I know, I know, Windows 7 is still a long way off, but I'm a great believer in being early with the wishes. As I look at Windows Vista along with the earlier incarnations of Windows (I still use XP and 2000) I've come to the conclusion that there are three aspects of the future version that Microsoft needs to get right if "7" isn't to suffer in the same way as Vista has.
- If I want a Mac-like OS, I'll buy a Mac
If you're in a position where you can get your hands on both a Windows system and a Mac, you can't help but notice how similar the two operating systems have become. At the core there a significant differences but at the user end (the UI) things are starting to look remarkably similar.
While it's true that there are a lot of people out there in "user land" who like to be faced by a glitzy interface packed with animated effects and transparency, there are others who see this as a wasteful use of computing power and would rather all this be gone. Now I don't want you to think that there aren't ways to switch off and disable most of this eye candy in Vista, but given the volume of complains that I get about it, it's pretty obvious that the process isn't as easy as it should be.
Note: The effect that disabling the eye candy has on the user experience varies considerably from system to system, but just to put it into perspective, you'd get a far more measurable performance gain by adding an extra 512MB of RAM to the system. Not only is Vista crammed with eye candy, it's also packed with a multitude of applications that many find unnecessary - such as games, media players, and ease of access tools. While Microsoft has worked to simplify the Windows installation process and minimize the number of questions that are asked, many feel that this has gone too far and that power users have been stripped of too much power. What I wish for is not an OS that is stripped down of all this eye candy and unwanted applications, but a simple way to control them so that those that want all these features can have them, while others can easily get rid of them.
- Better performance I've said it before but I'll say it again, Mac OS and Linux aren't the threat to Vista, it's Windows XP. You can get good performance out of Vista, but you have to throw more hardware at it that you did to get the same level of performance under XP. So, in effect what you're doing is wasting computer power on the OS rather than having it available when you need it. This isn't a problem for people who rarely thrash their systems (browsing the net, word processing, that sort of thing) but for people who need the power (gamers, photo/video editors and so on) Vista represents a bottleneck. A bottleneck that you can avoid by not upgrading and sticking with XP. Windows 7 has to represent a shift towards a lighter, faster, more responsive operating system. But some need more than that. I'd like to see a method to quickly and safely turn off a whole raft of unnecessary services and applications and put the OS into a high-performance mode better suited to system intensive applications.
- Fix UAC After being with Vista since the early betas, I've come to the conclusion that a Continue/Cancel dialog box offers little in the way of security. Most of the users who leave it on seem to automatically click on Continue whenever the prompt appears, many power users disable it and others that do leave it on wish that it offered more in the way of information as to why the prompt is displayed. I'm not sure if UAC can be fixed or whether the concept is fatally flawed, but either way, Windows 7 needs to address at least some of the more annoying aspects of this feature.