Sunday, July 6, 2008

Windows Vista : Aero Wizards

Besides Aero, there’s another way in which Windows Vista has changed user interaction. As millions of Windows users already know, most configuration, installation, and update tasks are performed with the aid of a wizard. The job of a Windows wizard is straightforward: it leads you through a series of questions designed to get the device, piece of software, or Windows component up and running the way you want. For example, if you want to back up files, you could open the Backup and Restore Center and choose the Back Up Files button. You will then see the opening page of a wizard, which asks you a simple question: “Where do you want to save your backup?”

And although it may escape your notice at first, this Wizard dialog box represents a significant change over the way wizards used to work, the first such change to wizard behavior in roughly 10 years.

The standard for the Windows wizard interface design from the time of Windows 98 until now has been something known as Wizard 97. It is the standard still in effect for the wizards used in Windows XP and Server 2003. Vista Aero wizards give the wizards a major facelift, then, one that incoporates major updates to match the look and feel of the rest of Windows Vista. But I wouldn’t bother mentioning this if it were just a matter of a prettier window. The Aero wizards also change how users interact with the wizard. How so? Look for these changes when completing a wizard:

• To enhance efficiency, Vista Aero wizards no longer use the Welcome and Completion pages that have been the standard of Wizard 97. (Geek side note: you can actually disable these Welcome and Completion pages in several current products, which use an “updated” Wizard 97 interface.)

• Aero wizard pages have a prominent main instruction that replaces page heading and subheading.

• Wizard pages are resizable. Wizard 97 dictated a fixed window size for content.

• Aero wizards use a Back button that matches the appearance of other Vista windows, especially those used by Windows Explorer. The idea here is to focus on the Command choices, and not on clicking on a Next button repetitively in order to step through the wizard.

• A new control, known as a command link, allows for immediate and more expressive choices, carrying out most wizard functions with a single click per window.

• “Commit” buttons and pages, where the wizard explicitly states what will occur, are introduced. If there is no other information that needs to be communicated, these commit pages will be the last ones in the wizard. The result, Microsoft hopes, is more efficient decision-making and navigation flow.

• A “follow-up page” after some Commit pages can direct the user to take logical follow-up actions upon completion of the Aero wizard. After burning a CD using Windows Media Player 11, for example, the follow-up page might present the user with the option to either duplicate the disk or make a disk label.

And there’s more: besides a change in the way users (and administrators) will interact with Vista’s many configuration wizards, you will also notice a change in the way the new OS “talks” to you, both with the phrasing tone used and in the way the Security Center handles its notifications.

Vista’s tone
According to the Vista User Experience Guidelines, Vista has also undergone a “personality change” of sorts by changing the language and overall tone of the user interface. The stated goal of the new tone is to make communication presented in Vista’s many dialog boxes clearer, more precise, and even encouraging. Previous versions of Windows could have an inconsistent feel both in the way they instructed users to accomplish tasks, and in the way they made requests for information. Much of that has been remedied now with language that is more direct and user-focused.

What’s more, Microsoft also encourages application developers to adopt a different tone in the applications built for Windows Vista. As a result, users should see much more consistency in how they are “spoken” to, whether they are using the operating system or an application running on it.

Windows System Tray notifications
You know them and love them: Windows System Tray notifications. Notifications allow an application or operating system component with an icon in the System Tray to create a pop-up window with some information about an event or problem. You’ve no doubt experienced System Tray notifications, which are commonly referred to as balloons, from applications like Microsoft Office (when a new email arrives, for example), or from the operating system (such as when a security setting is not as safe as it should be).

The System Tray notifications were first introduced in Windows 2000 and have been the subject of much controversy and headache. The notifications can be particularly annoying to people who often run full-screen applications such as games, and can be a real mood-killer when one pops up during a PowerPoint presentation. As you’ll soon see, however, Vista includes a “Presenter mode” for mobile computers that automatically addresses this very issue.

Windows Vista notifications aim to be less intrusive by gradually fading in and out, and by not appearing at all if a full-screen application or screensaver is being displayed— in these cases, notifications are queued until an appropriate time. Larger icons and multiple font sizes and colors are also introduced with Aero’s notification windows.

Lastly, one of the most important enhancements of Aero is its capability to deal with the high-resolution displays of the future by way of a resolution-independent UI. At present, monitors generally have a resolution of 96 dots/pixels per inch (dpi/ppi). Simply put, 48 × 48 icons are displayed on-screen in a half-inch square.

Future LCD screens, however, will support resolutions up to 240/320 dpi. Therefore, to be displayed at the same size without quality loss, icons must include much larger images. That’s why Vista introduces a new standard for Windows icon size: 256 × 256 pixels.

Now that we’ve discussed some of Vista’s new desktop features, let’s spend a little time learning how to tailor the experience to your liking.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Vista Administration The Definitive Guide

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