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§ Random Windows 7 thoughts

I got a new laptop recently, and as such, I've moved my development environment to Windows 7 x64. Since I had a triple-boot config on my old laptop, I'm pretty used to it already, but now I'm using it full-time instead of only occasionally.

My thoughts so far (from XP to Windows 7, and in no particular order):


Comments posted:

A few things that will have me avoiding Win7 for as long as possible:

- The regular Windows start menu isn't simply disabled by default as in Vista; it's completely gone--throwing into the trash a UI that's been polished and fine-tuned for over a decade, and breaking a UI I've been using for 15 years. That's beyond insanity.
- The Open and Save dialog tab order is broken. In XP, you can press shift-tab once to go from the filename entry box to the file list. Now pressing shift-tab seems to go to the column header dropdown buttons, making quickly keyboard navigating with the file list much harder.
- The Explorer copy file dialog completely broke keyboard access. Before, you could press alt-A to answer "all" to an "overwrite: yes/no/all" dialog. Now, you have to tab to "use this answer for everything", hit space, then tab to the "yes" answer--something like 5 keypresses for an incredibly common dialog. How does a basic dialog get past UI QA without keyboard shortcuts?

Glenn Maynard - 25 01 11 - 17:30

About control panel: just type what you want to find in search box. It receives focus automatically on control panel start.

To launch another copy of app hold shift or middle-click. Or press Win-Shift-(number). There are other new useful shortcuts in win7.

Instead of Paint I would recommed Paint.Net.

mastan - 25 01 11 - 17:42

> The regular Windows start menu isn't simply disabled by default as in Vista; it's completely gone

Yeah, I suppose I was already prepared for that. The writing was already on the wall with the "classic start menu" mode in XP.

> The Open and Save dialog tab order is broken.

I never noticed that, as I usually just type paths or filenames and rely on the autocomplete drop-down. It does seem pretty broken, as it's not in a sane ordering. Usually I like to setup my tabbing as either reading order or the transpose.

> Instead of Paint I would recommed Paint.Net.

Meh... in the cases where Paint doesn't suffice I just go for Photoshop (Elements). Paint.NET's not bad, but one thing that always annoyed me about it is that it forces the file dialog to thumbnail mode, which I hate (I use Paint style tools more for pixeling than for painting, so to speak).

Phaeron - 25 01 11 - 18:47

> The power scheme quick-switcher needs to show more than two schemes. At a minimum I want low speed, balanced, and max speed without having to go to the control panel.

Try Win-X.

GrayShade - 25 01 11 - 19:20

> Transactional NTFS (TxF) holds a lock on the drive and prevents ejection. Don't remember where I saw it, but the workaround is to take the drive offline in Disk Management.

I get that all the time. It drove me nuts until I found a decent workaround. The "RemoveDrive" tool here will usually convince the OS to drop that lock and allow the drive to be ejected safely:

It has a bunch of options (e.g. for bouncing the indexing service) but I found I just needed to run it as administrator with the drive letter as the only argument. YMMV.

I wrote a bit of VBScript which tries to dismount the drive normally, then if that failed calls RemoveDrive via a UAC prompt, then if that failed tries to dismount normally again. It seems random which stage it gets to, even when no user-mode programs have locks on the drive, which is perplexing.

> I don't like pinning on the taskbar -- Quick Launch FTW

Unfortunately, if you have both QuickLaunch and the new-style taskbar (big-icon buttons instead of small-icon+label buttons) then you'll see that Microsoft didn't bother to update the QuickLaunch bar to fit the new size.

Your choice is either:

a) Small QuickLaunch icons which are not vertically centred (ugly, especially when the notification icons on the right are vertically centred) and which are difficult to click as they don't touch the window edge.

b) Large QuickLaunch icons, so the icons themselves are the same size as the taskbar icons. Which would be great if the padding around the icons was consistent, but it's not. Which causes the taskbar icons to be lifted off the bottom of the monitor. Which is really ugly and makes changing windows more difficult. Sigh.

This still bugs me as QuickLaunch provided a way to have menus of categorised apps within easy reach.

- Pinning apps to the taskbar is great for apps you use every day.

- Searching the Start Menu is great for apps you use very rarely.

- What about the ones in between? I've got a lot of development/debug tools and scripts which I run regularly but not enough to pin (there wouldn't be room to pin them all). In the end I've continued using a docked toolbar made by another program for those things.

(There are tools that try to turn special pinned application icons into launcher menus via the Jump List system, but it really wasn't designed for it and they work very poorly.)

Leo Davidson (link) - 25 01 11 - 20:08

Hmm... I though I wrote something here already but maybe I only previewed it.

Jonas - 25 01 11 - 20:18

Argh. Sorry about the 20:18 comment -- it wasn't finished. In any case, when I press Preview the comment looks as it it was already posted...

Anyway, Paint does have keyboard shortcuts. Press and hold left Alt for a while to see the shortcuts displayed in the ribbon. Alt-H T for text, for example.

You're supposed to be able to change the delay before the peek effect begins. See for example (though I haven't tried it).

Did you try the Resource Monitor as a complement to the task manager?

Jonas - 25 01 11 - 20:23

If you want more detail than Task Manager can provide, I suggest you download Process Explorer from

Process Explorer is a free utility that was developed by Sysinternals and is now maintained by Microsoft. By default it shows CPU usage with 2 decimal places of precision and it is capable of displaying much more information than Task Manager ever will.

William Osborne - 26 01 11 - 00:58

> which makes it hard to make an analog LCD calibration checkerboard
Visit and press F11.

Ben - 26 01 11 - 02:23

If you don't like then Win7 tasbar, I suggest to use 7 taskbar tweaker from
I cannot live without it anymore.

Kelden - 26 01 11 - 04:21

Control Panel: I just turned off categories and usually the only remaining confusion is english/czech terms (I am used to english...) or just use GodMode. :)
Colour in taskbar: What I see is that programms can say what colour to use for signalig success/fail/progress. (TortoiseSVN and Explorer do that) Very usefull.

Klimax - 26 01 11 - 04:53

I gave the Win7 beta a try when it was available, and ended up with mixed views of it. My main annoyances with it were:

# Everything in the UI had a bit more padding, which meant that I couldn't fit as much on screen as before.
# Vertically-aligned task bars didn't behave as well as they did in XP. I forget what was actually broken.
# It's impossible to have toolbars docked on more than one side of the screen. On my systems, I have the taskbar docked to the right of the left-hand screen and the address bar docked to the bottom of the same screen. Both bars are set to auto-hide, and the right-hand monitor is positioned about 100px lower than the left-hand one.
# Outlook Express had gone - instead, there was Windows Live Mail which appeared to do very weird things with deleted items in IMAP folders (for those who don't know, IMAP has "flag as deleted" and "purge deleted items from this folder" as separate operations. If you've deleted something but not purged the containing folder then you can undelete it).
# Stacking taskbar buttons is back, and is an awful piece of UI when you click on the pinned IE icon and then have to play "which window contains the tab I want to view". My preferred configuration is not to stack buttons - with a vertical taskbar, you can fit a lot of windows in two columns of icons and still be able to quickly find the one you want.

Torkell (link) - 26 01 11 - 05:36

Very good points, I agree with most of them. I'm not very fond of the new GUI, it's too shiny and colorful for my taste. I have disabled icons on the taskbar and the snap-to-edge and the transparency.

"Aero makes it too hard to tell which window has focus."
I couldn't agree more. They tend to blend together.

"Windows Photo Viewer isn't as good as the old XP one [...]"
And, this might not bother a lot of people but it can't display moving .gifs anymore. Sad ;(

"I can't seem to find anything in the new Control Panel. [...]"
Good to know I'm not the only one who have problems with it. They seem to have added more icons for some reason, or maybe it just feels that way.

Joakim - 26 01 11 - 06:06

Your comment about not needing more than 2Gb or RAM on x64 development machine is far away from truth! I've recently upgraded from 4 to 8Gb and speedup is more than visible, even on medium sized project. Keyword - disk cache.

gmit - 26 01 11 - 07:48

That point sampling is a funny thing. Even VMR9 with the default mixer has been broken since vista. No one uses StretchRect anymore and no one seems to care.

Gabest - 26 01 11 - 08:09

I've bought a computer with W7 a while ago. Played with Aero a bit then switched to "classic" look and never looked back.
I'm missing the quicklaunch menu a lot. Attached programs look like that only until they get displaced by other attached programs that are already started. And the announcement that we'll be able to move program bars in the main panel was apparently bad joke because different instances of the same program still stick together and can't be reordered.
The Start > All programs menu now implements "install and forget" strategy - if you don't put an icon on your desktop you soon forget what do you have installed on your PC because you go to the program listing only if you really have to.
I consider the new Paint inferior to the old one, all tasks I was used to do in the old one relied on it not doing any antialiasing and alpha blending. Also the new color paletter is maybe more "lively" but it's missing the classic "pure" colors I was using e.g. for masking in DeLogo.
I started to be Ok with Control Panels as soon as I discovered I can switch to "show all items" view. Getting used to its sorting is more about getting used to new icons for all items.
There are probably a few more things I don't like about W7 but overall I am very happy with that system.

Kasuha - 26 01 11 - 10:00

explorer just blows
you cant search for files, advanced searching
you cant navigate up from a shortcut
control panel is a mess
start menu is just horrible
taskbar blows, you cant create single shortcuts like xp
services and schedules items of hell

the only good thing is what they did with mediaplayer

bottom line, if xp supported more then 3 gigs of ram, i would be going back

evropej - 26 01 11 - 10:44

> Your comment about not needing more than 2Gb or RAM on x64 development machine is far away from truth! I've recently upgraded from 4 to 8Gb and speedup is more than visible, even on medium sized project. Keyword - disk cache.

This is my personal laptop, and neither VirtualDub nor Altirra need that much working RAM to build quickly. If they gave me a 2GB machine at work, on the other hand, I would relegate it to email.

Phaeron - 26 01 11 - 14:45

Did you buy Sandy Bridge? It has the new AVX instructions.

Yuhong Bao (link) - 26 01 11 - 19:18

No, I got the laptop before Sandy Bridge was available. Don't think I would have wanted the early models anyway... last time I jumped on Penryn it was expensive, and this time I wanted to spend the premium instead on a GPU that doesn't suck.

Phaeron - 26 01 11 - 19:34

And note that Sandy Bridge's IGP is much better than older Intel IGPs.

Yuhong Bao (link) - 26 01 11 - 19:51

If you don't mind, I'd like to keep comments on this entry pertinent to the topic.

Phaeron - 26 01 11 - 19:57

From my point of view, the deficiencies in explorer and the control panel interface will keep this OS from becoming a standard in the corporate world. Which ever way I try to slice this, the bottom line is that I do two to three times more clicking doing the same tasks as XP.

I use rocket dock to get around the start menu but the search feature in explorer just cracks me up. How can a program engineer do this to an OS? How could someone say a dumb search box is better than a customizable search field?

Vista I believe was the beginning of Microsoft contracting work to low cost firms and these are the results.
You can see that there is no fluid flow in the menu system, it looks like someone just slapped things together.

If you would like to go on a Easter egg hunt, try looking at the temporary files structure for programs.
What were they thinking?

Trying to get a handle on all the services running is a nightmare.
I opened TCPView to look at all the open ports and just about crapped my pants.

I guess this is becoming a trend in this country, learn to live with less.
Flaming Bill complete.

evropej - 27 01 11 - 08:41

Given some of the UI atrocities I've seen in "Enterprise class software," I hardly think that usability will be an impediment to corporate adoption. Support or breakage of critical business applications, cost of required computer upgrades, and changes in remote management capabilities are bigger factors.

Phaeron - 27 01 11 - 15:01

To those who miss the classic start menu and are annoyed with Explorer, check out Classic Shell:

The explorer navigation is annoying in Vista/7. I'm sure the breadcrumbs address bar is a nice feature for someone, but make it an option. The old folder tree drop down and "up one folder" buttons worked fine. Classic Shell takes care of that and other problems.

Chris - 28 01 11 - 06:49

I hate that QuickLaunch was removed, but discovered an easy way to get the functionality back with built-in windows features: Right-click on the taskbar and pick Toolbars->Add Toolbar. It will then ask you for a directory that contains the items to show on the toolbar. Once you do this, you can just add stuff back in like you could before. (Though installers still cannot automatically add stuff to it like they could with the QuickLaunch).

Most of the other things I hate about Windows 7 were actually changes made between XP and Vista.

Coderjoe - 28 01 11 - 11:57

> Though installers still cannot automatically add stuff to it like they could with the QuickLaunch

That's a *feature*. There is no overlap between the set of programs I want in my QuickLaunch and the set programs that automatically put themselves there.

Phaeron - 28 01 11 - 15:54

> Though installers still cannot automatically add stuff to it like they could with the QuickLaunch

If you pick the right folder (the same that was used in older versions of Windows), they should be able to. Though I have no idea why somebody'd want that - I remember changing the folder used for QuickLaunch a few months after I started using it with the Windows 95 desktop upgrade because some annoying program kept adding itself to it.

Anyway, my annoyances with Windows 7:
- broken tab order in file dialogs (but this was already there in Vista)
- not enough color customization options when using Aero (again, this was already in Vista, and in XP if you didn't use the Classic theme)
- taskbar is inconsistent when using 120DPI mode - I set up my taskbar mostly like I had it for years (small icons, 2 rows, with the upper row having 3 QuickLaunch toolbars with programs I use all the time; with display in 120DPI mode, this causes the notification icons to sometimes arrange themselves in 2 rows, other times in 1 row [I can resize the taskbar by approx. 2 pixels, and they'll arrange to 2 rows]; also, all the icons [notification, quicklaunch and running programs] are sometimes 16x16 pixels, other times slightly larger - and ugly)
- I miss the folder up button - it was in a fixed place, and I could use it to quickly move up the folder structure (crumbs bar is slower, since things move around)
- forced grouping of taskbar buttons

ender - 28 01 11 - 23:05

"If you don't mind, I'd like to keep comments on this entry pertinent to the topic."
I was just interested about using the new AVX extensions.

Yuhong Bao (link) - 29 01 11 - 14:57

What can you say about the absolutely magical explorer close on removable media eject?

plamengv - 31 01 11 - 05:45

And has anyone checked the long list of things lost forever? Windows 7 is just like Vista. Tons of features removed and broken. Poor usability. See and Unnecessary GUI changes. It would be much more intelligent (and probably much harder to do) innovation to improve Windows without changing the GUI. But changing the cosmetics has mainly one purpose: to conceal, that nothing really new happened.

anonymous - 31 01 11 - 18:31


> you cant navigate up from a shortcut
You can. ALT+UP or Backspace. I don't know why but in W7 backspace brings me back to the parent folder again.

> start menu is just horrible
Since Vista, I just type whatever I want and start it. Never used the Tastbar to open programs.

> taskbar blows, you cant create single shortcuts like xp
You can. Read the other posts.


evropej - 26 01 11 - 10:44

Kelden - 07 03 11 - 03:45

When I said "Though installers still cannot automatically add stuff to it like they could with the QuickLaunch" I actually meant when they were given permission to do so.

Coderjoe - 16 03 11 - 10:23

The best long term solution is for 3rd party shells to become more mainstream in Windows, as they seem to be in *nix. Perfect separation between core OS and GUI. No more being at the mercy of the OS designers.

BTW, Explorer was poor also in XP and before. Slow, awkward, unruly, at the mercy of random shell extensions, doesn't show basic stats, poor copy mechanism, etc.

plamengv> What can you say about the absolutely magical explorer close on removable media eject?

If auto insert notification/autoplay/whatever is enabled, hasn't it been like that since NT5 or Win9x?

shx - 20 03 11 - 08:09


Actually, previously, if you ejected removable media you were looking at in explorer, it would change to the item below it in the left-hand tree pane, rather than completely closing the window.

Coderjoe - 25 03 11 - 08:38

I beta'd Windows 7 for less than 10 minutes.

Why? No Classic support. None. Quicklaunch was removed, the classic start menu was removed, the status bar text in Windows Explorer was removed; most standard Windows programs seemed to have gotten an entire overhaul and turned confusing; the taskbar was ugly compared to Vista; right clicking something on the task bar brought up this stupid frame which prevented my quick 'right click -> click' to close the app; did I mention the old start menu was removed?; the control panel turned into a text based list, further adding to confusion; icons in windows explorer don't truncate their names anymore; no classic start menu.

Seriously, no classic start menu.

If those weren't bad enough: They removed CRT support. ClearType was forced without any clear way to turn it off. I only found options to 'tune' the look of it. It caused me eye strain and eventually made me feel sick.

All that made me go back to Vista and embrace the older OS; despite how much I wished I could use 7 due to its core improvements. But hey, at least Vista got DX11.

Eventually, I obtained another computer with Windows 7 on it and got handed an LCD. I tried 7 out again. I converted the start menu to more of a classic feel, ddded quick launch back, and installed Seven Classic Start (google it) to replicate the classic start menu. While it was a lot easier to use at that point, the other problems still existed. I couldn't keep using the OS. Again, I went back to Vista.

I assume Windows 8 will be minorly different from 7, or even worse than 7. I'm unsure how long I'll be able to stick with Vista, but it doesn't look like I'll be changing in the foreseeable future.

DAOWAce (link) - 02 04 11 - 16:33

Bah, can't edit comments.

"I converted the start menu to more of a classic feel, ddded quick launch back,"

start menu = taskbar*

ddded = added*

DAOWAce (link) - 02 04 11 - 16:36

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