This was an interesting presentation at MIX about how some of the Windows 7 features came about. Very cool stuff. Great way to see one of my favorite areas in Windows 7.

  • Title: Designing the Windows 7 Desktop Experience, (C26f, video)
  • Presenter: Stephan Hoefnagels, Senior UX Designer
  • How did we get here?
    • Windows is OLD – 1985
    • Windows 1
      • Shows a task bar, one of the original attempts
      • Predates several major O/S doing similar capabilities
    • Windows 3, 1990
      • Went away from the task bar
    • Windows 95
      • Brought back the task bar
      • Introduced quick launch
    • Windows XP
      • Went away from quick launch (disabled by default)
      • Taskbar grouping
      • Start Menu MFU
      • Balloon Tips
    • Windows Vista
      • Return of Quick Launch
  • What can we improve with the Windows desktop
    • Areas of Improvement
      • Lot of Outlook icons (8) that do the same thing, spread out over the desktop
      • Shows 25 task bar setups from an internal study,(7:20)
      • Looks at several specific taskbar arrangements
        • Icons not always clear to their function
        • Too much stuff on bar
        • If two Notepad doc’s open, which one is which in the taskbar
        • Drag/drop operations not as simple as should be
    • Areas of improvement (10:15)
      • App functionality is scattered
      • Too much noise
      • Switching windows may be error prone
      • Arrange windows involves acrobatics
  • Desktop Experience Goals (11:50)
    • Things you use all the time are at your fingertips
      • It is easy to get to the programs and destinations you use all the time, with less mouse movement and fewer clicks.
    • Manage your windows with confidence
      • You can switch to the right windows quickly without mistakes and effortlessly position windows the way you want them.
    • You are in control
      • The desktop reflects your style. You get to personalize the experience, choosing what is important to you, including how and when you receive notifications.
    • Clean and lightweight
      • The desktop experience feels organized, light, open and is a pleasure to use. Visuals and animations are delighters the first time and every time.
  • Demo of desktop, 12:49
    • Changed task bar, 10 pixels taller, easier to recognize and click
    • Easy to personalize task bar. Changes the order by drag/drop. One of the top feature requests.
    • Mouse over on taskbar shows the application (preview in a thumbnail)
    • Thumbnail is clickable
    • Multiple instances of app have preview
    • Aero Peek – mouse over preview brings the app on top to get full view
    • For IE, a thumbnail for each tab shows
    • Jump list – right click on task bar button, shows a list of doc’s and application options
    • Dragging a window to one side of the monitor docks the window to that side. Shows two app’s each taking a half of the screen after dragging. Very convenient for moving files between two Windows Explorer windows.
    • Aero Shake – shaking a window (or wiggling) minimizes all other windows. Shaking again restores the other windows.
  • How did we evolve the UI, 21:08
    • Shows an interesting picture of the last 4 generations of the taskbar
    • Started this phase in early 2007
    • About a dozen people working on the taskbar (cross functional team – developers, design, user research, testers, PM’s)
    • Overall desktop experience is a team around 30
    • Generated lots of content – brainstorming, sketches, whiteboarding,
    • Shows video of 150 hi-fidelity design comp’s, 25:09
  • UX Principles for Windows 7, 27:01
    • Reduce Concepts to Increase Confidence
    • Small Things Matter, Good and Bad
    • Solve distractions, not Discoverability
    • Time matters; build for People on the Go
    • Value the Full Lifecycle of the Experience
    • Be Great at “Look” and “Do”
  • User Data
    • 11M+ opted into sharing their experience on Windows Vista
    • We have data on almost 400M sessions, across 200 countries and regions
    • Shows graph of “peak number of open windows”, 28:39
      • Almost 50% have 6-9 open
      • 20% are 5 or less
      • 20 % are 10-14
      • 5% are 15-19
      • Falls off for other groups
  • Case Studies, 29:03
    • Bat Signal
      • Shows early prototype of thumbnails
      • Shows early attempt of preview of app
      • Ran an internal beta on this new style, but ran into accidental previews
      • Evolved into Aero Peek
    • The “Nub”, 35:18
      • Early attempt with extra button attached to each taskbar button
      • Longitudinal Usability
        • Study of users at home across several months
        • Started complaining about this special button
        • Found that 100% of families right-clicked, but team had thought that this was advanced functionality
      • Jump Lists and special functions now accessed via right-click
    • Aero Shake, 42:30
      • Aladdin Experiment
      • Aero Shake Usability videos, 45:50
  • How does the story end?
    • Lots of positive feedback
    • Remains to be seen
    • “Windows 7 just plain works, works fast, and is a complete pleasure to use. It is super clean”, The Street.com
  • Lots of Q&A, 20 minutes