Behind the scenes with Windows 7

Apr 19, 2009 By JESSICA MINTZ , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- To design Windows 7, Microsoft analyzed billions of pieces of data. It studied exactly what PC users do in front of their screens. It tallied hundreds of thousands of Windows surveys. It got feedback from people all over the world who tried different versions of the software.

As a result, every change or new feature in Windows 7 comes with a back story. Here is a sampling of things you'll see in the next and explanations of how each came about.

- New feature: You decide the left-to-right order of icons in the task bar at the bottom of your screen.

- Back story: Microsoft's research showed Vista users commonly launching a series of programs, then closing and immediately reopening some. realized that these people wanted their programs to appear in the same order on the task bar every time.

- New feature: Right-click on a task bar icon and get a "jump list," a menu of important or frequently used options for the program.

- Back story: Microsoft had resisted the idea of hiding a key feature behind a right click, worried people wouldn't find it. But the data showed most people right-click on icons to see what that might do.

- New feature: Drag one open window to the left side of the screen, then another to the right side to line them up so they are the same size and side by side.

- Back story: Microsoft couldn't initially figure out why people were spending so much time resizing windows and dragging them around. It turned out that users were trying to give themselves a side-by-side view of documents for easy comparison.

- New feature: Libraries, or virtual folders that have to files that are actually stored in many different places on a or home network.

- Back story: From its Vista data, Microsoft could see people's photos, music and other files were swelling in number and stashed all over the place, not organized into the dedicated folders Microsoft had set up.

- New feature: "Shake" an open window with your mouse to make all the other ones "minimize" into the task bar.

- Back story: Microsoft's research showed that people often had six or even 10 windows open at once, which gets distracting. Shake is one of several designed to help people tame all the open windows.

- New feature: Move your mouse to the bottom-right corner to make all your windows temporarily transparent. Then click the mouse, and all the windows minimize.

- Back story: What's notable here is what Microsoft didn't do. There's no tutorial or bubble advertising the feature, a small step toward making quieter than Vista. "We want people to confidently explore the system," said Sam Moreau, a user experience manager.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Technology to help people with disabilities to learn and communicate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

It's not hard to customize Vista

Jan 21, 2009

Q. I purchased a new PC with Vista Home Premium installed. Windows Photo Gallery came preinstalled with a bundle of programs. Previously I used Picasa2, which I prefer now that I have tried Photo Gallery. The problem is that ...

Microsoft Announces Windows Mobile 6.5

Feb 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona, Microsoft officially revealed the new Windows phones featuring new user-friendly software and services. The next generation of Windows phones ...

Emails show Microsoft's Vista problems

Feb 29, 2008

E-mails suggest Microsoft executives struggled to make Windows Vista work on their own computers after it was released, a published report said.

Recommended for you

BPG image format judged awesome versus JPEG

Dec 17, 2014

If these three letters could talk, BPG, they would say something like "Farewell, JPEG." Better Portable Graphics (BPG) is a new image format based on HEVC and supported by browsers with a small Javascript ...

Atari's 'E.T.' game joins Smithsonian collection

Dec 15, 2014

One of the "E.T." Atari game cartridges unearthed this year from a heap of garbage buried deep in the New Mexico desert has been added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

superhuman
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 19, 2009
Back story: Microsoft still baffled by the way people interact with computers after decades in the business.
bugmenot23
not rated yet Apr 20, 2009
Reprinting MS press-release propaganda? This is extremely disappointing and sadly under-informative.

I'm in IA and HCI, in exploring Win 7 for my company I was pleased for the first 15 seconds. But it was shortly revealed that the main problem with it is it's still windows. These UXD techniques that MS is happy to waste money on simply do not hold water. In trying to please all the people all the time they end up creating an abysmal system that works just as horribly for everyone.

Cannot and will not recommend it, despite the propaganda.


bugmenot23
not rated yet Apr 20, 2009
@superhuaman - LOL. Awesome. I'm gonna have to steal that comment.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.