Microsoft Opens Up (Even More)
Microsoft's new Windows 7 blog goes live.
Whatever Vista's merits, Microsoft's current operating system has been lambasted by many users and the computer press. I've had mixed feelings about every OS I've ever used, and Vista is no exception.
User Account Control (UAC) and the initial, almost endless string of pop-up windows is annoying, but that goes away gradually as you get your computer set up. Vista also hides some old functionality in new places -- I've been told that hiding these features is generally considered a feature that makes it "easier" for users to find them -- but it's a minor annoyance, and I think it affects me more than most people because I flit between different computers with different operating systems on them. Now, the Start Search feature: Whoever implemented that deserves a raise! I love that feature, and curse every time I'm on XP and go to use it, and it isn't there. The new folder styles make navigating files and the directories much easier, once you get the hang of them. Were these features worth a new OS? Not to me, but I find Vista a delight to use compared to, say, the most recent version of Microsoft Office.
But my experience isn't everyone's (obviously), and my feelings about Vista tend to be warmer than those I read by others.
Whether you loved the direction Vista took -- or didn't like it at all, but remain committed to using Windows because it represents your targeted development platform -- you might be interested in the "Engineering Windows 7" blog. One of the initial posts on the blog describes its purpose: "The audience of enthusiasts, bloggers, and those that are the most passionate about Windows represent the folks we're dedicating this blog to. With this blog we're opening up a two-way discussion about how we are making Windows 7."
I've been working at VSM and its forebears for more than a dozen years, and Microsoft's evolving openness is highly welcome here. Once upon a time, Microsoft treated new versions of its applications like state secrets, doling out sketchy overviews of features in advance, but generally holding us to NDAs about upcoming features in Visual Basic and Visual Studio. Ever so often, I got to feel important because I was cleared to share some of these features in advance, but the truth is that today's environment of expanded openness is much better for everyone. Better still is Microsoft's recent trend of opening up two-way communication on some of its upcoming technologies. VSM is a better magazine because of reader input, and I suspect strongly the same would hold true for developer tools.
I'd like to see Microsoft adopt this communication model for all its technologies.
<rant>At least I've adapted to using Vista, which I like considerably more than the current version of Office and its detestable, exasperating ribbon with the pared-down menu options. But where the hell did all the features go? I know they're in there, and I usually find them, eventually, but finding them all and incorporating them into my standard menus is a Sisyphean chore. There's still a classic view for the control panel in the OS -- some of us old-timers would like to see the "classic" menu restored to Office. Please? With sugar on top?
And finding these features once doesn't save me any time finding them a second or third time. So when I reinstall Office or install it on a new computer, I'm right back to hunting down all the features I use daily or even occasionally that went missing on the standard menus. I'm flummoxed that somewhere, someone thinks making me find all the features I know are there is a better approach. If I can't find the features I know are there, what are my chances of discovering features I didn't know were there?</rant>
I feel better now. I'd love to see a blog similar to the one for Windows 7 open up for the next version of Office, but I suspect I'd be perma-banned as a raving nutter inside of a week. VSM
Talk Back: What do you think of Microsoft's new blog on Windows? How would you like to see this approach expanded (or not)? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Patrick Meader is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.