Windows 7's Worst Features

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Too Many Notifications

Windows 7 greatly improves on Vista by cutting down the number of system notification pop-ups that interrupt you during a Windows session--but there’s still room to cut down on the excess. For example, Windows 7 issues an “Information” notice when you plug headphones or speakers into your computer’s headphone jack. You can’t get a virus through a headphone jack, though, so why alert me to something so innocuous?

The most ridiculous alert I’ve encountered was an update telling me that Windows 7 was going to check for a system update at 3 a.m. Do I need to know this? Just do the update; and if you need my authorization to proceed, let me know when it’s time. My computer should work on my schedule, not interrupt me with details about its itinerary.

User Account Control

When it introduced UAC in Windows Vista, Microsoft hailed it as a significant step toward making Windows systems more secure. But most users detested UAC--in particular, the way it blanked out the screen and then repeatedly asked whether they really wanted to install something. Microsoft has made the UAC in Windows 7 dramatically better, with fewer screen blank outs (you can even turn them off) and alerts. Still, there must be a better way than UAC to handle security issues.

Windows Live an Essential Hassle

With Windows 7, Microsoft bundled some basic programs into a free download called Windows Live Essentials.
With Windows 7, Microsoft has removed some basic programs from the operating system and bundled them in a free download called Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live programs include Windows Live Mail (the successor to Outlook Express), Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Call, and Writer (a blogging tool). Microsoft says that it decided to make these programs available as a download, instead of including them with Windows 7, so that it could update the applications “without being tied to the OS upgrade cycle.”

The drawback of the Windows Live Essentials download is that it adds a step to the initial Windows 7 setup process. Given that Live Essentials are basic programs that most users will want to have at their fingertips, why not figure out a way to bundle them with new computers right out of the box?

Persistent Gadgets

I’ve never been a huge fan of gadgets, but they can be helpful for quickly checking a flight time or weather forecast. In Windows 7, you can put gadgets anywhere on your desktop; but just as in Vista, you don’t have an automatic hide option for gadgets. Instead, to make your gadgets disappear, you have to right-click your desktop, select View, and uncheck 'Show desktop gadgets'.

Windows 7 Gadgets; click for full-size image.
Gadgets can be helpful when you want quick access to things such as weather forecasts and flight times, but they lack an automatic hide option to keep your desktop tidy when you don’t need them.
That’s not a very convenient procedure, so your gadgets are likely to remain visible on your desktop pretty much all the time. An automatic hide option that would enable you to make gadgets reappear with a keystroke would be a nice thing for users who value a clean desktop.

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