Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Consistency

Today i realized how much Windows sucks at consistency, here a screenshot with 3 screen decorations of three programs made by Microsoft itself (Visual Studio, Outlook and the command shell), notice how the decorations are different in the three and also notice the colours are different in the three even if all of them are inactive windows.

37 comments:

Ksen said...

But you're not competing with 8 years old Windows, do you?
Does this problem persists in newer versions?

SaroEngels said...

well, the third one(cmd.exe) is rather useless anyway, if you would know the details, you wouldn't compare the consistency of the close buttons - believe me.
Also this has changed for Windows Vista at least, so the point is why are you still using XP? Using Ubuntu you would have already updated your System 15-16 times... ;-)
The visual consistency definitely hasn't been a priority though - the media player has its own interface as well - independent of the other two...

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Ksen: i'm not competing with anyone and i've no idea nor are interested in try new windows versions

@Saro: I'm using XP because it's what the entire company uses, with Ubuntu i would have updated, changed styles, but always been consistent

Fri13 said...

Well, the Windows has the problem there are so many different application programs using different UI. Example Windows mediaplayer, MS Office and LIVE Messenger.

But we do have same kind problems. QUestion is do we want to fix them?

http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/Uniform+look+for+search+bar?content=115695

Ben said...

the fact is that the command shell is quite useless unde windows, and the office UI has more fonctionalities than a simple "window decoration"...
There is no problem having different decoration if they are justified or simply good looking (eg: zune software)

Random troll said...

Yes, consistency, consistency... let's talk about the consistence Qt maintains with GTK.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Ben: 3 different blues with all being disabled windows is a severe usability problem since i can't tell which is the current active window by looking at the window title at all

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Random troll: Which part of "three programs made by Microsoft itself" didn't you understand?

Anonymous said...

@albert the spaces between the words.

Karellen said...

@Random Troll: OK, I've got some GTK and QT apps currently running on my system, and ... they all have *identical* window decorations!

Counterpoint fail.

jawn said...

i wonder why microsoft does this.

For example, Windows Live Messenger is using the Vista decoration under XP.

I noticed on slow machines, the application actually shows both the vista and xp titlebar on top of eachother during startup, and then surpresses the xp title bar and window decoration.

So this has nothing to do with some XP issue that has been resolved in Vista, it is just Microsoft showing off their new and fancy window decoration from their next operating system on the previous one.

I think when windows 8 comes out with a new window decoration, the same thing will repeat on vista and windows 7...

Peter said...

That doesn't happen on Windows Vista or 7 ;)

Fabrice said...

Sorry ... but users don't care about consistency ...
A close button is a close button, and thus whenever the button is red, blue with a red corner or black

whatever said...

" let's talk about the consistence Qt maintains with GTK."

or even better, checkout the consistence of gtk with any other windows application.

On KDE, at least the window decoration remains consistent.

On Windows, even that is not guaranteed..

whatever said...

That doesn't happen on Windows Vista or 7.

Not yet.

But lets see what the future brings, when Microsoft comes with a new Windows version with a new look....

whatever said...

"users don't care about consistency ...".

depends on the type of user.

I know users that get confused by even the smallest inconsistency between application versions etc.

Fabrice said...

And please note that each of thses applications are using each time a different toolkit/API. It's like having 1 application with Qt1, one wityh Qt2, one with Qt3, and another with Qt4

whatever said...

true, but what does that have to do with the window decoration?

as i pointed out, the application 'windows live messenger' surpresses the default XP window decoration in favor of its own vista look. There is no technical reason or limitation for that application to not use the xp window decorations.

Same with qt1/qt2/qt3: although the widgets of the applications will look different, the window decorations remain the same.

Anonymous said...

Win7 is just as bad as this, not just the decoration theme but also things like the placement of menubar

anothersysadmin said...

@Fabrice: hope that for *your* own consistency you weren't one of those bashing cause QT and GTK looked differently years ago (cause nowadays is simply no true)

Fabrice said...

I don't care about GTK and Qt look & feel consistency : useless debate.
I'd rather have a stable, working system and last but not least a system that can be administrate/managed. I'm a sysadmin, and all my workstations and servers are running Linux ( nearly 70 computers ).
So when :
- /home on NFS support is not optimal ( sqlite usage, akonadi, ... ) : I do care
- when applications have regressions ( printing support ) : I do care
- when applications are slow or slower under Linux than under Windows ( openoffice, PDF printing with okular vs acroread, Kmail 3 vs Kmail 4 ) : I do care
- when applications crashes ( plasma ) : i do care
- when french accentuated characters are not correctly handled : i do care
- when sound is not working correctly ( pulseaudio + pulseaudio support in phonon ) : i do care
- when setting a wireless connection may be buggy ( unstable drivers ) : i do care
- when using a video-projector ( for presentations/meetings ) is not evident for the users and easy : i do care

So the UI look & feel is somewhat useless. I just want something that look mostly good, is acceptable, with a good usability. Good wallpapers ? most users just put their childrens photo as desktop background, and put a lot of icons on the desktops. Good theme ? most of the time, they don't care. Consistency ? they don't care : they just want to be able to distinguish closed and minimize buttons.

The only time my users were impressed by something visual was the "present windows" effects of kwin ( left upper corner ) which shows all windows at once as they find it useful.
Plasmoïds ? they don't use them. i trained them to use the folder view to have faster access to services directories, but they are not using them most of the time, they'd rather create shortcut.
When we switch from KDE 3 to KDE 4, they do only care about the fact that everything was still working as expected.

So endless debates about windows decoration consistency make me laugh hard. I'm giving lessons to futur sysadmin, and I do animate the Linux sessions, and theses guys care more about the possibility to manage Linux, ease of administration, ability to lockdown the desktop, administration tools, and coherence between the different distributions.

Anonymous said...

you know, it is fakin microsoft, they do not give a s*it, just as long as it makes money and spyes on it's users....

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Fabrice: Do you undertand that doing this huge rant here is worthless, right? Also you understand sysadmins are like 0.0000000001% of computer users, right?

Fabrice said...

@Albert Astals Cid : IMHO you should change your point of view.
Linux can't succeed in the desktop, normal mass-consumer market. Linux can succeed only with controlled environment, this means :
- mobile market ( phone, tablet, .. )
- embedded market
- and last but not least ( where Linux distributions and Linux consulting societies do earn money ) : workstations and server market.

The big Linux success are company migrations to Linux.
the LHC is using Linux on their desktop and to do Grid computing : this is workstation and server market.

Sorry, but few "normal" end-users buy Linux computers and keep using them.

We, the sysadmins, make true Linux success and breakthrough against Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

As already stated, Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a more consitent decoration. The Command prompt for example uses the normal decoration and Office 2007 also looks fine under Vista/7.

Ranting about Windows XP is as useless as using KDE 4.0 as reference for KDE 4.

I think fabrice made valid points - most of them are not specific to sysadmins. And on top of that, a sysadmin usually is in contact with many USERS and can see their behaviour and the problems the may have.

I would see you post as a rather useless complaint especially as it is not valid anymore.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Fabrice: I am a desktop developer.

@Anon: Windows XP is deployed in my workplace, a company that employs more than 400 IT professionals, it may be old and Microsoft might want to sell you newer versions, but companies are not using them

Fabrice said...

@Albert Astals Cid : sure you are a desktop dev, but most people using your software are workstations users.
When the 80 employees of my company are using Linux, and the nearly 60 commercials are seeing Linux is use or are using it from time to time, I'm pretty sure that I do participate efficiently in Linux brand visibility.

Now if you really want to compare against XP, then take a Linux distribution dating from 2002. Last but not least, try to make run on this distribution latests Firefox/OpenOffice/Acrobat versions, and most of your recent softwares like KDE 4/Digikam4, ... You will have a good time ...

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Fabrice: You are reading too much between lines. I'm not comparing anything to anything, forget i'm a KDE developer. Forget i'm a linux user. I'm just complaining the major player in the software world is not able to maintain look and feel in decorations in the *same* operating system of three programs they do themselves. PERIOD.

Fabrice said...

They have better things to do : rules the world :p

Kevin Kofler said...

KDE has its own consistency issues though. In particular, Plasma insists on using its own widget (in the developer sense, e.g. tab bar) styles rather than Qt's. There's supposedly a Plasma theme hint to use the Qt style for Qt widgets inside plasmoids these days, but is there any Plasma theme actually using that? The common ones sure don't.

Fri13 said...

@ Fabrice

If watned, we can very well compare Windows XP and todays window decorations, desktop environments etc. Why? Because Windows XP is still being sold and used. The truth is, that MS has not got better in developing UI's on Vista or 7 when developing their own software. Look Live Messenger, Live Photo gallery, Visual Studio, Windows mediaplayer, MS Office, Explorer, Internet Explorer. They are all looking different and that is not good usability at all when your main application programs works too different ways.

But when we compare MS to Apple, we can notice that Apple does follow the UI of their applications. They control that the application programs looks similar when using them. Same thing is on KDE and GNOME doing for their desktop environments and application programs.

Throw a Nero, Photoshop and Lightroom in use on Windows 7 and you start again seeing similar problems as Windows XP has.

And what comes to the users, the visuality DOES matter for them. It does not matter techsavy administrator who just want to solve the user problems and get away to other tasks. The users are there using applications and desktop all days long. Small things start affecting them very fast. Thats why Apple takes lots of care about the UI similarity because then the user feels that everything goes easier and snappier than on the environment what looks being build up from multiple different applications. Even the GTK+ filedialog is terrible usability issue when using KDE plasma-desktop for normal user because the dialog is totally different when compared to other apps.

Fabrice said...

@Fri13 : What your user echantillon to tell this ? Mine is having more than 60 users, and not closed family or related friends ...

BTW, XP is no longer supported by Windows and thus even if some people sold it. This is not Microsoft selling the products, but resellers willing to empty their stock.

Zanko said...

These inconsistencies may be out of date, but thereis a lot more of these in other Windows versions, including seven. Some applications don't use standards widgets, some have not been updated for some time etc.

Take the control panel : when opening on an item, it will sometimes open directly in the explorer window, sometimes open a new window, sometimes open a new window and directly select a tab of it. Sometimes the UI will be done in web style, using links etc, sometimes it will be more classical. Depends mostly of the time it was designed.

However thereis a lot consistency problems on other platforms. MacOS X has probably the most consistent UI, while KDE is IMHO quite good for this. GNOME (which I use) however may have some work to do here, but at least you don't see applications using two completely different widget styles.

Alejandro Nova said...

@All: 2 days ago, I replaced a Windows install with a UNR install. Target: Asus Eee 701 2G, and a girl who doesn't want to know anything about computers. Her Windows XP failed on her miserably, so I thought Linux was the choice.

If I succeed with her computer, maybe Linux has something to do in the desktop after all. And Albert, I must say your netbook interface is great.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Alejandro Nova let's see if we are lucky :D And i'm in no way involved with the notebook design, but i'm sure the ones that are appreciate your comment :-)

Anonymous said...

@Karellen, counterpoint fail? Maybe yours. Decorations is ok, but and the themes/styles? We are talking about consistency, and any Qt theme/style more sophisticated or complex, like Bespin, is bizarre when converted to GTK using that app to convert Qt style to GTK. Even Oxygen on OpenOffice and Firefox are inconsistency.

No doubt, Windows is more consistency than Linux for the most apps.

whatever said...

XP is no longer supported by Windows and thus even if some people sold it. This is not Microsoft selling the products, but resellers willing to empty their stock..

but that has nothing to do with this inconsistency.

It's not like Microsoft is forced to let the window decorations to be inconsistent due to differences in APIs or whatever, they simply chose to make them inconsistent because they wanted to make Windows Live Messenger look the same on every Windows version, including the window decoration.

Google Chrome is doing the same thing: even on Linux it uses its Vista-like window decorations, in stead of the window decorations of the window manager the user is using.