Longhorn preview Khoi Vinh 04 May 2005

36 comments Latest by Daniel Lakier

Microsoft suffered a little at the hands of Apple (for once!) last week when the company’s latest Longhorn preview got a bit lost amid the frenzy leading up to Mac OS X Tiger’s release. This gallery gives a pretty decent and very interesting tour of the Longhorn desktop. And if anything is surprising at all, it’s that it doesn’t look as much like Mac OS X as it does some new, moderately slicker flavor of Linux.

It’s always difficult to really believe that preview screen shots are actually accurate indicators of a future OS upgrade’s final look and feel (in spite of the fact that they often are accurate indicators of just that), and it’s especially hard to believe that when they look, frankly, like works in progress, sketchy modifications of the Windows XP interface. Still, Longhorn won’t hit the streets until long after your summer getaway, first day back at school, holiday season, winter blizzard and maybe even your next spring break; between now and then, it’s not completely inconceivable that the user interface could see a significant makeover that will surpass everyone’s expectations. Unless they’re pouring all of their energy into Metro instead.

36 comments so far (Jump to latest)

blackant 04 May 05

It looks like M$ has made some nice advancements in their UIs. It’ll be interesting to see what actually ships.

But even more amazing - has anyone ever seen page footers more massive than those of the Ziff Davis sites? Good lord!

Adam Thody 04 May 05

Maybe it’s just me…but I think it actually LOOKS buggy.

I realize this is just a preview, but it seems like there are a lot of things misaligned…some of the text doesn’t fit in the fields properly (Type to Search), the icons in the address bar are half cut off, etc, etc. You’d think they’d polish it a bit more before showing it off. It has a “shareware feel” to it.

Dan Boland 04 May 05

Maybe it�s just me�but I think it actually LOOKS buggy.

LOL, that’s what I thought too. I don’t think I’d want anyone to see this photos if I were the folks at M$. But I wasn’t expecting it to look like Mac OS X, nor am I surprised that it looks like… Windows. As Butt-Head once said to Beavis, “you can’t polish a turd.”

blackant 04 May 05

Wow, I should have looked at some more screens before posting. Yeah, there are definitely some fugly rendering problems on many of those shots.

Darrel 04 May 05

It looks like they tossed out what little desktop OS UI consistency they had and attempted to make every interface a web page.


Foofy 04 May 05

Jeeze, it’s just a preview, people! Remember how drastically XP’s interface changed in the year before the launch? At least people can post these screenshots without getting cease and desist orders and a pile of legal threats.

Carl 04 May 05

Maybe all these bugs and issues have something to do with the fact that the product is still another year down the road for release? It’s not done. Picking it apart now is just a waste of time.

Drew 04 May 05

These interface shots are:

#1 Hideously ugly
#2 Completely and totally different than every other iteration of the Longhorn interface we’ve seen so far
#3 obviously unfinished and broken

Does Microsoft *really* care about the UI?
It seems like they spend every minute up until the day before launch trying to finish engineering everything and have someone slap a re-organized interface on top of it.

I don’t see a single UI improvement - just 10x more clutter which they will obviously call ‘new features’.

Foofy 04 May 05

Just a bit Mac biased? Again, it’s just a preview.

Tony 04 May 05

It appears to me that the many of these screenshots look disjunct because the windows were overly reduced in size for the purpose of the screen shot.

matthew 04 May 05

those screens are awful. please don’t say that they’re “only previews” and shouldn’t be taken seriously. longhorn has been in development for years. microsoft couldn’t put together eight measly screenshots that don’t feature neon green, chopped-off text or broken images on a web page?

PDF'n Good 04 May 05

IMO, Metro is one of the most pointless endeavors undertaken by MS. Oh well, it’s their money.

Jeff Croft 04 May 05

I’m well aware this is “just a preview,” but isn’t the point of a preview to generate interest and excitement? These screenshots show neither a very drastic difference from Windows XP nor a pension for making pretty things. In other words, they look awful. They’re ugly, poorly-executed, and pretty much just crap.

So, before someone reminds me that “this is just a preview,” I’d like to propose this question: if your product looked like crap in it’s early stages, would you go showing it to the entire world? I sure wouldn’t.

If I were Microsoft and I realized this looked horrible, but was not the final look of the system, I’d have been inclined to either just put out some screenshot mockups of what the final look will be, or simply not released anything at all until it at least LOOKED like a reasonably polished product.

This is what one might call a bad PR move.

Su 04 May 05

It looks like they tossed out what little desktop OS UI consistency they had…

Totally unlike Apple, who would never create a program with a UI in blatant conflict with their own stringent guidelines.
To join the chorus: PREVIEW

And yes, whatever it does end up being, Longhorn will probably not be as “pretty” as OSX, but I also doubt it’ll feel like I’m dragging everything through syrup(on a dual G4).
Besides which, I haven’t seen the Windows interface in years, due to Windowblinds. Or the OSX one, for the matter. They both suck to me.

Tony 04 May 05

I do not believe that Microsoft provided these screenshots. Rather, they were taken by ExtremeTech for their review. I know it’s the latest greatest thing to bash everything remotely connected with Microsoft, but I think some of you are going over the top.

Foofy 04 May 05

Some cleaner screenshots at http://winscraps.org/gallery/.

Darren James Harkness 04 May 05

Is it just me, or is the scrolling view selector a complete waste of time? There are only 5 options; why not highlight the one currently selected, and give some sort of visual feedback when hovering over the others? Having a slider bar to the side is completely useless, and gives the implication that there are ‘inbetweens’.

Tony 04 May 05

“Having a slider bar to the side is completely useless, and gives the implication that there are �inbetweens�.”

How do you know there aren’t inbetweens?

Kevin Tamura 04 May 05

To me it seems like a moving target, two years ago Longhorn was a much different beast with a drastically differnt GUI; one that I found very pleasing and interesting. These preview shot just make it look like a reskin of XP and as it’s still at least a year out it’s hard to put any weight that this is what the finished product is going to look like.

Aaron 04 May 05

I’m intrigued by the new icons that show up in some of the shots - more specifically the new “folder” icons. Folders on their sides? Sure, I can see how someone is trying to think outside the box but for some reason they bug me - all my stuff would fall out!

Drew 04 May 05

All I know is that I’m glad I’m not an interface designer on that project.

It looks like the entire project is a moving target.

Thomas Baekdal 04 May 05

One very important thing to consider in regards to the current UI is that it is not Aero. So what does that mean? Well, on Mac OS X you have Qartz, which is the PDF-based window system - and the system use Quartz to make all those nifty screen we got on a Mac OS X.

Longhorn will feature a new window system - called Aero, which basically does everything Quartz does + is fully scalable, handles multible layers of transparency, has builtin scripting option and is vector based. …and does 3D.

So Aero is the new higly advanced UI.

But, it is not finished - so what you see on the current screenshots is Longhorn without Aero (imagine what Mac OS X would look lige without Quartz).

Darrel 04 May 05

It looks like they tossed out what little desktop OS UI consistency they had�

Totally unlike Apple

You defend crappy UI design by Microsoft by pointing out Apple has broken some of their own UI rules?

Crappy UI design is crappy design. This isn’t MS bashing…it’s crappy design bashing. Just like pointing out the problems with Bush’s SS plan isn’t ‘republican bashing’ but just common sense. ;o)

And foofy, MS products seem to be in perpetual ‘preview’ mode, don’t they? How’s that .net 2 coming along? Hopefully any day now… ;o)

But Thomas has some good points, too.

Su 04 May 05

Darrel, please reread your own comment.

You did not say the Windows UI was crappy(even better, I did). You said it was inconsistent.
I have seen some slavishly consistent, yet crappy, design. One does not follow the other.

Mike 04 May 05

Thomas - Thank you for pointing out this information that has been conveniently left out of the post.

I personally find it hard to comment/criticise a new UI when it hasn’t been shown yet.

When did Signal vs. Noise become Slashdot?

Darrel 04 May 05

I have seen some slavishly consistent, yet crappy, design. One does not follow the other.

Oh, I agree. Inconsistency doesn’t necessarily = crap.

Grant 04 May 05

They’re screenshots from WinHEC lol—the event is for windows hardware developers to give them the technical info they need to write low-level device drivers. But because it’s Longhorn, it’s news and it’s a “preview of the interface”.

As other posters have noted, this has roughly jack to do with what Longhorn’s UI is really going to be. Will it be as clean and aesthetically pleasing as OS X? Probably not. But at least know what you’re picking at when you go caterwauling off to self-validate your Mac fandom.

They’re operating systems, who cares. Get a Calvin peeing on a Ford logo sticker and go sleep with your sisters. That’s right, I made that leap.

Btw, the absolute most comical poster is the guy who said something about .NET 2.0. How do people breathe with their heads surrounded by intestinal wall? WebObjects4life?

Asshats, asshats everywhere…

stu willis 04 May 05

I’m unashamedly biased towards Macs, but I don’t have a problem with that. Its like preferring a good single-malt whisky and being called biased because you don’t like Johnny Walker Red Label. Windows is the house scotch of the computer world, except they don’t make a Gold or Blue label.

Aero does sound very intriguing, but I would be willing to wager a large bet it won’t ship - at least in its planned form - with Longhorn next year. No reason to think that, other than a hunch.

(and I’m not even sure the new Longhorn pics look any slicker than the rapidly maturing GUIs of GNOME et al)

mcloki 05 May 05

Why is everyone picking apart an OS that won’t ship for 2 years. (There will be delays, of feature strip) . Remember that you’ll most likely have to buy new hardware to get all this chocolate goodness. Tiger made my 2 year old dual G4 run better, faster smarter. TODAY. I don’t see anywhere that Longhorn will make your current machine any faster or better 1 1/2 to two years from now.

Grant 05 May 05

mcloki: Predictably doing what you are amazed to find others doing is cute. Cute like a troll (and not even a good one).

Who cares what Longhorn does, you’re comparing a minivan and a roadster, a coupe and a panel truck—they’re operating systems for chrissakes, they do different things for different people, there is (unfortunately for the simpletons of the planet) no one-size-fits-all solution.

Where are the OS/400 trolls, how come they never come out and fly the moron flag.

Can’t someone start a death penalty debate or call someone Hitler?

Dan Lakier 06 May 05

While the UI might need a bit of work. The MS (or M$ if you prefer) UI is quite innovative from a technical stand point.

Avalon (code name for the UI) uses XAML, a mark up like language to seperate code from UI and looks quite interesting. It is a bit ambitious (one of the reasons things are taking so long), but it is a technically elegant idea.

Take a look at this link.

XAML (the seperation of UI from business logic) and Indigo (enhanced web services) are 2 extremely exciting components of Longhorn, and are both ambitious. Longhorn will be a quantum lean in operating systens, assuming it eventually shows up.

Stu Willis 11 May 05

Hmm. Wait. So XAML is kind of a properly implemented version of what Apple is doing with dashboard?

Daniel Lakier 11 May 05

XAML is far more sophisticated/ambitious than dashboard. There is no comparison between the 2. All Longhorn apps will eventually be using XAML.