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 http://wfp.microsoft.com 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 winpanel@microsoft.com 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 http://connect.microsoft.com. Stay tuned!

-- Christina Storm

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  • <b>

    Microsoft needs to create in the Control Panel a section called 'Services' with some settings you can choose from, as an example called, Business & Home and when you pick one of them services appropriate for your choice are enabled or disabled. For the Home user all of the services would be disabled. Also it would be nice to include other options so that if a Home user would like to turn on or off the printer, fax or other various services they could have easy access to this as well.

    The point of implementing such an option would be more specifically geared to Home users so when they pick 'Home' then everything is shut down so maximum performance is gained in the OS.

    It's time that Home users can have an OS that is geared towards them as well without all the different types of services running they'll never use that are taking up resources.

    Let's not bring up the debate that memory is cheap, the point here is that there is no point for all of these services running for a Home user, regardless of the memory and eliminating them with a simple click of an option would help improve systemm performance, not to mention help to improve system security with less vulnerability.

    </b>

  • 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?

  • Customization , efficient and smaller core , services enabled and disabled when needed what has do work with programs <- can't it be done that they run like you are switching profiles  when some things need restart or something then it just makes some refresh while eliminating  unneeded stuff?

    And can it use different ways for SSD and HHD ?

    Because there can come many different performance issues if computer doesn't change its behaviors of handling based on hardware.

  • 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.

  • I have used every version of windows starting with 3.1 and Windows 7 is the worst operating system I have ever delt with. It is full of bugs, locks up and is totally unfriendly. I have elected to purchase a MAC.

  • It would be great if we could somehow put Zune's software inside WMP if you know what I mean.

    I am also not that impressed with Windows 7, as many here said before me :O

  • That thing about people adjusting their resolutions down, even though their display handles higher is something which really annoys me. Windows handles high DPI displays *really* badly, and in my opinion, it's even worse in Vista.

    The "programs have to opt-in to being High DPI aware or else we'll use bitmap scaling to scale them" feature is horrible. Most applications actually *do* handle high DPI pretty well (WinForms and MFC, for example, do a reasonable job). Coupled with ClearType, and bitmap scaling windows is just a terrible idea...

  • WIndows 7 didnt meet my expectation than the vista when i found that many good features of vista have been removed in windows 7. features like mini windows media player on the taskbar and dream scene content which were good attractive features have been removed in windows 7.. I feel upgradin to windows 7 is a waste

  • I have approximately 250 pictures, all named under the Library/Pictures folder. When I an in Google "Compose"/"File Upload" about half of the pictures are renamed with a series of approximately 20 numbers. WHY? This really makes me angry after paying thousands for a computer with Windows 7 which is supposed to be better than Windows XP; but so far it's a POS!!

  • Is Uniscribe usp10.dll in Windows 8 Pro compatible to Uniscribe usp10.dll in Windows 7.

    Will say, can one replace the older usp10.dll in Windows 7/windows/system32 by the newer usp10.sll found in Windows 8/windows/system32?

  • Please Please Please can you incorporate multiple monitor support in the Windows 8.1 update, so that Metro and all it's apps span across multiple monitors and that it can be setup in the devices menu, along with full screen support in desktop mode. And why aren't there any main stream apps (like Office and Autodesk Inventor) in Metro mode, Thanks Rod

  • That tutorial did not help me. I can't move the mouse over to the other monitor

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