The Windows 7 Desktop and UI – Customization and Flexibility

A high degree of both but with limitation

The Windows 7 desktop and graphical user interface are right on track to delivering an evolution compared to Windows Vista, and in this context, provide a high degree of customization and flexibility, superior to what is available with the successor of Windows XP. But at the same time, Microsoft is not going to satisfy all user requests for the Windows 7 GUI, according to Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group.

"One thing that should be clear is that it would not be possible for us to provide solutions to all the different ways people would like to work and all of the different tools and affordances people have suggested – I think everyone can see how overloaded we would be with options and UI absorbing all the suggestions," Sinofsky said.

At the Professional Developers Conference 2008 in Las Vegas between October 27-30, Chaitanya Sareen, a senior program manager on the Core User Experience team, will deliver a session of the evolution of the Windows 7 desktop. The promise from Microsoft is that with the pre-Beta version of Windows 7, users will be able to see enhancements implemented in terms of taskbar and Start Menu, but also additional elements of the desktop.

"Our goal is not to provide the solution to every conceivable way of potentially managing your desktop, but rather to provide an amazing way to manage your desktop along with customizations and personalizations plus a platform where people can develop tools that further enhance the desktop in unique and innovative ways. And as we have talked about, even that is a huge challenge as we cannot provide infinite customization and hooks—that really isn’t technically possible," Sinofsky added.

One thing is clear; without making any actual promises, Microsoft is taking Windows 7 one step further compared to Windows Vista. When it came down to the comparison of Windows 7's GUI with a Ferrari or a Toyota, Dave Matthews, program manager on the core user experience team, indicated that the pre-Beta bits will be up for the challenge.

"Windows provides a high degree (but not infinite) flexibility, developers provide additional tools, computer makers can differentiate their PCs, and you can tune the UI to be highly personalized and productive for the way you want to work using a combination of those elements and your own preferences," Sinofsky indicated.

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