www. O S N E W S .com
News Features Interviews
BlogContact Editorials
Designing Windows 95's user interface
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-10 00:11:34

Three years ago I came across an interesting paper written up by a Microsoft employee, Kent Sullivan, on the process and findings of designing the new user interface for Windows 95. The web page has since been taken down - one reason why I’m a bit of a digital hoarder.

It specified some of the common issues experienced from Windows 3.1's Program Manager shell and looked at the potential of developing a separate shell for 'beginners'. Admittedly my inclination was that this was possibly inspired by Apple's At Ease program that was reasonably popular during the System 7 days. I remember At Ease well during my primary school years, so kids couldn’t mess with the hard disk in Finder.

So here's what Kent had to say verbatim in his paper titled "The Windows 95 User Interface: A Case Study in Usability Engineering" so it’s not lost altogether.

However you feel about Windows 95, there's no denying that its user interface is probably one of the most iconic and well-known user interfaces ever designed and developed. Literally everyone knows it and has used it, and it singlehandedly defined what a personal computer's UI should work like. It's incredibly fascinating to read about the thought processes behind its development.

 Email a friend - Printer friendly - Related stories
Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-50 -- 51-55
RE[4]: UI Desgin triumph
By wa2flq on 2018-02-15 21:01:35
> > Windows won because all these other products were either unaffordable or worse.
Or too late... (BeOS on x86) But I wonder, why NextStep on x86 failed? It was out 2 years before Win95... Or maybe contemporary Win3.x had already too much momentum? Was it too expensive hence hardly anyone bought it / OEMs didn't ship PCs with it? Had it too high system requirements neccessitating an expensive PC? Did lack of DOS compatibility kill it? Some other reason?

I used NextStep on a 486 Gateway 2000 for many years. On the same machine Win 3.1 and 95 were often unstable and crude tools in comparison. I don't think there is any single reason for its standalone failure. Depending on the "use case" pick one or more of the following reasons, or add your own.

1) Wordperfect but no MS Word
2) Often didn't run on bare minimum hardware. Needed more Memory and Disk Space that the 'average' buyer was purchasing. Also required a decent bit mapped display card (e.g. ATI Mach 32) and often 17" inch a monitor for regular use.
3) A Bit Slow on IDE. much better on SCSI controllers
4) No compatibility with MS-DOS software
5) Lotus Improv but no MS Excel
6) No Rolling Stones Kickoff
7) Bundling of MS OS with with new hardware
8) Steve's return to (take over of) Apple.
9) No drivers for many devices, especially a) those in which the device had limited "intelligence or controller" and the PC did all the computing and/or b) the device was proprietary or evolving interface requirement the vendors support to author a driver.
Permalink - Score: 1
RE[5]: UI Desgin triumph
By zima on 2018-02-15 22:03:41
> 6) No Rolling Stones Kickoff
Hm? :)
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[4]: Re: (Reasons Windows 95 was well received)
By phoenix on 2018-02-15 22:21:13
> > Unless you`re doing something unusual, you don`t have to use cli at all.

Define 'unusual'. Does that include wanting to install something outside of the default package manager? Or updating the entire system?

Both of those can be done via the GUI (KDE, GNOME, or XFCE, have no experience with other DEs, but should be similar).

Download the .deb package from whatever website you want, and double-click on it. Similar to installing something on Windows via .msi, .exe, or similar installers.

Ubuntu and Debian both include GUI system upgrade tools that appear in the system tray when a new OS release is available. You can also manually run the GUI package tools and do an OS upgrade from there. No different from Windows Update.
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[4]: Re: (Reasons Windows 95 was well received)
By phoenix on 2018-02-15 22:22:45
> > You're obviously not a Linux user so you probably shouldn't comment on things that you clearly don't know much about. Linux distros do not in fact require the command line interface for basic system configuration tasks. Sure, one can use it if one wants but most

Wrong. Installing WiFi drivers is a basic system configuration task and I had to use dpkg to get it done.

There are GUI tools for installing .deb packages. gdebi and kdpkg are the two main ones. And simply double-clicking on the .deb file in a GUI file manager will start those automatically.
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[6]: Re: (Reasons Windows 95 was well received)
By phoenix on 2018-02-15 22:24:54
> At no point, during the installation of a WiFi driver on Windows, will you need to open PowerShell and start copying & pasting commands from a post you found on an obscure forum from a link on the fifth page of results of a Google search.

Just sayin'

However, trying to reset a wireless network and force it to forget the network (and something else I can't recall now) will require you dropping to a command prompt and running esoteric "net use" commands. Had to do that on two Windows 7 laptops to get them back online after a failed driver upgrade.
Permalink - Score: 2

Read Comments 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-50 -- 51-55

No new comments are allowed for stories older than 10 days.
This story is now archived.

News Features Interviews
BlogContact Editorials
WAP site - RSS feed
© OSNews LLC 1997-2007. All Rights Reserved.
The readers' comments are owned and a responsibility of whoever posted them.
Prefer the desktop version of OSNews?