I'd be very interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on this. Feel free to leave a comment!
Original post by LachlanL
Anyway, I noticed that everyone seems to be saying "I wouldn't want to go back to XP", but nobody's really been any more specific on why that is. So, would someone mind enlightening a poor peon like myself of why Vista's way of doing things is so much better than XP's?
In no particular order:
- Folder/path navigation
I find it much faster and easier to navigate around my computer using the 'breadcrumb' style menus. Being a proper techie I always had the 'address bar' visible on XP and was often more efficient by manually typing (and using auto-complete) path/file addresses. Now I can do it with a mouse.
- AERO Glass
I'm not usually taken by "oooh, shiny" graphical eye candy, but I realised something subtle about the fancy new UI the other day. It's a very dark UI, and a lot of the 'system' parts of the UI (e.g. title bars, frames etc..) are all translucent. When working with MS Word and VStudio the only solid and bright parts of my display are the work area. Everything else is either dark or fading out in some way - basically, it doesn't distract me at all. I was always facinated by the psychology behind visual interpretation, vision and computer graphics and I think the AERO Glass stuff works well in this regard. The fact that it's hardware accelerated and looking pretty is a distant second to what I've come to consider the primary functional/usability improvement.
- Graphics everywhere stuff
Probably also related to AERO Glass, but I do like the way that hovering over task-bar entries shows a preview of the window, ALT+TAB shows the actual window and the WINKEY+TAB 3D flicker thing. It's a little touch, but I much prefer it to the static previews and/or just plain icons that appear in the same places on XP.
- Improved Control Panel and Standard Dialogs
If you were to line up Win95, Win98, WinME ([sick]), WinNT, Win2K and WinXP next to each other the standard dialogs all look roughly the same. Menu's were laid out roughly the same, the control panel applets look pretty much the same and most things were found in the same place. Within reason if you knew how to use one you'd probably be able to switch to any of the others without thinking too much about it.
Windows Vista changed this - they've redesigned a huge number of the standard dialogs and moved things around. An example is the "Personalize" option instead of "properties" when you right-click on the desktop. You don't go to the standard display control panel applet, you now go to a new one that lists common tasks - changing the appearance, wallpaper, screensaver and so on. Basically, they've made a departure from tried-n-tested and actually thought about the usability of the OS. A risky task but IMHO it's worked.
I think that covers the big ones to me - the ones that are noticeable when you go back to WinXP. There are loads of other 'under the covers' tweaks and changes that I like, but they're not so much about usability...
Two things that are talked about in Vista that I'm non-plussed about:
- Search. I use it when I have to, but for whatever reason I've never been too interested in desktop searching. Rarely gets what I want.
- Windows Sidebar. First thing I do whenever I reinstall Vista (being on the beta meant I've done this lots of times [wink]) is disable the sidebar. Not my cup of tea.
Now, just to balance things out. There is one thing I really DON'T like about Windows Vista. The start menu - specifically the way it opens "into" itself under the default settings. I much prefer the traditional XP/Win9x style of menu's - yes, I know you can re-enable this under Vista but you lose all the other improvements to the start menu area in all-or-nothing fashion [rolleyes]. It's also of immense annoyment that they didn't change the XP behaviour where you can't pin non-executables to the quick-launch part of the start menu. I'd love to pin my DirectX SDK help files to the quick-launch as I use them so often [headshake]