Design ideas by Ruslan Dyak on June 16, 2016

Windows 10

After Windows 7 was released, it took Microsoft about 6 years to go this far with Window 10, but do we have a completely new product with fully new concept of interface design inside? We give some facts to unswer this questions and the most important we provide a few concept ideas of our vision on future of Windows design.

Is it innovative or is something special about it?

What about new features?

Is this interface easy to use?

How about attention to details?

Is this graphic design good enough?

General feel and look

Very often under marketings slogans and under big companies’s announces lying not so much of a great product, but many consumers are buying it simply because of all this advertising buzz pressure. With Microsoft Windows 10 the same feeling. So much noises in all king of IT reviews and such a big Microsoft’s slogans that Windows 10 is the best Windows ever and bla, bla, bla… But, when opens the candy wrap, the truth is coming up, that under the beautiful appearance, hidden a filling costing not much as a dollar.

Marketing Strategy

We don’t like Windows selling/marketing strategy that used Microsoft for many years now. With Windows 10 the story happening again. With Windows 10 situation is a liitle bit better, but still Microsoft offers a few Windows 10 versions to choice from, but what the difference between them is hard to understand, what mislead many users.

New features arrived

In Windows 10 was added a big amount of new features. Many of those features are pretty good, but implementation most of them are late for at least for 2 years now, compare to other main rivals. Some ideas of new features, Microsoft copied from its main OS rival. But the most regretful is that Microsoft developers haven’t implemented the potential of many of those borrowed features for at least on 50%.

Windows user interface

With new user interface design Windows 10 received more finished look and how we believe, Windows 10 so far has the most best design of user interface of all times after Windows XP. But Microsoft never finishing anything. It turned out that new widely-advertised interface design of Windows 10 in real life is nothing but beautiful screen under which is hidden a lot of unfinished things that are piled up from times of Windows XP. If to begin using the system it can be seen immediately from second steps, that Windows 10 is just like a cross of bulldog with the horn-nose. For example, from Windows 8 has moved both Systems Settings panels so as Settings and so as Control Panel. Different types of managers such as Windows Management, Disk management, Computer management and etc., so as many other Windows application has an old times Windows design. Register is still here and jumble of different kind of app icons styles is striking an imagination and so on and on.

Where designers, however, applied a new Window 10 interface design theme, the impression is that sometimes it has done by students with some knowledge of design interface building. For example, there are a rules: when designers creating layouts of window control elements or main menus they should use a guidelines rules and all user interface design must be unified. In Windows 10 none of this rules was used. The same layout or interface group in diferent applications can be done in different ways. In one app interface a search field located right side and in same type of interface in other app the same field can be located left side, on one window it can be possible to have two or more Back buttons or other interaface elements can be duplicated. We have a weird filling about all this situation around Windows 10 interface design.

Control Panel

After working with a Control panel, feeling is that Windows from times of XP version got a big amount of new features, but this impression is deceptive. Feeling appears when sight a big amount of settings options in system settings, the amount of which are expend in times compare to Windows XP. Starting from Windows Vista, Microsoft on purpose placing most subsettings on the home pages, that on Microsoft opinion should make easier for users to find them in Control Panel. In real life current method very greatly complicated perception and mislead users. On this occasion Microsoft creates Settings app in Windows 8, but haven’t get finished with this solution still. In Windows 10 the outside appearance of Settings app has changed a little, by adding there everything, that can be needed by middle-average user, but logic of items placing is poor and user interface is awful.

New Settings app

Settings of OS from times of Windows XP became more complex and its amount grown up in geometrical progression, but the OS itself not changed so much and not so much features has been added in it from Windows XP times. In Windows 8 there was a great tendency on simplification of Control panel. The main classic Control Panel options were moved to the Settings app and placed them in a pretty good logic order. We think that in next OS, Microsoft finally put a cross on the Control panel and gather all Windows OS settings in one place in Settings app. Also making Settings app more user friendly by designed arrangement of settings options more logically and by reducing the amount of it. Year… It’s not happened. The Setting app itself were undergoes for some appearance changes and somehow it has the same parts structure, but the GUI has changed in not so good way. The Control Panel was saved. Sometime it’s not really clear where to search the setting option you need. Some settings could be as well as in the Control Panel so as in the Settings app. Some settings options hidden so that to find then you really need to use Help assistant app.

A few words about fonts appearance

We do not like the general feel from the fonts smoothing used in Windows 10 by default. After Windows 8 in which, finally, some work was done with fonts smoothness and it was nice to look at them. In 10th every work in this direction is radically finished and restored a font smoothing like in Windows 7, that we personally don’t like at all.

Universal user interface

Also questionable is an idea of crossing table version of Windows with desktop version in one OS. First of all very small amount of users could use tablet version, because of a small share of sold Microsoft Tablets out there, and it is another question we have there: why to waste so much effort for the such small percent of customers. Compare to Windows 8 version, where the interface designed more for tablet users needs, in Windows 10 it vise versa, trend was made to comfort a desktop users, that in some turns began very often make harder work on a tablet. For example, many users of Microsoft tablets are complaining on a small size of buttons in Windows 10, on which it very hard to hit by the finger.

Aero Snap

Aero Snap it for sure very interesting feature, that was transferring from Windows 7 and very interesting to work with it for the first 10 minutes. In Windows 10, Microsoft lightly improve it invention. But however Apple borrowed this idea from Windows, and guest what, they implement it in more useful way in there OS’s.

Finally Arrived Features like OS X and Ubuntu

We are very glad that finally Microsoft Implement an idea of virtual desktops and windows management centre. But as usual, this idea is implemented not the most perfect way. Especially not understandable, why is Microsoft give only one way to enable this feature, by clicking the button in the Tab bar. Why not to give a possibly to assign a quick key shortcut on a keyboard or button on a mouse.

Notification Centre

Finally Notification Centre arrived to Windows 10. But again grouping of a big amount notifications from one application is not present, on appeared notifications there are a controls that not really needed and there are small amount of ways to respond on notification. As on Notification Centre so on many others of Windows Sub Settings windows useful buttons appeared for quick setting enabling to some Sub Settings options. In case with Notification Centre the set of this buttons is questionable.

Start, that's back

Microsoft saying Start menu it's back. Well... year and... really, it’s not. The main idea of Start menu up to Windows 7 version was that, when open All Programs it possible to see folders where with help of links the apps where shown and some of the apps has additional folders that containing links on main app and also there could be some other additional files. Structure of the folders was such that every can create his hierarchy of folders and change the order of showing shortcuts in folders. In Windows 8 Microsoft trying to create something new and universal for desktop and mobile. But in 10th, Microsoft tries to reimagine bicycle from the ground up, by saving both the idea of tiles and bringing the happiness to users, who so missed an old good Start. And also this idea should be presented to the crowd as something new.

As saying in theater: The premier has failed!. And to realize that, you just need to start setting up and changing default Start menu structure. It turned out, that Windows Start appearance and apps structure actually can’t be changed so much at all. Even the amount of application in earlier additions has been restricted to 512 items, then after users complains, Microsoft extended this amount to 2048 apps. Also Windows somehow selectively adding installed applications in Start menu. Some shortcuts it does add to Start menu with no problems, but for example, we somehow have problems with Adobe family. It seems that it just doesn’t want to work properly with some apps and we don't know what it is. And if you remove everything that allowed from Start menu, substantially the space in Start menu used not rationally. For example, in earlier additions if you disabled the Most Used, then when you open the Start you will see a big free space hole, which sometimes weirdly used by the group from Just installed apps. In spring 2016 Microsoft improved Start menu by doing it more compact. To do that Most Used, Just installed and All apps was grouped in one centre section. Pictures, file explorer, user settings and etc has been minimized to icon size and shifted to the left panel. Tiles was leaved without changes. We think that this new design of All apps section became even more worse, than it was in version before spring 2016. Now it just mess. And again Microsoft Design department just creating a nice image of Start Menu but not solving the problems that Start menu has. With new Windows 10 design of All Apps section, you understand all the defectiveness of new Windows Start. The list of All apps are in alphabetical order. The sorting view can’t be changed and how this alphabet sorting works is pretty strange too. If all of a sudden you have a big amount of apps in your Start menu, it became a very hard task to find something in, even when using alphabetical switching filter feature. Then come in handy a part with tiles, but sense of live tiles idea is disappearing if just placing there an apps shortcuts. All this happen just because this All apps menu was transferred from Windows 8 where it feet great with full screen tiles menu. In Windows 10 it's just sucks and need to be improved.

If look closely on apps icons in Windows 10 Start menu and in Task bar it can be seen that no one think to much about problem of harmonically grouping of new style icons with old ones and with icons from apps of third-party developers. Designer of Windows 10 just draw the color square and inserting in it an every icon, and they probably think, that this idea is «pretty dam good»...

Generically new Start became a bicycle with square whiles. Microsoft haven’t resolve all the problems that has been troubled users for a long time with old Start menus, but they created a new ones. The Start menu became a new example when someone ambitions, doesn't have nothing close with users needs.

Tab bar

Tab bar has undergoes changes in good direction. Every year beginning from Windows 7, Tab bar became more and more minimalistic. In Windows 10 it happen too. Most Windows app icons received vector like design and its square background became solid flat, as a result every app tile in Task bar occupied less space and general image of Task Bar looked much better now.

For Cortana, Microsoft spare no space, that's why Cortana search field occupied pretty much useful space of Tab bar by default. In Microsoft for sure believing, that everybody will be really using Cortana all day long and other software almost not needed for the user. In last editions of Windows 10, users could chooose from diferent options how to display Contana in the Tab bar.

Also developers not think out the behavior of Tab bar. If Tab bar positioned on the screen bottom, Cortana has a search field in the Tab bar, when it attached on top, the search field disappeared.

Edge Browser

In Windows 10 available a new browser, that as strange as it may seems, but with the exception of few moments it is pretty good one. But the questions is it realy a new browser as Microsoft advertised it is, when the main core based on Explorer and another big mistery, why is old Explorer was reserved and why it so hidden that is very hard for users to find it. And we believe that for marketing department it was a headache to invent a name for Edge Browser, so as the goal, as we think, was not to loose a years and means that was invested in promotion of old Explorer. That's why new name begins with E and its icon is looks like redesigned icon of Explorer. Some marketting people pointed out that there are millions of Windows users out there who equate that 'E' with 'how I access the internet›, but we think this opinion is not really true for twenty first century when internet is not something new and less known like it was in 90th, and that’s why our rumor is seems more like true. The Microsoft as if hints the Edge is fully new browser but the progenitor inside and outside of it, is Internet Explorer. But we have no a clue why Microsoft need to do all this resourceful manipulation with Edge. Why not just improve or redesign an old Explorer.

New Windows Mail

With a good word we can start telling you about Windows Mail. Yes… The GUI design of new Mail became much better than old one, but if it’s just one e-mail account added. But if suddenly there are several of them, then you understand that it’s better to not use Mail at all.

In Mail context menu is just mess of a buttons, sometimes the impression is that designers placed there every button that they just can to sticked. Need it or not need, the most important, that they are there, maybe someday they will be useful for someone.

File Explore and Ribbon interface

Beginning from Windows 7, the most of apps received a new Ribbon interface. In File Explorer it was implemented in Windows 8. In 10th version File Explorer does not particularly chanted to much. It has inherited old user interface from Windows 8 and received a new Windows 10 GUI interface, also Microsoft leaved terrible Ribbon interface. After a few minutes working with it, we wanna kill ourselves or better person who invent it, because even devil can break a leg in it. Without changes the Navigation Pane has remained (it's a left tree pane, where user can get to diferent locations). In our opinion in this look and design, it never been so big helper in searching files. In Navigation Pane the Favorites was changed to Quick access. The window controls buttons appearance was improved, context menus became proportionally bigger and looked much harmonious and it feeling as one peace of design with Windows 10 GUI. Were improved in better way icons of hard drive, network drive and other laser disk devices. But icons in Navigation pane has leaved out of Windows 10 GUI design. Folder Settings and File Settings has the same design as it was in Windows 98, that particularly is not so good looking.

Returning to the subject of Ribbon menu. We think, that besides that it is hard to apprehend and also it logically complicated, that why often find in it necessary menu item is pretty hard. And the most awful in Ribbon that in many apps were Ribbon used, as well as in File Explorer Ribbon, a big amount functions button placed in menu, on practice most of them not useable for 80% of time or even 99%, is simple because they or just not working propelly or it more easier to use a combinations of keys to do the same action than to find the nesasarry function button in Ribbon.

New Useful Windows Applications.

Speaking about software that arrived from Windows 8 such as News, Finance, Weather and etc. Software itself sold its tasks very good. But usabillity and design most of them in Windows 10, is far from perfect.

First of all, questionable is the functioning of left side menu. Its great that it's there, but its behavior is confusing. In some apps it static when clicking on menu button, in other apps when clicking the same menu button, it only showing over the app content. On displays with a big resolution not every menu does open up when you widen the window of app and when the window scaled back it not collapse automatically.

Second of all, the toolbar part designed in not so good way. Confusing a functional load and purpose of a button with tree dots, the main task of which is open up a toolbar and showing the labels under the buttons. In many Windows 10 applications button with tree dots associating with access to additional application features. A few different functions on the same button in different applications is not acceptable, because this will be confusing for users in future. There are no more than from 2 to 4 buttons in this toolbar so far and almost all icons are familiar for Windows users, that why a hole button only for releasing a labels, in our opinion, is not reasonable. The stupidity began when in toolbar are only two buttons: Share and thee dots. And you click buttons with tree dots and you see ... voila, label with Share text on it.

And the last, we don’t like, that when changing the application Settings there are no buttons for accepting or canceling of this changes. Also it’s not possible to undo of any action or restore to default settings, what sometimes force to straight the imaginations to undo all the settings to default values.

And one more thing, it could be great, if Microsoft rethink some of the icons in left menu, because if not to open labels, it not really understandable what functionality hidden under this icon at all.

Summarizing said above.

In spite of that in Windows 10 much work has been done, still this is more surface work and a lot of innovative and unique features, that were implemented and advertised by Microsoft on public are still in developing phase and will be finished in final release only and theirs potential are still not clear and unknown yet on 100 percent.

In future Microsoft has a lot of work to do. It became clear now, that Windows design and user interface team are stacked, they are out of good ideas and they need a new blood and visionaries. After huge success of Windows XP, there has no been such a succeed versions after. Every new innovations of Windows team come to grief. Vista and Windows 8 are proof to that. Windows 7 and Windows 10 this are not a new version of Windows, they’re the attempts of quick fixing the situation with indignations of users and renewing demand of potential Windows customers.

Quick overview of next part...

Next, we come from Windows critics review to improvement work. Next part we called 10 steps to make Windows great again. We think you will love our ten global improvements for Microsoft Windows.

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