Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Oct 2010 18:18 UTC
Windows There's been a bunch of Windows Phone 7 reviews out there, and most of them come to the same conclusion: great piece of software for a 1.0 release, but it does miss a few vital features. The Ars Technica review, as usual very in-depth, highlights one particular aspect of the platform that speaks to me: Windows Phone 7 has a sense of humour.
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RE: .
by kaiwai on Sat 23rd Oct 2010 12:08 UTC in reply to "."
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

Win Phone 7 is pretty impressive. Conceptually, it seems a lot clearer than the iPhone and Android: gestures are natural and give you more visual cues. It also don't seem as bound to the desktop metaphor as it's competitors. Only short falling is the mix of soft- and hardware buttons on the face and apparent incomplete support for landscape hardware keyboards.

If only MS could release something half-way as elegant on the desktop. Sorry but aero snap just doesn't cut it.


The buttons are a choice by the vendor and not something Microsoft has forbidden; there are vendors already shipping ones with slide out keyboards for those who prefer that over touch screen access.

Windows 7 is a big step forward but I guess I've never really pushed most operating systems to their limits as a lot of people here seem to do regularly.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: .
by Neolander on Sat 23rd Oct 2010 12:50 in reply to "RE: ."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Windows 7 is a big step forward but I guess I've never really pushed most operating systems to their limits as a lot of people here seem to do regularly.

Well, although it theoretically has a lot of merits, the sole features new to Vista/7 that are at the same time useful and perfectly well-designed are the search bar in the start menu and the ability to hide notifications from applications, I think, after some month solely using Win7.

Take the file explorer's interface : breadcrumb bars are nice and all, but Windows 7's one is a bit tiny and therefore hard to target, does not optimize the common case (going up one folder), and to do something as trivial as going in your home folder you have to either know it's in the popup menu at the beginning of the breadcrumb bar or add it as favorite once you discovered that it's in C:/Users. Both are a bit complicated for something which is again fairly common.

The taskbar could have received more work. They tried to make an improved copy of OSX's dock, but incidentally they also copied its issues in the way : accessing individual windows is made a bit complex compared to what it should be (and there's no Exposé feature to work around this, unlike on OSX), which is ironical for an operating system called Windows. Also, Aero's habit of putting white text on shiny or light background is a major readability issue on LCD screens (especially those of the shiny kind).

Network center is just an abomination. The sole thing done right in the networking area is that you can finally connect to a wi-fi by clicking the signal icon. Almost all other changes in networking compared to windows XP and before are usability regressions. HomeGroup is nice, but it just seems like a brain-dead and inefficient workaround for network being excessively complex in Vista+.

Window management... Well... Their idea of easing tiling using mouse gestures is nice in principle, but in practice the user still has to do way too much work. I always end up resizing windows by hand, and at a rather high click cost (whereas in true tiling, you can resize the two windows in one click+drag, among other things).

UAC is just like gksudo/kdesu on Linux and the Mac variant : a poor solution to a real problem. How am I supposed to know if a program should receive admin rights or not ? There's no indication of what said programs wants to do, so my decisions have to be based on raw trust. This is made even worse by Windows' reliance on the installer ecosystem : a malware only has to look like an installer in order to get admin privileges. User/admin is just not suited for desktop use, if it's actually suitable in some cases. Things like AppArmor (now included in the Linux kernel) and SElinux should receive much more love from operating systems worldwide.

Maintenance center is often more annoying than useful. Automatic backup à la Time Machine is a nice feature to have, but at times it causes multimedia playback in WMP to freeze along with the rest of the UI ! Sure, I only have to use VLC to get rid of that problem, but still I'm left largely unimpressed and wondering what priority Microsoft put on that background process which only does maintenance tasks.

Edited 2010-10-23 12:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: .
by kaiwai on Sun 24th Oct 2010 01:32 in reply to "RE[2]: ."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, although it theoretically has a lot of merits, the sole features new to Vista/7 that are at the same time useful and perfectly well-designed are the search bar in the start menu and the ability to hide notifications from applications, I think, after some month solely using Win7.

Take the file explorer's interface : breadcrumb bars are nice and all, but Windows 7's one is a bit tiny and therefore hard to target, does not optimize the common case (going up one folder), and to do something as trivial as going in your home folder you have to either know it's in the popup menu at the beginning of the breadcrumb bar or add it as favorite once you discovered that it's in C:/Users. Both are a bit complicated for something which is again fairly common.


One of the things I miss after using Finder is spring loading folders, I can drag and drop files and navigate through the file system with each folder opening until I reach the place where I want to place it. I guess one could argue that many people use copy and past where as I am still in the spatial mind set of dragging and dropping rather than copying and pasting.

The taskbar could have received more work. They tried to make an improved copy of OSX's dock, but incidentally they also copied its issues in the way : accessing individual windows is made a bit complex compared to what it should be (and there's no Exposé feature to work around this, unlike on OSX), which is ironical for an operating system called Windows. Also, Aero's habit of putting white text on shiny or light background is a major readability issue on LCD screens (especially those of the shiny kind).


As noted, I really don't push the operating system to its limit - I tend not to have any problems with the dock other than the '3D' theme that was added in Leopard which makes dragging apps to it sometimes a hit and miss especially for new comers to computers and Mac OS X. For the vast majority of users they don't have 100s of applications or huge numbers open. In the case of Windows the one aspect I do like is Aero peak, being able to hover over the top of an application and select the one I want rather than guess work based on window titles that are cut off.

Network center is just an abomination. The sole thing done right in the networking area is that you can finally connect to a wi-fi by clicking the signal icon. Almost all other changes in networking compared to windows XP and before are usability regressions. HomeGroup is nice, but it just seems like a brain-dead and inefficient workaround for network being excessively complex in Vista+.


Agreed but I wonder how much of it is due to complexity in Windows permissions that really can't be simplified due to their inherent complexity. I've setup shared drives from Windows to other computers and there is always something going wrong - I've never experienced that sort of problem when using my Mac with AFP. AFP may not be the sexiest protocol in the universe but it does what needs to be done with minimum fuss and bother.

Window management... Well... Their idea of easing tiling using mouse gestures is nice in principle, but in practice the user still has to do way too much work. I always end up resizing windows by hand, and at a rather high click cost (whereas in true tiling, you can resize the two windows in one click+drag, among other things).

UAC is just like gksudo/kdesu on Linux and the Mac variant : a poor solution to a real problem. How am I supposed to know if a program should receive admin rights or not ? There's no indication of what said programs wants to do, so my decisions have to be based on raw trust. This is made even worse by Windows' reliance on the installer ecosystem : a malware only has to look like an installer in order to get admin privileges. User/admin is just not suited for desktop use, if it's actually suitable in some cases. Things like AppArmor (now included in the Linux kernel) and SElinux should receive much more love from operating systems worldwide.

Maintenance center is often more annoying than useful. Automatic backup à la Time Machine is a nice feature to have, but at times it causes multimedia playback in WMP to freeze along with the rest of the UI ! Sure, I only have to use VLC to get rid of that problem, but still I'm left largely unimpressed and wondering what priority Microsoft put on that background process which only does maintenance tasks.


Many of the other problems you've listed would pretty much require the sort of changes that would break compatibility for a large number of applications - something I don't see Microsoft will to stomach. They could offer free virtualisation software with all versions of Windows but I simply don't see it happening so one has to get used to more ugly hacks to work around the inherent issues with Windows. It will eventually get to the point that they'll have to do something besides trying to push off the inevitable by having hacks that do nothing than add another layer of complexity to an already complex behemoth.

As for backup, don't have it happening whilst you're working then - I've setup my parents computers to back up at 3am so that no one is being interrupted - why do you need backups every hour or whilst working? seems a rather silly idea.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: .
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 24th Oct 2010 18:17 in reply to "RE[2]: ."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Network center is just an abomination. The sole thing done right in the networking area is that you can finally connect to a wi-fi by clicking the signal icon. Almost all other changes in networking compared to windows XP and before are usability regressions. HomeGroup is nice, but it just seems like a brain-dead and inefficient workaround for network being excessively complex in Vista+.


I couldn't agree more, they actually managed to make something that's convoluted and confusing than network config under even Win9x.

After using Vista and 7 for an extended period, I get what they were going for - it seems that the "Network Center" is an attempt to abstract away the complexity of dealing with individual network adapters, connections, etc. Instead, you have a single generic network connection and Net Center (in theory) handles/hides all the behind-the-scenes complexity.

But IME that abstraction becomes a hindrance because you have to work around it whenever it doesn't work reliably (which was far too often, also IME).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: .
by Icaria on Sat 23rd Oct 2010 13:16 in reply to "RE: ."
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

No, there's compulsory hardware buttons like the back button and the 'start' button. The problem with hw keyboards is the OS/apps have inconsistent support for landscape mode. That's why the 7 phones mostly have Pre-style bottom keyboards.

And if Win 7 proper is a 'step forward', it's not a very big one. It's an incremental improvement over Vista but it still provides an incredibly anaemic and unfriendly user environment. One release after they introduced HW accelerated compositing, they think to include a full-screen zoom feature (which is easily the best argument for compositing to begin with) but of course, they do a horrible job of it. They decided that OSX's dock was just broken enough that it deserved to be ported to Windows. They added that god-awful dynamic tiling with aero snap, yet windows still don't exhibit basic intuitive behaviour, like edge resistance when one window passes over another, or reaches the edge of the screen. They still haven't fixed the mess that is the start menu and the control panel and no, search is a poor substitute for a tidy layout. They've further muddied UI concepts by allowing apps to hide functionality in their taskbar entries: just as you thought they were clamping down on systray abuse, they merely decide to move it to another components of the UI that should be agnostic and provide only consistent, higher-level functionality. And of course, just as people were coming to grips with Vista's ridiculous mishmash of titlebars, menubars, toolbars and all the composites thereof, the Windows devs submit to the Office devs and decide to copy the ribbon widgets over to Win 7. /offtopic rant

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: .
by kaiwai on Sun 24th Oct 2010 01:45 in reply to "RE[2]: ."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

No, there's compulsory hardware buttons like the back button and the 'start' button. The problem with hw keyboards is the OS/apps have inconsistent support for landscape mode. That's why the 7 phones mostly have Pre-style bottom keyboards.


Is that the result of Microsoft or the application vendors themselves? Has Microsoft taken on handling the orientation of the device and how Applications adjust to it or is each application dependent on the developer doing the right thing? its one aspect of Mac OS X that I appreciate, Apple automate a lot of stuff and encourage developers to use those high level API's instead of 'going it alone' and re-inventing the wheel. The I/O Kit being the best example where developers automatically inheret a whole heap of features without needing to even think about it such as power management and not having to duplicate common code found in all drivers.

And if Win 7 proper is a 'step forward', it's not a very big one. It's an incremental improvement over Vista but it still provides an incredibly anaemic and unfriendly user environment. One release after they introduced HW accelerated compositing, they think to include a full-screen zoom feature (which is easily the best argument for compositing to begin with) but of course, they do a horrible job of it.


What I think is even more horrible is they develop Direct2D/DirectWrite and yet not a single component of Windows 7 actually uses these new API's. One thing Apple does well - they're always dogfooding their own API's so that they reflect real life scenarios rather than 'white board hypotheticals' that barely resemble reality. One could argue that they limited time and had to focus on addressing the immediate concerns before moving onto those issues you talked about - even Windows 7 developers have acknowledge that there was a list of things they wanted to fix up but a limited amount of time and resources they had to address it in a single release.

They decided that OSX's dock was just broken enough that it deserved to be ported to Windows.


What is wrong with dock? I can't understand all this hate of the dock? most of it by people who can't be bothered actually learning how to use it properly. I have a single application with multiple windows, I right click on the icon in the dock and select from the menu which one I wish to bring forward, what is so difficult about that? I'd love to know exactly what is broken about it because it seems to be like 'the cool thing to do' to bash the dock but give no specifics why outside of a few niche scenarios that most users will never come across.

They added that god-awful dynamic tiling with aero snap, yet windows still don't exhibit basic intuitive behaviour, like edge resistance when one window passes over another, or reaches the edge of the screen. They still haven't fixed the mess that is the start menu and the control panel and no, search is a poor substitute for a tidy layout. They've further muddied UI concepts by allowing apps to hide functionality in their taskbar entries: just as you thought they were clamping down on systray abuse, they merely decide to move it to another components of the UI that should be agnostic and provide only consistent, higher-level functionality. And of course, just as people were coming to grips with Vista's ridiculous mishmash of titlebars, menubars, toolbars and all the composites thereof, the Windows devs submit to the Office devs and decide to copy the ribbon widgets over to Win 7. /offtopic rant [/q]

Those problems are related to Windows in general rather than windows 7 - as I have noted in the past, what I'd love to see is someone take the IRIX Indigo desktop, modernise it but keep the same lay out and it would be a great UI. The problem is what is required for Windows would require such a radical change I don't think the customer base would be willing to stomach the change - we've got idiots here who crapped on about the 'super bar' being a 'sell out' to Mac OS X - yes, mature adults on this forum saying such utter crap and such views actually being given respect. It confuses me when such discussions take place but what can one do other than moan and groan over a cup of tea?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: .
by Neolander on Sun 24th Oct 2010 06:41 in reply to "RE[2]: ."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

No, there's compulsory hardware buttons like the back button and the 'start' button. The problem with hw keyboards is the OS/apps have inconsistent support for landscape mode. That's why the 7 phones mostly have Pre-style bottom keyboards.

And what's the problem with that exactly ?

The precise reason why I hate those wide screens they put on laptops now is that most of my everyday tasks require screens to be tall rather than wide. Everything which involves some form of list and large amounts of text, in fact.

For text, the reason is obvious : the wider the screen, the bigger the eye strain, so I end up always wasting up space on the sides of my screen, either because I resize windows to reduce their width or because some nice web developer did the job for me by putting a maximal width in his CSSs.

For lists, one has to make a distinction between usual, uni-dimensional lists, and bi-dimensional lists (or "grids"). For grids, it's the same eyestrain problem as with text. For usual lists, it's just a matter of wasting space : since list items have a well-defined height, you can only read x list items before scrolling, where x is dependent on the height (and not the width) of the screen.

Apple did not make the core of iOS portrait mode-friendly just for the fun of annoying landscape fans, it's just that portrait is the most useful screen layout in most cases.

Landscape mode is good for videos and games, granted, but in those areas it's available on WP7 afaik.

Edited 2010-10-24 06:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2