John Topley’s Weblog

Unfinished eXPerience Redux

Windows superstar Raymond Chen has provided explanations for a couple of the Windows XP user interface oddities that I wrote about previously. See Exhibit A: The Welcome Screen and Exhibit D: Notepad. In the meantime, I've found three more exhibits.

Exhibit I: Semi-Transparent Icons

Realistic representations?
A picture of semi-transparent icons
  • A lot of the icons in Windows XP are strangely semi-transparent. They look pretty but don't support the metaphors they represent. When was the last time you saw a Notepad with a clear cover, or a folder with a see-through flap?

Exhibit J: Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

  • The property sheet for the Windows Taskbar and Start menu has always featured a cool little graphic for illustrating what the various options do. Unfortunately in Windows XP Microsoft forgot to update the graphic from the beta (presumably) to reflect a design change in the shipping code. Notice the difference between the chevrons in the circular button that hides or shows the notification area icons:
Spot the difference.
A picture of the Taskbar and Start Menu property sheet

Exhibit K: Picture Viewer

  • This is actually a positive exhibit that I thought I'd include to prove that Microsoft did get a lot of things right. I was archiving some photographs to CD-R using Windows XP's built-in burning functionality—it's convenient and I didn't need anything more sophisticated—when the wizard helpfully asked me if I wanted to include a picture viewer on the disc:
Maybe next time, but thanks for asking.
A picture of the CD writing wizard


There are 6 comments on this post. Comments are closed.

  • avatar John C
    25 November 2003 at 00:22

    I've said it before and I'll say it again... Man you're picky! Well spotted.

  • avatar Ian Griffiths
    25 November 2003 at 14:44

    For what it's worth, I do posess a notepad with a transparent front cover... It happens to be green rather than blue, and the binding is down the side rather than the front, but otherwise it's not so very different from the one in the icon.

  • avatar Michael Tucker
    25 November 2003 at 15:13

    Nice points again. Concerning the taskbar properties window (Exhibit J), I'd like to see the example taskbar and start menu look like whatever theme I may have installed at the time so that it truly represents what I might see when I apply whatever changes in the property window.

  • avatar Josh Baltzell
    25 November 2003 at 15:33

    Want to know what I really hate about XP and even W2K? The icons in administrative tools! They are very windows 95ish for some reason in a land of glossy notebooks.

  • avatar Guido
    04 February 2004 at 17:32

    I agree with Josh, there are still lots of old icons in Windows Xp that ruin the whole luna-ish experience :)

  • avatar John Topley
    04 February 2004 at 20:40

    Yes, hopefully Windows Longhorn will be much more consistent.

They look pretty but don't support the metaphors they represent.


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