Windows 7 concepts that never made the cut

TechRadar has uncovered some interesting concept art and sketches that the Windows team demonstrated at Mix 09 recently.

The Windows team is notoriously secret about showing any concept designs the team have worked on, usually because of copyright issues and the fact the designs are not protected.

In the first sketch you can see demonstrations for different ways of tiling and arranging windows and thumbnails:

Next up is a sketch of Lava lamps, flowers, faces and some more realistic ideas of how thumbnails could work:

Below you can see a sketching in detail of how icons on the taskbar could work:

The team toyed with the idea of putting previews in the Taskbar:

Calling Batman, previews get projected in a Gotham like way:

Early concepts of the jump lists feature:

From these sketches and concepts you can tell that the team has taken a lot of different user interfaces into consideration. According to Microsoft there were more than 400 sketches of the desktop experience alone along with concepts for how different elements interact with each other.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

New iPhone for the summer?

Next Story

Fourth Leopard 10.5.7 test build given to developers

58 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I watched the video with the early changes. They had a better Windows Media preview, with volume control. They had jumplists that contained both Frequent -and- Recent.

They had better stuff.. it's not fair

Holy crap, did these people not go to design school?

I certainly hope they're not getting programmers to do UI designs. Not that I'm saying I'm any better for the job, I have a hard enough time imagining an innovative UI let alone draw it on paper. But I kind of expected better from professionals.

What makes you say that. Because of the sketches? This is how early designs are developed well before you go into more polished ideas...

Actually, these are FAR earlier prototypes than any designer/artist would have in their sketchbook or portfolio and so this is quite normal.

They were very creative in the Longhorn era, if you look at the concepts, wow. Some would be still futuristic today, and 6 years have passed Apple would be nowhere (ui wise) if Longhorn became a reallity.

The Batman effect should be part of Windows Ultimate Extras (if that will be passed on). I'd love to have a the freedom to change the style in which everything presents itself--it would be like a new generation of visual styles.

Why can't we have window shading? I like it better than minimization because it retains the title and the original location.

statm1 said,
Better the orb then just a word.

Says who?

1. Aesthetically it's ugly as balls given that it doesn't exactly mesh well with the surrounding area (new isn't always improved, wish a lot of you people would realize that).
2. From a support viewpoint it's terrible. "Yes. Ok ma'am, you want to click on the little orb thingy in the bottom left corner to get your menu. No, it's in the bottom left corner, it's like a circle. It's the same circle that you click on to get your start menu. Well, I guess it's not a start menu anymore since THEY TOOK AWAY THE START NAME SO NOW IT'S JUST GENERIC MENU OH PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST CLICK ON IT!"
As compared to the alternative, "Click on the start button, bottom left corner of your screen."


So I don't see how it's superior in any way.

Let's look at the progress of our main OS...
Dos, all text.
Windows 3.1, text + icons.
Windows 95, text + more icons.
Windows XP/Vista, text + even more icons (category views, etc)
Windows 7, text + EVEN MORE icons.

At this rate, by Windows 10, we'll have no text left and everything will be iconified with all labels being hidden with mouseover popups or some ****.

And I don't know about you guys, but i still like labeling things and having a clear way to identify what's running on my machine. Honestly, if you took AWAY all the icons on the task bar (except for the system tray), THAT would be a clean looking interface. You'd see the labels for your programs and nothing unneeded. And when I'm running multiple instances of a program, I don't want them to group together NOR do I want them to be only icons. I need to be able to quickly look down, identify which instance I want to bring up based on the title/label that's displayed, click on it and be done.

This new method of icons for everything because the community has a hardon for docks right now is terrible. I'm not saying I hate docks, they're useful, but not as a whole replacement for the startmenu and taskbar.

ToastGodSupreme said,
Says who?

1. Aesthetically it's ugly as balls given that it doesn't exactly mesh well with the surrounding area (new isn't always improved, wish a lot of you people would realize that).
2. From a support viewpoint it's terrible. "Yes. Ok ma'am, you want to click on the little orb thingy in the bottom left corner to get your menu. No, it's in the bottom left corner, it's like a circle. It's the same circle that you click on to get your start menu. Well, I guess it's not a start menu anymore since THEY TOOK AWAY THE START NAME SO NOW IT'S JUST GENERIC MENU OH PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST CLICK ON IT!"
As compared to the alternative, "Click on the start button, bottom left corner of your screen."


So I don't see how it's superior in any way.

Let's look at the progress of our main OS...
Dos, all text.
Windows 3.1, text + icons.
Windows 95, text + more icons.
Windows XP/Vista, text + even more icons (category views, etc)
Windows 7, text + EVEN MORE icons.

At this rate, by Windows 10, we'll have no text left and everything will be iconified with all labels being hidden with mouseover popups or some ****.

And I don't know about you guys, but i still like labeling things and having a clear way to identify what's running on my machine. Honestly, if you took AWAY all the icons on the task bar (except for the system tray), THAT would be a clean looking interface. You'd see the labels for your programs and nothing unneeded. And when I'm running multiple instances of a program, I don't want them to group together NOR do I want them to be only icons. I need to be able to quickly look down, identify which instance I want to bring up based on the title/label that's displayed, click on it and be done.

This new method of icons for everything because the community has a hardon for docks right now is terrible. I'm not saying I hate docks, they're useful, but not as a whole replacement for the startmenu and taskbar.

They have this in there... it's called Windows Classic. Looks practically like Win98/XP/Vista classic.

ToastGodSupreme said,
Windows 7, text + EVEN MORE icons.

You conveniently fail to mention the obvious change to text exclusively in all windows 7 (and windows live) toolbars. Examples include Explorer, Windows Live suite, XPS viewer etc.

FTA "The team toyed with the idea of putting previews in the Taskbar:"

And apparently didn't figure out that they should do this on the SIDE of the screen (left by default). It reads better and uses desktop real estate more effectively, especially with widescreen monitors now the default. This was an idea they should have explored further, since it was a very good one.

I'm currently doing just that with ObjectDock Plus. My taskbar is replaced by a zooming dock on the left of the screen which shows a start menu button by default and increases in size automatically with each new application. It autoscales smaller if dozens of applications are running. And all running programs are represented by live thumbnail snapshots under Vista.

The system tray is another autohiding dock elsewhere, since no one really needs the system tray real estate showing 24/7 (even Windows 7 autohides most icons by default). Or at least, once the clock, etc. have been put on the desktop by default. :)

Just my two cents

There was also a collage of 120 or so High Fidelity prototypes they worked on which was played in quick sucession.

Wow, you completely did not understand what he just said. He said it looks like Windows Vista, not Windows 7. If he can tell the difference between them, I'm sure he knows about Windows 7. It is not just an update. That is Windows Vista, apparently, they started concepts on Windows Vista, and then after getting the idea of what they were going to do, they went and made Windows 7 from Windows Vista. That is when the alpha builds of Windows 7 came out, and what made Windows 7 unique from Windows Vista regarding UI. Then the alpha builds brought us to the beta builds and now that takes us to the RC builds. Technically, I would call that Windows Vista, as you can see, there is no watermark, it was just several modifications to get an idea.

skynetXrules said,
huh .... it look like vista not 7

To sum up what Electric said.. Alot of concepts were demoed on Vista before they had any solid changes to the UI. Thats why it looks like Vista, because it is.

@excalpius
i am aware that win7 is an upgrade over vista

what does suprised me that they used vista codebase over win7 beta codebase

Do you have any idea how the development of a new os works? I think its obvious that you haven't used previous betas of windows. They dont start from scratch every new windows, they start from where they left off.

Exactly. I think it is pretty obvious that if you are going to consider introducing new user interface elements or new user interface effects, you will plan it, test it out and think about it greatly before you actually include it in the new operating system.

Before starting this new operating system, it makes sense to try these new things out on the very early builds of it - that is what they have done here. I imagine this is a very early build of Windows 7, probably quite a bit before milestone 1 was even finalised - very very similar to Windows Vista.

Whatever happened to OS-wide Accelerators? Did that get dropped for good?

I hope someone codes a third party app that adds the Batman switching effect.

Colin-uk said,
can anyone actually read that hand writing / scribbling ? :P

I tried. I failed. Maybe that's how they keep things confidential over there If nobody can read it, nobody can leak it.

Sam Symons Live said,
I tried. I failed. Maybe that's how they keep things confidential over there If nobody can read it, nobody can leak it.

hehe

Can hardly blame them for not coming forward with more of these after the debocal that was WinFS and what people seemed to think it was...

Rolith said,
Can hardly blame them for not coming forward with more of these after the debocal that was WinFS and what people seemed to think it was...

"debocal" - the what?

Litespeed said,
"debocal" - the what?

Litespeed, did you not know what Rolith meant by that? Or were you just insulting his spelling?

It's ok everyone, when in doubt about spelling, use www.dictionary.com . If the word does not exist, it will suggest a few for consideration.

This also helps everyone to check their posts before clicking the "Submit My Reply" button in haste.

The batman spot light is patented by Batman himself and thuss because Microsoft is very poor, they didn't buy the licence to use the batman spotlight... (1st april preperations)

Lord Ba'al said,
Yes, it would be nice if they put that back in, at least as an option.

This is actually in Windows 7, but just adjusted, when you hover over the thumbnails and you get aero-peak preview, it's the same thing, the flaw with this demo, was that when you hover down on the buttons it will always trigger this, now this will work out in the scenario when taskbuttons aren't grouped, but it won't work when it's grouped, furthermore it acted as a bit of annoyance.

Windows 7 still has the similar feature but it just doesn't have the spotlight direction, which makes it seem pretty cool.