A dialog of thoughts and ideas about software, usability, and products, with random science and wacky ideas thrown in for good measure.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I'm surprised at how dependent I've become on certain Windows 7 user interface features, and how natural they are to understand and use:
- Searching within the Start menu (How did I ever find things before?)
- Aero Snap: Moving a window so it fills the left- or right-half of the screen (I only rarely did this by hand, but it now feels so necessary)
- Dragging the title bar of a maximized application to minimize it and move it around (Really? I couldn't do this before?)
- And I haven't even started using Aero Shake (click and shake one window's title bar, and all of the other open windows will minimize) or Aero Peek (makes your windows transparent so you can see your desktop)
I came to realize that the way I navigated my Start menu (which, despite my valiant attempts at cleaning up, spans at least two columns) was my physical location as opposed to logic: "I know WinSCP is on the top half of the second column." This knowledge became organic: as I added new applications to my system - WinDirStat (which is awesome), Google Chrome, and so on - they were added to the end of the list, and I became familiar with their physical placement. But on my new Windows 7 machine, I've installed so much new software so quickly (e.g., Paint.NET, LMMS, Synthesia (which is awesome), Blender, Boxee) that it's difficult to build up that physical memory... not to mention, the Windows 7 Start menu limits itself to one scrolling column.
I've searched in vain for Windows XP add-ons that can give my old windows the same side-of-screen, drag-from-maximize, drag-and-shake interaction that I don't know how Windows users have lived without for the past (almost) 20 years. It's clear that Microsoft doesn't have a vested interest in back-porting changes like these, but I hope some third-party developer will come around and do it some day (not me... I've got other projects cooking).