Sunday, November 28, 2010

The usability of 'Classic' reigns supreme

When I first tried Windows 7, not only was I shocked to see the Classic Start Menu gone but I was extremely saddened that this very interface was touted by Microsoft 15 years ago when they launched Windows 95. Today it is not a choice presented to users at all? (Remember the "Start me up" hoopla) Just because something is old does not make it useless or obsolete. The Classic Start Menu was a very carefully designed UI. The new Windows menu has obviously noticeable performance issues when several programs are installed. The taskbar is another example of Microsoft trying to reinvent something when it already served its purpose extremely well. In their attempt to produce a real superbar, they broke and removed several classic Taskbar features, omitting many user preferences.

And Windows Explorer? How a single application critical to the user's file management experience can be ruined to such an extent is beyond me. I think during the Longhorn days, they fooled around too much with Explorer and after the reset, they forgot to include large working parts of Explorer back. There are so many things wrong in Explorer that this alone makes Windows 7 or Windows Vista immediately worthless and impossibily difficult to use. Fortunately, what Microsoft broke, others have tried to resolve. There are 2 heavenly apps that fix Windows 7's horrid Taskbar, Start Menu and Windows Explorer.

7 Taskbar Tweaker which I already covered about a year ago is now updated to allow us to individually group or ungroup applications. It fixes most usability issues with the Windows Taskbar.

Finally, Classic Shell, ahh, Classic Shell is too good of an app to be given away for free!! It packs in tons of configurable features that Explorer broke or removed. It includes the best Classic Start Menu implementation anyone has ever produced, far superior to Microsoft's original one. And it fixes numerous problems in Windows Explorer. The Classic Explorer toolbar makes Explorer completely customizable and extensible.

Check out these two heavenly tools if you haven't yet. They are indispensable. Windows 7 is useless without them.