Already talk about Windows 7 has moved forward to Windows 8, as Microsoft last month began hiring for posts within that division. With this in mind I thought that, from a usability standpoint, I’d take a good in-depth look at Windows 7 and see what changes could have been implemented already and what we can perhaps look forward to in the future.
I want to start with Windows Explorer because this is essentially the same beast that we saw in Windows 98. Okay, so Microsoft overhauled the main interface with Vista by introducing the breadcrumb bar, but if you open an explorer window today in a basic installation of Windows 7, you’ll be very used to what you’ve seen for over ten years.
Why is this a bad thing? If we take a trip back to the good old-fashioned 20th century then we’ll see a time before the mass adoption of MP3 players, portable video players and digital cameras. The files we stored on our PCs were sparse and usually consisted only of office type documents and PDFs.
Now of course things are very different and we all have a plethora of diverse files on our PCs. For some reason however, and even though you can change the settings, the default explorer view is of mixed file types all sorted alphabetically. The option to change this to, for instance, my personal choice of grouped by file type, isn’t the easiest feature to find.
There are other omissions in the Windows 7 version of explorer too including the fact that we’re still seeing drive letters by default and compressed drives highlighted in blue when we really don’t need to any more.
Don’t get me wrong at this stage. I love Windows 7 and want it to be the best product it can be. It’s just a shame though that while Microsoft overhaul great chunks of the user interface they’re missing certain small usability issues that go along-side these. I’ll write more about this in coming chapters. (story Link)