First of all, a brief warning. This is one of those things that (like the arrow in the FedEx logo) cannot be “unseen”. Once you’re aware of it it will probably annoy you until the end of time. However fear not, thankfully there’s a simple solution to relieve the impending agony.
A sharp-eyed and on-beat user at the Windows 7 Taskforce has noted the default “busy” animated cursor in Windows 7 actually stutters a little during its animation loop. If you’re not seeing it at first, watch closely just before the shining highlight returns to the 12 o’clock position, skipping a beat somewhere around “11” on the clock face. …Yes, there it is.
If you’d like to test the phenomenon for yourself, simply hover over this paragraph which overrides the cursor to display the busy cursor via CSS.
What’s most bizarre is although the style of the cursor is not new to Windows 7, the same cursor in Windows Vista actually does not exhibit the same phenomenon. A closeup of the cursors in slow-motion is provided below for forensic analysis.
Windows 7 “busy” cursor
Windows Vista “busy” cursor
Diving deeper into the guts of cursor files, its revealed the Windows 7 cursor is actually designed to display each frame for 3 “jiffies” (1/60 of a second) whereas the Vista cursor displays each frame for 2 jiffies. As the cursor animation is comprised of 18 frames in total, that’s a discrepancy of 0.3 of a second per loop. It’s not certain if this is indeed what’s causing the stutter, but it’s a good sign something changed.
Nevertheless if this stutter now bugs you, the brilliantly simple fix is to use the Vista cursor instead! If you don’t have a copy of Vista handy, you can get the cursor file here, copy to “
%SYSTEMROOT%\Cursors” and configure your “Pointer” settings from the “Mouse” control panel.
After that’s all done, simply hover over the test area from above to appreciate the elegance and bliss of a smooth animated cursor again.