Holy cow, I wrote a book!
When you copy multiple files in Windows Vista,
the progress dialog gives you an estimate of the time
remaining as well as an indication of what fraction of the
operation has been completed.
But one thing it doesn't tell you is the name of the file
currently being copied.
The programmer responsible for the file copy progress dialog
in Windows Vista explained to me that there were a few reasons.
First, there's the problem of presenting information to the user
faster than the user could read it.
All those filenames flashing by
made users feel like they had lost control of the computer,
as if it had decided to go off and do something at
lightning computer speeds.
Everything was happening so fast that they couldn't keep up with it
much less understand what was going on and be ready to
stop it if something didn't look right.
Users may have been conditioned by the
Hollywood Operating System,
a rapidly changing stream of file names usually means
something Really Bad is going on.
Users also reported that the constantly-changing dialog
felt unstable, like it never could figure out what it wanted to say.
And of course it all happened faster than any human being could
There's not much value in presenting to the user information
they can't read anyway.
On the technical side,
there were slight performance benefits to suppressing the display
of the file names.
As we saw,
updating the screen can be a significant cost when you are updating
Furthermore, even determining what name to display for the file is
It's more than just extracting the string after the last backslash,
because you can configure a file or directory so that
the name displayed to the user differs from the physical file name.
This is important when dealing with languages other than English.
On Chinese systems, for example, the file whose name is
is displayed to the user as
In Windows 7, the file copy dialog returned to showing the
names of the files being copied,
but only if you ask for it by clicking the More Information
That way, the standard dialog looks normal,
and only if you say,
do you get inundated with information faster than you can read it.