Criticism from a usability, backward compatibility and UI perfection perspective
Friday, October 23, 2009
The navigation 'pain' in Windows 7
Windows XP introduced a very handy feature in Windows Explorer called "Simple Folder View". Basically, it allows you to click just once in the navigation/left pane of Explorer to expand the folder you want to work with, while you can keep the single-click-for-everything-else feature turned off. What's more, if you click on another folder, it automatically collapses the earlier one and expands the new folder. As a result, you won't end up with lots of folder trees to collapse manually if you are working with lots of folders and end up scrolling less vertically. But for no apparent reason (Microsoft's stupid telemetry at work?), they've removed this nice behavior from Windows Vista and Windows 7. How many times do I have to curse them for getting rid of stuff for no reason? Just what was the harm in keeping this untouched especially if it could be turned on/off from Folder options? I smell lazy shell programmers who didn't bother to update the code for the updated shell.
As a bonus annoyance, Windows 7 Explorer has an extremely annoyingbug wherein the navigation panescrolls upwards when a folder is expanded or collapsed (happens usually when using the keyboard) instead of adjusting the view to show the expanded folder's subfolders or making sure at least the collapsed folder remains in view.
Few more bonus annoyances of the left pane of Explorer include not supporting single click to rename, not giving us a "Folders" button (like XP) to toggle the navigation pane like they have for the "Preview pane" (like Windows 7), not showing a horizontal scrollbar when items extend beyond the split adjustor (instead showing a tooltip only upon hover!), getting rid of the intuitive automatic scrolling introduced in Windows Vista, playing a dumb default sound (ding) for Alt+Enter instead of bring up Properties and making the thickness of the vertical split view adjustor so thin that it becomes very difficult to drag it. Kudos to the Windows shell team for doing this!