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One feature I can't understand is the minimize to desktop button. I can't imagine why it is more intuitive to put it as this little tiny transparent strip on the bottom right hand side instead of wherever the user wanted to have it like in XP.

Second feature - you can't put any quick launch things on the start bar. Like if you had a word doco u frequently refer to, you have to put a word shortcut and then the document. So it takes at minimum two clicks where before it took one.

Third feature - The file explorer is much harder to use cause it's got different columns for folders it deems has different content - videos, music, files etc. At least put in an easy way to say, change a folder to have columns you would use to view files. eg. If I wanted to see how big each mp3 was and when it was last modified, i couldn't just change to the file view, I would need add all the columns individually.

Are there features in windows 7 that you find was just better how it used to be?

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Point 1 is interesting - I logged this as a bug during the beta program and no other beta testers agreed! –  Alex Angas Feb 11 '11 at 0:47
    
I like features 1 & 2, I find feature 3 annoying - especially with folders that contain multiple file types. –  Danny Varod Feb 13 '11 at 15:36
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"Intuitive" is a loaded word that is mostly misused and misunderstoon - see definr.com/intuitive for what it actually means. If a UI was truly intuitive, you'd be able to pluck a Bedouin off his camel in the Negev Desert, put him in front of it and he'd be able to use it. Better words are "Consistent", "Predictable", "Learnable" and "Discoverable". –  Bevan Feb 16 '11 at 19:37
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The reveal desktop feature is not discoverable. There's no signs that a glass looking rectangle will reveal your desktop. I hadn't discovered it until last week, and I've been using Windows 7 for 2 years. –  JoJo Jun 6 '11 at 17:05

10 Answers 10

Two other features that are less intuitive in my opinion are:

  1. the fact that you can no longer select several taskbar items with ctrl+click. On XP, that was the way I used to close multiple windows. And not only does this not work now, but it does the exact opposite of what it used to do, creating another instance of the ctrl+clicked app. I've been using Windows 7 for over a year now, and it still drives me nuts.

  2. it became much more difficult to drag and drop files into a folder when in list-view. I'm referring to cases where your target folder contains subfolders. In XP, you could drop your file pretty much everywhere except the labels and icons of the subfolders, and it would go into the parent folder. But in Windows 7, it seems like the whole width of the window serves as target area for the subfolders, and you need to search for the single pixel that is the target area for the parent folder itself. I hope I managed to explain what I mean :)

While I agree that the "show desktop" button is extremely difficult to find, I don't agree that it has too small an area. The corners of the screen are considered the best locations for frequently-used buttons, since their area is only limited on two sides (the ones facing the inside of the screen), and on the two other sides they're infinite. You don't need to carefully position the mouse right on top of them, you can just move it quickly in the general direction, it will get "blocked" by the corners of the screen, and rest right over the button. That's why the Start button and the X button are where they are. The problem is that it doesn't work like that on an expanded desktop, since the second monitor may begin where the main monitor ends.

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+1 for the drag-and-drop mention. I really like Windows 7 (and find XP idiosyncratic now) except for how much of a pain in the ass it is to drag things to a new folder. –  Corey Feb 16 '11 at 2:27
    
I wonder if there would be any way to add a little "speed bump" at the bottom-right edge of the taskbar, so that to go to something on the second screen one had to either go up and over it or else pause and resume moving? –  supercat Apr 4 at 18:32

It's an ongoing discussion whether a UI can be considered "intuitive" at all, according to e.g. What objective qualities make a user interface intuitive?

However, one part of Win 7 (I don't know if this was already present in Vista) I find confusing is the "Move file" dialogue.

At first glance, it has only one button (apart from the red close button in the top right corner): The Cancel button (in my Danish screen dump example: "Annuller").

enter image description here)

The three main actions

  • "Move and replace" ("Flyt og erstat"),
  • "Don't move" ("Flyt ikke") and
  • "Move, but keep both files" ("Flyt, men behold begge filer")

look more like info/guidance than actual buttons -- see the English version of the screen dump here:

http://superuser.com/questions/104908/windows-7-copy-file-dialog-keyboard-accelerators

The MS guys have tried to provide some hinting in the shape of the green arrows, the blue link-like text and a hover highlighting. Nonetheless, I think the design of this particular dialogue is less than optimal.

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This move dialog is not easy to scan. Every time it appears, I have to entirely read both options to decide on what I really want to do. They should have differentiated the two options with some graphics. –  JoJo Jun 6 '11 at 17:10

I think some of you are missing the point of the redesign that is Windows 7. The point was not to make things easier for people comfortable with computers; it was to make things easier for those that don't use computers.

In addition, some of these things may seem counter-intuitive to you, having used the "old way" for several years, but for someone having never used Vista, XP, 95, etc. I'm sure that most of the changes are much better than the old way. Microsoft did a ton of usability testing with the interface changes proposed and made to Windows 7, and I'm sure as many new ideas got thrown out as what was actually changed. Their goal is to make the experience of using Windows easier for entry-level users, not advanced users.

The same thing happened when they introduced the "ribbon" into Office - experienced users hated it at first, but really, it actually is a much better interface once you rewire your brain to think about things the new way.

Trust me, five years from now, most of these things that you don't like now you will be wondering why it was ever done differently before.

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I actually think the ribbon thing in Office 2007 suffers from the same thing as it did previously - as they still have to make a subjective call about where each function should go. New users, old users, every user thinks differently but we all have to learn the microsoft way of doing things. What they need is to put a function quick search similar to the program search. Then it doesn't matter where anyone thinks the word count icon should go, if you can't find it, just type "Word Count" in the search and it appears. –  RoboShop Feb 13 '11 at 6:32
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As an "experienced user" it took me less than a day to get used to the ribbon, the "old way" cost me layout time (to organize the toolbars) on every new machine. That was a great improvement. Some of Win7 new UI features are great too, some others aren't. –  Danny Varod Feb 13 '11 at 15:41
    
@RoboShop - The layout of the Ribbon in Word 2007 is a lot less subjective than you think - there's a LOT of science behind it. See blogs.msdn.com/b/jensenh/archive/2008/03/12/… for more. And, FWIW, "Word Count" isn't a button at all in Office 2010, it's one of many statistics shown under File|Info. –  Bevan Feb 13 '11 at 20:31
    
@Bevan : Don't get me wrong, I think the layout is probably better. But IMHO, it doesn't matter how much science is behind it, icons are not scalable. The word count thing you've highlighted is a perfect example, it's now in a different place. Subtle changes that users are have to learn every time a new version of Word comes out. If you have a quick search, it can be in the same place every time. Users can spend their time learning about new functionality instead of where to find old ones. –  RoboShop Feb 16 '11 at 4:12
    
@RoboSHop :- Word count is in the same place it's always been : [ctrl]+[shift]+[G] –  Ape-inago Feb 21 '11 at 22:57

enter image description here

I greatly miss these "sort by" headers in Windows Explorer (e.g. sort by name, last modification or type) that are now displayed only in detailed mode; the only way to access the sort filters in the other modes is in a submenu of the right-click menu.

I still don't see what was the intended benefit of this design decision. More about this on SuperUser.

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The minimize desktop capability on Windows 7 was definitely a problem for me. I would be curious to know the decision making process around that one.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Minimize-all-open-windows-to-view-the-desktop

They implementation goes "over the top" in terms of subtlety. How are you even supposed to know it's a button that does something? The other issue that I've found not so pleasant is how it's click area is so small.

All that being said, I've come across users who had problems even being aware of the show desktop icon in Windows XP.

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I agree that it is too subtle. However, it's on a double infinite edge and thus has infinite dimension (unlimited click area, provided that the Windows Bar is on the rightmost screen). See "Rule of the Infinite Edge." –  jensgram Feb 10 '11 at 8:07

Hardest and most confusing thing in W7 (and Vista, maybe) for me are their settings dialogues. In XP there was a single window with tab, in Win7 there are these “helpful”, context-dependent links on the left, which are:

  1. Much less readable and rememberable, because they are much longer than tabs;
  2. Always changing their order, so I am completely losing my sense of location: where am I, where have I already been, an so on.

Unfortunately, I cannot post images yet, but you can take a look at them at this page (first four of them, about setting up network).

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My problem isn't so much that some XP features are indeed more intuitive (and less cumbersomme) than Win7 (although that statement is by itself very true, nevertleless).

My problem is that lots of my (admittedly a bit exotic) hardware does not work any more with Win7 because there are no Win7 drivers for them. And I am getting a bit tired of having to junk half of my peripheral hardware every time a new operating system is released.

Examples: My USB to 4x RS232 box from Tripplite, my hires USB document scanner; my expensive Clairo soundcard (there are Win7 drivers but they make win7 crash), my PCI parallel interface card (I need this for certain engineering equipment that uses the D25 printer port for control) and a few more.

But Win7 is superb in ONE thing: The Windows Media Center ap. I love that and use it as my home theater center. For the rest, I do not see much improvement over XP with Win7.

So I have installed them both in a dual-boot configuration. This also allowed me to compare the two extensively, also speed-wise. And guess what - Win7 boots a bit faster than XP (but not by much) but is considerably slower in execution for lots of my user software! Maybe that would not be the case if I upgraded my other Windows software as well (Office) but I am not going to shell out another $300 for Office just to get some speed improvement under Win7 with a lot of other (new) Office features I will never need.

My conclusion: Microsoft business model of trying to make money by introducing new products that are (deliberately) poorly compatible with legacy stuff while the only real advantage seems to be a more spiffy user interface, is obsolete. Or in plain English: Microsoft is in danger.

In that respect, Google seems to me the real innovator on the block and will be the software giant of the future. That company really impresses me (and no, DEFINITELY not Apple. Making phones thinner every year while relying on proprietary user platforms for market share is NOT a good business model either!)

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Driver compatibility is another thing completely, and is as much the fault of the hardware manufacturer for writing average drivers as the OS designer for not supporting legacy hardware. –  djlumley Jun 7 '11 at 1:25

One great benefit of having the "Reveal Desktop" control at the bottom right of the screen is speed of acquisition. You don't need any eye-hand coordination to rapidly get your pointer to bottom-right. An advantage of this behavior in our evermore cubicled world is if you are working on something confidential and somebody strolls up to your desk, you don't go scrambling to minimize or hide windows you're working on - just drag your pointer to bottom right. Bingo - desktop.

Features that I like - shake a window and hide all others. Helps clear my desktop and my mind from distractions.

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I find Explorer less intuitive. For example, I find that I have often the same highlight on both the tree and the file pane. So if I hit delete, which one goes away? Time to pay attention! Not really UI, but strange regression over XP: a newly created file (copied, downloaded, saved...) doesn't appear immediately. And I dislike the fact that when it finally appears, it is already sorted: somehow, it was convenient to get them all stacked at the end of the directory listing. Sometime, I miss the "Up a directory level" button... And I dislike the fact I cannot set column settings over a whole set of directories.

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FYI - you can use Alt-Up to go up a directory. –  RoboShop Feb 16 '11 at 4:17
    
Mouse over the address bar at the top of the window - you can go "up" to almost any parent directory with one click, and to any sibling directory with two. –  Bevan Feb 16 '11 at 19:32
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I've never used the "up a directory" button itself, but I did constantly use the backspace shortcut for it, and now it's driving me completely crazy because they've changed its logic. Now it works as a "Back" button. So sometimes it works the way I need (when Back is the same as Up), and sometimes it doesn't - so I can neither get rid of the habit, nor use it efficiently. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Feb 17 '11 at 9:14
    
Ah, good point for the click on the address bar, I retract this criticism, this is much better. And thanks for the keyboard shortcut. –  PhiLho Feb 17 '11 at 20:13

See, all of the things I find annoying about Windows 7 are things that I'm guessing no one here even knows about - like the fact that I can't it F6 anymore in Explorer to get to the address bar. Of course, that got taken away because the address bar is now MUCH more friendly for you "mousey" people :)

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Alt-D gets u straight to the address bar. Altho that was in XP too - never knew about f6 –  RoboShop Feb 16 '11 at 11:39
    
Alt-D doesn't work for me (French Win 7). –  PhiLho Feb 17 '11 at 20:16

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