Coffeehouse Thread

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UI Customization in Longhorn - Please Make It Easy!

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  • User profile image
    Spongbo

    There was early talk that Windows XP was going to have a skinnable interface, but by the later betas, this had been downplayed.

    So, I'd like to appeal to Microsoft - Please keep the UI open to customization.

    The glassy effects we're seeing in screenshots are nice, but at the end of the day, I'd like the ability to customize my desktop, preferably without having to install third party software. WindowBlinds XP is good, but it'd be nice to not have to do something "hacky" to get more themes loaded.

    Ideally, I'd like to be able to use the "More Themes Online" link and have it actually make a difference to the menus, title bars and so on, not just the background and/or font.

    C'mon, let choosing my own UI skin excite me!

  • User profile image
    Manip

    I would like to see the explorer(.exe) source code released. You could stick it on the CD and make it illegal to re-distro.. I dunno.. I just like to dream Smiley

  • User profile image
    sbc

    It would be good if you could customise the start bar, perhaps a bit more KDE like with categories - Office, Games, Graphics etc. Or something simple like the spatial theme in Gnome (with an option to choose between either). Perhaps they should take some ideas from KDE and Gnome and incorporate the best of both.

    Virtual desktops would be good too (not like the virtual desktop manager powertoy, but totally different desktops (perhaps same start menu though) - as though you are logging in as a different user). That way you could have one desktop set up for graphics (i.e. PhotoShop, GIMP), Web Design (Visual Studio, Dreameaver) and one for Office Productivity (Word, Excel etc).

    Different resolutions for different users would be good - one person logs in and get a 1024x768 desktop, another gets 1600x1200 and one gets 800x600 and so on. Also change DPI without a restart.

  • User profile image
    Jeremy W

    Different users can already have different resolutions in XP. And, obviously, I see no benefit to MS of opening the source to the kernel.

    But, I do agree that a more customizable interface (without tweaking apps) would be nice. I bought StyleXP then uninstalled it (it leaves the styles there, thankfully so it still works, just with no overhead).

    I'd like this level of control without having to install extra software. I'm sure the skinning community would absolutely die for a fully 3D customizable interface.

  • User profile image
    lenn

    Thanks for the feedback on this guys. This is something we have heard multiple times from customers. While I can't speak to any firm plans yet ... we are listening on this topic. Stay tuned.

  • User profile image
    object88

    sbc wrote:
    Virtual desktops would be good too (not like the virtual desktop manager powertoy, but totally different desktops (perhaps same start menu though) - as though you are logging in as a different user). That way you could have one desktop set up for graphics (i.e. PhotoShop, GIMP), Web Design (Visual Studio, Dreameaver) and one for Office Productivity (Word, Excel etc).


    I wonder if we're thinking of the same thing... in Linux, I used to be able to hit Alt-F1, Alt-F2, etc. to switch between consoles, and they ran as completely independant logins.  Utterly brilliant, and 100 times faster than "Switch User", which still drives me nuts sometimes-- it seems like a hack in comparison.

    It was a very useful feature.  I had three consoles set up.  Two X consoles, on which I could logically seperate tasks, and one VT-like term, in case anything went seriously wrong.  Today, I'd use it to keep myself and my wife logged in and ready at a moment's notice.

    Does anyone know if one can still do that in Linux?  It's been a while since I installed a copy, and it seemed like some distros were downplaying it.  Virtual desktops were becoming very popular at the time, which is great if you only have one user.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    I noticed Microsoft opened up the ability in XP to replace the default shell via GPM (Group Policy Manager), nobody seems to be taking advantage of this at the moment. I think a lot of the people who, in the past would have jumped at the opportunity to write a new shell have now moved onto Linux development.

    Being realistic I think releasing the shell's source is not a good idea.. if they did, someone could write a wrapper for it and basically have the Windows Shell running on X11 and it would encourage Windows users to move over to Linux.

    Note: Explorer[.exe] is not the kernel it is just a shell that runs on the kernel and provides graphical interfaces for kernel tasks. A lot of people don't know this.. very scary... :-/

  • User profile image
    Jeremy W

    Sorry, you're right. I knew it and used the wrong word to make a point. Sorry about that Smiley

    I've actually seen some very cool stuff with new shells (even back in 95/98 days), but you're right: by and large most people dont' take advantage of this functionality.

    My hope is that Longhorn will be open enough, flexible enough and friendly enjoy to allow skinning artists (there are thousands of really talented ones that still do an insane amount of skinning for Windows) to really get into it and have some fun.

    In a 3D environment the friendliness may be the hardest though.

  • User profile image
    Shining Arcanine

    Manip wrote:
    I would like to see the explorer(.exe) source code released. You could stick it on the CD and make it illegal to re-distro.. I dunno.. I just like to dream Smiley


    If you had it, I doubt you would understand it as it is only a piece that is likely heavily intergraded with the rest of the operating system.

    If Microsoft opened the source, there would be massive piracy. The fact that it is illegal or you will be sued when caught won't stop many people, especially in "developing" countries.

    Jeremy W. wrote:
    My hope is that Longhorn will be open enough, flexible enough and friendly enjoy to allow skinning artists (there are thousands of really talented ones that still do an insane amount of skinning for Windows) to really get into it and have some fun.

    In a 3D environment the friendliness may be the hardest though.


    Personally, I think it should be as open as possible without opening the source code.

    The easiest way to handle the friendliness is to pay non-technical people to try out Microsoft products and write down any suggestions that they would have to make it easier for them right away. Now that I know the operating system well, my suggestions will be too tech oriented to make things easier than they are now. From now on through, when I have a good idea as to how to make a task easier, if I remember I'll write it down so I can suggest it here.

  • User profile image
    MadRaven

    Built in UI customization could potentially open up a whole new industry. I imagine a site like MSDN or TechNet for graphic and UI designers (something like http://www.wincustomize.com/). Microsoft could make design tool for this like Visual Studio is for MSDN.
    The other benefit will surely be the speed of an integrated theme manager ( a more powerful one than there currently is). WindowsBlinds and StyleXP are slowing the system down.

     

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