Reverting to the classic Win9x/2000 style is what I do still immediately when using a Windows computer.
As opposed to the horrible flat/white/modern design that govers Windows 10 and the web, it makes using the UI easier: Elements have clear boundaries; it is immediately obvious what role an UI component has (link? label? button? text field?); there is very little ambiguity; typography is simple and inobstrusive.
The Luna and Aero styles were actually not much worse than the classic Windows style but interesting and usable evolutions of it as they retained the properties listed above.
I am not entirely sure whether this perception stems from the fact that the classic style is objectively "better" suited for a GUI or from the fact that the Windows UIs were so predominant in the PC market at the time and left a lasting impression on people's understanding of what a GUI is/was. Perhaps it goes both ways.
You can't set classic themes on Win 10 with latest updates. So annoying. The few attempts out there for themes that used a cracked themer just aren't the same and are standard Win 10 with colours/menu colours changed.
I'd love a FULL faithful Win 98 theme for current Win 10. I'm 100% aware it's mostly my own personal nostalgia rather than it being "better", but it's absolutely ridiculous that you can no longer fully theme Windows and they actively block themeing from working properly now.
I'm pretty close to leaving Windows for good (having used it since the start, faithfully through thick and thin) and switching to Mint or some such, just so I can set stuff up how I want to. Windows 10 is the most dumbed down, ugly, and confusing OS Microsoft has ever put out (recently overtaking Vista for me for annoyances).
> it's mostly my own personal nostalgia rather than it being "better"
I believe from a UX standpoint the win95 UI was better. Microsoft did a lot of actual usability research in evolving the UI of Windows 3.1 into that of 95. Moving forward I believe they compromised on usability in favour of a more "sexy" minimalist aesthetic.
A particularly good example is the 3D of the old UI contrasted to modern flat UIs provides far more obvious hierarchy and hinting of what can be interacted with and in what way.
Regarding the second point: I really don't get what's up with the start menu search. I don't use Win 10 all that often (secondary OS) and always assumed it's somehow broken for me. I almost never find anything I'm looking for and it feels absolutely ridiculous.
I don't think it's just nostalgia. I personally prefer for an interface to be as invisible as possible, which to me means flat gray or dark gray.
Anything else like color, reflections, transparency, animations, etc. draw my attention away from what I'm doing (contained within the window frames) out into the window frames and taskbar, which I want to look at as little as necessary.
* The title bar of the active window is shaded in the accent colour, those of inactive windows are not. This makes it clear at a glance which window I'm typing into.
* Unless a developer goes out of their way to mess with components, a button always looks like a button and things that look like buttons are always buttons.
* In the control panel, you can *easily* customise the fonts and colours for things (like picking your own colours for both active and inactive title bars). Yes you can make completely horrible setups this way, or set your co-worker's PC to comic sans as a joke, but someone with dyslexia, colour blindness or other disabilities can also easily set the UI to exactly what works for them. "Themes" in later versions are both less flexible and require someone with more time and technical skills to create them in the first place.
Along similar lines, I would take the old GNOME 2 "here's a set of dropdown boxes for accent colours 1-4" over GNOME 3s "here's 1000 lines of CSS, good luck with that" approach any day.
Microsoft chose to force white title bars in an odd way. In the uDWM.dll theme file in Windows, there’s code that looks at the current theme file name and compares it to “aero.msstyles” — the default theme file. If it matches, Windows ignores the color specified in the theme file and sets the color to white.
Someone at MS thought it would be a good idea to deliberately break title bar colouring by checking for a hardcoded theme filename. It wasn't a bug, it was an active decision to do such a "hack", and presumably others who reviewed the code were completely fine with it. Besides the completely stupid decision to force titlebars to be uncoloured, it's well deserving of a WTF!?
I think they are objectively easier to use. Since they came along during the era when people were getting accustomed to computer interfaces, everything had to have a lot of affordances. Hence buttons that look like actual buttons and so on. Since now everybody (probably) knows that you can click on stuff the visual appeal was put ahead.
Still, at least in iOS there is some backpedaling on the general whiteness and borderlessness. I suppose this is because while people are accustomed and borderless stuff looks nicer, the interface is harder and slower to use.
There is definitely a limit to how abstract and minimalist a UI can be. After months I just recently realized Outlook web' s rules creator accepts a raw email address (without selecting a contact) by clicking the _empty_ white space to the right of the ellipsis. There are no borders, no color change, nothing to indicate a free form text input.
Sadly MS having been hiding those tweaks in Win10 for some reason. The registry keys are still present though, so with the right third party tool i can still crank them up to make using explorer with a touch screen that much better.
A lot of that seems to just come from the fact that the new settings system is not "done" as made obvious that it can't replace the old control panel yet.
The lack of consistency in pretty much everything is the main reason I'm still on Windows 7. Every time I look at that end of support milestone I shed a tear. I WANT the Kernel other improvements that 10 offers, but dear lord does it come with significant downsides
As far as I can tell, flatness/basic layouts emerged right around the time the total number of possible device resolutions was becoming insane. Sadly, simple rectangles without edges are probably the easiest way to ensure a consistent look everywhere: nothing to align, accidental overlap is invisible, etc. And of course, it looks terrible.
Still, Windows has behavioral issues that are a problem regardless of appearance. For instance, why in 2018 in an OS NAMED “Windows” are all my window locations and sizes and screen choices borked simply by closing and moving my laptop?
Nice, there’s some great stuff here in something that originated as a fun/joke project:
- it might not look ‘pretty’, but heck, the Windows 95 UI sure is intuitive. Buttons are very apparent, icons make sense, and what was never meant as a touch UI translates across to one incredibly well.
- at a glance, code looks clean and pretty readable. @IBDesignable support too (if only Xcode wasn’t so sluggish compiling/rendering IBDesignables...). Well done to the author for not only making a fun/cool project, but for doing it well.
IMHO much better than the trend of making every single UI element a huge bitmap image (in multiple resolutions), such that a simple app contains dozens of images of buttons and the like which consume more space than an entire Win95 installation...
I’m curious whether vector controls result in less or more GPU texture-memory usage, once you take into account that you need to render them as textures in order to get the compositor to work efficiently on them.
Raster images, after all, are usually loaded into VRAM by a library that converts them to some native packed texture format that are especially low-memory to hold and low-time-cost to render. Do baker vectors end up in the same format, or in the less efficient format used for expected-to-update pixel buffers (i.e. the format used for the renderings of compositable layers)?
I mean, sure, they’re rasterized—but are they rasterized to the same native texture format as bitmaps are? I know that for assets in games, the “read-only” assets loaded from disk come with rasterization metadata (or are already transcoded to the native texture format, depending on architecture) such that you get more efficient VRAM consumption at the expense of loading time (this being why games can take so long to load a scene when GPUs have even more PCI-e lanes than NVMe memory does.)
Whereas I’d expect that texture-elements rendered during a scene, which might potentially stick around for only a few frames, would load to the GPU “uncompressed”, loading faster (less driver delay despite the increased size) but then taking more cycles of each texture-unit to process on each frame, thus taxing the GPU more.
I definitely know this was true back in the 90s in game consoles—data streamed from disk was optimized for the GPU; while compositing in data held as a raw pixel field in VRAM (because it was e.g. a minimap texture you were redrawing or somesuch) left much less GPU available for anything else to use.
Story time... when NeXT pivoted away from hardware, they ported OpenStep to Windows NT 4. Since they needed to look like Windows NT, they included MS Windows UI images. Those images are gone now but were still present in OS X as of Snow Leopard.
(And now the show is on the other foot with Microsoft/WinObjC)
Oh man, this gives me fuzzy feelings. I remember developing my first applications in VB 4 back in 97 or so, I had so much fun. I remember when IE 4 came along, with its flat icons and Active Desktop and things. My 100 MHz Pentium couldn't even run it well, what with the 16 MB of RAM.
You ar probably jesting, but the serious answer: there is no reason for it not too. The notch itself has nothing to do with UI elements, just with their positioning. As long as you respect safe area guidelines in view you are good.
Even if you do respect the layout margins and safe area, there design needs to accommodate the change, so where the status bar was only 20 pixels, there's now a lot more space to deal with and the design needs to adjust.