Top Ten Issues With Microsoft 7

Nobody’s perfect, not even Microsoft 7.  Presented here is a laundry list of ten areas in which the operating system should be fixed.

1. Simple consistency: As Microsoft products go, Windows 7 is actually pretty well put together.  But in the ‘little things’ there are still more than a few unfinished edges.  For example, while most of Windows’ tools put its menus on the left of the screen, the help system and Internet Explorer 8 place them needlessly on the right of the screen.  The HomeGroup feature for media sharing is inconsistent in whether it has zero, one, or two capital letters.  Paint and WordPad are the only applications where Office 2007’s Ribbon interface shows up.  The list goes on.

2. Misleading or confusing names: The names Microsoft has given to several of its applications and functions don’t give a clear picture of what the application’s function actually is.  “Action Center” is regrettably vague and mysterious sounding.  “User Account Control” is not at all accurate relative to the feature it opens.  There’s also a new feature named “Devices and Printers,” which is confusing next to the already-existing “Device Manager” function.

3. Windows Update: Windows Update, the of-course essential patching capability built into the system, was a frustration to users of the previous Windows version, and remains so with Windows 7.  Microsoft urges the user to download and install all updates with no further prompts or intervention from the user.  That means, however, that the system may instigate a system reboot at inconvenient times, or lock the user out of the computer entirely while updates are being installed and configured.

4. Federated Search: Windows 7 used Federated Search to allow users to run Windows Explorer searches through external engines like YouTube and Flickr.  However, users ar eon their own to find those external sources, and Windows’ help menus make no reference to Federated Search.

5. The Language of Help: The presentation of Help topics should be accessible to one universal audience, and is not.  Sometimes the language seems directed toward computer rookies that have never owned a PC, and other times the user who isn’t a self-generating hacker/programmer will have difficulty understanding Help’s assistance.  There is not much middle-of-the-road assistance for the average, competent but not expert user.

6. 3D Task Switcher: Vista has a snappy looking 3D task switching application, available by pressing Windows-Tab.  However, the tasks need to be clicked through one by one till the desired one is reached.  Apple’s Expose app is similar in function, but gives you access to any task in just a couple clicks.

7. Backup and Restore: Happily, users no longer need an external hard drive to do a full system backup using Windows 7’s Backup and Restore Center.  Now, it needs to be available in all editions of Windows, not just the most expensive editions of Win 7.  Microsoft could also take a hint from Apple’s Time Machine, which is much simpler to use.

8. Too Many Versions: The many different versions of Windows 7, each with its own subtle, small, and seemingly arbitrary peculiarities, is more confusing than it is helpful.  They are also unclearly named – Windows 7 Home Premium is the only version of Windows 7 Home available in the USA, but the name doesn’t make that at all clear.

9. Internet Explorer 8: Windows comes with IE8 as its bundled browser.  It works, but it is way behind Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox for speed, efficiaecy, and innovation.

10. PDF Viewing: Windows 7 carries over Vista’s ability to create app-independent documents that keep their original formatting using XPS format, which is Microsoft’s answer to the PDF.  The trouble is that XPS is not universally used, while PDF is predominant throughout the computer-using community.  It simply makes sense for Windows 7 to support PDF instead of blazing a new trail.

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