Nitz Walsh

Nitz Walsh Nitz Walsh

Niner since 2005


  • The Channel 9 beta has been updated

    Very nice guys, a huge improvement.  Looking forward to it 
  • New Vista GUI Stuff For Devs

    MarkPerris wrote:
    Having said that, it seems like a big oversight that there were no WPF apps shipping with Vista, and it could have made a lot of the initial reviews a lot more favourable for its Aero UI, especially when inevitably compared to Mac OS X's UI (to which i think everyone will agree, WPF is technically superior)
    Having said that, they may have a few ready and waiting for the January 30th launch

    Agreed.  The Yahoo! presentation was quite impressive though, it's given me a lot of hope that future WPF on Vista will really start to impress.

    But as well, I can't understand why something like the Photo management app in Vista isn't WPF.  Or how about a WPF-only Media Player 11 version?  That would be basically a no-brainer it seems.  I think people that play with Vista at a store will likely feel that the experience is grossly overhyped, simply because none of the apps really take advantage of the underlying technology.  MS has to be the one to set the bar here.
  • New Vista GUI Stuff For Devs

    DCMonkey wrote:
    The DWM makes window dragging look great, and the Glass and Flip3D are neat looking, but I'm really dissapointed with the quality of window redrawing while resizing a window, especially for windows with client area glass like Windows Media Player. Resizing WMP on my system leaves behind an ugly black ghost of the glass area at the bottom of the window trailing behind as it attempts to keep up with the window redraw. Frankly it looks much better with the old non-composited redraw behavior..
    Is this going to get fixed anytime soon or in the next version of Windows?

    Completely agree.  I was dissapointed that the contents weren't double-buffered as they are in OSX to avoid any kind of flickering, but it's really surprising how bad it looks - WMP11 is the biggest offender. 

    I would hope that this is a driver issue, but MS hasn't exactly paid that much attention to the niggling details like this in the past.
  • Jenny Lam - Designing Experiences at Microsoft

    So no vector icons in Vista, while Leopard will be moving in that direction.  Yet another "feature" scratched from Vista - how will the resolution-indepdence work now with a ton of ugly bitmaps?  Or will the GUI have any resolution indepdence to speak of? Will OSX trump Vista again?  Geez guys!

    Look, I don't think outside Windows developers can be critiqued for not adhering to a culture of style like Apple when the parent company sets a bad example.  Apple does indeed have a large community of style-concious users, but then again Apple sets the bar pretty high.  The included apps in Vista show a mish-mash of styles and just a general lack of attention to aesthetics.  I mean, look at Windows Mail for pete's sake - where did that bright neon blue bar come from?  Maximized with a jet-black border and it's just atrocious.  There's a reason you see a lot of posters actually hoping the UI is a _decoy_, folks.  

    One of the significant problems appearance-wise is the fonts, particularly the lack of decent AA when Cleartype is enabled and the font size is medium to large, there's significant aliasing.  I can't believe MS doesn't see this as a problem, and it's one of the reasons the early concept shots look so good - fonts that actually look like newsprint.

    Another problem is the lack of double-buffering in the interface.  Is this going to remain this way?  You have nice composited windows, then you're back into XP-style tearing whenever something is resized or scrolled.  Scrolling through the index results (speaking of UI ugliness, how about segmenting the results like Spotlight does to make it look somewhat more presentable than a text dump?) gives you white-out sections until you pause and the icons are read back in from the HD.  This is just really, really shoddy guys - Apple wouldn't this stuff out even in a beta.

    But...but...Vienna!  Trust us this time, this is when MS _really_ starts to pay attention to design! 


  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    camsoft wrote:

    Was I the only person disapointed with that video?

    Uh...have you read this thread? Smiley
    camsoft wrote:

    The Flip 3D feature looks crap, they are some visual glitches when using it. Also requires alot more clicks to select a window. How is this useful. Expose on Tiger is far better.

    I'm afraid I don't "get" flip either - it seems to be basically alt-tab, just "looks cool".  Expose has a purpose, that is to show you in one shot all your windows and just have you click on the one you want with a visual identification. 

    Yes, if you have 10 open Word documents using the same font visual ident sometimes isn't enough, but IME it's a rare scenario that I can't identify an app in Expose quickly.  Flip3D doesn't allow this, you'll spend time flipping through them to find the one you want instead of just pointing and clicking - really, what's the point?

    camsoft wrote:

    OK, thats all my complaints.
    I really have to appluad Microsoft they have done a great job on the Composition Engine and Avalon etc. but the shell does not impress me.

    I am praying that there is more to come.

    Seconded - the underlying engine looks impressive no doubt, the concern is actually seeing it in the shell.

    Anyone from MS on the Aero team wish to comment?
  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    bluvg wrote:

     However, providing the framework alone is like preparing a huge buffet but not inviting yourself to eat, leaving the food untouched and sending guests pictures of what a great buffet could look like.  I think Microsoft has a huge opportunity here--perhaps even an obligation--to set the bar high from the outset, driving innovation in UI/UX, rather than simply housing the party and asking others to come in, dance, and make it a memorable event.

    Great analogy.

    You know how "eating your own dogfood" is the new buzzterm floating around these days?  Makese sense - who better to give you honest feedback about your beta product than the employees you're forcing to use it every day? Smiley

    While not completely applicable, I can see this philosophy being applied to design.  Do you want your developers to create gorgeous apps that immediately draw peoples attention?  Of course, hence the Avalon/WPF framework.  Well, why not be your own best example?  Create an OS that makes people stop and say..."Wow - what's that?" without waiting for a third party to develop an app which really shows of the abilities of the graphics subsytem.  Every single Vista user will have to interact with Explorer at some point, why not make it an eye-opening experience in itself?  Want to keep your branding?  They make an interface that's so attractive users won't want to skin it in the first place.

    Applications on OSX seem to generally have a higher degree of thought put into interface consistency and overall appearance, and there are a number of reasons for this (community of artists, Interface Builder, strict guidelines from Apple) - but I think one of the reasons is that developers have an easy target to hit - Apple themselves.  Apple doesn't generally cut corners with their interfaces (again, I'm focusing on aesthetics here), which encourages their developers to place the same amount of attention with theirs. 

    MS can create attractive GUI's when they really want to.  While there's criticism of WMP10's interface in terms of accessibility and functionality, most seem to agree that it at least looks good, with smooth lines, rounded corners and a nice depth to the main icons.  MSN explorer is attractive as well.  Basically, polish.  There's no reason not to apply that same attention to detail to the rest of the OS.

    Sites like this:

    Give me hope though that MS is at least really taking the style issue seriously.  Here's an idea: How about a contest to see who can design the most attractive Aero mock-ups?  Set the guidelines for what must be followed with regards to widget placement and overall functionality, but from there the sky's the limit.  Winner gets a cash prize and are credited with their submission when Vista ships.

    Just throwin' in out there.  Don't look at me though, I know what I like but that doesn't mean I can create it. Smiley

  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    bluvg wrote:

    - Transparencies--neat looking, but I'm very concerned about the title bars being translucent.  When you layer several over the top of each other, it looks cluttered, not clear.  The title bar shows useful information, so for clarity, I would think this should be clear information.  Perhaps make the text non-translucent?

    Forgot to mention this and I agree as well, when you get more than 2 overlaid it just looks like a smeared mess.  I assumed when this aspect of the GUI was first introduced it was meant to demonstrate the pixel shaders in effect, not to actually be used in the final.  The effect is nice, but it quickly goes overboard.

    Speaking of pixel shaders btw, that's another component of Aero that was hyped and seems to have gone missing - where are they being used?  From early on, we were told about the tiers of the GUI and how it would scale its effects from DX7 performing basic GPU composition of windows (basically what OSX does now) to DX9, which would be demanding but would make us wet ourselves with this "Hollywood interface" it would provide.  Ummm....?

    There's nothing I've seen so far which couldn't be done with DX7, save likely for the refraction effect of the glass which really isn't that appealing in its current incarnation.  Heck, Nvidia's XP drivers allow you to turn the windows and taskbar transparent, and in doing so enable double-buffering on all windows, eliminating the tearing (albiet at a speed hit when you have many windows overlaid).  Combine that with the Royale theme, and in many aspects I'd say XP could actually look better without third party add-ons.

    I guess we're asking - Where's the Beef?  At this point though, I'd settle for some tofu. Smiley
  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    Yes, the foundation is there, and that's great for upcoming apps.

    Now, for my rant.  J  Note that I really hope this is chicken-little stuff and beta2 will really start to put the spit and shine on the GUI, but this video doesn’t really get my hopes up considering that they seem to have the final design relatively close to completion.  Frankly I would never have written this without viewing this video, as everything I’ve heard is "Wait until Beta 2!  Wait until Beta2!  This GUI is just a placeholder!" – perhaps not.  This is disconcerting – and like some other posters, the ambivalence towards skinning compounds the problem.  I was hoping MS wouldn’t repeat the same mistake they made with XP’s themes by required you to hack the system to install some that don’t look like they were intended for a preschool audience, but perhaps not.  More clarification on this would be nice.

    I've heard numerous times in the past from MS reps that they want Aero to have a "movie-like" experience for the end user, in that the GUI will in part resemble those over-the-top computer interfaces you often see depicted in films where everything smoothly pops in/out and is perfectly anti-aliased, etc.  Bear in mind while I'm not insinuating that most of us want an obnoxious GUI where everything is zooming/spinning in our faces when we’re trying to compose a document, I do think what's shown so far in terms of effects (but more importantly, polish) is incredibly tame, especially considering how long the competition has been out with their 3D accelerated display.  Yes, it’s not the same depth as Avalon/Aero (it will be if Apple ever enables Quartz 2D Extreme and goes truly resolution independent), but that’s even more disappointing when the original OSX had better effects running almost entirely on the CPU.   Sorry, but I’m not going to be amazed by windows not tearing, animated video thumbnails and apps that fade in/out – that’s all extremely basic stuff guys that’s been done before for years now with a composition engine that is not as advanced as WPF, and is the least anyone would expect from a GUI that makes heavy use of the GPU.

    My main aesthetic gripes so far from the PDC build regarding Aero:

    1)     Font Rendering.  Some of the concept screen shots of Aero "back in the day" had fantastic fonts, and before I knew they were concepts I had hoped MS had significantly re-tooled its font rendering engine. Cleartype helps to improve clarity on LCD’s and MS deserves credit to be the first to market with this technology in a major OS, but often the fonts still look "computerized" even with enabled, and frankly they stand out like a sore thumb in the current Aero screenshots.  This is a large reason why Aero at this point looks like a half-baked Windowblinds skin.

    OSX really demonstrates Apple's attention in this area, and it's not difficult to illustrate.  Even with very small fonts, OSX's rendering makes the appearance of pages as close to WYSIWG as possible as compared to printer output - Cleartype doesn't.  Apple is doing some extra aliasing which bother some people on low DPI displays, but it will only look better and better as we move into high DPI.  \


    2)     Icons.  They're incredibly plain, while I'm sure they scale smoothly they don't look anything beyond what XP can do now (albeit the game icons look very nice).  A little more detail is needed here.  Some are particularly awful, such as the back-forward arrows that are ever-present in the new explorer; you’ve got a very shiny blue orb with a flat 2d white arrow overlaid.  It looks like two disparate elements mashed together, in short it just looks cheap. The folder icons as well are particularly dull, it’s as if the majority of the icons so far are restricted to a 16 colour palette. Depth & detail folks!


    3)     Colours.  I’ve seen some shots of Vista explorer with an orange gradient, bright green progress bars, glossly blue buttons, transparent titlebars with black/grayish borders.  W…T…H…?  I try to tell myself that this is all placeholder stuff and the final GUI will no doubt look far more cohesive, but then again I said that when I saw the first shots of Luna as well.



    You want to know of an example that I hoped Longhorn would come close to?  Something like this:

    Of course, that’s a concept shot and lacking many interface elements, but as mentioned I’m focusing on the aesthetics here and not the actual operation of the GUI (which so far I generally like actually, the move away from using pull-down menus to access most commands is quite a bold change IMO).  Why isn’t this possible with Aero?  I’m talking about smooth anti-aliased rounded corners (I heard from one Mac user that Windows always looked like it was "Designed with a T-Square", and I have to agree), a far more cohesive colour scheme, gorgeous icons with their own reflections/shadows, fonts that actually look like they will when printed, etc – this frankly is what I expected considering all the hype and time, and that was years ago.

    With Office12, MS has demonstrated they’re not afraid of dragging their existing customer base through a significant GUI change, so why not try and make Aero look beyond what someone could do with a copy of Windowblinds in 10 minutes?

    Come on MS - show me that you actually "get it".  The little things count in the overall picture, and if MS truly wants to be thought of having any sort of style, it has to pay attention to them.