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Back on Windows 7

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  • User profile image
    bondsbw

    I like being an early adopter, so naturally at work, I got to be the Windows 8 guinea pig.  My Build tablet had every update of Windows 8 pre-release, my laptop started with the release preview, and I was the first (and only) person to upgrade from 7.

    Now, I have a new job with a much bigger company and I don't get the luxury of choosing my main setup, so I'm back on Windows 7.

    My thoughts so far:

    Windows 7 feels bulky.  It's the same feeling I got going from XP to Vista, Aero glass just feels thicker.

    But...

    It is a relief to have the recent programs list back in the Start menu.  In all the defense Microsoft gave for the Start menu makeover, most of it making sense, they never explained their decision to remove this list or to not bring a suitable replacement.  It was useful, and it is missed.

    It is much easier to find a program in the Programs submenu of the Start menu than it is to find it in the All Apps list in Windows 8.  Sometimes in Windows 8, Microsoft failed miserably to follow their own Metro design language guidelines, particularly in the use of fonts to guide users' eyes and to delineate.  And for that matter, I don't find myself missing the tiles, because I rarely used them since they could only open Metro apps (which have come nowhere close to the usefulness of desktop apps... yet...).

    Meanwhile, at the same time, I got a Macbook Pro for my personal laptop and it is amazing how Apple has improved (my wife still uses our old 2006 era Macbook which I haven't used in over a year).  The whole ecosystem feels like it's trying to find new ways to help you organize your work and life.  I don't get this from Microsoft; they can't shed the old, and the new doesn't hit the mark.

    Don't get me wrong.  I was a huge proponent of the direction Microsoft was taking Windows 8.  I still have hope that they will eventually get it where it needs to be.  I mostly don't mind the simplistic UI, or the replacement of the Start menu with the Start screen.  I find myself using the keyboard to open apps, and I'm working more efficiently as a result.  But Microsoft really needs to play to their strengths and make business users and leaders salivate at productivity gains and useful collaborative techniques that aren't only enabled, but created by the Microsoft brand.  Blue, frankly, doesn't cut it so far, and I'm afraid that we're going to be left longing again for the real Windows 9.

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.  Not sure I would want to go back to Windows 7 now but I guess in a corporate environment you are unlikely to be running anything else for a while yet.

    BTW You can have (and launch) desktop apps from the Windows 8 start menu - you can also pin them to your taskbar from the same place which is handy sometimes.

  • User profile image
    Hometoy

    Coming from Windows XP at work, I love going to Windows 7 at home. 

    I'm probably going to be one of the last employee to move out of XP, a dissadvantage of being in IT and support where I am the test subject for updates before rolling out to everybody else.

    I see it as natural for working with Visual Studio and the like, but would love to try Windows 8 for all of my non-development needs.

     

  • User profile image
    ScottWelker

    Ian2++

    Much thanks bondsbw!

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    I'm on all Windows 8 at home and find I don't miss Win7 much. My only complaint would be switching from Start to Media Center on my HTPC takes a bit longer than it used to. It's probably some HDCP handshake issue.

    At work, we're all on Windows 7, and I have to say that if I did more work at home, I'd almost never be in the Metro UI. I'm constantly in between Visual Studio, Outlook, and IE. That is impossible to do with Metro apps. I do miss the improved Task Manager at work.

  • User profile image
    bondsbw

    Agreed spivonious about the improved Task Manager, and I really like the Windows 8 copy/delete dialogs.  There are a lot of "small" things I really prefer in Windows 8.

    Ian, you are absolutely correct about having desktop icons on the Start screen.  What I really should have said is that I can't get the same integration into those tiles... they aren't "Live" tiles.  (Of course, I've ranted before about the inability for desktop applications to integrate with the formerly-known-as-Metro experience... I won't start on that again.)

     

    One more thing that I think needs to happen with the next Windows, based on the Windows Blue leak with the ability to split the screen into two equal halves (an improvement on Snap View):

    I would like to have a desktop in each half.  Widescreen displays don't really make sense to me for a lot of things, particularly web browsing.  Few websites utilize the full horizontal width of modern screen resolutions.  So, make it even easier to split those screens.  Sure, desktop apps can be "maximized" to half the screen, but that is more of a hack instead of a real split screen experience.  The easiest gesture, double-clicking the title bar, still makes the app fully maximized, and the drag-to-the-side gesture doesn't work well with multiple monitors.

  • User profile image
    contextfree`

    Ian, you are absolutely correct about having desktop icons on the Start screen.  What I really should have said is that I can't get the same integration into those tiles... they aren't "Live" tiles.  (Of course, I've ranted before about the inability for desktop applications to integrate with the formerly-known-as-Metro experience... I won't start on that again.)

    Another POV on this is that you can think of the Start screen as conceptually an extension of the Windows 7 taskbar. They both try to unify application launching, switching and notifications (plus instance management and quick actions, in the taskbar's case). So it would be nice if we had more parity and coherence (e.g., ideally using the same or closely related APIs) between what you can do with the taskbar and Start tiles for desktop apps.

    (Besides this, tiles for desktop content, especially folders and websites, often just don't look nice or aren't visually distinguishable - folders all use the same ugly folder icon! I would really like a good built-in UX and services for easily associating your own icons for folders and stuff. Basically a more streamlined and service-integrated OblyTile)

     

  • User profile image
    bondsbw

    Another POV on this is that you can think of the Start screen as conceptually an extension of the Windows 7 taskbar. They both try to unify application launching, switching and notifications (plus instance management and quick actions, in the taskbar's case). So it would be nice if we had more parity and coherence (e.g., ideally using the same or closely related APIs) between what you can do with the taskbar and Start tiles for desktop apps. 

    You know, you could be on to something.  I have an idea... and even though Microsoft would never take an idea from this forum, I'm going to post it anyway.   Tongue Out

    For a mouse-driven device, bring back the Start button.  As an option to the user... whatever.

    But the start screen now opens from the left side, moving the desktop over a bit (similar to the how Mountain Lion's notification center opens from the right:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H-fY_N4AMI).

    This interface wouldn't be like the old Start menu, but instead it would retain Live Tiles and be laid out vertically in a format much more like WP8. And, include as an option to the user, the ability for the most recent apps to show in the top of the list.

    Eh, it won't happen, but I wouldn't mind if someone at Microsoft at least considered it for 2 seconds.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , contextfree` wrote

    *snip*

    Another POV on this is that you can think of the Start screen as conceptually an extension of the Windows 7 taskbar. They both try to unify application launching, switching and notifications (plus instance management and quick actions, in the taskbar's case). So it would be nice if we had more parity and coherence (e.g., ideally using the same or closely related APIs) between what you can do with the taskbar and Start tiles for desktop apps.

    I like this idea. Add jump lists, preview of open windows, and other mouse driven things to the start screen. Context menu related stuff could all be handled by long pressing the tile. Sadly because the start screen is part of the touch UI I doubt the Windows division will make such a change unless forced to by upper management. If they go this route I'd hope they'd merge the start screen and taskbar to some degree (i.e. taskbar would use tiles instead of icons, work with both desktop and Windows 8 Store Apps, and would only display pinned apps or running apps). In doing so they could loose the lame MRU UI on the left as the taskbar would provide its functionality and more.

    With Start8 and MetroMix installed I only go to the start screen by accident when I press the windows key by mistake. While I like the idea of the tiles being used for notifications unless they are an integral part of my day-to-day operations I don't see them as being useful. Even before Start8 I found them pretty useless for notifications because I was always waiting for them to update (slow in getting new data or waiting for them to flip to meaningful information). Also when reacting to notifications to say the People app (i.e. facebook posts) while I enjoyed being able to respond to such notifications directly I was always infuriated by having to launch another app (i.e. Facebook via the web) in order to post something new like a status update. Not a very fluid experience. IOW this problem stems beyond the start menu, taskbar, etc. Microsoft really needs to shoot for more than 70% and relying on others (Stardock) to fix the rest.

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