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One of my pet hates ... The Start Button

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  • User profile image
    Sabot

    One of my pet hates ... The Start Button

    If I was to wish to change one thing in Windows it would be the Start button.

    I was more than disappointed when Vista arrived to discover that designers had decided that to keep continuity with previous versions of Windows and keep the Start button with nothing more than a make-over. But it did seem for awhile that with Longhorn it was at last disappearing.

    The Start button is actually an extremely useful UI vehicle as it allows someone who is unfamiliar with a machine a standard avenue to discovery, this has to be applauded as it is a simple construct that is universal but it is in the same token very restrictive. If anyone remembers Windows before 95, then you know that Windows could indeed be a disorganized mess. The Start button offers a simple restriction, where the only other alternative to navigating through menus was groups of icons on the desktop.

    In recent years to help stem the sea of desktop icons, the Quick menu has appeared however if you want to have some sort of organization and (here comes the important word) 'categorization' it meant creating folder structures that turned into a skilled drilling frenzy whether on desktop or in Start Menu.

    However, what’s the point of trying to get organized? Who has that many programs anyway? Well the simple reason is that we all now have loads of programs, files, documents, videos, films, pictures just lots and lots of stuff all over the place. Strangely enough however I don’t want to find anything using a search term, that’s like admitting defeat.

    The Start button doesn’t really help as the menu is small and restrictive, you can't move it or expand it and you can’t have more than one of them such as an ‘Office Start Button’, a ‘Games Start Button’. So to get some semblance of categorized organization I’m using a Dock, like you can find on the Mac or Linux that has tabs to get a bit of organization.

    Now that Windows 7 development is in full swing can I please ask the UI designers to take a long hard look at the Start Button. I thought we almost had it with a similar Vista Start button appearance type thing in Office 2007, I just wanted to rip it off the top right hand part of my Office window and place it next to the Start button and say … this is what I mean, more of this please!

    So what do say Microsoft? Can you help me keep my hair please?

  • User profile image
    matthews

    The start menu in Vista is way easier to navigate than in  Windows <= XP; you no longer have to play the mouse maze game in order to find the app you want. I also find search works really well; now I can access apps quickly without having to have a massive quicklaunch.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    matthews said:
    The start menu in Vista is way easier to navigate than in  Windows <= XP; you no longer have to play the mouse maze game in order to find the app you want. I also find search works really well; now I can access apps quickly without having to have a massive quicklaunch.
    But with the Vista menu's can you remember were you've come from? The menu could benefit from bread-crums and being able to make it  dependent on how much content ... and move it instead of being nailed to the bottom right hand.

  • User profile image
    littleguru

    Sabot said:
    matthews said:
    *snip*
    But with the Vista menu's can you remember were you've come from? The menu could benefit from bread-crums and being able to make it  dependent on how much content ... and move it instead of being nailed to the bottom right hand.
    I actually like the start button... and since I don't like to customize the UI it's fine where it is. Btw. the start button could be left down, right up or left up Wink

    It's really hard to find something that satisfies everyone and still doesn't introduce mess.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    littleguru said:
    Sabot said:
    *snip*
    I actually like the start button... and since I don't like to customize the UI it's fine where it is. Btw. the start button could be left down, right up or left up Wink

    It's really hard to find something that satisfies everyone and still doesn't introduce mess.

    So you still like the DOS prompt then? :o)

    It's not moaning about just the Start button as a UI vehicle but the lack of ways I can organise and categories programs. I can't jump straight to games without going via the Start Button or placing an icon in a random space such as the desktop or the quick launch. Are you with me now?

  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    Sabot said:
    matthews said:
    *snip*
    But with the Vista menu's can you remember were you've come from? The menu could benefit from bread-crums and being able to make it  dependent on how much content ... and move it instead of being nailed to the bottom right hand.
    While I have some problems with Vista's searching - especially for documents and media files - I find that the approach works well for applications. I click the start menu and type the name of the app - notepad, devenv, or anything - and get it instantly. Then I can either run it directly or right-click it. Works fine for me. I want it LESS hierarchical, not more.

  • User profile image
    Koogle

    "The start menu in Vista is way easier to navigate than in  Windows <= XP; you no longer have to play the mouse maze game in order to find the app you want. I also find search works really well; now I can access apps quickly without having to have a massive quicklaunch."

    in XP you don't have to play the scrolling or typing game in order to get to that application menu entry quickly.. such is the shitness of the Vista startmenu with its small little frame box with shity poor functionality.. boy I can't wait to see them improve that mess in Win7, really the only good thing about it is that it serves a quick search result display.. a sh/t one.. but it does work I suppose. Really the pull out menu in XP is much better when you start accumulating a lot of start menu entries, they should have kept the pullout menu as option tbh.

    Course I just use something better altogether to organize things.. its called 'truelaunchbar' its like quicklaunch only 10x better and not that noob sh/t MS still hasn't improved on even in Vista x number years after XP.... how pathetic. Anyway I have mine split into 4 main button menus each holding different apps/games/utils/drives, network shortcuts/folders/ etc all categorized with menu titles.. some of the plugins are good, and top it all its better than any sh/t dock, and fits in with the taskbar. Rarely do ever use the startmenu, course if designed it would probably be tons better than that noob sh/t MS chucks out every blue moon.

  • User profile image
    TommyCarlier

    Sabot said:
    littleguru said:
    *snip*

    So you still like the DOS prompt then? :o)

    It's not moaning about just the Start button as a UI vehicle but the lack of ways I can organise and categories programs. I can't jump straight to games without going via the Start Button or placing an icon in a random space such as the desktop or the quick launch. Are you with me now?

    If you're looking for a faster way to launch applications, I would recommend a launcher like slimKEYS. I've been using it for about 2 years now, and I hardly ever use the Start menu anymore. I assigned Win+Space to slimLAUNCH, which gives me a text-field where I can type what I need. Visual Studio? Win+Space, VS, Enter. Google Reader (via Chrome)? Win+Space, GR, Enter. SQL Server Management Studio? Win+Space, SQL, Enter. You get the point. The advantage of slimKEYS compared to other similar launchers is that it's based on (.NET) plug-ins and it has some nice plug-ins built-in: slimGRAB (for creating screenshots), slimSIZE (to move and resize windows to predefined settings), ...

  • User profile image
    littleguru

    Sabot said:
    littleguru said:
    *snip*

    So you still like the DOS prompt then? :o)

    It's not moaning about just the Start button as a UI vehicle but the lack of ways I can organise and categories programs. I can't jump straight to games without going via the Start Button or placing an icon in a random space such as the desktop or the quick launch. Are you with me now?

    So what you want is something like this?

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    littleguru said:
    Sabot said:
    *snip*
    So what you want is something like this?
    I could cry! Yep, what I imagined wasn't to far away from Free Launch Bar. However I would want to hang the buttons anywhere on the edge the screen or on the Vista Sidebar as a gadget.

  • User profile image
    ScottWelker

    Sabot said:
    littleguru said:
    *snip*
    I could cry! Yep, what I imagined wasn't to far away from Free Launch Bar. However I would want to hang the buttons anywhere on the edge the screen or on the Vista Sidebar as a gadget.

    I hear you Sabot.

    I've largely weaned myself of the native Windows launch mechanisms. Before Vista’s Win+”Start Search”, I just felt like too much physical motion and dexterity was required.

    An associate with Carpal tunnel turned me onto Bayden SlickRun.  I use it for my top ~20 apps. Win+Q, “magic word”. Quick, easy, and minimal keystrokes (type ahead really helps). I even have multiple “magic words” for the same app, launching it with varying configs/startup options.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    TommyCarlier said:
    Sabot said:
    *snip*
    If you're looking for a faster way to launch applications, I would recommend a launcher like slimKEYS. I've been using it for about 2 years now, and I hardly ever use the Start menu anymore. I assigned Win+Space to slimLAUNCH, which gives me a text-field where I can type what I need. Visual Studio? Win+Space, VS, Enter. Google Reader (via Chrome)? Win+Space, GR, Enter. SQL Server Management Studio? Win+Space, SQL, Enter. You get the point. The advantage of slimKEYS compared to other similar launchers is that it's based on (.NET) plug-ins and it has some nice plug-ins built-in: slimGRAB (for creating screenshots), slimSIZE (to move and resize windows to predefined settings), ...
    TommyCarlier said:
    I assigned Win+Space to slimLAUNCH, which gives me a text-field where I can type what I need. Visual Studio? Win+Space, VS, Enter. Google Reader (via Chrome)? Win+Space, GR, Enter. SQL Server Management Studio? Win+Space, SQL, Enter.


    I don't feel the need for anything other than the Vista Start Search: Windows key then v-enter and Visual studion runs, Windows Key the 'wo' and enter to run word, etc.


    Herbie

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    ScottWelker said:
    Sabot said:
    *snip*

    I hear you Sabot.

    I've largely weaned myself of the native Windows launch mechanisms. Before Vista’s Win+”Start Search”, I just felt like too much physical motion and dexterity was required.

    An associate with Carpal tunnel turned me onto Bayden SlickRun.  I use it for my top ~20 apps. Win+Q, “magic word”. Quick, easy, and minimal keystrokes (type ahead really helps). I even have multiple “magic words” for the same app, launching it with varying configs/startup options.

    Wooo that's not really portable at all. You must have had problems using other people machines, having that much customisation.

    I do however get it!? It means that your hands don't need to use the mouse at all. Well this is great for all you coders and people that write docs, i.e. prodominently work in a text based environment for the majority of their working day but my stock-in-trade means that I spend a good proportion of my day with IE, Visio and Powerpoint applications that are not famous for having a great deal to do with the keyboard.

    It would be great to have something where both keyboard and mouse could be easily used.

    As for the Vista Search thing, I left that behind when I was using SQL Server, because every tool or application or anything to do with SQL Server starts with SQL or SQL Server ******* ... so having a special SQL Server Start Button would have saved time ... and better organisation, hmm, thats a good example.

    Geeez youre making me work hard to defend this point today! :o)

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    I have 4 places for such thing.
    1) Sidebar QickLaunch gadget.
    2) Taskbar QickLaunch.
    3) Start Button QickLaunch.
    4) Desktop. This one support folder organization.

    At work, I have more stuff, so I use desktop folders the most. I switched to Sidebar from Taskbar, but I switched it back after I moved my start button to left upper corner. Don't know why people still use bottom taskbar when we have wide screen monitor.

    Personally I think we have too many places for the same need. Too much freedom. Sometimes I don't know which solution is the best. But certainly I don't need a big quicklaunch bar, that defeats the purpose of it. If I put all the software I use in quicklaunch bar, then, it is the ALL Programs again, pretty pointless IMO. My quick launch is 6 icons at most (for my current left taskbar setup).

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    Sabot said:
    ScottWelker said:
    *snip*

    Wooo that's not really portable at all. You must have had problems using other people machines, having that much customisation.

    I do however get it!? It means that your hands don't need to use the mouse at all. Well this is great for all you coders and people that write docs, i.e. prodominently work in a text based environment for the majority of their working day but my stock-in-trade means that I spend a good proportion of my day with IE, Visio and Powerpoint applications that are not famous for having a great deal to do with the keyboard.

    It would be great to have something where both keyboard and mouse could be easily used.

    As for the Vista Search thing, I left that behind when I was using SQL Server, because every tool or application or anything to do with SQL Server starts with SQL or SQL Server ******* ... so having a special SQL Server Start Button would have saved time ... and better organisation, hmm, thats a good example.

    Geeez youre making me work hard to defend this point today! :o)

    Actually, I feel that the Vista Search makes the whole "Everything starts with Microsoft" problem easier. In XP, I had about 10 Start Menu items in the M chunk - Microsot Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Platform SDK, etc. I would habitually rename them, dropping hte Microsoft, to make it more findable. Now I just type "management" and have the SQL Server Management Studio pop up directly.

    I don't have any problem with tools such as those mentioned - I used to use DQSD for launching, mostly websites but also apps, and I can see the charm, but the combination of lack-of-portability and additional overhead to configure things I wanted to add became annoying after a while. 

  • User profile image
    earnshaw

    "...standard avenue to discovery..."  This implies that Microsoft intends that operating system users shall learn Windows through accident of discovery.  And it is true that the one avenue of learning that is open to everyone is, in fact, discovering how things work by stumbling over them.  Just as a child might discover which creatures live in a woods and how they behave, a user "discovers," for example, how to launch a program, by fiddling around until a program accidentally starts up.   Genius!  What a time and cost savings for the software originators.

  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    earnshaw said:
    "...standard avenue to discovery..."  This implies that Microsoft intends that operating system users shall learn Windows through accident of discovery.  And it is true that the one avenue of learning that is open to everyone is, in fact, discovering how things work by stumbling over them.  Just as a child might discover which creatures live in a woods and how they behave, a user "discovers," for example, how to launch a program, by fiddling around until a program accidentally starts up.   Genius!  What a time and cost savings for the software originators.
    'Discovery' is not a side effect. It is, as far as I'm concerned, the primary way to use a tool. A tool should be intuitive to use. I should be able to sit down in front of a Vista machine without ever having previously used it and be able to get to most common functions through discovery, through these 'accidents' of yours. I shouldn't have to learn about it in advance in order to use it. That's why we had the big shiny Start Here button for years. This is why, on a brand new machine, the little Vista orb just call out "do something with me!". Discoverability isn't a fallback plan, it's the made avenue.


  • User profile image
    kettch

    earnshaw said:
    "...standard avenue to discovery..."  This implies that Microsoft intends that operating system users shall learn Windows through accident of discovery.  And it is true that the one avenue of learning that is open to everyone is, in fact, discovering how things work by stumbling over them.  Just as a child might discover which creatures live in a woods and how they behave, a user "discovers," for example, how to launch a program, by fiddling around until a program accidentally starts up.   Genius!  What a time and cost savings for the software originators.
    Your right, Windows should know what I want to do before I do, and just automatically do it for me.

    At some point the users have to click on the Start button. They have to be willing to actually participate in their computer experience. I really have talked to people who complain about not being able to figure out how to print from a particular program, despite there being a large button on the toolbar with a printer icon and a label that says "Print".

    "Oh, I didn't know what it would do."

    Discovery is somewhat vital to learning anything. Users almost universally refuse to read any sort of documentation. Unless there are huge text labels on everything they will have to do some amount of looking around.

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