We said we’d spare you having to read the Engineering Windows 7 blog. After all, you need a week or two just to get through one of the posts.
But this latest post on managing windows is actually quite interesting. You can read the whole thing for yourself (assuming you’ve got the time), or you can settle for our opinion of the two key items of interest:
Firstly, research indicates that by far the majority of people only have one window visible on screen at any time (this is all based on validated data that Microsoft collect). That is, most users have one window maximised. Only 11% of users have 3 or more windows visible at any given time. (Note: most people have 6-9 windows open, but we are talking about how many they have visible).
This is interesting, especially when it comes to thinking about multi-monitor support. And this where the design considerations for Windows 7 come in – because more and more people have multiple monitors and/or widescreen monitors. One of the main goals of Windows 7 is to ‘reduce the number of clicks and precise movements needed to perform common activities’.
The second interesting item was the design decision (in Vista) to make the windows and taskbar dark when a window is maximised. Note, even if the window being maximised is on your second monitor, the taskbar will go dark.
It’s the difference between this (maximised):
and this (non-maximised):
According to the post, making it dark is to help make it clear that the window is in the special maximized state. They do this so that you know that the window is maximised and thus you can’t click and drag it. (Note however, that Raymond over at The Old New Thing thinks it was done as a performance optimization so there may be some doubt over the validity of this reason.) To us, this design decision seems strange, and frankly we’re going to make sure nothing is maximised again – because we much prefer the translucent look. Why didn’t they just make it an advanced option?
The post finishes on a telling point: the overall the aim is for customers to feel in control. Lately I’ve been learning about the lengths that Microsoft goes to to improve the user experience. The quantity of information collected is staggering. This is one area where I much prefer a Microsoft product (operating system or other) over open source.
Where else can you find a product that gets this much testing and usability assessment? (And don’t tell me Apple – because I’ve used iTunes and we all know what a pig of a program that is. Case closed)