Saturday, October 21, 2006
  Why Vista RC2's UI sucks

I just installed Vista RC2 and the main sticking points are the black window border for maximized windows and the black taskbar.

For those who haven't made the jump - max'd windows and the taskbar are black (for the taskbar it's a gradient going from grey at the top to black at the bottom) , regardless of your colour theme.

I finally realized why I hate them. I think that black makes the use of Fitts' Law worse for the user.

From <>:

"...some consequences for user-interface design include:...

- Edges (e.g. the menubar in Mac OS) and corners of the computer display (e.g. "Start" button in Windows XP) are particularly easy to acquire because the pointer remains at the screen edge regardless of how much further the mouse is moved, thus can be considered as having infinite width...."

The typical monitor has a black bar around it (underscan) between the actual edge of the visible computer screen and the monitor's bezel, so if you make the window edge and taskbar black, the window edge and taskbar now look like they are part of that black underscan bar, extending the height of the window top and taskbar.

If the user now aims for the top or the bottom, their aim may overeshoot the actual window top or taskbar bottom.

And then the user will wonder where the cursor is since he/she is expecting to see the cursor near the monitor bezel edge not 1-2 cm away as if there was a force field near the top and bottoms of the screen preventing the cursor from reaching it.

I took a photo (sorry for the shaky picture) of a vista screen on a 17" CRT monitor with a red line denoting the beginning of the monitor bezel. The cursor is positioned as far up as it will go on the computer screen.

Some users may be able to get rid of the underscan. They shouldn't have to make the change though.

Looks like there may be some relief:

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