Notes on comments.
Welcome to our blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7
Happy Birthday Windows! Given all the interest in the most used user-interface of Windows we thought it would be good to take a look back and see how we got to Windows 7. --Steven
We were very excited to unveil elements of the Windows 7 desktop at this year’s Professional Developers Conference (as seen in the Welcome to the Windows 7 Desktop session, among others). In previous posts (User Interface: Starting, Launching, and Switching and Follow-up: Starting, Launching, and Switching) we looked at the history, anatomy and areas for improvement of the taskbar. In this post, we will continue the conversation. Don’t let looks fool you though—the UI may feel new to Windows for some of you or old hat for some of you, but rest assured it represents a careful evolution that strives to address customer feedback while retaining its familiar Windows DNA.
It was 23 years ago on November 20, 1985 when Windows first shipped. As it just so happens, this first Microsoft graphical shell actually holds relevance to this post as it surfaced one of the industry’s first taskbar-like concepts.
Fig 1 Windows 1.01: Icons at the bottom of the screen represent running windows
Windows 1.0 supported zoomed (full-screen), tiled and icon (minimized) windows. Since there was no support for overlapping [that big debate between charless and billg, Steven], a dedicated portion of the desktop was kept visible at the bottom of the screen to surface non-tiled and non-zoomed windows. By minimizing a window or dragging it to the bottom of the screen, the person was able to populate this rudimentary taskbar with a large icon corresponding to the running window. She could then get back to this window by clicking or dragging this icon to the desktop. As simple as this mechanism seems today, it cemented an important concept that is with us even in Windows 7—when people switch between tasks, they are really switching between windows. Although it took Windows 95 to introduce a mature taskbar with launching, switching and notification functionality, the experience of surfacing and switching between windows via a dedicated region at the bottom of the screen is as ancient as Windows 1.0.
In the previous taskbar posts, we discussed some high-level principles we defined after digesting the mountain of data and feedback on the taskbar. Here’s a more detailed look at the goals we identified and how we began to frame feature concepts.
It is easy to get to the programs and destinations you use all the time, with less mouse movement and fewer clicks.
Accessing commonly used programs within a single click required us to enrich Quick Launch by increasing its presence on the taskbar and making more top-level room for pinned items. We began looking into how Quick Launch interacted with the taskband and how launching and switching were sometimes separate and other times duplicative. For example, almost all single-instance programs in Windows interpret an attempt to re-launch them as a switch if they are already running. So, clicking Outlook’s icon in Quick Launch would merely switch to the program if it was already running and present in the taskband. To make room for more items on the taskbar, we knew we had to remove some of the redundancy and free up valuable real-estate.
When researching and modeling a person’s workflow, we came to realize that there were three basic steps that a person frequently seems repeats. First, she finds the program and launches it. Then, she uses the program’s UI to open a file she wants to work on. Then finally, she gets to work. We asked ourselves whether we could help people jump directly to these items by skipping the first two steps. We called these files, folders, links, websites and other items that programs create or consume “destinations” as they represent where the person is ultimately is navigating to. We decided that these destinations should also be easily accessible from the taskbar. However, for real success and adoption, we needed to think through how destinations could be effectively surfaced to the person without the need for manual customization or by requiring developers to do lots of work.
You can switch to the right window quickly without mistakes and effortlessly position windows the way you want them.
This goal spoke to the very heart of the taskbar—the ability to switch between windows. This challenged us with seeking a more predictable method of surfacing windows on the taskbar, meaningful use of text and a reliable method of helping people consistently switch with confidence. We’ve had text on the taskbar for years and Vista introduced thumbnails, but customer feedback informed us that there was room for improvement. Interestingly, we found inspiration in old features such as Windows XP’s window grouping and Alt-Tab’s visual layout of individual windows.
During our investigation, we also spent time looking into why a person would switch windows in the first place. Two interesting scenarios emerged—one in which she needs to get some information from a window (e.g. getting a phone number) and to interact with a window’s options (e.g. controlling background music). We wondered whether we could address these task switching cases in a novel way—by actually removing the need to switch completely.
The desktop reflects your style. You get to personalize the experience, choosing what is important to you, including how and when you receive notifications.
By far the biggest target of feedback, the Notification Area had to put control back in the hands of people. It was decided that instead of the opt-out model that required the person to clean up this area, we would start with a clean experience. Only system icons would appear by default and then people can to customize this area to their liking.
The desktop experience feels organized, lightweight, open and is a pleasure to use. Visuals and animations are delighters the first time and every time.
A successful product is more than the utility it serves—it is also an experience. From the very start we wanted the taskbar, and the desktop as a whole, to draw an emotional response from the person. This required a set of scoped delighters that demoed well and retained their appeal over time. We began to define a personality for the UI using terms such as “glass and energy,” Chi, authenticity and many others. These investigations helped define a visual and animation language that we could then apply to several aspects of Windows 7. Expect a future blog post that delves much deeper into this important design process—much of which Sam discussed in his PDC session.
The Windows 7 taskbar is about launching with ease, switching with confidence and all the while remaining in control. The UI is made up of several key features that complete common end-to-end scenarios. Let’s dive into each of these elements and how they work.
The taskbar has undergone a facelift. We’ve enabled large icons by default (as seen in Windows 1.0 and also an option of Quick Launch since Windows 95 with IE 4). This affords a richer icon language, improves identification of programs and improves targeting for both the mouse and touch. Yet, one of the most important advantages large icons provide is a means to promote the taskbar as the central place to launch everyday tasks. We joke that the new taskbar is the “beachfront property of the Windows OS” and in turn, we are already seeing many people populating the UI with their commonly used programs. Somewhat if a visual trick, the taskbar is only 10 pixels (at 96 DPI) higher than its Vista counterpart (when used as a single row, since multiple rows are still supported, along with positioning around the screen edges).
Fig 2. The Windows 7 taskbar: Default settings include large icons, no text and glass surface
To mitigate its slightly increased height and the larger icons, we decided to impart the UI with a more prominent glass treatment. This also allows us to better showcase the person’s color preference (you’ll recall that in a previous post we revealed that almost 30% of sessions have personalized glass). We also changed the Vista behavior so that when a window is maximized, both the taskbar and the window’s title bar continue to remain open and translucent. We received lots of feedback on Vista that many people didn’t like these UIs turning opaque and dark.
You can still pin programs to the taskbar by dragging them or via a context menu, just like you have always done with Quick Launch. Destinations can also be pinned via a drag/drop, but they are designed to be surfaced differently as we’ll see under the Jump List section.
If one increases the size of Quick Launch, one must then determine what to do with the taskband. As previously discussed, we observed that under many scenarios of single-instance programs, launching and switching were equivalent. Hence, we decided to standardize this behavior and have program launchers turn into window switchers when they are launched. Effectively, we unified Quick Launch and the taskband. While some other operating systems have similar concepts, one difference with our approach is that our default experience always optimizes for a single representation on the taskbar. This means that regardless of a window’s state (e.g. minimized, maximized or restored) there are no new or duplicate buttons created. Also, the default taskbar doesn’t allow destinations to be pinned to the top-level which prevents duplication of a pinned file and a running window with that same file open. When we say there is “one button to rule them all” we’re serious. This approach to a single, unified button keeps the taskbar uncluttered and gives the person a single place to find what she’s looking for.
Combining launching and switching also made it easier to provide the most requested feature—the ability to move taskbar buttons. Quick Launch as always allowed this, but combining this mechanism with the taskband naturally extended rearrange functionality to running windows.
Vista showed thumbnails when the user hovers on a taskbar button and Windows 7 improves upon this design. Unlike Vista, these thumbnails are now an extension of their corresponding button so the person can click on these visual aides to switch to a given window. The thumbnail is also is a more accurate representation of a window complete with an icon in the top left corner, window text and even the ubiquitous close button in the top right.
Fig 3. Thumbnails: Grouped, interactive thumbnails make it easier to manage windows
One of the most important functions of the taskbar is to surface individual windows so people can easily switch between them. Having unified a program launcher and a single window switcher, the next logical step was to determine how multiple windows of a program could be combined and presented. We looked no further than a feature introduced in Windows XP called window grouping. When the taskbar became full, windows of a program could collapse into a single menu. However, there were a few challenges with the design. First, the behavior isn’t predictable. People don’t really understand when this scaling mechanism is triggered. Second, a listview of windows isn’t always the best way to represent these items. Finally, opening the menu always required a click, which slowed some people down. Our solution was to combine buttons by default for a predictable experience, to use grouped thumbnails and to have these thumbnails appear on hover as well as on click. Think of this approach as a contextual Alt-tab surfaced directly off the taskbar. When the person brings her mouse to a taskbar button, all the thumbnails of a program appear simultaneously making for a organized, light-weight switching model. To polish off the experience, we show a visual cue of stacked tiles that provides feedback on whether there are multiple windows running for a program. We also recognized that a set of people may still wish to see an individual buttons for each window and an option permits this behavior.
With the Windows 7 taskbar, there is a single place to go regardless of whether the program is not running, running with one window or running with several windows. Rich thumbnails provide more intuitive ways of managing and switching between windows.
Here’s a riddle for you—what’s the best size for a window’s preview that will guarantee that the you can accurately identify it? Grouped thumbnails look and feel great, but we know these small previews don’t always provide enough information to identify a window. Sure they work great for pictures, but not so for emails or documents. The answer is simply to show the actual window—complete with its real content, real size and real location. That’s the concept behind Aero Peek.
When the taskbar doesn’t offer enough information via text or a thumbnail, the person simply moves the mouse over a taskbar thumbnail and voilà—the corresponding window appears on the desktop and all other windows fade away into glass sheets. Once you see the window you want, just click to restore it. Not only does this make finding a window a breeze, it may also remove the need to switch altogether for scenarios in which one just needs a quick glance to glean information. Peek also works on the desktop too. Show Desktop has been moved to the far right of the taskbar where one can still click on this button to switch to the desktop. The control enjoys a Fitts magic corner which makes it very easy to target. If you just move your mouse over the control, all windows on the desktop turn to glass allowing the desktop to be seen. It’s easy to now glance at a stock or the weather gadget or to check to see if a file is on the desktop.
Fig 4. Aero Peek: Hovering over a thumbnail peeks at its corresponding window on the desktop
We spent a lot of time analyzing different aspects of Peek. For example, we recognized that when people are using the feature, they won’t be necessary focused on the taskbar as they look at windows on the desktop. An early prototype triggered Peek directly off the top-level of the taskbar but this revealed issues. Moving the mouse across a small a region to trigger different previews exited Peek since the natural arc of hand motion resulted in the mouse falling off the taskbar. By only triggering Peek off the thumbnails, we gained much more room for the mouse to arc and we also reduced accidental triggers.
As far back as Windows 1.0, there has always been a system menu that shows contextual controls for running windows and their programs. This menu is accessible by right-clicking on a taskband button or in the top left corner of most windows. By default, the menu exposes windows controls such as close. (Random trivia—ever wonder why the system menu off a taskbar button always shows close in bold when close isn’t the double-click behavior? Well, the answer is that double-clicking the top left region of most windows will close it and the bolded option makes sense in this context. The same menu just happens to be hosted in both locations.) Over the years, some programs have extended the system menu to surface relevant tasks. For example, Command Prompt reveals tasks such as editing options, defaults and properties in its system menu. However, this is a bit of a free-for-all for programs to opt in or not, resulting in an inconsistent experience for people. Another blow to this scenario is that the system menu is only accessible when the program is running. This makes sense since the default commands are about window management, but what if you wanted to access a program’s tasks even it isn’t running?
As we discussed under the goals section, we thought about the various steps people have to take to accomplish tasks and whether we could reduce them. Be it getting to a destination or accessing the commands of a program, we wanted to make it easier for people to jump to the things they are trying to accomplish. Jump Lists are a new feature of the Windows 7 taskbar that accomplish just this. Think of this feature as a mini Start Menu for each program or an evolved version of the system menu. Jump Lists surface commonly used nouns (destinations) and verbs (tasks) of a program. There are several advantages this new approach provides. First, the you don’t need to even start the program to quickly launch a file or access a task. Second, destinations don’t take up valuable space on the taskbar; they are automatically organized by their respective program in a simple list. Should one have ten programs pinned or running on her taskbar, this means she could have quick access to over 150 destinations she uses all the time, without even the need to customize the UI! Since the Jump List shows lots of text for each of its items, gone are the days of having identical icons on your taskbar that are indistinguishable without a tooltip. Should you wish to keep a specific destination around, you can simply pin it to the list.
Fig 5. Jump List: Right-clicking on Word gives quick access to recently used documents
To make sure we provide a consistent and valuable experience out-of-the-box, we decided to pre-populate Jump Lists and also allow programs to customize the experience. By default, the menu contains the program’s shortcut, the ability to toggle pinning, the ability to close one or all windows and a program’s recent destinations (assuming they use the Common File Dialog, register their file type or use the Recent Items API). Programs are able to replace the default MRU (Most Recently Used) list with a system-maintained MFU (Most Frequently Used) list, should their destinations be very volatile. For example, while Word will benefit from a MRU just like the one in their File Menu, Windows Explorer has opted to enable the MFU because people tend to visit many paths throughout a session. Programs are also able to provide their own custom destination list when they have a greater expertise of the person’s behavior (e.g. IE exposes their own history). Still others like Windows Live Messenger and Media Player surface tasks or a mix of tasks and destinations.
In case we haven’t yet impressed it upon you, the taskbar is about a single place to launch and switch. Jump Lists offer another important piece of the puzzle as it surfaces valuable destinations and tasks off a program’s unified taskbar button.
All the major web browsers offer tabs and a method of managing these tabs. One could argue tab toolbars are really like taskbars since they facilitate switching. These TDI (Tabbed Document Interface) and MDI (Multiple Document Interface) programs have always resorted to creating their own internal window management systems as the Windows taskbar was not optimized to help their scenarios. Some programs like Excel did custom work to surface their child windows on the taskbar, but this approach was somewhat of a hack.
Since the new taskbar already groups individual windows of a program under a single button, we can now offer a standard way for programs that have child windows to expose them. Again, the taskbar offers a single, consistent place to access real windows as well as child windows. These custom window switchers also behave as regular windows on the taskbar with rich thumbnails and even Aero Peek.
In the earlier taskbar posts, we discussed how Windows Media Player’s deskband offers valuable background music controls, but only a mere 3% of sessions ever enjoy the functionality. The new taskbar exposes a feature called Thumbnail Toolbars that surface up to seven window controls right in context of taskbar buttons. Unlike a Jump List that applies globally to a program, this toolbar is contextual to just a specific window. By embracing this new feature, Media Player can now reach a majority of people.
Fig 6. Thumbnail Toolbar: Window controls easily accessible in context of a taskbar thumbnail
Thumbnail Toolbars leave the taskbar uncluttered and allow relevant tasks to be conveniently accessible directly from a taskbar thumbnail. Surfacing tasks reduces the need to switch to a window.
We’re happy to announce that the Notification Area is back under your control. By default, only a select few system icons are shown while all others appear in a menu. Simply drag icons on or off the taskbar to control the experience. Better yet, every balloon tip that appears in the system has a little wrench icon that allows one to quickly “swat” an annoying alert by immediately seeing what is causing the notification and a direct way to disable it.
Fig 7. Notification Overflow: By default icons appear in an overflow area that you can then promote
Interestingly a very popular change to Notification Area isn’t about reducing noise, but rather showing more information. The default taskbar now reveals both the time and the date. Finally!
Cleaning the Notification Area warrants us to consider other ways that programs can surface important information. We’ll always had overlay icons throughout Windows (e.g. to show shortcuts in Explorer) so we decided to bring this functionality to the taskbar. An icon can now be shown over a program’s taskbar button. Furthermore, programs can also give feedback about progress by having their taskbar button turn into a progress bar.
Fig 8. Progress Bars: Explorer utilizes taskbar progress to show a copy operation in process
A program can now easily show an icon or progress in context of its taskbar button which furthers the one place, one button philosophy of the taskbar.
Color hot-track is a small touch that typifies the new taskbar’s personality. When a person moves her mouse over a running program on the taskbar, she will be pleasantly surprised to find that a light source tracks her mouse and the color of the light is actually based on the icon itself. We calculate the most dominant RGB of the icon and dynamically paint the button with this color. Color hot-track provides a delight factor, it offers feedback that a program is running and it showcases a program’s icon. We’ve always believed that programs light up the Windows platform and now, we’re returning the favor.
Fig 9. Color Hot-track: moving the mouse across a running window reveals a dynamically colored light effect
Vista introduced several changes to the Start Menu so we decided to minimize churn to this UI in Windows 7. Notable improvements include the availability of Jump Lists and a better power button that defaults to Shutdown, but makes it easy to customize.
Despite all the features of the new taskbar, it is worthwhile noting the UI retains its familiarity. We like to describe our work as evolutionary, not revolutionary. The taskbar continues to be a launch surface, a window switcher and a whisperer of notifications. Whether one is relatively new to Windows or a seasoned pro, we realize change comes at a cost. It is for this reason that we took the time to carefully evaluate feedback, we performed numerous studies to validate our designs and finally, we will continue to provide scoped settings that keep the UI flexible.
We hope this post provided more insight into the new Windows 7 taskbar. Expect future discussions on our design process, how we tested our features and advanced functionality for all you enthusiasts.
Here's a annoying quirk. The "Orb" get's it's bottom cut off when the task bar is at the top. But not always, I have windows 7 on two machines one it cuts it off at the bottom and the other it doesn't, but the one that is does I dual boot with vista and the Vista orb dose not get cut off. Very Strange
My friend installed windows 7 beta on his computer, and I got a chance to use it a little bit.
I must say....
It reminds me a lot of Windows Vista. That's not a good thing. Couldn't you make the "Out the box" experience a little more unique?
I mean, it's like I didn't really install anything new!
Yes, the new taskbar is awesome, but there's that round windows logo again. Why not make the Windows 7 one square? Or triangle? Don't you have artists??!?!
My biggest recommendation to the windows developers (if they're actually reading this)... is that you should try to let people feel good about the new.
Make them feel like they've bought something novel. Make it look new, but not making so many visual points soooooo Vista like.
Perhaps have it default to enabling all of the cool features. Perhaps have a sample living desktop. Do something different!
Windows 7 Taskbar is very good. But I know how to make it perfect :)
On my desktop there is 14 shortcuts fit the taksbar. It's much bigger, than in Windows XP. But not enough for me. The problem is how I use my PC. I use it for everything. I am a developer, so Visual Studio (and MSDN) - is on central place. And sometimes I am a musitian to. Hence Cubase and Guitar Pro (and Akoustic Piano). And Artist. So Photoshop and Illustrator. And Internet and e-mail too. So 14 is not enough.
What is realy need - is little switch on the side. Select "Developper" - and there is Visual Studio. And now there is even command prompt. Select "Administrator" - here is Computer Management, Security Policy and Powershell. Be You an Atrist, Writer, or something else - there is always enough space for You!
Sorry, but this just looks horrible.
I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. Quick launch would do well to be separable from running apps.
Pinning is a great idea, but hey, it could have been in a separate tray.
I no longer seem to be able to control window size an position from the keyboard. It's bad on those occasions where I don't have a mouse, and I don't like finger marks on my touch screen monitor!
Like all developers, I make an effort to put shortcuts for the apps I develop in a neat logical tree. It's a shame then that the GUI will only let me get at that tree (on the start menu) through a window which is just too small. At least it could be sizeable.
Perhaps a better option would be a neat little window that pops up for each level of hierachy, and a highlight that shows which item is selected. If you did it that way, then it would work well with the mouse AND keyboard.
I'm not against change though. A control key combination (perhaps WINKEY+R) that you can hit to launch a dialog with a search box, that finds your apps would be great.
IMO there was nothing wrong with the Vista UI beyond the fallout from UAC. It's a shame that a lot of good stuff has gone along with the UAC fallout. I feel sure it could co-exist, and I don't think you'd be alienating quite so many people.
Oh, and I'd second the comments that those have made about launching second instances of applications like explorer.
I mean it's something I commonly do so I don't have to fiddle with trees on common operations. I can have a different current directory in each.
For the sake of Jumping Leprachaun, give us the power to control where the "common locations" which seem now to be ubiquitous, actually go. For me, the real "MyDocuments" is on another partition, for obvious reasons.
For me, they have never pointed anywhere useful, and they take up huge real estate in the explorer, and on on the keymenu too.
A bit of feedback in Win7 Beta 1.
I am finding programs like MSN messenger really hard to use with this mode. It would be nice to be able to turn it off for certain applications perhaps? Why does messenger no longer appear in the area to the right?
I also tried disabling (Use small icons and Never combine taskbar buttons) this to see what it was like but it's not that nice either. The pinned programs which haven't been launched appear in between open ones - maybe they should stay on the left in this mode. Also it's not that easy to see what the currently selected window is in the taskbar when it's in this mode, especially when the aero transparency is set quite high.
I skimmed above and maybe my questions were answered and I missed them, but I want to put links to locations or vpn connections on my taskbar. I also want to be able to open two explorer windows or two or more browsers at one time.
Having to navigate the start menu to do this seems like a waste of time and clicks.
I figured out that I can place a shortcut to explorer.exe with the path in it on the taskbar but it takes a second to load up as it is starting a whole new explorer process.
Besides the jumplist, am I missing something?
Two request, I know Microsoft won't do it, but I got to ask any way.
a: when task bar is on top prevent programs from slipping underneath of it. This has been happening since 95 and is still "broken"
b: the ability to show, "All Programs" as a menu. I don't want "classic look back" I would like to see the options of putting "All Programs" as an menu in the right hand pane along with my computer, control panel etc.
I actually found a registry hack to turn my favorites in to "all Programs but you loose my favorites in IE All Programs should be a no brainier for Microsoft and it would more than likely appease most who want the classic look to the task bar back....
Looks great. The taskbar is getting better - nice overhaul - but make sure not to let lanuching programs take precedence over tasks and processes.
The icons are hiding processes now. You need to do something about that. You decided to give priority to new "quick launch" and make it hybrid with process status - however hiding the last behind the quick launch bar. I promise you it is going to pop out of the box as an important problem in environments investing in data protection - that is everything but consumers.
So fix this hybrid of new launchbar and process linie. Actually the problem is the process overview is effectively gone.
On top of that the mix of processes (active programs) and programs - the last (programs) will trick users into easy thinking and loose data.
You could offer to highlight background for active programs (processes) and/or give a fact for status. Users can not be held accountable if they dont get this and loose data. Eventually MS will be held accountable.
More elaboration below ...
Did not take the opertunity to comment on follow ups or this one. But will drop my "late" comments here.
BTW I also critisized during Vista Beta that these changes was not made then.
"Except that - I think the possibilities for extending the desktop-band are great" ... a comment I put out earlier when you collected feedback. More focus on the deskband is great. Thx.
However, a few things to expect from users:
- Allthough you have the classic interface many users were used to have a supervision of their tasks just looking at the processline (taskbar). You have to alt-tab now or inspect every active or even passive icon to get some sort of impression what tasks are processing.
The problem may be a professional user logging off not saving his work. Thus such responsibility is now delegated away from the process line (not directly available) - thus also delegated away from the user (he can not see it anymore - he goes "blind") - and current apps do not take this responsibility for sure to persist data that the user did not care to save.
So net effect may be users or businesses loosing unrecoverable data.
You may be need to do something about that.
The process line has aesthetics - looking styled - however static. So even though the prior process line also would collapse the icons were still dynamic or like small screens giving feedback.
Because the icons are static that may give the impression that no processes are left active behind them.
Now you don't get feed back which will make the machine harder to fly safely.
You have to inspect your status to get it. Thats for people would don't care about "status" like surfers and email-writers.
The last group of users will love simple - but they may be going netbook or cheap computer with growing screen size (i.e. also HDMI) - because the don't neither big pc or current macs.
Otherwise - like with Windows Libraries - users are developing same behaviour like historica enthusiatic users since 80'ties. Me being one. The new case for Libraries showed users keep 50% of their data outside their my documents. Nothing new here - they are just getting experienced - and will use the toolbox for more. It may take years - it already did - and now they are managing the file system. What could be harder? If Libraries is an important feature for a majority of windows users today don't expect users to be too simple.
Except from that the taskbar is getting better - nice overhaul - but make sure not to let lanuching programs take precedence over tasks and processes.
>> You could offer to highlight background for active programs (processes) and/or give a fact for status.
The background highlights when the cursor hovers above - but that does not change anything. You still have to interview each program (since you can not by sight distinguish processes and programs - everything looks passive - UNLESS user interacts with icon).
So some options for background coloring that will stick beyond highlighting (interaction) - plus an optional number.
Please let me know if that is already possible to set?
P.s. The current highlighting on interaction is somehow redundant (more aesthetic that functional) because if the icon is hiding proceses the contextual box will anyway. So why not use the highlighting - if you have to choose - for signaling the icon is hiding processes?
Anyway as I already put it will develop into an important problem for businesses that the icons are hiding processes (without giving that information away if user does not inspect each icon before logging off)
Ok, did some more testing ...
Highlighting seems to work allright. Is event-oriented meaning internal triggers (i.e. secuity) may pop a highlighted status - while external triggers (i.e. use interaction - mouse modality) can highlight a give active process status (including eventually popping a list of processes).
This is the default. Beyond that it can be configured to not combine processes.
However - I like the default view.
So - while you can't have everything - think about another default pop in the notification area that will display your process status. However, having it there all the time may be beyond the scope of notication events (since really a service).
May be the system tray would be better.
Meanwhile - as I logged off - like in Vista - Windows offered to changed stuff in most cases.
But think about the possibility of getting your super process status in the default view (just a quick launch + notifications).
So the actualization of the user interface coming well along - but getting a super view or abstract view is still important. It lacks.
The man still needs to be put in control instead of responsbility delegated to os on super process status i.e. to control workflow (i.e. not forget about processes)
So some more config options for a super view control in there - if hidden allright for now with me (i.e. group policy)
Beyond that - very satisfied with the taskbar.
P.s. I know I can probably do this creation myself and may be will.
Must say after having used it a bit - I'm really starting to like it.
What got me off in the first place was really the passive icons on the left - iexplore, explorer and media player.
Now I understand that the super vision is there if you consider the icons normally a collection of processes - while the other case is exceptional. If so - to stay of the process bar (task bar ...) any "suspended" processes so go far left with clear separation into a suspended collection.
So can you put a separator there for a suspended collection of processes beyond the normal collection?
Except for those passive (suspended) processes (considering workflow) - you have a kind of super vision on active processes.
Especially the notification area for active processes is great.
Now - could be nice if passive icons (non-processes) were kind of pushed to left ... they are now ... but may be lacks a clear separator. I.e. when processing they could move to the right of such a separator aka the notications (even though they go far right)
This way there would be a more clear distinction between a collectio of passive mode (just programs aka quick launch) and the NORMAL collection of processes (active programs).
So you real problem here is you say you got rid of quick launch - however you kept it around anyway with the ie, explorer and wmp icon. So you need to add a separator for active and inactive collection of processes (workflow) - or something similar - and probably virtualize (actualize) behaviour across the two collections so a process can go right when scheduled(you already kind of have that with the notifications, i.e. that area is on the right - so suspended process can go left?)