I don't really have much commentary on this but I thought this was still worth sharing. Earlier, this week Joel Spolsky wrote a blog post entitled Choices = Headaches where he writes

I'm sure there's a whole team of UI designers, programmers, and testers who worked very hard on the OFF button in Windows Vista, but seriously, is this the best you could come up with?

Image of the menu in Windows Vista for turning off the computer

Every time you want to leave your computer, you have to choose between nine, count them, nine options: two icons and seven menu items. The two icons, I think, are shortcuts to menu items. I'm guessing the lock icon does the same thing as the lock menu item, but I'm not sure which menu item the on/off icon corresponds to.

This was followed up yesterday by Moishe Lettvin who used to work on the feature at Microsoft and has since gone to Google to work on Orkut. In his post entitled The Windows Shutdown crapfest, Moishe gives his perspective on some of the problems he faced while working on the feature for Longhorn Vista.

My main problem with Joel's post seems to be that his complaint seems to already be addressed by Vista. Isn't that the icon for a power button right there on the screen? So the nine options he complains about are really for advanced users? Regular users should only need to ever click the power button icon or the padlock icon. 

Then again, we shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good anti-Microsoft rant. :)


 

Saturday, November 25, 2006 8:01:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I haven't read the articles you link to (yet) but I do want to chime in that I find the new shutdown experience a little irksome as well. I'm running Vista Enterprise (RTM) on my laptop. There are two behaviors that are really getting on my nerves with turning off my computer...

1. The "ask me what to do" feature has been removed from the power button (physical) action options. In WinXP I could use the Power control panel to configure my system to bring up a dialog where I could choose to shut down, hibernate, restart, etc. I MISS THAT! I think it would be a great alternative to digging through the Start menu (and would help alleviate my issue #2).

2. There is no way to restart a computer from the keyboard. Scenario: your video configuration gets screwed up and you can't see the screen (or you just want to use keyboard shortcuts to get to things). To restart you can press (in sequence) Start > U (for shUtdown...) > R (for Restart). I realize that you could probably get this feature back by using the traditional Start menu (no search?) but I REALLY LIKE the search function in the start menu.

That's my $0.02. :-)
Saturday, November 25, 2006 8:30:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
So the having the options doesn't bother me. The fact that they are hidden behind a generic arrow icon is a bad choice. My main problem is that the universal "power off" button doesn't turn the machine off, at least on my default install of Vista. It puts the machine into standby mode, it doesn't shut down.

Since the "power off" button doesn't really power off the computer, shouldn't it say something else?
Sunday, November 26, 2006 6:57:30 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Have to concur with Scott that Vista goes into standby on my machine with the "Power" button.

I'm not sure if it adds too much clutter, but at least on day one it might help if the additional power options had the default icons beside their relevant counter-part.

I'm presuming here that as the Red Button for Power transitioned to White Button for Power, that in 12 months the "Power Icon" will mean "Standby."

Today I don't like it, will it grow on me ?

Sunday, November 26, 2006 12:41:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Random question -- will clicking that power button present me with some more choices?
Sunday, November 26, 2006 8:21:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
So Joel slips back into a Microsoft Program Management (PM) role and decides to write a spec for the power button on the Vista Start menu. The reason he spent the time doing this is because he felt the number of options provided, 9 were excessive and confusing to most users. His spec comes down to:

"So now we've got exactly one log off button left. Call it "b'bye". When you click b'bye, the screen is locked and any RAM that hasn't already been copied out to flash is written. You can log back on, or anyone else can log on and get their own session, or you can unplug the whole computer."

Now if Joel actually clicked on the Vista Start button and then looked at the options presented before expanding the 'advanced' list of options then he would've realized that in fact the implementation in Vista is virtually identical to what he ended up specifying.

To the normal user there are really just 2 options, a 'Power' button and a 'Lock' button, which have tool tips that explain what they do.

Now on my desktop PC with a default install of Vista the Sleep option is a new hybrid sleep implementation which is really a combination of hibernate and sleep. When the PC goes to sleep, either based on an explicit user request or because it has been idle for 1 hour then Vista writes out any necessary RAM pages to disk as it would for a hibernate, but then instead of switching off it goes into sleep mode. The advantage of this scheme is that if there is a power failure (environment, cord unplugged accidentally or on purpose) then when the PC is powered on again it performs a hibernate resume. I've actually experienced this first hand with a recent power failure and it was really useful to get back to all my open applications etc. after the power failure.

Now in addition when the PC resumes from sleep in this scheme you are presented with a login screen, and if Joel had taken a look he would've also noticed a 'Switch User' button on this logon screen just below the password edit control.

So this default scheme is pretty darn close to what Joel has specified as his ideal UI, it really just has 1 extra option, the 'Lock' button.

The main issue I think is that Joel hasn't approached this as 'regular' user, but rather more as an advanced/power user who has decided to click on the advanced list which is shown when you click/hover over the '>' button. So Vista has provided the simplicity for regular users and has made an advanced list of options available for more advanced users. Now what may have been a more useful posting/debate is whether this advanced list is too easily accessible to regular users by accident, e.g. should it maybe only show up if say the 'alt' key is held down like a lot of the menu bars in Vista applications.
Sean McLeod
Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:26:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The link to Moishe Lettvin's post goes to the wrong blog post, Dare.
Jonah Dienye
Monday, November 27, 2006 5:41:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'm running Vista RC1 at home and I have to agree with Joel. I'm a power user but there are still certain norms that should be observed. When I click the universal on/off symbol, I expect the machine to turn off completely. As it stands, it goes to sleep (which was discussed above). I can understand the power user menu and let that go but I still disagree with the default functionality of the power button that most people will be using.
Monday, November 27, 2006 3:46:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Jonah,
Thanks for pointing that out. The link is fixed.
Friday, December 1, 2006 12:46:43 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I agree with Joel on the whole...but he hasn't gone far enough. After all, I don't hear anyone complaining about the illogicality of having to click a button labeled "Start" in order to stop Vista from running :)
Jimoh Alabi
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