215

Yes, people need multiple windows. For example, a web developer will be looking at 2 windows all the time - a text editor and a browser. Another more general example, people like to chat with friends using something like AIM or Skype or even facebook, all while watching videos on youtube. That would require 2 browser windows opened simultaneously. This ...


109

There is an old article I got from the ACM library on Human-Computer-Interaction that provides some useful feedback. (The ACM library is not very intuitive, but Microsoft have a PDF version of it) An initial study attempted to demonstrate that users are significantly more productive and more satisfied when carrying out complex, multiple window tasks ...


96

I've always viewed it as a matter of "state" tracking. When I use a computer, I am doing a task, not using a program. This task may be something as simple as check email, and only requires one window open. Or it could be complex, such as design a section of a code project. In the more complicated case, the task is independent of any individual program. I ...


77

Before and during the development of Windows 95, Microsoft was being sued by Apple for allegedly having improperly copied the Mac OS GUI. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corp. Apple lost all claims in the Microsoft suit except for the ruling that the trash can icon and folder icons from Hewlett-Packard's NewWave ...


74

Take a step away from classic Windows processes. That was a huge part of Windows 8 and should help you understand this. Think about how you turn your phone on or off. There's a physical button that does this. Android/iOS? Power is a physical button. If you think about it, the power on function has to be a physical button somewhere or somehow, since the ...


38

I work in a video game studio. Everyone, from programmers to artists, uses two to three screens with multiple applications and/or windows: programmers have a window with the source code, a window with the debugging information (registers, stack trace, debugging messages) and a window with the game running. level designers have a window with the assets ...


36

Much of what Microsoft initiated with Windows 95, including the Start Menu, served primarily to differentiate it from Mac OS, which in the popular mindset was the only OS competing with Windows. This coupled with the rise in attention to ecological needs in the 1990s made the term "Recycle Bin" an apt way to accomplish this differentiation, without serving ...


33

Yes, people do really want to look at multiple windows/monitors/screens at once. For various reasons. Working on a screen while monitoring something else, security personnel monitoring multiple devices/networks/places, stock trading, flying an airplane (I guess a pilot needs the information available always, not through clicking and restoring ...


29

As with so many questions regarding UX, the answer starts with 'It depends'. This is because UX is inevitably based on context and action. Some arguments for using a disabled state: Even if not in use, the user has a chance to learn that the action is possible. You may even have a tooltip explaining the criteria for use. The user can learn where controls ...


28

Undo No, I don't think you should. Instead, you think re-think the whole idea. First of all: do you really, really need a popup dialog with a question like this? Wouldn't an easy to use, reliable Undo option be infinitely better? In that case, you can circumvent the whole Yes/No confirmation, and avoid context switches and generally getting into the users ...


25

Well, when you close an application it is gone. The Windows OS has no control over how software developed by third-parties will handle this very final action. It is up to the developer to ensure that the state is saved. Will they prompt the user to save their work? Will the browser store the last page you were at if you close it accidentally? Who knows? In ...


20

I believe it’s a means of providing the ability to cancel a half-executed command. Imagine a user is 45% down a long page. The user attempts to perform a drag operation on the contents of the window (maybe to move an icon or select some text), but accidentally “catches” the scrollbar slider instead, resulting in scrolling page to X% down, and leaving the ...


20

Application designs that don't differentiate between active and inactive windows are violating the principles that: Recognition is more valuable than recall. A system should inform the user about its state. The system should help prevent errors. These are all Nielson classics. Showing the user what window is in focus prevents users from "typing into ...


17

Yes, this is excellent practice. It can even improve the responsiveness of your application, because doing the actual search on every key press can cause delays in itself. I have build a component (that we're using all over the place for this and similar purposes) that basically sets two times: a minimum time to wait for more input, and a maximum time from ...


17

This is an old element inherited since Windows 3.1 where the interface of the applications didn't have the, now common, "X" to close them. Before, on the top right there was a menu that you could access with the combination Alt+space and one of the options, the main one, was close. The double click basically activates the main option of that menu. ...


16

If you take a tomato back out of a real-life recycle bin, it also doesn't get recycled. Nor does it get disinfected (unless you actively do that). However, if you leave it in there and the bin gets emptied, both eventually get recycled. The tomato the traditional way, the file because its bits on your hard disk get made available again for storing other ...


15

The User: Spends half an hour searching for the product. Finally finds it. Downloads it. Low bandwidth: it takes 10 minutes. Installs/starts it. ("Oh! I downloaded a downloader, not the application! Where is the difference anyway?") The downloader downloads. Low bandwidth: it takes another 40 minutes. The application installs itself. Result: The user ...


14

I don't have any studies for auto-complete in particular, but perceptible latency for a user interface is thought to be at 100 milliseconds. At that point, the user feels that they are in control and the interface is responsive. With that in mind, there are a few factors you should consider. How quickly will your query return on slow internet connections/...


13

I guess because there isn't really a reason to have it easily available. Laptops and tablets are usually sleeping or hibernating when not in use. To power off a desktop computer, you can just press the physical power button on the computer itself. This will signal Windows to close all active applications and shut down. Actually, the power off function is ...


13

There’s no “right” way. It’s all in the analogy. The Touch Screen Analogy When you use a touch screen, the scrolling behavior is intuitive — it’s like you put your finger on the actual content and push it around. A few years ago, Apple switched their scrolling direction to follow this analogy. The Scroll Bar Analogy Another way to look at (Windows-style) ...


12

I am not sure when Windows introduced that word, but if it was since Windows 95, as Bart Gijssens's answer claims, then Microsoft is not the first one to come up with the idea of recycling. NeXT STEP operating system introduced at around 1988 had a recycling mark as the icon for its counterpart. Microsoft may have gotten the idea from there. Your question ...


12

Apple removed scrollbars from appearing, unless in use, from viewports in 2011 with the release of Lion, immediately sparking multiple articles about how to get them back. The usability rationale and merit of this can still be debated today. Not showing it until it is needed is a clean design and does not clutter the display, but the user must figure out ...


11

What mouse acceleration essentially does is applies a sort of logarithmic scale to the distance moved per milisecond based on the speed you are moving at. The general concept is that when you are moving the mouse faster, you are trying to move it to a point further away, so acceleration scaled the distance the pointer will move to be even more than you ...


11

Users are often more interested to know How do I go about to achieve this goal that I have, rather than investigating the purpose for random actions and CTA's that they currently see in the application. The reason it was removed was simply that it was found more efficient and helpful to focus on finding "good" solutions for letting a user search the answer ...


10

If you have two groups of tabs, users may think they can only select one, regardless of where you place them. In general, we are familiar with the perception of only having one tab selected. I would suggest a similar approach as mentioned in another answer but with radio buttons rather than checkboxes as I believe you only want the user to select one "mode". ...


10

For content consumption, it may not be that important since the user is going to be focused on the content they are consuming. This is why such an interface works well on content consumption devices like tablets. For actually getting work done however, it is frequently critical to have multiple windows open in parallel. Looking at my desktop right now, I ...


10

Many bugs in the early days would result in a computer just restarting, so you needed to let someone know why it would be restarting if it was in the normal course of events. The logical way of doing this would be with a prompt, but considering that many installs were unattended, the delay was a good balance between informing the user what is happening ...


10

To my knowledge it was not a design issue but a technical one in win 95. The taskbar should be at the top, but many of the win 3.1 app use absolute positioning on screen. And the top left 0,0 used to be in application "space" in win 3.1. There was too many issues with a taskbar at the top. It was decided to put it at the bottom to lower bugs. Nowadays every ...


9

My suggestion is to go for Tab + Filter combination.


9

Even if a user is an expert, Fitts' law applies. Fitts' law doesn't refer to finding/identifying the target so much as how long it takes to hit it. Even after a user has developed muscle and spatial memory for where to move the cursor, a larger target that's closer to the cursor is still going to be quicker to hit than a smaller one further away (if only ...


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