harbar.net component based software & platform hygiene

Things I want in Windows 7

Print | posted on Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:20 PM

There’s a bunch of cool stuff coming in Windows 7 if the things they showed and talked about at PDC make it into the final release. But there’s plenty of things which are reasonably basic which I believe would make things much better, especially on a laptop. I no longer have a desktop running Vista. My laptop is my desktop (and my laptop when on the road) and this is increasingly common.

Don’t get me wrong there’s plenty of things I like about Vista and I’m not one of these XP is better fan boy freaks who hated XP until Vista shipped. I also like some of the cool new stuff, but to my mind there’s not much point doing all the cool new stuff (like touch) if you can’t get the basics down. It’s the basics that frustrate users, and a modern general purpose client OS shouldn’t frustrate users. That is not the “magic of software”. In addition, I like Mac OS, but there’s also plenty of things that suck about that, which I’ll probably rant about at some point.

In other words, this is just a (not to be taken too seriously) list of things I want fixed. And yes, I have submitted all of these formally to the Windows Engineering team.


1. Improved Start Up time
Why exactly does it take so long to boot Vista? You know the story, you do a fresh install and everything is nice and quick. Then you load up all your apps and it turns into a disaster zone, waiting often four to five minutes just to get the logon screen. Then you log on and it’s another four minutes before you can actually use the computer properly as all the start up items are loaded and you sit there looking at the blue doughnut of death. Now I know why this happens. On my machines I have this down, I have a useable desktop from boot in about three minutes, but I know what I’m doing and have tweaked my machine with Autoruns. I remove all the spyware “reminder” crap and anything else I don’t want. I’ve also set delays on the apps I care less about. Also my Services are tweaked and I have autoruns profiles for different uses of the laptop, for example when I’m on the road I am running the “undocked” profile which doesn’t run the Tablet services.

But the point is, I shouldn’t have to do all this work. Windows should, because it’s the Operating System and that’s what Operating Systems (modern ones at any rate) are supposed to do. Of course this does require some buy in from ISVs (stop putting crap in startup etc). At the very least Vista should give me a proper UI to configure these things


2. Docked/Undocked Profiles for laptops
Can’t believe this feature doesn’t exist. Just because I don’t have a docking station, doesn’t mean I don’t want profiles for things like power management, services to run etc when I’m on the road versus when I’m plugged in at home and connected to a monitor etc.  No “computer manufacturer’s job” wuss out excuses, build this capability. Why else have a Windows Mobility Center (Windows X)?


3. Decent Power Management
When I’m on battery I should be running in Power Saver mode, when I’m plugged in I should be running in High Performance mode. When I’m on battery I don’t want Sidebar. Oh and I want this to be automatic. Why is this so hard? So Vista switches Aero Glass off when in Power Saver, but I have to switch to that mode myself. That’s silly. I know, I know the big blue monster will say – that’s the computer manufacturer’s job. But it isn’t. I can use Vista Battery Saver from Codeplex, but either way that cool widget or the laptop manufacturer’s widget – they both run as a little widget (see complaint number one). This should be part of Windows, period.  Oh and make some of the apps like Sidebar not consume ridiculous power even when only one gadget is open.


4. Erm, fix Hibernate and Sleep
They don’t work very well. What is up with Vista simply displaying a blank screen when you do hibernate? I mean come on, which UI genius decided that would be a good idea? If your laptop has no HDD light or other status indicator you can’t tell your machine is on unless you listen to the HDD etc, and on my machine they are very quiet. STOP BLANKING THE SCREEN, that’s really stupid. Now I’m kinda losing interest in hibernate as I have 6Gb RAM, but sleep should be decent.


5. Autodetect Optical Out.
If the machine has a digital audio out using the same socket as for the analog 3.5 speaker jack then sense when an optical cable is attached and switch to the high definition output from speakers. Having to do this manually is frankly just idiotic. There is no good reason not to implement this.


6. A decent remove removable device
When I click Safely Remove Hardware (e.g. a portable USB disk) that means I want to remove it. Not sit there clicking “it’s in use, please try again”. This feature is downright pathetic. On Mac I do Apple-E and the thing (whatever it is) that’s using it is killed, because that’s what I told it to do. On Vista this capability is practically useless.


7. Decent multi monitor support.
Nuff said. Just do it. Acquire Ultramon.


8. Ship Anti Virus for free as part of the Operating System
I already know you want to do this. I don’t care about those other “security vendors”. Of course you need governments to let you do this. If we are in the “cloud” age there should be no general purpose client operating system on the market that doesn’t include AV. Stuff Symantec et all.


There you go, eight “small” things I’d like to see instead of bringing the Ribbon to the font control panel :) I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a bunch, but these would make me very happy.