The network icon in the system tray for Windows Vista has definitely been improved, but there's still some room to grow. As is, when you hover over the icon, a small, graphical tooltip is displayed showing the active connections. When you click the icon, you get the same thing with two additional links: Connect or disconnect and Network and Sharing Center. I like this view, but I hate the fact that I have to click "Connect or disconnect...", select the desired network, click disconnect, wait for the actual disconnect, and finally close that window. I hate all that. I just want to click a disconnect icon from the tooltip.
I will say that there is a context menu on the icon. So, you can simply go to Disconnect from > [desired network]. Out of habit, I never use this. For some reason, I seem to like the graphical tooltip more. Either way, I think the functionality should be in both places.
With the coming of Server Core, there's been a lot of talk of the modularization of Windows. This has been long-coming, of course. The first time I remember hearing about this was around 2001. Those prophesies never seemed to come to, unfortunately -- at least, not in the time frame I was expecting. Well, as late to the game as it may be, it'll be welcome when it is here. What I'd like to see is for Microsoft to take that the extra mile and start making Microsoft Update be the source for installing and updating all Microsoft software. I thought about this after having to track down one after another piece of software online via MSDN or some random download page, which you never can tell if its the latest release or not. Managing it all thru Microsoft Update would be absolutely a dream come true.
Of course, this is only phase 1. Phase 2 of the "new" distro model would be to provide this as a service to othe customers. Allow others to integrate their update software into the Microsoft Update infrastructure. Of course, this would mean we'd need another re-branding of what was originally the Windows Update service. I can't think of any simple name for this, so you know it'll have to be one of those long names we all hate. Perhaps something like "Software Update for Windows" would be relatively simple. This could be a very lucrative offering, as I see it. I can think of a dozen permutations, but the result is all the same.
Ink Desktop is a great idea, but I can't stand it. Actually, I was able to use it 10 mins after installing it and haven't used it since. That's not a testament to how great of an idea it is, tho. If it weren't for this mouse vs. pen input issue I have, I'd love it to death. Well, I'd like it a lot, at least. My problem is two-fold. First, you can't select anything on the desktop when the app is running because clicking the desktop is treated as inking. This is my main aggravation. Second, I never plan on inking with my mouse, so don't treat the mouse like a pen. I can't imagine anyone would try to write with their mouse, but if that's important, provide some configuration setting to allow me to disable the mouse for inking. Without these two things, I don't see myself ever using Ink Desktop.
For the most part, I've been very happy with the spell checker and thesaurus (synonym) features of Office. One thing I'd like to see, tho, is the ability to spell check and/or lookup synonyms/antonyms from any application. This could be done using a global shortcut that would spell check based on what's in the clipboard or just open a window where you could copy/paste in what you want to check. There are various add-ons and extensions that will add this capability to browsers and other tools, but I want one dictionary/thesaurus that's global. I can see this going into Office or Windows; either way, I'd be happy. If you want this to be provided to everyone, put it in Windows; otherwise, put it in Office. I'm thinking of Word's spell checker and thesaurus shortcuts are F7 and Shift-F7, so I'm thinking Win-F7 and Win-Shift-F7 would be perfect.
There is a tool I found which does this, which was a partial inspiration to this suggestion, but I'd really like to see a global solution with a shared dictionary. Honestly, the clipboard may not be the best data source for this, but it's the only shared location I can think of that wouldn't reach into running applications to pull out data, which I'd see as a security risk.
Don't take this as me complaining about UAC. On the contrary, I like what it provides. Personally, I don't think I need it, since I haven't been affected by a virus since I don't know when; but that's not the point. I'd rather keep it on since I haven't reached the point of total aggravation, yet. I was thinking of a simple shortcut to get around it, tho. I can even provide a simple analogy that most people will understand and relate to. Anyone who's been using the web for more than 3-5 years has probably been annoyed by browser popups. What did we do about this? We created popup blockers. Well, what is UAC if not a popup? Granted, I have to admit that a UAC popup is much better than a browser popup. So, popup blockers are great and all, but what happens when you want the popup? You held down Shift or Ctrl when clicking on the link and it worked just fine. This is what UAC needs, in my opinion. Windows does a good job of telling you about when UAC will popup by providing the shield icon on buttons and next to links. When I'm about to click one of these, I'd like to be able to hold the Windows key, for instance, to bypass UAC. I think this would make life a little easier and more tolerable for those of us who know when to bypass UAC beforehand.
Windows Photo Gallery is my default for all images because it's the quickest, simplest image viewer I've seen. There's only one problem... I tend to do a decent amount of graphics for applications I write, which don't usually have the same background color Photo Gallery does. Beyond that, transparent photos are displayed with a white background. I wish I could change the background color of Photo Gallery and see how transparency is used within the photos. While I want this for seeing how an image looks in different background colors, it's also nice to see images on a black background. Typically, if you're looking at photos or a movie, you have a black background to bring more focus to the color of the picture. Could you imagine watching a widescreen movie with a white background? I have a feeling it would be hard to do.
I know about the Win+D and Win+M shortcuts (among others ), but I want a shortcut that minimizes the current application, not all of them. Perhaps Win+Shift+M. Whatever the shortcut, it should minimize the current window and bring focus to the next window on the stack, just like minimizing a window from the toolbar. Actually, I like Win+Shift+M. Go with that one!
Windows Vista includes search capability in the Windows (aka Start) menu. I love this feature. I've been using tools like Launchy and Slick Run for this type of capability. Part of me wants to go back to the Alt+Space shortcut because I feel like it responds better, but that might simply be in my head. Despite that, Slick Run has the nice capability to add custom commands. I'd like to see this in the Windows menu search. This is, in part, the same thing as having keywords for favorites in IE , but it goes a lot farther.
If you've ever used Slick Run, you probably don't need an explanation, but if not, here are a couple examples. First, I read a lot of blogs and try to keep up with them everyday. With this, I'd like to have a search keyword that automatically opens my blog reader. For instance, I want to type Win, blogs, Enter and have Bloglines open. Of course, if you use a desktop feed reader, the shortcut could be configured to open that instead. With this, you're probably asking why not create a shortcut and simply type bloglines or maybe even blogs and find the item in the search results. All I have in response to this is that I want something that has a very snappy response time with as few characters as possible. If I have to type 10 characters or dig thru a list to find my item, I don't like it. I'd rather spend the time beforehand to identify the small handful of keywords I use the most and make sure those come up first. One other example would be typing Win, mf, Enter to bring up my site, www.michaelflanakin.com. This might show a little more benefit since I'd have a mere 2 vs 8-15 characters. Still, this isn't anything you can't work around with the existing feature-set. Perhaps a slightly more complicated example would be a search for a TV show or movie. I'd like type type Win, tv stargate, Enter or Win, imdb stargate, Enter and have a new browser tab/window open with the search results for either TV.com or IMDB . Another example would be Win, wiki stargate, Enter, which would search Wikipedia .
Despite the fact that these are all browser-based examples, I'd like to have this baked into the OS. This way, I don't have to take the extra step of opening a browser window, if I don't already have one open.
On a side, but related note, it would also be nice to be able to open a few things with one command. For instance,Win, daily, Enter might bring up my blogs, my website, and my email. I typically open these three things in tandem first thing every morning.
Edit: While this isn't in Windows, yet, Start++ is a great solution to the problem. If you're looking for this type of feature, check it out!
Windows does a mediocre job of saving passwords. Sure, passwords are saved, but there always seem to be problems when the password changes. This is only one problem, tho. What I'd really like to see is the ability to group resources together to use one set of credentials. Enterprises have been providing single sign-on capabilities for quite a while. Those who haven't, are trying to move to this type of simplicity. With that, you typically have one credential store (i.e. Active Directory (AD)) and all enterprise resources use those credentials. What I'd like to see is, when you're asked for your credentials, you should have the option to use an existing set. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this very well, so let me give you an example...
I work for Contoso. I login to my corporate laptop using my contoso\flanakin credentials provided by AD. That's great. When I'm mobile, I may log into Outlook Web Access (OWA), which uses the same credentials. Alternatively, I may open Outlook, which, of course, uses the same credentials. Now, say I need to VPN into the network from a personal computer. Nowadays, I'll use a smart card to VPN in; however, once I get in, I'll have to re-authenticate with every individual resource. A few examples might be the SharePoint sites I use for the project I'm working on, internal collaboration sites, and my internal weblog. Honestly, I could give a hundred different types of internal resources, but you get the idea.
Currently, Windows needs 3 things to save your credentials: username, password, and the resource you're accessing. I want to change this in two fundamental ways. First, let me name the credential set. This way, I can specify contoso\flanakin as my Contoso Corporate Account. This may not be a huge deal, but it'd be nice to have a simple name. Second, allow me to add a group of resources to the access list for this credential set. This is obviously the key to what I'm really looking for. The value of this lies in the simple fact that, when I have to manage my credentials, I can change one and all of them will be able to acknowledge and use that change. This would be invaluable to me and anyone who uses a lot of access-controlled resources.
In Windows Vista, when you connect to a network, you can give it a name and icon and, more importantly, specify whether it's a public, unprotected or private connection. I'd have to say this leaves some significant middle-ground. I'd like to see a third option: protected. Granted, I'm pulling this state from my development experience, but I honestly think it's necessary. I will say that I should probably investigate the differences between public and private networks in more detail, but the bottom line is that, on public networks, your computer is locked down a bit more. This means your network access is limited and, I believe, will essentially make you "invisible" to some network resources. Obviousy, any network admins will be able to see you're connected, but their access to your machine will still be locked down pretty tightly -- one of the many things I love about Vista. The private network is almost a no-holds-barred options. Ok, not really that open, since all other security features in Vista are active, but your computer (and all programs currently running) aren't limited to network access, unless otherwise set in some other setting. This also means everyone on the network can see you.
I'd like an option that keeps the computer "invisible" and locks down incoming network access without restricting outgoing communications. Part of the reason I'd like an option in this middle ground is because, as a consultant, I may connect my laptop to a customer's network, but I still want to stay away from anything flying around. I don't want the network to even try to assume control or push content to me. I admit that this doesn't happen often... that I'm aware of; but I like the idea of feeling secure with such an option. Again, I haven't done any research into the differences in public and private networks or the customization of either, so this may not even be a valid request.
Windows desktop background pictures can be positioned 3 ways: fit to screen, tile, and center. These work fine for most situations, I'm sure, but I'd like 2 more: fit to screen height and fit to screen width. The current fit to screen option will distort pictures that aren't the same height/width ratio as the screen. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone with a distorted picture as their background. With these two settings, people might use their own pictures a lot more, without having to deal with distortion.
Windows Vista's Start Menu Properties dialog has a handful of items that have three options. Most of them have options like show link, show menu, or don't show the item at all. I'm thinking that these could be represented as a tri-state menu, where show link is the partial check, show menu is the full check, and don't show is unchecked. I will say that this isn't a big deal, but merely a thought. The current approach may be better because most users probably couldn't figure out my suggestion. The existing solution is a bit more explicit. Nonetheless, I figured it'd be worth mentioning to get the gears churnin'.
I typically work with a lot of windows open. For instance, I have 15 open right now. I hate when I have to switch windows and I have to tab thru all of them to find the one I want. I wish I could simply click the icon when the Alt+Tab switcher comes up. That would be awesome. At least the Win+Tab switcher is clickable in Vista.
I'm not sure if this is in Windows Vista (RC1) or Internet Explorer, but for some reason, when I attempt to download an offline course, I’m getting the following error:
Path/File access error (75)http://offline.microsoftelearning.com/themes/olp/html/includes/popup.js
This works without fail in XP with IE7. Retry doesn’t seem to affect it any and neither does closing open applications (not that I expected it to). I also tried to add the site to the Trusted Sites group, but that didn’t seem to work, either.
I'm not sure if this one is a bug or a feature change. I'd like to think it's the former because it's very annoying, but who knows. I'm running Vista RC1 (build 5600), so we'll see when RC2 (or whatever the next publicized build is) comes out.
Here's the synopsis: When browsing directories in Windows Explorer, if you press the Back button, the first directory is selected instead of the one you were last on. This can be rather annoying if you're used to traversing directories with the arrow keys. For instance, let's say you're at the root of the C: drive. You arrow down to the C:\Users directory and press Enter. Now, press Alt+Left (or click the Back button). The first thing you'll notice is that the C:\Users directory is still highlighted, as you would expect; however, if you press the down arrow, you'll notice that focus is moved to the second directory, instead of the one below C:\Users. Maybe it's just me, but this is contrary to how it should work.
Resolved in Windows Vista official release.