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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


21

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 ...


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 ...


18

This is an old element inherited since Windows 3.1 where the interface of the applications didn't have the, now common, "×" to close them. Before, on the top-left 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

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

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 ...


10

Martin Dostál conducted a study of the Ribbon interface focused on evaluating user acceptance of the new mechanism. He surveyed 117 participants of varying demographics and experience with computers and office software with the following hypothesis: Our hypotheses were as follows: H1 Ribbon user interface is received better by younger people. ...


10

This is not good UX and wouldn't be considered best practice by any user experience experts, except in extreme circumstances such as warning workers in a dangerous environment that something was seriously wrong. Not a typical desktop application ! The reason is simply that the software has been lazily implemented in this particular context. Or possibly ...


9

Indeterminate checkboxes have been sort of a tradition in Microsoft products, mainly for nested checkboxes (symbolically meaning partially checked, or as indicators that a user has acted on a control) and mainly in installers. And as you mention, tri-state checkboxes are also currently part of the Windows Store app guidelines, but they are used on OSX as ...


9

Because a lot of the time it's a good idea. Way back when I had a Unix GUI set up not to do this and it was just as annoying as focus-on-open. The problem is this: most of the time when you open a program, it's because you want to interact with it. Not switching to the new application immediately means that your starting a program process requires a ...


9

As far as I can tell, there is no good reason for it. The behavior was started by Microsoft (Windows) and sadly taken over in other user interfaces such as KDE. Here is some more e-mail conversation going on about the subject. Many people (including mysef) find it annoying for the simple reason that you look at the windows contents while dragging and ...


9

In Windows, the recycle bin was introduced in Windows 95. (source used) Of course, Microsoft took their idea from other OS'es that had it long before. On most OS'es, dragging a file to the trashcan meant: Delete the file. This is where the word "recycle" comes in. Microsoft was looking for a way to make clear that moving items to the trash does not delete ...


8

Keeping it as far away from where applications have their menu makes a clear distinction to the user that each is for controlling something very different. Applications are controlled by menus at the top, the system is controlled by menus at the bottom. Mac has also experimented with this dual concept. For instance the application dock is at the bottom, ...


8

Microsoft does actually provide some guidance for this in the context of dialog boxes. They suggest a few different approaches which are similar to those found on the web, and to some extent in Mac OS. To indicate that users must provide information in a control, consider the following options: Don't indicate anything but handle missing required ...


8

I've been in this situation many times. What I've always done is program the app to scroll the child-most element that the cursor is over and only that element: To clarify, when I say only that element, I mean that if you're scrolling an element in one direction and you reach the end of that scrollbar, I program it such that it does not proceed by ...


7

A bad situation to be in, but it somtimes happens when maintaining old applications. There are a few things you could do to make things a little less confusing: Scroll the main window scrollbar by default, and only scroll inner controls if the user explicitly clicks on them. This would also require some visual feedback on which control is currently ...


7

On standard Windows, icons and checkboxes share in the same column. Thant means you cannot have both a checkmark and an icon at the same time. The following image is from a Delphi 32bit EXE, wrapping the standard Windows API - images seem to take precedence to checkmarks: I have seen (rarely) programs with two such columns, showing checkmarks to the left of ...


7

Use more specific language in your CTAs Perhaps you've got a style guide that might prohibit this, but part of the existing problem is that the microcopy is typically generic. Leave the buttons in the task modal as [Save] and [Cancel]. Restrict so that it's only possible to save from the task modal. Use more natural language instructions in the Confirm ...


6

An opinion from the other side: Oh my word I love this behaviour. I have moved to a Mac for work and I miss it dearly. When you're working on or reading a document or webpage, you can grab the bar scroll up or down to check something, and then drop it again to continue from where you were. As has been said here already, it's about cancelling an operation ...


6

I can't speak for Microsoft, but I've always liked the recycling bin metaphor as it works on so many levels: Recycling is more eco-friendly than garbage and the recycling bin metaphor is a form of corporate green-washing. By aligning themselves with a recycling bin instead of the more ubiquitous trashcan, Microsoft is implying something about their ...


6

I would say that putting an extra button there is generally a bad idea for the reasons you stated; you expect there to be just three buttons, and you accidentally click the "switch user" button a lot. Now, here's why it is a bad idea: The Icon for switch user is fairly similar to the minimize Icon Switching users is probably used far less than minimize/...


6

The only application I know which puts an additional button there is Display Fusion (a software to improve the experience with multi-monitor setups). That extra button moves the window to the other monitor: In this case I would say this is appropriate since the associated action controls the window in a similar manner as the other buttons and I'm using it ...


5

The rationale behind this: Documents contains files that can be manipulated by the user - Rename, Edit, Delete, Send etc. ApplicationData (now ProgramData) are files manipulated by software. You don't open an MSOE file from windows explorer, you should not rename it, to forward an email you do not send the file it is stored in, if you don't need the ...


5

When sales gets in the way of good UX, you know you're in trouble! It's a common problem the digital world over. UX can't rule the roost entirely, as Marketing have probably already sold the idea with the expectation of bringing in extra revenue. Which, to be fair to them - from a purely sales point of view - is pretty opportunistic, and fair play. From ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible