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Mile-High menu bar redux

"The principle of the mile-high menu bar is fairly well known, but it must not be entirely obvious, because the Windows 95 team missed the point completely with the Start push button, sitting almost in the bottom left corner of the screen, but not exactly. "

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000063.html

Did Microsoft get this right with XP? I'm not running any bizarre themes, but I can slam my mouse to the bottom left corner and click, and up comes the start menu.

Maybe someone from there reads JoS?

Geoff Bennett
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

That's correct, it seems to work properly on XP.

I think someone from MS also read the part where Joel talks about his friend who accidently dragged the taskbar onto the right edge of the screen then resized it to fill up half the desktop (see the UI book). Now in XP the taskbar is 'locked' so that this sort of thing can't happen.

Daniel Searson
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Yeah, XP fixed it. In Windows 95 the start button was a few pixels to the right and it made it hard for new users to click (new users have notoriously poor aim with a mouse).

It is still a "mile" away from you, but as you use it less it isn't so much of a problem (menu use is of course much higher than program launching use).

Marc
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

These days I'm more likely to press the windows key. That way the start menu is open by the time I drag the mouse there. Just a laziness thing, I suppose.

As for the taskbar being locked, you can still turn that off if you want half a screen of grey.

Geoff Bennett
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

XP got it better. (Actuallly Win2K made some improvements too.) The start button can be activated by the lower-left most button. The task buttons and quick launch buttons can also be activated with the mouse at the very bottom of the screen. The buttons on the title bar work this way if the window is maximized.

However, if you unlock the task bar and resize it so that you have two rows of task and quick launch buttons, the Start button moves with the top of the task bar.

Also, apparently the Windows Media Player team didn't get the memo because their super cool task bar mini-controller doesn't operate this way! So annoying.

dmooney
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Separate desktop toolbars (e.g. "quick launch") are also still broken.  Theres's a two pixel border between the buttons and the edge of the screen.

The Gnome desktop environment on Linux gets it right.  Open source doesn't always have a crappy interface.

Tim Evans
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Not to take anything away from JoS, but this point was certainly made by Wozniak earlier (as Joel notes), and quite likely by someone else before him.

You can certainly bet that the interface folks over at Microsoft have read Wozniak.

Spam
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

There is a two pixel border on quick launch, and in other places, but the buttons still work with the mouse just below the button.

dmooney
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

On a related note, I just noticed that DreamWeaver MX has an enormous (quarter inch) draggable bar between window panes.  Most software has a thin sliver that's easy to miss with the mouse.  Kudos to Macromedia for letting you grab anywhere within a fairly wide mouse range.  One of those little annoyances of everyday computer life that's vanished.

WILL

Will
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I noticed that XP got the mile-wide start menu correct -- however, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- the title bar on a full-screen-but-not-maximized window is rounded slightly.  Because of this, I've accidently closed the window behind the window I WANTED to close more times than I can count.

Alyosha`
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I whole heartedly agree with Alyosha. I was just about to post the same complaint! I like the rounded WinXP GUI, but I often feel like reverting to the boxy Win2K GUI simply because I HATE closing the wrong window. Microsoft, why did you do this to us?

I hate window clutter. I wish there was a registry setting to make the default window size of all new app windows "Maximized." I hate these almost-full-screen-but-not-truly-maximized windows. I like my windows big and locked in place.

runtime
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I switched to the Win2k interface to fix this problem.  I closed the wrong app too many times.  You're right, the rounded corner look nice, but they serve no useful purpose and they actually cause problems!

They must have asked their focus groups which look like they liked better without letting them actually use it.

Scott Stonehouse
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Get some mouse gesture recognition software: http://www.tcbmi.com/strokeit/buy.shtml

I *very* rarely click on a window close button.  A quick 'C' drawn with the mouse *anywhere* over the window does the job without having to hit a small icon.

.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

They also got the scrollbar wrong for maximized windows.

If you slam to the right edge of the screen you should be able to scroll but you can't, instead you have to carefully point the mouse at the narrow scrollbar because it's exactly 1 pixel off the edge.

BTW, this is called Fitt's Law and it has been studied since 1954: http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~cs5724/g1/glance.html

Nate Silva
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

You're right about the scroll bar.  I didn't notice that one - I'm using two monitors, and if I 'slam' the mouse to the right side, it slides onto the next monitor.  This is rather inconvenient, so I'm used to using the wheel on the mouse now.  I'm sure I would have noticed this on the rightmost monitor if I didn't have a wheel mouse.

Scott Stonehouse
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Darn.. I missed the scrollbar issue as well since I have a trackpad and use the edge-scrolling feature .. which I love. Coasting is fun. :) Kind of like gestures I'd imagine. I might just try strokeit.

dmooney
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

>Maybe someone from [Microsoft] reads JoS?

I'm sure many do, but I doubt that JoS is the first place the UI designer(s) for XP have heard of the concept of "infinite depth" (being able to move your mouse, a document, etc infinitely far and still achieve the same outcome).  I first came across it in a book or article written by Bruce Tognazzini (http://www.asktog.com) many years ago.  Not to diss Joel or anything, but the concept has been around for a long time.

Chas
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Another thing - when you have an MDI interface under XP and an internal window is maximized, the exit button for the internal window is gray like it use to be. This isn't a problem - but whenever I click it doesn't get a 'pressed in' appearance and I'm never sure if I've actually clicked the button or not. Maybe its because I have all the effects turned off.

Daniel Searson
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

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