Saturday, December 16, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 User Interface Fiasco: Am I nuts or not?

As astute readers will have surmised, I'm in my mid-fifties. At this time in a person's life it's not unusual to wonder, from time to time: Am I going soft in the head? For me, one of those times was my first use of IE7. Here is a little bit of what the program looked like when I installed it. Astute observers will observe there is no menu bar (File-Edit-View -etc.).
Because web browsing is now the thing I do the most on my computer--actually writing within the web browser as I am right now--I like to place my browser controls in a particular configuration. And I like some sort of consistency. So I set to work on IE7. I found you can get the old menu bar to show up, but the process is a pain. Furthermore, any further configuration hits the wall pretty quick. For example, the IE7 toolbars won't move, for me. This was so unexpected that I thought for sure my senile dementia was setting in. There I was, clicking and dragging and nothing was happening. In fact, the default UI is such a big departure from a. the norm, b. common sense, I deduced that, because I couldn't 'fix' it, I must be losing my marbles.

But no! It is Redmond that has lost its marbles on this one. How do I know? Another blog came to my rescue. I found this "Blog of Fusion" and began reading. Phew! It wasn't just me. Others were having the same "issues."

What had me really scared--before I found that blog--was an illustration in an article at See that "Classic Menu" option? I couldn't find that in my copy of IE7, as shown below. Then I noticed the article was published in June. I had installed the 'shipping' version of IE7 in December. Tthis seems to be evidence that Microsoft--at one point in the Beta--allowed what the shipping version does not allow.

Check out the screen shots. My version of IE7 doesn't allow me to drag toolbars like the article shows. Seems they must have ditched this stuff during the final build and, with breezy indifference, failed to correct their own web site. BTW, that page at is the top result if you Google: internet explorer 7 toolbar customize.

So, can you imagine how many thousands of people around the planet are going to a. try to customize the IE7 toolbar, b. get stuck, c. Google to that page, d. waste hours resolving the resulting contradictions?

I mean no offense to the poor microserf who wrote that stuff--he probably asked them to take it down and they didn't. When I was a Microsoft Vendor, everyone that I met in Redmond seemed smart, pleasant, and very earnest, but also out of touch with reality. And the entities to which they reported within the organization were more than a little messed up. In short, a classic example of how a bunch of smart, well-intentioned people can add up to a dumb bunch of decisions. (We are seeing another of these dumb decisions play out right now: "Improved security is the rasion d'etre for the next expensive Windows upgrade.)

One specific criticism of IE7 that I haven't seen elsewhere is that the row for the tabs of the new tabbed browsing feature (a feature that got me using Firefox as my main browser several years ago) seem to be fixed on the same line as the main buttons. This gives decidedly less space to the tabs than you have in Firefox. Also, if you remove the traditional menu, the View command is gone. There is no button for it. So the only way to get the traditional View menu item back is a right click in a select area of the tab/button bar.

Makes no sense to me, and thanks to fellow bloggers, I'm pretty sure I'm not senile, yet.


Unknown said...

More and more reasons not to use Internet Explorer at all and stick with Firefox! I also found this confusing and very unintuitive, way to alienate users when you're already losing thousands to open source free software.

shonatiger said...

oh i know!!! it's been driving me nuts since i installed it! i wished i could roll back.. but alas, am stuck with it.

神野ミカエル said...

Fun! I for one am not surprised. Firefox is still number one.