Windows UX guidelines now updated for Windows 7


It’s that time again when a new operating system is released and software developers can’t wait to roll out new versions of their applications packed with as many new UX effects and functionality as introduced. It wasn’t that long ago when the amount of “Aero Glass” in an application determined how cool the application was. To this day, the “Gadget Gallery” window stands undefeated.

Granted in Windows 7 most of the new user experience features are more substance over style, but there’s still a risk developers can go overboard. For example, the live taskbar progress-bar is a subtle yet powerful UX feature that can be easily abused if not used in moderation. To help determine when’s the best place to use such UX features and how to best use it comes the UX guidelines.

The latest revision of Microsoft’s Windows UX guidelines published June 30 includes updates to many articles to cover some of the UX functionality new to Windows 7 and others which has been improved since Vista. The most notable additions are in the “taskbar” guidelines which covers jumplists, overlays, thumbnail toolbars and progress bars – a honeypot of new functionality to developers.

It’s appropriate they also added to the frontpage this quote by Microsoft user experience researcher Bill Buxton, “Everything is best for something and worst for something else. The trick is knowing for what, when, for whom, and why.” Speaking of which, I think Bill has an uncanny resemblance to Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

17 insightful thoughts

  1. Yes indeed Bill Buxton is an interesting but very intelligent character, Microsoft is lucky to have him…

  2. Have you ever noticed that most of the complaints from users about the way windows works is due to applications not following the ux guidelines? i really have a distaste for programs that use gnome on windows because it looks and feels so out of place. especially the file selector window.

  3. I hate legacy file dialogs. There’s got to be some way to shim those applications so that we can get the new file dialogs and they think they are talking to the old ones. Or even worse, home grown dialogs that don’t offer anything useful. I’m looking at you Adobe.

  4. with the shit UI’s and UX coming out of MS fail products who needs there crap guidelines. Use common sense developers its not rocket science.

    No! the ui in win7/ shite explorer/ shite iexplorer/shite live2009 etc etc.. looks noobshit 😉 and the ux is even worse! guess that sort of junk appeals to you.

    and well done ms you finally added a fucking progress bar to the taskbar… amazing progress.

    now lets loook at this disgusting ugly piss poor fecking shit and sloppy design …,MSDN.10%29.png,MSDN.10).png

    “It wasn’t that long ago when the amount of “Aero Glass” in an application determined how cool the application was. ”

    lol you mean HOW SHIT! .. I don’t see the Adobe applications using that shity shit shit windows style do you? no they dumped provide there own shit… like many other apps are doing.. starting to see a mish mash of crap UIs all over the place.. none of them obeying users styles.. not that I blame them.. if MS hadn’t put out crap in the first place we wouldn’t have this problem. And even if you do mod (cus the customization provided in weak shit!) the original ugly aero style whats the point its broken.

    anyway back to you using you crap vis7a os .. i’ll be waiting to see what MS fails to adequately improve with Win8.

  5. Funny how they keep bagging their own applications throughout the guidelines – unfortunately, IE8 still doesn’t abide by most of those guidelines, especially when it comes to dialog boxes…

  6. @Sam: Well, they can hardly bag other people’s apps, or else they’d sue!

    Actually, most of the examples aren’t actually of the apps, they’re merely examples to show what it would look like if the apps *did* fail the UX guidelines.

  7. They probably will in the future, they just don’t right now. The IE8 that ships with Windows 7, anyway, is a special build made for Windows 7. FireFox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari would be stupid not to pick up that functionality in later versions.

  8. “To this day, the “Gadget Gallery” window stands undefeated.” Lol. Btw they should make it so that only apps that follow the guidelines get the software logo..I don’t think that is the case right now. is it? Which is why lots of “modern” apps have ugly custom UIs and skins which the manufacturer thinks are cool.

  9. @kettch
    it’s impossible because the code is hard-coded in the applications, so if an application use old code you can’t change it.

  10. i wish Photoshop and other adobe products used the thumbnail preview for each window contained in the application window

  11. I wish Photoshop (CS4) used a standard window border, or standard anything at all. I hate the new Photoishop UI. They made so many improvements towards standard look & feel in previous versions, then threw it all away for an ugly, non-standard and buggy UI.

    I especially hate how CS4 on Vista with Aero enabled draws junk over windows which are next to it (and also has transparent parts of itself in even more places where if you think you are clicking on a window next to photoshop the click actually goes to photoshop. Awful UI changes and, of course, Adobe still haven’t fixed any of this months and months later… Not the kind of support anyone should expect from such an expensive product.

  12. @Chen Ye: I hoped someone else would notice that!

    Also in the “that doesn’t exist” department: check out the Thumbnail preview for Windows Media Player (on the Taskbar page or also on the top image): there is a preview of the content, but it’s running the Windows 7 Basic theme. When running the Basic theme, no thumbnail preview is ever available, regardless of content. (The controls however, are.)

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