Expert questions Windows 7 user interface

In Microsoft’s quest to simplify the Windows 7 user interface, they’re actually making it harder to use. So argues Windows expert Paul Thurrott on his SuperSite for Windows blog. Thurrott, the author of Windows Vista Secrets, based his observations on pre-beta releases.

In a blog post dated Tuesday, Thurrott first explains the difference between simple and easy, using the iPhone’s lack of a Back button as an example. One less button, either as hardware or as a touch screen icon, makes the iPhone simpler. But if you click on a Web link in an email, examine the resulting page, then want to return to the original message, it’s definitely not easier.

The Windows 7 user interface, according to Thurrott, abounds with similar problems. For instance, in order to simplify the taskbar, Microsoft has eliminated the Quick Launch Toolbar. If you want the convenience of launching favorite programs from the taskbar, you “can simply mix and match shortcuts (for applications, documents and folder locations) with buttons that represent open windows.” But the resulting taskbar doesn’t make the distinction between launchable shortcuts and running windows clear.

Other examples include difficulties with the new Jump List feature, and a default setting that hides all systray icons.

In related news, Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will distribute full beta copies of Windows 7 at its Microsoft Developer Conferences running from December 9 to February 19.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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