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    DF PwNagE DJAd's Avatar
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    Tech Windows 7 taskbar

    I was just having a read about this new Windows 7 that's in the pipeline. Looks like it might be worth a look in. Anyone got the beta going?
    Anyway, nothing to exciting, just some geeky stuff about the new taskbar. Looking good.

    Spoiler:

    The Taskbar, Evolved

    The Windows 7 taskbar is about launching with ease, switching with confidence and all the while remaining in control. The UI is made up of several key features that complete common end-to-end scenarios. Let’s dive into each of these elements and how they work.

    Refreshed Look


    The taskbar has undergone a facelift. We’ve enabled large icons by default (as seen in Windows 1.0 and also an option of Quick Launch since Windows 95 with IE 4). This affords a richer icon language, improves identification of programs and improves targeting for both the mouse and touch. Yet, one of the most important advantages large icons provide is a means to promote the taskbar as the central place to launch everyday tasks. We joke that the new taskbar is the “beachfront property of the Windows OS” and in turn, we are already seeing many people populating the UI with their commonly used programs. Somewhat if a visual trick, the taskbar is only 10 pixels (at 96 DPI) higher than its Vista counterpart (when used as a single row, since multiple rows are still supported, along with positioning around the screen edges).
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 2. The Windows 7 taskbar: Default settings include large icons, no text and glass surface
    To mitigate its slightly increased height and the larger icons, we decided to impart the UI with a more prominent glass treatment. This also allows us to better showcase the person’s color preference (you’ll recall that in a previous post we revealed that almost 30% of sessions have personalized glass). We also changed the Vista behavior so that when a window is maximized, both the taskbar and the window’s title bar continue to remain open and translucent. We received lots of feedback on Vista that many people didn’t like these UIs turning opaque and dark.
    Pinning

    You can still pin programs to the taskbar by dragging them or via a context menu, just like you have always done with Quick Launch. Destinations can also be pinned via a drag/drop, but they are designed to be surfaced differently as we’ll see under the Jump List section.
    Unification

    If one increases the size of Quick Launch, one must then determine what to do with the taskband. As previously discussed, we observed that under many scenarios of single-instance programs, launching and switching were equivalent. Hence, we decided to standardize this behavior and have program launchers turn into window switchers when they are launched. Effectively, we unified Quick Launch and the taskband. While some other operating systems have similar concepts, one difference with our approach is that our default experience always optimizes for a single representation on the taskbar. This means that regardless of a window’s state (e.g. minimized, maximized or restored) there are no new or duplicate buttons created. Also, the default taskbar doesn’t allow destinations to be pinned to the top-level which prevents duplication of a pinned file and a running window with that same file open. When we say there is “one button to rule them all” we’re serious. This approach to a single, unified button keeps the taskbar uncluttered and gives the person a single place to find what she’s looking for.
    Combining launching and switching also made it easier to provide the most requested feature—the ability to move taskbar buttons. Quick Launch as always allowed this, but combining this mechanism with the taskband naturally extended rearrange functionality to running windows.
    Interactive, Grouped Thumbnails

    Vista showed thumbnails when the user hovers on a taskbar button and Windows 7 improves upon this design. Unlike Vista, these thumbnails are now an extension of their corresponding button so the person can click on these visual aides to switch to a given window. The thumbnail is also is a more accurate representation of a window complete with an icon in the top left corner, window text and even the ubiquitous close button in the top right.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 3. Thumbnails: Grouped, interactive thumbnails make it easier to manage windows
    One of the most important functions of the taskbar is to surface individual windows so people can easily switch between them. Having unified a program launcher and a single window switcher, the next logical step was to determine how multiple windows of a program could be combined and presented. We looked no further than a feature introduced in Windows XP called window grouping. When the taskbar became full, windows of a program could collapse into a single menu. However, there were a few challenges with the design. First, the behavior isn’t predictable. People don’t really understand when this scaling mechanism is triggered. Second, a listview of windows isn’t always the best way to represent these items. Finally, opening the menu always required a click, which slowed some people down. Our solution was to combine buttons by default for a predictable experience, to use grouped thumbnails and to have these thumbnails appear on hover as well as on click. Think of this approach as a contextual Alt-tab surfaced directly off the taskbar. When the person brings her mouse to a taskbar button, all the thumbnails of a program appear simultaneously making for a organized, light-weight switching model. To polish off the experience, we show a visual cue of stacked tiles that provides feedback on whether there are multiple windows running for a program. We also recognized that a set of people may still wish to see an individual buttons for each window and an option permits this behavior.
    With the Windows 7 taskbar, there is a single place to go regardless of whether the program is not running, running with one window or running with several windows. Rich thumbnails provide more intuitive ways of managing and switching between windows.
    Aero Peek

    Here’s a riddle for you—what’s the best size for a window’s preview that will guarantee that the you can accurately identify it? Grouped thumbnails look and feel great, but we know these small previews don’t always provide enough information to identify a window. Sure they work great for pictures, but not so for emails or documents. The answer is simply to show the actual window—complete with its real content, real size and real location. That’s the concept behind Aero Peek.
    When the taskbar doesn’t offer enough information via text or a thumbnail, the person simply moves the mouse over a taskbar thumbnail and voilà—the corresponding window appears on the desktop and all other windows fade away into glass sheets. Once you see the window you want, just click to restore it. Not only does this make finding a window a breeze, it may also remove the need to switch altogether for scenarios in which one just needs a quick glance to glean information. Peek also works on the desktop too. Show Desktop has been moved to the far right of the taskbar where one can still click on this button to switch to the desktop. The control enjoys a [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] which makes it very easy to target. If you just move your mouse over the control, all windows on the desktop turn to glass allowing the desktop to be seen. It’s easy to now glance at a stock or the weather gadget or to check to see if a file is on the desktop.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 4. Aero Peek: Hovering over a thumbnail peeks at its corresponding window on the desktop
    We spent a lot of time analyzing different aspects of Peek. For example, we recognized that when people are using the feature, they won’t be necessary focused on the taskbar as they look at windows on the desktop. An early prototype triggered Peek directly off the top-level of the taskbar but this revealed issues. Moving the mouse across a small a region to trigger different previews exited Peek since the natural arc of hand motion resulted in the mouse falling off the taskbar. By only triggering Peek off the thumbnails, we gained much more room for the mouse to arc and we also reduced accidental triggers.
    Jump Lists

    As far back as Windows 1.0, there has always been a system menu that shows contextual controls for running windows and their programs. This menu is accessible by right-clicking on a taskband button or in the top left corner of most windows. By default, the menu exposes windows controls such as close. (Random trivia—ever wonder why the system menu off a taskbar button always shows close in bold when close isn’t the double-click behavior? Well, the answer is that double-clicking the top left region of most windows will close it and the bolded option makes sense in this context. The same menu just happens to be hosted in both locations.) Over the years, some programs have extended the system menu to surface relevant tasks. For example, Command Prompt reveals tasks such as editing options, defaults and properties in its system menu. However, this is a bit of a free-for-all for programs to opt in or not, resulting in an inconsistent experience for people. Another blow to this scenario is that the system menu is only accessible when the program is running. This makes sense since the default commands are about window management, but what if you wanted to access a program’s tasks even it isn’t running?
    As we discussed under the goals section, we thought about the various steps people have to take to accomplish tasks and whether we could reduce them. Be it getting to a destination or accessing the commands of a program, we wanted to make it easier for people to jump to the things they are trying to accomplish. Jump Lists are a new feature of the Windows 7 taskbar that accomplish just this. Think of this feature as a mini Start Menu for each program or an evolved version of the system menu. Jump Lists surface commonly used nouns (destinations) and verbs (tasks) of a program. There are several advantages this new approach provides. First, the you don’t need to even start the program to quickly launch a file or access a task. Second, destinations don’t take up valuable space on the taskbar; they are automatically organized by their respective program in a simple list. Should one have ten programs pinned or running on her taskbar, this means she could have quick access to over 150 destinations she uses all the time, without even the need to customize the UI! Since the Jump List shows lots of text for each of its items, gone are the days of having identical icons on your taskbar that are indistinguishable without a tooltip. Should you wish to keep a specific destination around, you can simply pin it to the list.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 5. Jump List: Right-clicking on Word gives quick access to recently used documents
    To make sure we provide a consistent and valuable experience out-of-the-box, we decided to pre-populate Jump Lists and also allow programs to customize the experience. By default, the menu contains the program’s shortcut, the ability to toggle pinning, the ability to close one or all windows and a program’s recent destinations (assuming they use the Common File Dialog, register their file type or use the Recent Items API). Programs are able to replace the default MRU (Most Recently Used) list with a system-maintained MFU (Most Frequently Used) list, should their destinations be very volatile. For example, while Word will benefit from a MRU just like the one in their File Menu, Windows Explorer has opted to enable the MFU because people tend to visit many paths throughout a session. Programs are also able to provide their own custom destination list when they have a greater expertise of the person’s behavior (e.g. IE exposes their own history). Still others like Windows Live Messenger and Media Player surface tasks or a mix of tasks and destinations.
    In case we haven’t yet impressed it upon you, the taskbar is about a single place to launch and switch. Jump Lists offer another important piece of the puzzle as it surfaces valuable destinations and tasks off a program’s unified taskbar button.
    Custom Window Switchers

    All the major web browsers offer tabs and a method of managing these tabs. One could argue tab toolbars are really like taskbars since they facilitate switching. These TDI (Tabbed Document Interface) and MDI (Multiple Document Interface) programs have always resorted to creating their own internal window management systems as the Windows taskbar was not optimized to help their scenarios. Some programs like Excel did custom work to surface their child windows on the taskbar, but this approach was somewhat of a hack.
    Since the new taskbar already groups individual windows of a program under a single button, we can now offer a standard way for programs that have child windows to expose them. Again, the taskbar offers a single, consistent place to access real windows as well as child windows. These custom window switchers also behave as regular windows on the taskbar with rich thumbnails and even Aero Peek.
    Thumbnail Toolbars

    In the earlier taskbar posts, we discussed how Windows Media Player’s deskband offers valuable background music controls, but only a mere 3% of sessions ever enjoy the functionality. The new taskbar exposes a feature called Thumbnail Toolbars that surface up to seven window controls right in context of taskbar buttons. Unlike a Jump List that applies globally to a program, this toolbar is contextual to just a specific window. By embracing this new feature, Media Player can now reach a majority of people.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 6. Thumbnail Toolbar: Window controls easily accessible in context of a taskbar thumbnail
    Thumbnail Toolbars leave the taskbar uncluttered and allow relevant tasks to be conveniently accessible directly from a taskbar thumbnail. Surfacing tasks reduces the need to switch to a window.
    Notification Area

    We’re happy to announce that the Notification Area is back under your control. By default, only a select few system icons are shown while all others appear in a menu. Simply drag icons on or off the taskbar to control the experience. Better yet, every balloon tip that appears in the system has a little wrench icon that allows one to quickly “swat” an annoying alert by immediately seeing what is causing the notification and a direct way to disable it.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 7. Notification Overflow: By default icons appear in an overflow area that you can then promote
    Interestingly a very popular change to Notification Area isn’t about reducing noise, but rather showing more information. The default taskbar now reveals both the time and the date. Finally!
    Overlay Icons and Progress Bars

    Cleaning the Notification Area warrants us to consider other ways that programs can surface important information. We’ll always had overlay icons throughout Windows (e.g. to show shortcuts in Explorer) so we decided to bring this functionality to the taskbar. An icon can now be shown over a program’s taskbar button. Furthermore, programs can also give feedback about progress by having their taskbar button turn into a progress bar.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 8. Progress Bars: Explorer utilizes taskbar progress to show a copy operation in process
    A program can now easily show an icon or progress in context of its taskbar button which furthers the one place, one button philosophy of the taskbar.
    Color Hot-track

    Color hot-track is a small touch that typifies the new taskbar’s personality. When a person moves her mouse over a running program on the taskbar, she will be pleasantly surprised to find that a light source tracks her mouse and the color of the light is actually based on the icon itself. We calculate the most dominant RGB of the icon and dynamically paint the button with this color. Color hot-track provides a delight factor, it offers feedback that a program is running and it showcases a program’s icon. We’ve always believed that programs light up the Windows platform and now, we’re returning the favor.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Fig 9. Color Hot-track: moving the mouse across a running window reveals a dynamically colored light effect
    Start Menu

    Vista introduced several changes to the Start Menu so we decided to minimize churn to this UI in Windows 7. Notable improvements include the availability of Jump Lists and a better power button that defaults to Shutdown, but makes it easy to customize.
    Different, Yet Familiar

    Despite all the features of the new taskbar, it is worthwhile noting the UI retains its familiarity. We like to describe our work as evolutionary, not revolutionary. The taskbar continues to be a launch surface, a window switcher and a whisperer of notifications. Whether one is relatively new to Windows or a seasoned pro, we realize change comes at a cost. It is for this reason that we took the time to carefully evaluate feedback, we performed numerous studies to validate our designs and finally, we will continue to provide scoped settings that keep the UI flexible.


    Spoiler:



  2. #2
    DF Moderator EvilBoB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    I have a copy of it somewhere - not tried it yet as it failed to install to VirtualPC or VMWare for me.
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    i like where they are going this time, and in terms of how their dev teams are structured ms seem to have learned some lessons from vista.

    im quite optimistic about the win7 UI cos it looks much more like how ive been using my taskbar and windows for years rather than trying to modify an old outdated control method.

    i just hope the OS has a lot of the bloat and shite removed this time round. too much junk, not enough focus on making it look, feel and work properly.

  4. #4
    DF PwNagE DJAd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    I think they know google and others are all getting ready for something special so it's time MS got their fingers out their arseholes and make something good.

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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Judging by the second picture it looks like a load of cock.
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    DF Super Moderator DJ Overdose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Err... 2nd pic?


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    DF Jedi Mr.James's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    no vote from me i'm afriad. I already have a double stacked taskbar and 20 'small' icons in my quick launch, I regularly have 8-10 different applications open. These larger icons are gonna make my taskbar cluttered.

    Still looking forward to it... I'll just get used to it...

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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.James View Post
    no vote from me i'm afriad. I already have a double stacked taskbar and 20 'small' icons in my quick launch, I regularly have 8-10 different applications open. These larger icons are gonna make my taskbar cluttered.

    Still looking forward to it... I'll just get used to it...
    Fig 2. The Windows 7 taskbar: Default settings include large icons, no text and glass surface

    Sounds like there will be an option to set the size mate.
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    DF PlaYa tom999's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    only an alpha has been leaked, first beta due jan so prob best to wait till then if you are interested in giving it a test run,

    it's being billed by MS as having much less bloat, lets hope that's true

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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    been looking at windows 7 for a while now and taskbar is only thing i'm unsure about I like all the other things but i will have to wait and see if i can get used to this new taskbar.

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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    I think i remember rap saying hes got the beta and liking it. It does look promosing so far. Ill do what i alwasy do and buy windows 7 then skip buying the next os after and then buy the next one after etc.

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    DF Jedi Waka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Here's an iso of the latest build if anyone wants it. Haven't used it myself but the comments on newzbin seem positive (10 days old).

    W.

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    Banned Goldberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    I'm waiting for an official Beta so that I can test our software at work.

    I did here that Carphone Warehouse will be doing a launch of it and the first 100 per store (possibly) get a free Windows Mobile 7, Mobile phone!!

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    DF Super Moderator DJ Overdose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Think you're suffering from spaghetti wiring there Goldy...


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    DF PlaYa tom999's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldberg View Post
    I'm waiting for an official Beta so that I can test our software at work.
    Do you think the first beta's will be on technet?

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    Banned Goldberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    I would hope so... We can't use our software on Vista, Open GL issues cause it not to run?!?! We have to use XP and Server 2003 ( for the 16 core machines) currently. We are hoping Windows 7 works without issue otherwise we will have to got to Server 2008 which is a pain because Server licenses are expensive!!!

    XP Pro 64 would be the way but they are withdrawing it early next year!! And as System/Software sellers it means panic stations for us!

    However XP 64 has issues as it can only write files sizes on 32mb per frame (For what we use on multi thread coding) so we have to fudge a lot of stuff....

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    DF PlaYa tom999's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Interesting, what software is it?

    I am hopiing that we can get the first beta on technet too, just because I want to play with it at work (and my laptop is due a format).

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    Banned Goldberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    It's a professional Colour Grading/Special Effects package. We use 16 core (4 x Quad Core) custom machines (Soon moving to i7 though ) as we have to deal with 2k/4k resolutions and play them back in real time.

    Any post production house around the world has a colour grading system, the main 4 (inc ours) are all software based as they are non-linear nowadays. This is great for upgrade-ability but a nightmare getting it to run without crashing/memory running out all the time.

    Your looking at roughly £150k for a fully fledged system with a years software support.

  19. #19
    DF PlaYa tom999's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Well for that money a few extra quid on a server licence shouldn't scare them too much :-)

    Haven't played with sever 2008 much but I hear good things about it.

  20. #20
    Banned Goldberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Windows 7 taskbar

    Going to install it later on a few machines and give it a whirl. I'm worried that our software will not work on it as it is supposed to be the windows version Vista was....

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