Windows Wish List, Part 4

13. Fix various window positioning and multi-monitor quirks

  • When the taskbar is positioned at the top of the screen, any windows that try to position themselves at coordinate (0,0) get their title and menu bars hidden behind the taskbar.  And the user should never have to figure out that a window has stupidly positioned itself off-screen and manually invoke "Move" via the keyboard to move it back into view, because most users aren’t expert enough to figure that out.  Windows should automatically reposition any window that positions itself stupidly (partially or completely offscreen, or hidden behind the taskbar) to the center of the primary monitor.

  • Windows should have the built-in ability to make the taskbar span multiple monitors, without relying on specialized device driver support from the manufacturer to accomplish this (since many manufacturers fail to include such support in their drivers).

  • There are still many situations where Windows refuses to let me set the monitor I want as the primary desktop monitor, and the only solution is to physically swap which monitor is attached to which video output.  Windows should, entirely in software, allow me to set any video output I want as the primary monitor.

  • All screen savers should always be duplicated on all monitors without having to be specifically coded to do so.  If some video outputs on the PC are incapable of 3D accelerated graphics, but the screen saver is in 3D, then the user should be warned that the screen saver will only work on a subset of monitors and suggest that they choose a 2D screen saver instead.

14. Add TRUE free DPI scaling
Even in Vista, when you change the DPI settings of the desktop away from the default, not everything works right.  Not all UI elements properly resize themselves, and many application UIs fail to render sensibly (controls/text get truncated or overlapped). 

With monitor resolutions already well beyond the 800×600 or 1024×768 standards that Windows and applications were designed around, this is a very important problem.  Because Windows DPI feature doesn’t work properly, people with high-resolution monitors (1600×1200, etc) today are forced to choose between running in a low resolution (like 1024×768) to have everything large enough to see comfortably, or running in a high resolution (such as 1600×1200) and having to squint at all the tiny UI. 

Windows needs to properly implement freely-scalable UI throughout the desktop (vector-based icons, TrueType fonts, etc).  Its existing GUI API and development model needs to be thrown out and redesigned in such a way that it’s impossible for an application developer to code UI that doesn’t properly scale.  All UI layout must be defined by the developer in relative positions rather than absolute positions.

15. Let the user easily erase ALL tracks/history
Face reality: most people do not diligently create a separate user account for every person who uses the computer.  Instead, they all share the same account, which they always leave logged on.  And people often like to do a lot of things on their PC that they wouldn’t want others finding out about.  So users desperately need Windows to provide an easy-to-find global command on the Start menu to "Erase all history" that clears all user history of any kind (visited sites, recently used files, recently-typed URLs or file paths, etc) in the entire OS and all applications.  The Windows API should require an application to implement this interface before it will even let the application launch, to inherently encourage application developers to honor this global command.

16. Fix long-standing Windows Explorer annoyances

  • Why is copying files with Windows Explorer (even just on local file systems) always slower than doing the same copy at a Command Prompt, especially using robocopy.exe?  Shouldn’t it be just as fast?
  • Why is there still no detailed accurate information on transfer rate displayed during file copy/move operations?  Don’t even try to give me a time estimate if you’re going to get it wrong.  Just show me the transfer rate, the file size, the bytes copies so far, the bytes remaining to copy, and a progress bar indicating percent copied.

  • There’s no way to find duplicate files (based on identical file contents/hashes) in a tree, to help weed out accidental duplication in photo libraries, music libraries, etc.  There’s a very real and increasingly common need for this kind of feature.

  • There’s no way to easily batch rename selected files according to a pattern.  (For instance, "rename all files in this directory from *.* to "My Hawaii Trip – *.*").  This is a basic file management task that I find myself frequently needing.

17. Fix long-standing Start menu annoyances

  • Drag-and-drop editing of the Start menu often doesn’t work reliably (Start menu fails to refresh itself after a change, item doesn’t actually drop into where you dropped it, etc).

  • The user shouldn’t have to spend their life manually keeping their Start menu sensibly organized, and they also shouldn’t have to search their Start menu with a search box or already know exactly what they are looking for (many users don’t, they just "explore" until they discover what they want).  The Start menu should keep itself organized automatically in some sensible way (alphabetically, categorized, something) rather than having a giant mess of folders bearing company names and advertisements (which users don’t want or care about).  The Start menu should be an automatically-organized hierarchical fly-out menu because that is truly the fastest and most intuitive way to find what you are looking for.

  • Poor facilities for editing and organizing the Start menu. Today, you can either drag-and-drop Start menu items/folders (which is really buggy and cumbersome), or you can use Windows Explorer (which is way too advanced and confusing for many users) to modify it.  There really needs to be a dedicated applet, powerful yet friendly and intuitive, that ordinary people can use to manually manage their Start menu.

  • There’s generally a poor user experience (lots of confusion) surrounding the way the Start menu merges the "all users", "default user", and user-specific profiles together to generate its contents.  This is made doubly-confusing by the drag-and-drop Start menu editing, because you’re never sure which profile the item you are working with is contained under.  To clear all this up, the Start menu should clearly separate itself into "Shared Programs" and "Your Programs" sections.

18. Poor control panel organization
The Control Panel organization was completely changed for Vista, which made commonly-used options more difficult to find and access.  Now some applets cannot be launched directly from the Control Panel, but are obscurely buried two or three steps down inside some other parent applet.  I challenge you to find the slider for changing deskop resolutions in Vista, and then compare how many clicks it took you to get to it from the Desktop versus XP.  This was a huge step backward for usability. 

If the Control Panel has really grown so large that it needs to turn into a hierarchical tree, then I should be able to explore and navigate that tree without having to actually open every level in the tree.  I should be able to get a hierarchical fly-out menu that is a map of all control panel applets, so I can directly jump to whatever applet I need without having to go through intermediary dialogs.

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