Collecting up minor UI issues in Windows 7

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Long Zheng over at istartedsomething is collecting up little UI issues within Windows in the hopes that someone at Microsoft is interested in fixing them in the next version of Windows–kind of like what Chris Pirillo did awhile back with the Vista beta at the request of former Windows head Jim Alchin. He insinuates that he has a back door channel with someone who can really do things. That would be cool.

Long’s 48-item list includes one alignment problem in Windows Journal toolbar. Actually, there are a couple other toolbar problems in the program too. One is that the copy/paste icons are effectively reversed.

copypasteiconsinjournal.PNG

The copy icon is shown as a clipboard and the paste icon as two text excerpts. These are not the standard icons.

Now you could argue that the copy to clipboard icon which shows the clipboard is correct (though it’s ambiguously close to the standard paste icon which has a clipboard and a text excerpt), but the paste icon (shown as two text excerpts) is clearly something that’s used in most apps as the copy icon.

By way of comparison, here’s what the copy/paste icons look like in Word 2007. You can see that the paste icon at left is a clipboard with some text and the copy icon is two small excerpts of text shown in the middle right column.

copypasteinword.PNG

Another issue is that the toolbars themselves often disappear when Journal is in use. It’s highly frustrating, particularly when rotating views.

It would be nice to see these little things fixed. I’m not holding my breath though. It’s a little bit late for community feedback in this area. What, you say? There’s not even a Windows 7 beta out yet!!!

That’s right, but that doesn’t mean that Microsoft isn’t on a well-scheduled train to get out Windows 7 by late 2009/2010 as they have publicly stated several times. And by all accounts this train–with a fairly firm date–is not going to sacrifice quality. So in the balancing act between the triad of time-features-quality, that means “features” or feature changes have to go. That’s the nature of the beast–unless, you figure out a way to warp the space-time continuum, which I’m all for, these fixes are unlikely to get added to any to do list at this point.

The problem is that stability and making changes at the last minute don’t go together–no matter how cosmetic the changes may seem to you, me, and the developers themselves. It takes very skilled people to make these “quick” changes, and my guess is the highly skilled people are committed to work on stability or new features. So this kind of clean up stuff, if it’s not already on their list, is unlikely to be added at this point.

But you rightly argue: How can this be? Aren’t alphas and betas all about cleanup? Yep. But I’ve seen no indication from Microsoft that that’s one of the objectives with Windows 7. I’m guessing that if UI cleanup were a strong goal of the Windows 7 team, that that would mean they were all over lists like this maybe six months to a year ago–not a handful of months before they release a beta that’s got to work well, because of the condensed beta cycle being planned.

Put another way, this “beta” is really going to be a beta. It’s not an alpha called a beta or a “community preview” assumed to be a beta. It’s a beta. The features will be locked down. The changes will be kept to a minimum.

Now I have absolutely no internal knowledge of any of this. It’s 100% conjecture. And it would be cool if Steven Sinofsky or someone else managing the effort could blog about this and give us some thoughts on their thoughts about how people could help the most.

Of course, don’t expect too much dialog at this point. Steven Sinofsky has made it very clear that there’s not going to be any back and forth talking till the team is ready. Doesn’t hurt to try though, and that’s what I like about what Long Zheng is doing. It all starts with one.