If You Don't Change the UI, Nobody Notices

I saw a screenshot a few days ago that made me think Windows 7 Beta might actually be worth checking out.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/01/if-you-dont-change-the-ui-nobody-notices.html

I’d say that if it’s all UI change or all hidden code changes, you’re sure to have people wondering. MS Should have learned by now that you must do both with an upgrade or people feel cheated.


All backend with no front end means you fixed some bugs and why do I pay to fix bugs?

All front end with no features means you spiffed up the same interface, but you better hope you made my life easier and it’s not just some glossy whiz-bang crap that I’m going to want to turn off because after 10 minutes windows that have accurate shadows and accelerate within the laws of physics don’t impress me.

It’s not that everything has to be a visible change. But users do wonder what all the fuss is about when all they see is some mac-like visual effects applied to some windows and another complete rewrite of Office and the silly ribbon. How many millions of PR did Vista take? Spend more developers.

So the moral of the story is the same old calc and other very visible tools makes the OS look like someone just slapped a coat of paint on that old rusting K-Car. It doesn’t matter if you overhauled the suspension either, the car is still a rusting pile of junk, and people will complain until you remove the rust.

They can claim notpad has been changed as much as they want. The windows 7 version still has the bug where you can’t view the statusbar while you have wordwrap activated :stuck_out_tongue:

Well maybe I’m unusual, but Vista definitely had dramatic performance changes for me. Under XP my RAID array was giving me 200MB/s sustained, under Vista is only does that for the first ~500MB, after that it drops to less that 100MB/s. But to compensate it kills GUI responsiveness and the wonderful do you want to dump aero dialog pops up. I’ve given up choosing no, and never ask me again because it has no effect. Backing up my PC is no longer a background task, while I’m doing that I might as well not use the computer. I can also really see the disk caching in Vista - it takes a couple of minutes after the backup finishes for GUI responsiveness to improve, and the disk keeps thrashing during that time.

Here’s hoping that 7 is better.

Btw: The Windows 7 calculator works perfectly fine under windows vista - it’s abit of a act to replace it though (need to take over ownership of system32 directory and give yourself the rights to replace the files). Only thing i kinda miss is the ability to use floats in the programmer mode - would be nice to see the ieee bitfield of them :slight_smile:

There’s a failure in the post: infinite precision only works for the real basic ops (add, subtract, multiply), but not for division…

I wonder how 1/7 is calculated to infinite precision by this calculator.

I don’t get it, there is a new and great windows calculator for a while now,

Microsoft Calculator Plus

I have been using it for at least 2 years now

Sorry, it can be possible if you store your values as fractions internally. But at least you can’t display the result ;). It’s a bit late.


You’ve been had. First they rebuild the calculator engine from the ground up and no one notices because the UI is exactly the same, in fact people complain about the lack of change. This time, they reorganize the buttons and make them prettier, without changing anything functional about the applet and you write an entire blog about how Win 7 is to die for because of a stinking calculator.

The funny thing is I just bought new batteries for my legacy scientific calculator because I was getting tired of Start - All Programs - Accessories (wait) - Calculator and wanted instant on instead.

Don’t bother improving your product unless it results in visible changes

Bullshit !
This sounds like:

Don’t make quality software. Make software that sells.

@Jim: The funny thing is I just bought new batteries for my legacy scientific calculator because I was getting tired of Start - All Programs - Accessories (wait) - Calculator and wanted instant on instead.

Yeah. I mean, we are living in a decade where gigahertz computing has finally arrived, and yet our damn start menu’s are slower than they were on 66Mhz 486s.

Is it really too much to ask to have a start menu that doesn’t need to re-index its folder every time you go to it?

And that’s why I hit windows-R calc to run calculator instead. =)

Hey Jeff. Kudos on the blog (first comment, I think).

It boggles my small mind to think about just how much MS have to keep a track of in Windows. Sure, they’ve made idiotic decisions and stupid mistakes. But I’m still using Windows, and the sheer number of little things like Calc, I’m just … boggled.

My point is, it must be hard to manage between fixing the VISIBLE and the INVISIBLE on the multitude of elements within Windows. Both of which need to happen.


powercalc is better. And no shitsta required.

The first thing I do with a new instance of an OS is remove the crud such as visual styles. I want things fast not beautiful

Exactly! I want my machine to be fast and I want the OS and the desktop environment unbloated, unobtrusive and functional.
That being said, I want whatever utilities provided with the OS to be a feature rich, to perform well and to foster my productivity and creativity.
I am glad to see the functions of the included utilities like calculator finally enhanced
(and not dumbed down) because Vista was a miserable disappointment in that regard,
especially with Desktop Search as I gripped about in Exploring Vista’s Advanced Search

I am amazed that there has not been more of an outcry about Vista.
I can’t help but use the term ‘horror’ when talking about Vista
and a constant feeling of frustration when using it.

Soon after I started using Vista I wrote up a list of pros and cons.
It had less than a page of pro’s (more like ho-hums’) and around four pages of cons.
A year later I had probably added one or two minor pros,
and many more cons; some so serious that I was unable to
actually do things (I.e. one of the final straws was
I.E. unable to download a multigigabyte file
from my colleague’s FTP site, it repeatedly truncated the file with no
message of failure, it downloaded fine with XP IE6).

I am shocked that some people actually say they ‘love’ Vista.
Have they been blinded by by Aero?
Do they actually do anything in Vista except use Office? (another set of horrors, IMHO)

I put up with Vista for over a year until I dumped it for XP and no frustration.

As a programmer, I consider myself rather computer savy,
but relating my poor experience with Vista
makes me sound like a Luddite or worse, a curmudgeon. I hate that.
I take solace in the fact that about %90 of the people I have talked about Vista also hate it.
Let us hope MicroSoft has taken their head out of the sand
and Windows 7 embodies an apology (not to mention a steep upgrade discount).

Of course none of this changes the fact that a calculator app that attempts to mimic a physical calculator, complete with graphical buttons that you click with a mouse, and a single line display is completely freakin’ stupid to the core.

Give me bc anyday over that piece of crap.
SteveC on January 12, 2009 06:50 AM

On a PC there is room for more editing space than just one line, and it already has a keyboard.

And why the hell do we need to re-enter the whole formula when changing one parameter!!!

They should add a free form editor that allows you to type shit like:

However, a panel (that can be hidden) with function buttons is still useful because people don’t want to search the help file for the correct function names.


In fact I prefer the old calc because the buttons are much easier to see.

Microsoft still does not know how to make life easier. Here I am with a 2GHz programmable computing device and still no editable input field in calc. INSANE!

Windows 7 is sweet sweet sweet. You should check it out.

How does one determine the ‘feel’ of performance then? We can lietrally see a progress bar ‘progresses’ faster, boot-up time shorter or web browsing more responsive. Nevertheless, guess it’s not as ‘obvious’ as having something prettier, cooler and more pleasing to the eye.

You can’t make everyone happy. Some want more beautiful UI. Others more functionality and some both. The trick is to find a good balance. If you’re awesome, you can do a lot in both areas (Apple does this)

A bunch of people will always complain… no matter what you do.

@KW: Exactly, because in my experience of UI, you have to hit users square between the eyes with a ten-pound lump hammer for them to register that something has changed. Applications loading more quickly holds no immediate interest for them; they are still ‘waiting for something to happen’. But if, when it does, and it suddenly has the wow! factor, they will think it was money well spent.

It’s about time they completely get rid of that Windows for Workgroups 3.1 file open dialog! It still pops up when you try to install a new font in Vista.