Could Windows Be Beautiful?

Today we talk about the "beauty" of software. We lust over smooth UI animations and the "inner beauty" that great software holds, being fully compatible with other technology, supporting our favorite web services, etc. "Windows is poison" is probably a phrase you'll think I agree with, but it really isn't. I would instead say that Windows' success originated from a time when "beauty" was never a goal of software (the 90s), so Microsoft has never thought of Windows as needing to satisfy this attribute. They certainly see it as a need for other products like Windows Phone and Xbox, and maybe it is something that we'll see in Windows 8.

But Windows 7 isn't beautiful. The file system, for one, makes no sense to me. For starts, the Libraries are collections of links to other folders that are usually under the user folder, rather than the collections themselves. I think it just serves to confuse users and crowd the User folder.


Installing and uninstalling programs is also really convoluted. Each program has its own installer and uninstaller which can usually only be found in the Windows "programs and features" application. This situation exists in Windows 8 CP as well. I don't understand why the Store app on Windows 8 doesn't support desktop apps. And I don't know why the ability to simply right click on an app and have the ability to simply uninstall it on the spot doesn't exist.

The Control Panel is a folder. I don't understand this and it drives me crazy that everything has to exist in Explorer.


I also don't understand the use of links to the left of system pages. Wouldn't it make much more sense to have a single settings application? I'm not saying that you wouldn't be able to access setting at the same places you access them now, but why not structure it in a way that makes more sense? (and doesn't give the new user a headache).

But not all hope is lost! Microsoft is doing some great stuff. I don't know what to do when I use XP, without the taskbar and windows snapping. And little things like the media controls on the preview of apps are a great touch.


I think Windows has a long way to go before it will feel beautiful. ultimately, though, it won't get there by restructuring the OS setting or folder or program installation, it will need a good bit more than that.

I would like to see Microsoft take a new look at gadgets because I think if they were done correctly and there was a healthy market of them they could be essential to any person's workflow.

Toolbars in the taskbar also have a lot of potential. At the moment I think they have to be the size of the smaller version of the taskbar, meaning that for most people toolbars could potentially be much easier to use UIs in the larger version of the taskbar.

Looking forward towards Windows 8, Microsoft has the opportunity to give the desktop side of the OS the kind of improvements it needs to be considered a premium operating system rather than just the market leader. A store for desktop apps is a good start, but I would really like to see Microsoft rethink how the user interacts with the system, and give developers the kinds of tools and resources that they will giving them on the Metro side (like sharing and notifications).

Do you think Windows could be beautiful?