Engineering Windows 7

Welcome to our blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7

The Windows Feedback Program

The Windows Feedback Program

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Introducing Christina Storm who is a program manager on the Windows Customer Engineering feature team working on telemetry. 

In a previous article Steven has introduced the Windows 7 Feature Teams. I am a program manager working on telemetry on the Windows Customer Engineering team. Our team delivers the Windows Feedback Program, one of several feedback programs in place today that allow us to work directly with customers and make them part of our engineering process.

The Windows Feedback Program (WFP) has been active for several years during the Windows XP and Windows Vista product cycles, and we are currently ramping up to get all aspects of this program ready for Windows 7. At the core of this program is a large research panel of customers who sign up via our website during open enrollment. Customers choose to be part of a survey program, an automated feedback program or both. They then complete a 20-minute profiling survey, which later allows us to look at their feedback based on their profile. We have customers spanning a wide spectrum of computer knowledge in our program, and we are constantly working on balancing the panel to staff up underrepresented groups. The majority of customers who are spontaneously willing to participate in a feedback program like ours are generally enthusiastic about technology. They are early adopters of consumer electronics, digital devices and new versions of software. In contrast, customers who see the PC as a tool to get a job done tend to be a bit more reluctant to join. And we also need more female participants!

Customers who participate in the automated feedback program install a data collection tool developed by the Windows Telemetry Team. The privacy agreement of this program describes the data collections our tool performs. Here are a few examples:

  • Windows usage behavior including installed and used applications.
  • File and folder structures on your computer, including number of types of files in folders, such as number of jpg files in the Pictures folder.
  • System-specific information, such as hardware, devices, drivers, and settings installed on your computer.
  • Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) data.

From the collected data we create reports that are consumed by a large number of Windows feature teams as well as planners and user researchers. This chart below shows the answer to the following question: What is the most common file type that customers who participate in our program store on their PCs and what are the most popular storage locations?

Graph showing common file types and locations.  The most common file type are .jpg across all typical locations.

The results help us both with planning for handling the volumes of data customers store on their PCs as well as mimicking real-life scenarios in our test labs by setting up PCs with similar file numbers and file sizes and distribution of files on the PCs.

These data collections furthermore allow us to create reports based on profiled panelists. The above chart may look different if we created it based on data delivered only by developers and then compare it to data delivered only by gamers, just to name a couple of different profiles that participate in our program. The Windows knowledge level sometimes makes a difference, too. Therefore it is very important to us that customers participate in this program who consider themselves Windows experts as well as customers who don’t enjoy spending too much time with the PC, who just see the PC as a tool to get things done. Based on the data, we may decide to optimize certain functionality for a particular profile.

In general, we utilize this data to better understand what to improve in the next version of Windows.  Let’s take a look at how the representative sample has their monitors configured.  First what resolutions do customers run with on their PCs?  The following table lists typical resolutions and the distribution based on the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program, which samples all opt-in PCs (Note the numbers do not add to 100% because not every single resolution is included):

Distribution of common screen resolutions.  Approximately 46% of customers run with 1600x1200 and 1280x1024.  Approximately 10% of customers run with HD resolution.

One thing you might notice is that about 10% of consumers are running with HD or greater resolution.  In some of the comments, people were asking if our data represented the “top” or “power users”.  Given this sample size and the number of folks with industry leading resolution I think it is reasonable to conclude that we adequately represent this and all segments.  This sample is a large sample (those that opt-in) of an extremely large dataset (all Windows customers) so is statistically relevant for segmented studies,

We have found that a large percentage of our program participants lower their display resolution from the highest usable for their display. Looking at the data coming from the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program to compare to, and noticed a similar trend: over 50% of customers with 1600x1200 screen resolution displays are adjusting their resolution down to 1024x768, likely because they find it uncomfortable to read the tiny text on high resolution displays. The negative effect of this resolution change is the loss of fidelity to the point where reading text in editors and web browsers is difficult. High definition video content also won’t be able to render properly.

Here is the data just for customers with displays capable of 1600x1200:

Actual running resolution for customers with 1600x1200 capable displays shows that 68% of customers reduce their actual screen resolution.

In a future blog post, one of the program managers from the Windows Desktop Graphics team is going to describe what we have done with that information to improve display quality and reading comfort in Windows 7.

We also frequently use our data to select appropriate participants for a survey. A researcher may be interested in sending out an online survey only to active users of virtual machine applications. We would first determine that group of users by looking at our “application usage” data and then create the list of participants for the researcher. Sometimes we combine automatically collected data with survey responses to analyze the relationship between a customer’s overall satisfaction and their PC configuration.

At the current point in time, 50% of our panel participants are using Windows XP and 50% are using Windows Vista. We are currently not offering open enrollment. If you are interested in being invited to this program, please send an email to indicating “Notify me for enrollment” in the subject line. If you’d like to add a bit of information about yourself, including your Windows knowledge level, that would be much appreciated! We will add you to our request queue and make our best effort to invite you when we have capacity.

When we release the Windows 7 beta we will also be collecting feedback from this panel and asking for participation from a set of Windows 7 beta users. Our current plans call for signing up for the beta to happen in the standard Microsoft manner on Stay tuned!

-- Christina Storm

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  • Please add 3 and 3 and type the answer here:
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  • Just to add again...please make beta available to all the users. Microsoft won't lose anything if they do so but will gain so much by doing so because we want a more stable OS, not an OS full of annoying bugs (retail versions of Windows w/o SP installed) as opposed to waiting for SP1. Thanks

  • Microsoft seems to have a great desktop OS already... It is not vista, or XP but there new server 2008 if trimmed down would make an excellent platform for a windows client OS... 2k8 is solid and i am using it as a desktop OS right now... I hope windows 7 is the same format, although i would also hope it has been cleaned up... Vista seems to have alot of coding left in it that is just dead code which causes a slew of issues. They should release a patch to change the structure back to "Classic OS" not just desktop. If they would do that, and allow the option to kill defender without having to write your own scripts to do so at boot, i would really concider putting it into place. The issue with vista is that a client who is use-to windows 95-xp is going to need to learn everything over again. This causes havok as a IT engineer, At that point i would be better off teaching everyone ubuntu, and now with Open office and thunderbird i can use MS exchange 2k7 on a 2k8 server and be set. If 7 is as huge and resource hungry i might need to move to linux, mostly because i dont want to spend 2grand on each machine to run vista or 7.

    Please Microsoft i have been a customer for years, and would love to stick with you...

    MCSE 2k



    VBS Programmer

    Custom script guru

    System registry Pro

    "The look on the VISTA users face when you have XP Pro sp3 running on a 64mb of ram 50 dollar machine that will roast his Vista box... Priceless"

  • I'm not sure where to report this so doing it here:  Theres a really bad bug in vista - it may affect all opengl apps when they touch the taskbar the framerate halves.  At the very least it affects blender, but I can't see how it couldn't affect other apps.  I really hope this is fixed in windows 7.

    To reproduce:

    Download blender

    Click Game->Show Framerate and physics

    Hover over the 3d window and press P

    Do this, with the window touching the start bar and not touching the startbar.  - When touching the startbar the framerate is halved.

    (you may need to increase the default framerate to see this).

    - This is tested without aero.

    With aero enabled and transparent menus turned on in blender many artifacts are visible - instead of being transparent, the menus show other parts of the screen underneath them.

  • My feedback for Windows 7 would be:

    An OS skin that disables all nice thingies.

    Like icons... I don't need icons to work fast; neither do a lot of people.

    Icons take a lot of speed of the computer away. Especially notebooks and mini notebooks can benefit from having this no-nonsense approach.

    No icons,

    No aero,

    No unnecessary fancy stuff that loads in the background,like media sharing. How many pc's actually use media sharing?

    Yet if you install Windows Media Player, the service is enabled.

    I would like to have a service monitor, that disables unused services,and sets on manual services that get used seldomly, rarely or very infrequent.

    I like plain and old Win 3.11 simplicity.

    No Vista System properties. The system properties of XP (rightclick my computer, properties) has a very nice overview.

    One of my greatest frustrations is that I can never buy an OS that runs flawless on my hardware. By the time Win3.11 was out, everyone switched to Win95.

    Troubled by bugs finally at the last year of Windows 98 Se,one could buy a system that could run Win98 smoothly.

    Then switch over to XP. Again a slower OS. Booting and operation was lots slower in XP,

    I needed a $4000 pc to make it run smoothly.

    Finally after 5 years, I could buy an affordable laptop that was powerful enough to run XP.

    then Vista came out.

    I never made the switch.

    But there are mini notebooks out there, that just don't have the power and capacity to run Vista,or a heavy OS.

    Windows 7 could be their rescuer in a sense that it can be optimized to work swiftly and with a good response on a lower powered device.

    Even today,people who bought a pc 2 to 3 years ago, can't run vista enjoyably on their pc's.

    Vista nearly 'demands' a dualcore CPU, and at least 2GB of RAM (which I think is stupid, because 2GBof RAM is too little, and the next step on most pc's is installing a second 2GB, but the OS does not support 4GB).

    By the time Vista runs fine on all pc's there's another switch.

    I don't want to need to buy a 8core system with 2xgpu cards!

    I want to be able to buy an atom powered green device, with x300 or x400-like graphics (good enough to see 720p movies, and do some office tasks.

    Another issue is inaccessible folders on the HD.

    Everything should be accessible!

    Standardized folders: I'm never using 'my music','my movies', or 'my webs',why can't I delete them? Same goes with recycler and System Volume Information.

    I also hate any folder like the last two to appear on external devices like USB sticks and HD's.

    I know I'm not the only one thinking this way!

    screen resolution: most notebooks have widescreen. that is 1280x800,1024x600, 1366x768, or 1440x960 or likes.

    Please don't focus on 3/4 screens!

    give or take a couple of years and everyone has a 16/9, willing or not willing.

    3/4 is better for office applications and book reading, 16/9 for games, and movies.

    My input would also be, please, stick to a sub 4GB operating system. Too much space on the OS is not nice.Most mini notebooks have no more than 16GB space internally.

    I don't know if this is the right place to post it, but seeing this blog gets read by MS I hope this will reach them.

    Last time I called, they deducted 1 of my 3 service calls for Vista,just because their customer support sucks even more than sony, or any other brand!

    You'd say MS should have a great customer service, but you'd be wrong..

    You can browse for days on their website, and still not talk to a human being.

    Computers are dumb and can not reply to every question.

  • I really appreciate your efforts in devoloping and improving the OS by using this feedback-program. I am convinced that you interpret the datas correctly. But I am concerned about the validation of the datas, since the participators do not represent a significant sample. What other programms do you use, in order to confront this problem?

  • I will be good if we can merge the Zune software into the WMP software, with the Zune software as the base. Also, heard that the beta version of windows 7 is out even before release. Is this true? Anyone can clarify?

  • I am really excited about windows 7. I like all the good things you guys are doing with new OS.

  • Let's hope it will all go well...

  • Shame that i could not sign up for the Beta, as far as I'm concerned its already out before i know it and i did not have time to sign up or even do research on it.

  • I am not sure where to post feedback on features, redirect if there is a better place. My comments are around the Pin to Taskbar feature. There are several reason the old quick launch is preferred over pin to taskbar. The pin to taskbar takes up too much room, becomes confusing when it gets mixed in with the buttons for active applications.

    I use the feature in leiu of desktop icons. I make my taskbar two rows high. I can line up almost all the icons I use on the smaller quicklaunch format. Then I put the active buttons area on the bottom row.

    Pin to Taskbar just doesn't come close to meeting my needs.

  • the good old times. Now we use Vista.

  • I really do not have any recommendations for more changes, right now that is. I just wanted to wish all of you veterans' a Happy Memorial Day.



  • first of all before i start i want to give all of the team from microsoft a huge pat on the back this is by far so far the best windows operating system that you released, however, from experience here are somethings that i think need to be fixed before its put on my shelf, as my main customers are people who find simple... complicated at most times, and some other things that i would like to see,


    Improvements & Features


    using some classic features to improve users experience eg:

    1. Classic Menu

    - the menu's have been very similar all the way back to windows 95 there were small changes through all the releases all the way to window xp, then windows vista was a new start menu system however it had the ability to go back to what most of us are used too,

    2. Classic Control Panel

    - again this comes back to the complication of levels before you can get to something, the amount of times it took me to find something and how frustrating it was in vista, for most of my clients its impossible to use they ended up going back to windows xp just for ease of use

    3. Start Menu Search Bar - This is in the wrong place, in start menu properties it needs to be able to be removed and even stuck in the taskbar only


    Multiple Screens Features


    1. Taskbar on multiple screens

    this good when your working with multiple applications and require different combinations of applications to complete your product,

    - having the ability to seperate the programs displayed on one screen on its own task bar

    - also have the ability to enable the option to duplicate the taskbar on the main or both screens for quicker switching

    2. Desktop background

    - have the ability to display different images on each screen

    - and have the ability to duplicate and image but being able to mirror it

    - have the ability to use 1 image to stretch to fit the both screens

    3. Screen Saver & power saving

    - have the ability to turn a screen saver on a screen that has not been used for a period of time

    - have the ability to turn off a screen when its not been used for a period of time

  • "ClipCursor" and "SetCursorPos" don't seem to work on Win7.

    Why ?

    Can you please fix this ?

    Why would a function like that fail ?

  • Some more info on my previous post.

    The program runs fine in Windows XP.

    I don't know what happens in Vista.

    If someone can guess and tell me what's going on I'd be grateful.

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