PS… Pretty much everything to do with shit Explorer and Internet shitExplorer make them the two biggest let downs (ass clowns!) in Windows 7. And then the shity carry on of the Vista UI styling and layout, topped off with the weak theming & customization joke. -Minus all the stuff that should have been done to actually improve things.

  20. @SuperK No point to typing all of that – I can barely even read it with all the spelling errors, grammar errors, and none of it makes any sense. The superbar is a vast improvement from the taskbar.

  21. “@SuperK You get with the times and stop using XP like those “omg window xp mus liv foravar” nubs.”

    So you are also saying saying every business still using XP because Vista/ 7 are pointlessly crap upgrades are nubs aswel?

    Maybe they just have more sense unlike you accusing people who just use and customize what is already good enough as wanting XP to live foraver! like I said before you see better third party extensions do a better job of bringing improvements to functionality and customization on built in OS level features. Add guess what that is partly why XP still lives on.

    XP will die when MS or someone else ever releases an OS that isn’t laced with shit nub design throughout and everyone has a good reason to move on.

    “SuperK: I find it amazing how one can say nothing in over 4000 characters”

    I find it amazing R-tard? that you would goto the trouble of writing a reply letting me know I typed over 4000 characters. Perhaps you should try to understand what is being said, instead of what …counting the characters?

    “The superbar is a vast improvement from the taskbar.”

    Yes -such VAST improvement they didn’t need to provide a way for users to revert to classic style did they now? No no of course not.. the superbar is perfection over the taskbar isn’t it? Like the [rmb] context menu that doesn’t appear adjacent to the invoked cursors position like every other fucking [rmb] context menu does…no not the superbar [rmb] context menus appear offset 10px+ away… if you’re gonna make changes at least fucking make them better… Vista/7 has made many changes.. most of them shit improvements and changes not for the better.

  22. @SuperK Quite frankly, if you love extinct versions of Windows that need to die and hate the Superbar like Thurrott, the both of you can go use Windows 95 together.

  23. lol.. sounds like classic fan boy talk.. just pass of the issue by suggesting something even more ridiculous .. yes like XP users are going to switch too Windows 95 yeh?? idiot

  24. SuperK2: Geez, I hate to think what you must’ve been like as a child when you didn’t get your way! It’s like Long’s site is a grocery store and everyone here is being annoyed by that one child sitting in the middle of an isle, CRYING and SCREAMING because it’s not getting its way and no one fracking cares. Guess what? No one here cares what you think because just about every commentor here knows that all you’re doing is rehashing constructive criticisms noted by people who actually cared. You think you’re convincing anyone here that YOU actually care about a 10-pixel difference other than just to bitch about it!? Uh, no.

    Look, try some education and attempt to learn how to take a stance where people are actually going to give a crap about what you’re saying, even if what you have a problem with doesn’t really affect you; otherwise, all you’ll ever be in the memory of your, “audience” is like that of the little annoying child in the grocery store where people MIGHT say later that evening, “hey, you remember how fracking annoying and pointless that child was!?”

    Anyway, I’m sure Microsoft’s anus is crying for you and, please… do make your reply to me as witty as you possibly can. I’m sure everyone here is just dying to behold the next profound ephipany you enlighten them with and you CERTAINLY don’t want to let them all down, now, do you!?

    -Stephen

  25. “It’s like Long’s site is a grocery store and everyone here is being annoyed by that one child sitting in the middle of an isle, CRYING and SCREAMING because it’s not getting its way and no one fracking cares.”

    wow you don’t at all sound like a heartless bastard :)

    “You think you’re convincing anyone here that YOU actually care about a 10-pixel difference other than just to bitch about it!? Uh, no.”

    LOL ofc I care about a ~10px difference.. I wouldn’t mention it if I didn’t think it was a pathetic UI inconsistency.. though its just one of many many many many issues I could bring up. Its the little things that all add up.. the big things MS just doesn’t ever deliver on properly anyway.

    “Anyway, I’m sure Microsoft’s anus is crying for you”

    nah I doubt it, MS has a hard time taking on board and acting upon any wise feedback and suggestions, unless you can gather enough people to hammer on about it, and even then they’ll try to ignore it… Anyway I’m sure they will be crying when they see the poor sales uptake of Windows 7. They’ve got much more work to do to in Win 8.

    “do make your reply to me as witty as you possibly can. I’m sure everyone here is just dying to behold the next profound ephipany you enlighten them with and you CERTAINLY don’t want to let them all down, now, do you!?”

    *Yawn* like I care about letting anyone here down? Least of all an uxevangelist so far up “Microsoft’s anus”?

  26. @SuperK2/3

    On a more serious note, I don’t see how your point is valid. Maybe you’re just resisting change, but for me Windows 7′s numerous improvements have only increased productivity on my end (and I at times end up with around 70+ windows). For example, when I need to reach my desktop quickly, I either press that little button on the right hand side of the superbar, or I find myself giving windows a little shake.

    Aero Snap has made uploading from folder to internet or moving files from folder to folder a bit easier, and the superbar grouping also is something I prefer over the old taskbar layout. Windows 7 also runs faster than XP on my Celeron M Inspiron B130 laptop and on my Core 2 Quad Q6600 desktop as well, and it certainly runs faster than Vista.

    And I’m not a fanboy; you’re just a highly misinformed Microsoft bashing n00b.

  27. By all means… please continue! The more you speak, the more Microsoft gets the answers they’ve needed for the past 30+ years! MAN, why hasn’t anyone hired you for UI QA yet!? lol.

    -Stephen

  28. I use the default Superbar (large icons, no labels) on my notebook, since it only has a 1024×768 display, and I find that the compacted buttons work better on the smaller display. For my desktop, I use large icons with labels, since I have the extra room.

    What I have trouble adapting to is the intermixing of running and not-running apps in the taskbar, as opposed to the quicklaunch icons separated from the taskbar proper.

  29. I prefer the default Superbar. The second I heard about it I thought it was a fantastic idea. My personal peeve in previous versions of Windows used to be having so much stuff open that I felt claustrophobic. As a result I’d always close a lot of stuff just to make things more neat and easier to work with. With the Superbar, I don’t have that problem anymore =)

  30. Why didn’t they just test this out to the public and get our feedback. it seems that when it comes to the superbar they pretty much locked it in ‘as is’. Im all for a thicker bar if it actually displays visual information. Anyway to answer the question, the superbar is quite nice as it is (even if icons dont stick out as if they’re sitting on a shelf a la OS X Leopard) but I reckon if the start orb complemented the white systray icons on the right side and then glowed in the magnificent colours when mouse hovered that would look spectacular.

  31. Anthony: This is just a guess, so don’t quote me on it, but, at the time they come up with this stuff and develop workable demos, the intellectual property of the interface may have not been patented yet. Thus, they hold private tests with random people who probably have to sign a pretty detailed NDA to keep them from stealing any ideas they test or talking about them in detail with anyone.

    Yes, we see the superbar locked in, in these builds, but you’ve got to keep in mind that these ARE the builds that are trials for the public! Although RC is quite close to RTM as far as dev. phase, there is still plenty of time for them to make any adjustments based on all of the feedback they get. To some extent, there’s the executive decision to go with an interface regardless of what people think (if you will recall the immense pushback in regards to the Fluent UI in Office 2007), so I’m sure Microsoft was pretty well set on doing some kind of implementation of the superbar regardless… but they do all the fine-tuning after meeting in the middle with what their studies and research entails along with all of the private and public feedback.

    Again, the majority of that is just a guess.

    -Stephen

  32. this superbar should be called a taskbar, that way people will still understand what you are on about, and older training literature will be useful.
    The thing that gets me is how can they remove the feature to make a local default user profile??, that way customisation can be done for all who log onto the machine

    i really don’t see how microsoft think they can be in touch with end users, they have just withdrawn into their own bubble

  33. I think a taskbar with the dual lines in the screenshot would be a good view for when the user has selected to show labels and not to combine. However, I think a better option would be for Microsoft to offer an option to show labels and always combine, as I have described here:
    http://www.windows7taskforce.com/view/2236

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