Windows 7: Mojave My Ass

Windows 7: Mojave My Ass

Summary: I've been playing with the Windows 7 Build 7000 (Beta 1) for several days now, and I've come to the conclusion that like Vista, it's not a major improvement over what most users are currently experiencing with Windows XP, and is at best only a slight improvement over Vista SP1. In a number of cases, I think they've gone even further down the user rejection hole.


Windows 7 Build 7000 Start MenuI've been playing with the Windows 7 Build 7000 (Beta 1) for several days now, and I've come to the conclusion that like Vista, it's not a major improvement over what most users are currently experiencing with Windows XP, and is at best only a slight improvement over Vista SP1. In a number of cases, I think they've gone even further down the user rejection hole.

While I agree with fellow columnist Adrian Kingsley-Hughes that the Beta 1 release is relatively stable, and they've done a number of things to improve performance (although on more powerful systems these changes are less noticeable) and have alleviated some issues which have caused much frustration with Vista (such as the default UAC behavior) I find that Microsoft has introduced a number of changes that will frustrate many users.

Also See: Windows XP to Windows 7 User Interface Transition Gallery

I find it difficult to believe that Windows 7 was created to be easier to use than Vista -- if anything, they've introduced a number of UI changes that make the system much harder to navigate, particularly if you've never used Vista and are going direct to Windows 7 from Windows XP, which is the path that many users will experience.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

The Start Menu in Windows 7 will be an area of much consternation for veteran Windows XP users. Overall, the Windows 7 Start Menu is not a major change from the Vista SP1 Start Menu, so existing Vista users will not have much to complain about. However, Microsoft has now completely removed the ability to have a "Classic" Start Menu, which will anger many veteran Windows users that have been using the system that way since at least 1999 when Windows 2000 was released, and some of us since Windows 95.

To make matters even worse, the "Run" option is no longer directly accessible from the Start Menu as a default behavior, you have to get to it via a Search. Once you get to Run via Search, you can click on it to execute any commands you like, such as the CMD.EXE prompt, and you can drag it onto the Desktop, but you can't drag it onto the new Taskbar, like you can do with any add-on program, such as Firefox. You can turn the Run command on after the fact in the Start Menu options, but that in and of itself is extremely annoying, it's as if Microsoft has gone out of its way to make power users lives more difficult. (EDIT: The lack of a Run appearing by default appears to be a hold-over from Vista -- in other words, MS still isn't learning from its mistakes.)

Also See: My colleague Ed Bott's response to this article.

Another thing that greatly frustrated me was the fact that a fresh install of Windows 7 gives the end-user a blank slate on the Desktop, removing the familiar "Computer", "Network", "Control Panel" and "My Documents" icons, requiring users to get to those functions and folders via the Start Menu . I haven't tried doing an upgrade install over an existing SP1 or XP system, but I'd like to hope that the existing icons on a user's desktop are preserved and aren't wiped out. You can get the regular navigation icons back, but it's a manual step -- and it's not intuitive how to do it, since they changed the naming conventions from XP. (EDIT: While the "clean slate" look has been present in fresh Windows installs since XP, virtually all OEM configurations/system restore disks have the icons already enabled).

As a general theme, Microsoft seems to have made changes for the sake of change, which was the case with Vista and is even more apparent with Windows 7, once you start digging into the OS dialogs and UI in depth.

It should also be noted that the current prerelease build Windows Server 2008 R2 (aka Windows Server 7) also includes many of these UI changes, but I'm more willing to accept them on Server because the OS is far less cluttered in general, is much more agile, and it is expected that Server OS users will want to do a lot of tweaking of their systems whereas typical end-users should be spoon fed the easiest to use environment possible. I still would like to see Server 2008 made available with Workstation licensing, for those of us on the "git er done" end of the sysadmin spectrum.

I also find the Windows 7 Control Panel to be less intuitive than XP's -- they've tried to simplify things, but in doing so, actually made it more frustrating, because you now need one additional mouse click to see all the Control Panel options -- of which there are now approximately double than which existed in XP. Clearly, they could have done a better job at consolidating functions, or at the very least, provided a better UI for navigating such a long list of stuff, such as a tree drill-down view that is used in the Computer Management control in the Microsoft Management Console.

Do you find the default Windows 7 UI changes an improvement or a productivity impediment? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Agree 100%

    It's as if they are programmers working in isolation without any regard to how people have been using windows for the last decade.

    Microsoft built a certain customer base due to familiarity; things were predictable from one PC to another, and from one OS to a newer one.
    With vista and now Win7, it's broken.

    As a customer, if I'm being forced to accept changes I don't like or want, then why shouldn't I just pick up a Mac at Best Buy. Or load Linux. Too much change just gives customers the excuse to go exploring for alternatives.
    • Working in a vacuum

      I have to wonder just how many of the original Desktop team members who worked on Windows 95, NT 4, 2000 and XP are still involved with Vista and Windows 7. It's almost like they have had a "brain drain" from the previous generation and have had to re-invent the wheel.

      MS needs to conduct some serious usability studies and try to make Windows 7 an EASIER OS to transition to from Vista and XP, not more difficult. A veteran XP user should be able to sit down with Windows 7 and have the least amount of adaptations to deal with, while providing an improved user experience.
      • Unfortunately usability is relative to the user

        Seriously, a most people hate MS Office Vista, but a few people like the new crappy interface.

        So usability is only good if the user finds it usable. Not everybody finds everything usable like everybody else.

        It's like creating a mouse of 100% of the people ... it can't be done. You have left handed people, people with no hands, people without fingers, etc. There is no way anybody can make something usable enough for everybody.

        In the UI world, you have too many variables to deal with. Color blindness, vision problems, IQ of the person, etc. Too many variables to come up with a one-size-fits-all approach.
        • Then maybe

          They should have just stuck with what people liked,
          and improve on it a bit, instead of take it into a
          completely different direction against their customers
        • A DNA Problem

          It's like creating a mouse OF 100% of the people ...

          Should be "for" obviously...

          Otherwise there would be a problem ... how DO we turn people into mice?

          The DNA transformation would be amazing...
          • Another problem is..

            ..who would be left to use the mouse?
      • Jason, could you be any more ABM?

        whether you'll admit that or not. <br><br>
        Does the world exist in a Vaccum? You are saying MS should have stayed in the NT vacuum, from what I can tell. And that comes after 8 years of posters and bloggers here being highly critical of XP, it's security and UI..remember the endless "fisher price" comments by chance? <br>
        You don't recall how MS was "holding on to backward compatibility at the risk of security and performance" and needed to just break away, like Apple did? <br><br>
        Well, they kept the compatibility as anyone that understands Vista knows all XPsp2 apps work flawlessly on Vista. It's obscene how ppl. have posted taht Xp compatibility has been miserable. That's a lie. Old crappy apps that are badly in need of a rewrite after 10 years, yes. But you can't allow security nightmare apps to continue to run on a new OS that FIXED the security problem to a very large degree, while keeping all valid backward compatibility. <br><br>
        What more could a true IT professional expect from any OS maker? give it break man. <br><br>
        What happened was Vista was a total success on everything that people were complaining about with XP. And when they saw that was the case, they suddenly all fell in love wtih XP and we started seeing these new "why would they make a new OS when XP was great" and a whole host of just total see through bullsh*t like that. <br>
        Anyone that isn't part of demonizing OS, that doesn't realize what is happening, is totally out of touch with reality at this point. <br><br>
        I am finding that people who ignore the press and just use Vista, end up loving it. there has been a full court press of negative perception from all fronts, including yours. <br>The biggest in the history of Windows and they continue to the day even though expert reviews show Vista is now faster, graphics far better, games faster and graphics slam dunk superior, stability superior, usability and network tools far superior, local performance and troubleshooting enhanced many times over, integration problems are scarce and related to only poorly written apps or hardware that is so sparse it's ridiculous to even blog about it as a problem, esp. seeing that Linux still has huge driver holes yet is not pounded with blog titles like yours, did i mention security? Great security. <br>
        How about the fact Vista runs at minimum 20% faster on server 2008, which is rolling out quite well? <br><br>
        How about Vista x64 is the only commercial FULL 64 bit OS avalable? And 64 bit is what everyone should be moving to. <br><br>
        Apple's 32 bit kernel sort of makes Leopard not full 64 bit huh? <br>
        Can you say with all honesty you wrote this blog with a honorable purpose and no prejudices involved? Beyond that can you say what you think makes Vista hard to transition to from XP? Files move right in, all apps worth using work flawlessly, Windows explorer is not THAt much different and in fact is greatly enhanced and has a much better appearance which all humans like, unless they are ripping on MS then a beautiful UI becomes "eye candy" and unneeded. I suppose those people would be forever happy with their walls painted turd brown like the Ubuntu default. ;)
        It's time to stop the bull sh*t , at least at the blogger level, but then we know Robin, Paul, the Dana's and others are not going to stop the "Microsoft is Losing your Data" type of blogs anytime soon, don't we? <br>
        • ahem

          [b]You are saying MS should have stayed in the NT vacuum, from what I can tell[/b]

          Absolutely not. New technologies most certainly should be folded into the product. My problem is not with the technology. Windows 7's technologies are excellent. I'm talking about maintaining a consistent UI across multiple generations of the product. Make radical changes to the UI without good reason and you begin to alienate your customer base. Windows 7's UI is clearly just pushing the Vista agenda forward rather than trying to learn from its mistakes.

          [b]How about Vista x64 is the only commercial FULL 64 bit OS avalable? And 64 bit is what everyone should be moving to. [/b]

          If you're referring to purely Desktop OSes, that's certainly true. However, if you remove commercial and not strictly desktop out of equation, you've got every single Linux distribution which has a 64-bit variant. As well as OpenSolaris -- which, by the way, has commercial support despite being a community developed OS, as does openSUSE.

          [b]Can you say with all honesty you wrote this blog with a honorable purpose and no prejudices involved? [/b]

          Absolutely. You're inferring I have some sort of agenda that I want to see Microsoft do poorly. I most certainly do not. That would be catastrophic for the computer industry. Although I am a proponent of Open Source software development, I am a Windows user, I've spent the balance of my career supporting and architecting Windows environments. I want Microsoft to do well, I want to see a worthy successor to Windows XP, with a minimal amount of user acceptance heartache.

          [b]Beyond that can you say what you think makes Vista hard to transition to from XP?[/b]

          I've written a huge wealth on material on this, at least a dozen posts worth.
          • I really don't think you get it Jason

            You say in your article

            "You can turn the Run command on after the fact in the Start Menu options, but that in and of itself is extremely annoying, it?s as if Microsoft has gone out of its way to make power users lives more difficult"

            No, I think they have removed this as a default because most consumers are not Power Users. If you are Power User then this is exactly the type of thing you would go straight to the Help for and find that it can be added back easily as you have said. If you find something as simple as this difficult just so you can still work in the same old in-efficent way you did with XP then I hardly think you can call yourself a Power User.

            I used Vista from day 1 and have loved it, it's a great OS for developers and Consumers alike and Windows 7 is yet another leap forward...and yes I do say that from first hand experience...especially when combined with the Windows Live apps.

            I just bought my wife a new MacBook for Christmas and as much as I love the hardware I still hate OSX, Quicktime, iTunes and especially the file system...perhaps you would love it ;-)

          • In remembrance of OS/2

            As most of the ZDNet-readers probably are Power Users: How about us supporting non-Power Users?

            Visualize the situation where a stressed-out non-Power User calls you to have his or her's Windows working -- now, right now. The easiest way is to have them reach the Run-command and enter a command or two by your instruction -- and believe me, most of them don't know their [backside] from their head when it comes to wading through Vista menues.

            Making the job harder for us supporting Windows-users and providing an even more complex OS to end-users is not a road to success in the long run -- ask the OS/2-guys about that.
          • Run Command

            I agree that most users won't need the run command on a day to day basis, and so removing it as the default on the start menu seems fair. For the power users out there...can you really call yourself a power user if you're grumbling about how to turn on a run command link in the start menu? Did no one teach you the WinKey+R shortcut? That bypases even needing to open up your start menu, saving you a little more time. I've always used that, and don't need to bother looking for a shortcut for the run command.

            Of course, if you restrict yourself to only using links and icons, then I could see your "power user" ego getting bent about having to find something that's in a different spot.
          • I loved OS2

            What I've never understood is why we aren't now using an ancessor of OS2 as our main desktop system. It was a pre-emptive multitasking system when Windows was 3.1!

            How could IBM drop the ball so badley..

            Bring back OS2... open source anyone?

          • What do you think the very powerful search box is for?

            It will find and run any program you want. surely if you are supporting the OS you are not going to have your users wading through file dialogs reading off file names for you. <br><br>
            Tell them to click start button/orb, type in the file name in the search box, then when it appears above to click it. How hard is that. It's easier than using the run box since when you click the orb, the search box has focus and they can start typing immediately. And obviously you type cmd in the search box and it appears above and you start it, quicker than using the run box, if you need the command line. <br><br>
            You can also walk them through an explorer session just as easy as using run as well and run it from there. <br><br>
            And many shops image their boxes how they want them anyway. do you use XP or Vista out of the box for business users?? You would HAVE to be kidding. BAD MOVE!! <br><br>
            So even if you stage your PCs manually, make adding the run box part of the routine. <br><br>
            But i believe the search box is why they don't have it there by default. You Don't need it.
          • Jamesay, that is what bootcamp or parallels are for. ;) NT

          • Thanks for the reply. If you are as serious as you sound however...

            how about some posts on "how to make Vista work for you" or "top 20 XP tools and how they are performed with Vista". <br><br>
            In other words, some helpful information for the people who apparently are struggling with Vista's UI. (I haven't seen this. Really, it's not that much different. When people say *drastic* changes I can't help but question their basic notion of drastic. Any little poking around on day one reveals the majority of average user tasks. The features/programs behind the start button/orb are still very very Microsoft. Control panel has added features but that's for the good and average users won't need most of these. Computer, documents, network, control panel, help..they are all still right there like in XP. And Windows explorer with the breadcrumb address bar (very cool and productive) and the main folders always in view, one click back to computer at all times, and Search folders. There's a blog for you right there. How to use search folders to boost your productivity. I've found them to be extremely great time savers. Build generic searches you do periodically and you can bring up, for example, all word documents that contain the phrase "TO: John Smith, CEO" or any phrase in two clicks from anywhere in explorer. <br><br>
            In my experience, IT depts figure out any changes to networking, group policy or any other key changes just playing with it a bit. It's no big deal. I jumped from XP to Vista and immediately never wanted to go back. I love the new interfaces and they only get better with win7. I think it still have MS flavor all through and most can manage quite easily, but really I believe it was time for a clean break. I wish it had been even more of a departure. Haven't people peeked under the hood and read the owners manual by now? do you honestly believe we are still struggling with UI issues almost 2 years later? <br><br>
            Bottom line is this site needs to move away from *tabloid* type reporting (I'm not singling you out but I'm sure you have an idea those I'm talking about) and provide some POSITIVE feedback and help to the huge Windows crowd out here. That's what we want, not the daily "Look what MS did wrong today" post or another Robin Harris tirade on how MS is losing your data in bold letters in the blog title....even though he goes on and says NTFS is not the worst filesystem of the current desktop crop. That was one of the all time most blatant and humorous ABM posts. Esp. his reply when he was called on his title being totally misleading. Look it up. <br>
            Oh, of course I know linux distros normally have a 64 bit version, that is why I qualifed the statement with "commercial".
          • Two words

            XP x64
        • Based on the votes above looks like most

          viewers agree. Of course it gets lots of's a typical article from him - useless. But most people see that.
          • Your comment was useless.

            His article was not.
        • Bad Changes to UI

          I agree with Jason that the changes to the UI were silly. I spent a few frustrating hours with Vista. That was enough to convince me that the UI sucked in addition to the performance hit.

          My least-favourite thing in the UI was the UAC. Who needs an OS second-guessing everything the user does?

          My second least-favourite thing was not the OS but the Office ribbon, which I have read they are now spreading like cancer in 7. I and several adults took hours to figure out how to do things that were obvious in earlier Offices. Literate people use word-processors. Why hide the file menu in a strange place? That was gratuitous/non-obvious, definitely a show-stopper if you could not save your files.

          In addition, I discovered that the ribbon put more mileage on the mouse than the traditional drop-down menu. This magnified the performance hit of the OS by the slowing of the operator. I have zillions of years experience with all kinds of software. Vista/Office 2007 was the worst product I ever encountered and I never wish to see another new/improved product from M$.
          • Nobody NEEDS such a thing

            It gives gullible users a false sense of security,
            though. And since it's widely known that windows
            security is atrocious, this perceived improvement has
            swayed many fools.