Feature Freeze & XP Themes (12th October 2007)

The Internet Explorer Blog has a great URI and is a great idea. But entries have been rather few and far between since IE7 was released.

The recent article, Internet Explorer 7 Update, talks about removing the Windows Genuine Advantage validation. But they changed something else, too:

This is great news! It means Microsoft might eventually give the XP build a sane UI. The comments to this article and many others on their blog talk about how poor its usability is. Helpdesk workers, ICT managers and regular users all with the same story: IE7’s interface is bad for users. There’s an Accesify Forum topic about it, Microsoft Begin to see Sense with IE7.

My comment on their blog is called Feature Freeze & XP Themes. Here’s what I said:

I echo the comments which ask for IE’s rendering to be left as-is. Having yet another imperfect rendering engine to try and support would be an additional “pain point” when IE7 was supposed to remove those. So I, for one, am happy that the IE team aren’t nibbling away at CSS issues.

As for the UI and it’s lack of usability, again I echo others’ comments. After a year, my parents still struggle to carry out basic tasks using it. A nearby UK school has avoided deploying it because training 1,000 kids to relearn how to use the school’s digital courses was eating up too much teaching time.

Having crazy UIs in Vista is fine, imho. But Windows XP has clear and helpful UI conventions which users have grown familiar with over the years. Yes, years. You need to fit in with the conventions of the OS whether it’s an instant messenger, a media player, a web browser, a word processor, or anything else.

Knocking together some mockup screens of how I think the interface could be improved might be worthwhile. Perhaps a diagram of what’s wrong, too.