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A Rant About Application GUIs

I was recently browsing through the my.9rules notes, and I stumbled across a post penned by a ‘ruler who was irritated by applications that have their own non-standard GUI (think Windows Live Messenger). I realized that it was something that has been irritating me for so long.

If you”re not quite sure what I”m on about, here are a couple of screenshots of the worst (Windows) perpetrators. From top to bottom: Xfire, Steam, Windows Live Messenger (previously MSN Messenger), Ad-Aware and AIM Triton.

Xfire
Steam
Messenger
Ad-Aware
AIM

I hate having my OS”s GUI broken up by non-standard graphical layouts. Since when was the standard GUI inadequate even for Microsoft”s own applications?! Speaking of counter-usibility, Windows Live Messenger would have to be one of the most un-accessible applications I”ve ever had the misfortune to use, and now that MS has slowly phased in a “Vista” aesthetic, it sticks out like a sore (and ugly) thumb on my XP Desktop. I”m definitely in no hurry to upgrade to Vista, I had a short experience with it, but uninstalled it within a week due to it”s incompatibilities, terrible look and a slew of other issues. I”m just glad I have my trusty Mac here to serve as my main computer, and I”m thankful that I don”t have to use XP/Windows on a daily basis.

6 Responses to “A Rant About Application GUIs”

  1. Oliver says:

    Heh — I hear you here! Lucky for me, now I use a Mac, and everything generally has a pretty good sense of cohesion; but back in the days I was on Windows (little under a year now, not out of choice) it used to annoy the shit out of me!

  2. Michael says:

    If you think AIM Triton is bad, give AIM 6.0 a shot. They did some cleaning up in the new version: got rid of the Buddies / Contacts list tabs, made the Away options a submenu of the Set Away button, and some other nice touches. In addition, IM windiows are neater, without the long row of tabs for different messaging options and then the tiny IM conversation below.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I think it’s great that companies want to brand their applications in some fashion. But at least have the courtesy to allow me to use the default Windows GUI if I choose.

    I think the worse culprit I’ve seen is HP, and branding their printer applications using the default Windows XP “Fisher-Price” theme, but a lot bigger and uglier.

  4. Chris says:

    I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but the new CS3 apps have stopped even pretending to use native ui elements and now are some awful hybrid, with grey slab buttons. So not only did they gimp there ‘icons’ with letters, but there interface too 🙁

    http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/video_workshop/ has a great couple of examples in OS X with blue gloss aqua buttons next to slab grey switches in Photoshop.

  5. Matt says:

    I agree with you, however, I really like applications that have customizable GUIs. Programs like Winamp where you can choose from different GUIs or if you like, design your own for it. There ought to be more programs like that.

  6. jacobbrett says:

    I wish there was some kind of foobar2000 version of WLM – that thing needs some heavy customising, that would be awesome. I hate the Vista/WLM/WMP11 interface, bloated and unnecessary.

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