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I'm going to start calling utterly crappy interfaces "Winderfaces." I've munged the words "Windows" and "Interfaces." You pronounce the word with a short "i," not a long "i." As in "windows" and "interface." Since nearly all bad interfaces find their home on Windows, it seems a natural fit.

Microsoft is coming out with some anti-spyware software, and a few screenshots leaked. What strikes me about the screenshots isn't the feature set or even the need for anti-spyware software (it's a given on a PC), but the completely horrid display of UI design this app manages to squeeze into a few screenshots of rather small size.

Look at those pictures and see how quickly you can determine the answers to these questions:

  • What constitutes a "button"?
  • What can you click on, and what will the result of that click be?
  • Has the mix of underlined text (à la "the Web") and buttons really worked? Particularly when some clickable text isn't underlined at all (see "Take Me To")?
  • Why doesn't the currently selected "pref pane" look any different than the others?
  • What in the hell do Windows UI developers continue to smoke? Does it too come from India?

Windows sucks big, huge, donkey balls. Or should I say cow balls, what with Longhorn on the distant "longhornizon."

OK, one too many bad word munges. Sorry.

15 Responses to "Winderfaces"

  1. I guess it just seems odd to pull out one app from all of windows and start haranguing its UI shortcomings... especially a beta app, and especially when a lot of the things you have a problem with are pervasive throughout OS X. PERVASIVE. It wasn't until 10.3 that the menu items in the sysprefs and such darkened really, etc. Hypertext-ish stuff throughout... Help system, iTunes, etc.

    So, in the interest of fairness, may I direct your attention to:

    /Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi Setup

    What does that suck? 🙂

  2. eeep! It's great when Apple makes these great apps and then lets some simple thing like that get forgotten. It's the little things that matter. ugh.

  3. Let's see… an application very few people on Mac OS X use (they use the MIDI setups within the actual applications they use, not that thing) versus something every Windows users will need to use. A Mac OS X app that doesn't look or act like most Mac software versus a Windows app that is pretty representative of the Windows UI.

    No contest.

    The Help system doesn't mix buttons and clickable text in the way that this Windows app does and it sure as hell doesn't (by default) make text links both underlined and non-underlined (in a seemingly random manner). Your iTunes citation is another example of a poor attempt to compare apples and oranges.

  4. This software was acquired from GIANT just over *two weeks* ago. Microsoft did not design this UI and has not had much time to modify it. Why don't you wait for the final release instead of complaining about screenshots you saw on a rumors site.

  5. Because it's typical of a Windows UI. It'd fit right in. Who cares where the screenshots came from? If I had a PC I know I could get similar screenshots in apps Microsoft wrote and has shipped for several months.

  6. I don't disagree that there's plenty of bad UI in Windows apps, and I've blogged about some myself. However, I think you've chosen a very misleading example in this case. Why not choose one of the ones that Microsoft (or some third party) has been shipping and that you've actually had a chance to use.

  7. is another example of a poor attempt to compare apples and oranges.

    Like comparing beta to production software? 🙂

  8. Beta software that's (rumored to be) shipping in a few days. And next time, make use of <blockquote> eh?

  9. Can I just say that I think Erik is entirely correct?! These screenshots are quite representative of what has become the standard look and feel of new windows apps, from Norton Antivirus to AdAware. Attacking Erik for perceived flaws in OS X misses the point that the worst designs show up on the majority platform.

  10. Several months ago, a friend asked me to install his new ADSL router, and connect his XP machine to it. What would take me 10 minutes on a Mac, took perhaps an hour on his machine. I could not believe how difficult it was to create a network configuration setup, primarily due to two things:

    1. The type of interface inconsistencies Erik mentioned here. Am I looking at an application, or a web page, or some awful attempt to combine the two. That seems clickable -- ooops, where am I now?

    2. Microsoft's apparent assumption that people are too stupid to configure a network panel (IP address, router, etc.) I remember being "interviewed" by the software -- something like "Do you want to connect to an office network or setup a wireless network?", and without giving me an easy-to-find "just let me do this manually" option.

  11. I would have to agree with you Erik, it seems that engineers at Microsoft love creating widgets and they don't care if they don't conform to other widgets throughout the system.

    Take for instance the above example of networking. You have a Windows Explorer style listing of each network location with an icon and name but that doesn't really make sense. It isn't a file (as is the assumed metaphor) and using typical file commands on it doesn't work. On the other hand it doesn't really achieve the desired results of easily showing what each component is.

    Taking it even further is the small sidebar attached with hyperlinks and buttons. It isn't a webpage or an application, it is a nasty conglomerate and sometimes clicking on a hyperlink does absolutely nothing with no user feedback. Bizarre.

    Of course, this is all coming from someone who moved from Windows to Mac OS X because it was slightly easier.

  12. I installed Visual Studio today. The installer does the same thing: text links instead of actual buttons. Very confusing to look at.

  13. What's more. With Avalon and Longhorn interfaces like this will become commonplace. Just look at any screenshots of the Longhorn interface and you see the exact same thing. The whole point of Avalon is to make interfaces that are like web pages but like rich interfaces.

    So, I think with time, your term will only grow more appropriate, Erik.

  14. ...and without trying to be sarcastics (seriously) why doesn't something better come out of Redmond, given that they supposedly hire the best in the world?

    Maybe they just have no real appreciation for the importance of the user interface. Just compare the personal weblogs of some of the top Microsoft developers with those of the average Mac developer. You definitely get the impression that UI is more important in the Mac world.

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