The Windows 95 User Interface
Microsoft Windows 95 Reviewers Guide Chapter 3

When you first boot Microsoft Windows 95, you know immediately that the old world of Windows running on top of MS-DOS is no more. Gone are the character-mode boot messages that held meaning only for a very small minority of computer users. Instead, you are graphically carried to the desktop of the new Windows 95 user interface (UI).

More than any other part of the operating system, the UI defines the user’s overall experience. The easier, more powerful, and more compelling the UI, the better the user feels about computing and the more productive the user is likely to be. A great UI helps the computer industry grow because it makes computing easier and more natural for all people, from the novice user to the power user.

This chapter discusses the design process that produced the UI in Windows 95 and then introduces the components of the UI, organized into the following categories:

Designing the Windows 95 User Interface

The overarching goal of the UI in Windows 95 is to make PCs even easier to use for all people. Fulfilling this goal is a challenge because different people work in very different ways. Novices want learning how to perform a task to be easy, even at the expense of efficiency. However, experienced users want to do more with their PCs, and they want efficiency and flexibility. In addition, users upgrading from Windows 3.1 want to make the transition without throwing out everything they have already learned.

Windows 95 meets these disparate needs by being scaleable—that is, by being able to fit the proficiency and preferences of the individual user. For novices, the most common and essential features of Windows 95, such as launching an application, task switching, and finding a file, are easily “discoverable” via the taskbar, with its Start button and push-button task switching. For experienced users, Windows 95 promotes efficiency, customizability, and control via such power-user capabilities as the Windows Explorer, rich secondary mouse-button clicking, property sheets, and shortcuts.

Design Methodology

The UI in Windows 95 was not constructed from a blueprint drawn from a master specification. It started with clear objectives, guiding design principles, and a skilled team. The design process started with the basic question, “How can the UI in Windows 3.1 be improved?” That question launched a continuous cycle of discarding old ideas, conceiving new ideas, and learning—a constantly iterating design-usability test-redesign loop like the one shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The design loop of Windows 95

Improving the Windows 3.1 User Interface

There was no shortage of information about how the Windows 3.1 UI might be improved. The table on the following page summarizes key findings.

The following mechanisms were used to compile this feedback data:

How Can the Windows 3.1 UI Be Improved?

Make It ...

Easier to learn for novices Problem Areas

More efficient and customizable for experienced users Problem Areas

Putting New Designs to the Test

Conducting extensive live tests in a variety of settings with a variety of subjects has been key to engineering a state-of-the-art UI. A large portion of the total development budget of Windows 95 has been expended on this critical activity, and Windows 95 is probably the most usability-tested product ever. The following methods have been used to test the UI in Windows 95:

Easy to Learn

This section describes the features of the UI that are designed to make learning Windows 95 easy for novices.

The Desktop: Neat, Clean, and Logical

After users start their computers, they are presented with the Windows 95 desktop shown in Figure 3. It’s neat and clean and displays only a few graphical objects.

Figure 3. The desktop

The simplicity of the desktop appeals to all users’ sense of organization, but it also serves to focus the novice user on the following essential elements:

The Taskbar: Home Base

More than any other feature, the taskbar, which is shown in Figure 4, exemplifies the order-of-magnitude improvement in ease of use and ease of learning of the UI in Windows 95. It is the UI’s anchor. Its mission is to make 95 percent of what a typical user wants to do with the operating system easy to accomplish at all times. The taskbar started out specifically as a program launcher and task switcher for novices. However, because of its simplicity and power, the taskbar is also popular with experienced users, who can take advantage of its many other capabilities.

Figure 4. The taskbar

The two key features of the taskbar are the Start button and push-button task switching, which are examined in the next two sections.

The Start Button: Up and Running in Seconds

Usability tests on Windows 3.1 have shown that launching Write takes a new Windows user an average of nine minutes. With Windows 95, launching WordPad takes a new user an average of three minutes. If only the users that launch WordPad via the Start button (rather than by another means) are counted, the average launch time drops below one minute!

The main reason for this dramatic 3x–9x speed improvement is the Start button, which is shown in Figure 5. Without knowing about double clicking or complex hierarchies, a novice user of Windows 95 can quickly launch a program and get to work.

Figure 5. The Start button and its menu

However, the Start button is much more than a super-efficient program launcher. Its capabilities include the following:

Task Buttons: Task Switching Made Simple

Novices need to have powerful features presented to them in a simple and compelling way; otherwise they won’t use these features. Research conducted with active Windows users indicates that fewer than 50 percent frequently use more than one application at a time and only 20 percent frequently use ALT+TAB task switching. These powerful features of Windows 3.1 are simply not discoverable.

The objective of the taskbar is to make switching among multiple applications as simple as changing channels on a television set. Every open window has a button on the taskbar, allowing the user to see which documents and applications are currently open. Switching applications is a simple matter of selecting the desired “channel” on the taskbar. No more minimized program icons; no more disappearing windows. The user can see all the active tasks simply by looking at the taskbar, the TV Guide of Windows 95. When a task is minimized into the taskbar or maximized from the taskbar, animation helps new users understand “where” the task goes.

Task buttons resize themselves automatically depending on the number of active tasks. If the buttons get too small to be useful, the user can customize the taskbar. In fact, a host of other taskbar configuration options allow the user to customize it in other ways, including the following:

In addition to making task switching dramatically easier and more accessible via the taskbar, the UI in Windows 95 includes an updated version of the familiar ALT+TAB “cool switch.” It now displays an iconic road map of all active tasks to prevent users from getting lost in an infinite ALT+TAB loop, as was common under Windows 3.1.

Try It!

Customize the Start Button

  1. Click Start, and then Settings, and then Taskbar.
  2. On the Start Menu Programs property sheet, then click the Add or Remove button to customize the Start menu programs using the built-in wizard to walk you through the process. (The Advanced button is for experienced users and allows direct manipulation of Start menu programs.)
  3. Close the property sheet and check your new configuration by clicking the Start button.
Hint You can also add a program to the Start button by dragging a shortcut defined for the program to the button.
Test a Novice
  1. Find a stopwatch and a friend or family member who is a computer novice.
  2. Sit the novice down at a PC that is running Windows 95 with no programs loaded and a clean desktop.
  3. Ask the novice to start an application that you know is listed on the Programs menu. Note the time taken to successfully start the application.
  4. Try the same task on a PC running Windows 3.1.
  5. Compare the times to complete the task. The time using Windows 95 should be the same or faster than the time using Windows 3.1.
Display the Start Menu My Computer: An Easier Model for File Management and Browsing

File management and browsing in Windows 3.1 are not intuitive. Fewer than 55 percent of Windows users regularly use File Manager, and File Manager is especially confusing and intimidating for novice users.

Designing a discoverable and comfortable model for browsing and file management for the novice user has been a priority for the UI design team because of the observed difficulties with Windows 3.1. Several significantly different designs have been tested and thrown out. In the course of this testing, the design team made the following discoveries about basic file management and browsing:

The My Computer default browsing model is the result of this testing. A folder or drive can be opened by double-clicking it, or by selecting it and choosing Open from the File menu. The default browsing model brings up a new window in large icon view, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Browsing My Computer

To many advanced users this behavior seems cumbersome. “Why not open in list view?” they ask. “Why create a new window that just clutters up my screen?” “Why not open in a dual-pane view? It’s much more efficient for me.” “Why not turn the Toolbar on by default?” All of these possible default models and more were tested thoroughly and discarded because they caused confusion and stress for novices. Novices respond best when they are presented only with essential information and when they can easily “get back” to where they just were, so the default model was designed to meet these needs.

(Experienced users can select from multiple configuration options by choosing Options from the View menu. Also for experienced users, Windows 95 has a very powerful dual-pane browsing application called the Windows Explorer. In addition, File Manager from Windows 3.1 is still available and can be run for backward compatibility.)

The new capabilities of the default browsing model should not be overlooked in this discussion of simplicity. Folders can be created within folders. Files and folders respond logically to being dragged and dropped. Files and folders can be cut, copied, and pasted just like text and objects within applications can. Views can be customized, and each window “remembers” how it was last configured and opens automatically in that view. The best way to discover the capabilities of the default browsing model is to explore it, or better yet, watch a novice user explore it.

Try It!

Browse Folders with a Single Window

  1. Double-click My Computer.
  2. From the View menu, choose Options. On the Folder property sheet, select the Browse folders with a single window that follows you as you open each folder option.
  3. Turn on the Toolbar by choosing Toolbar from the View menu.
  4. Now double-click the icon for your hard drive. No new window opens.
Long Filenames: Greater Flexibility When Naming Files

By far the most-requested file system feature since Microsoft first released MS-DOS is support for long filenames, but until Windows 95 long filenames have not been possible. Windows 95 allows filenames of up to 255 characters. An example is shown in Figure 7. Eliminating the need to conform to the 8.3 naming convention results in obvious and large gains in usability. However, to ensure backward compatibility with existing MS-DOS and Win16–based applications, extensions have not been eliminated entirely; they are simply hidden from view by default.

Figure 7. A sample long filename

Files can be renamed in place in Windows 95 by selecting the file, clicking the filename, and typing the new name. The hidden file extension is not affected when a file is renamed. Files can also be renamed from within the new common dialog boxes, including the Open and Save dialog boxes.

Try It!

Display the File Extensions

  1. From any folder, choose Options from the View menu.
  2. Select the View tab.
  3. Deselect the checkbox for the Don’t display MS-DOS file extensions for files that are properly registered option.
The Network Neighborhood: Accessing Networking Features

This section discusses how the network client in Windows 95 makes browsing networks not only possible but easy, regardless of the network provider (Windows NT Server, Novell NetWare, Windows 95, and so on). For more details about the networking capabilities of Windows 95, see Chapter 9, “Networking.”

Network browsing is accomplished by means of the Network Neighborhood, which sits on the desktop and logically represents the resources not available via My Computer. Its icon is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. The Network Neighborhood icon

Browsing the network via the Network Neighborhood is as easy as browsing a local hard disk.

Try It!

Create a Shortcut to a Network Folder on the Desktop

  1. Browse the Network Neighborhood until you find an often-used network folder.
  2. Point to the folder, hold down the right mouse button, and drag the folder to the desktop.
  3. Choose Create Shortcut Here.
  4. Close the network window.
  5. Double-click the shortcut. The network folder opens in a new window. The shortcut will be available every time you boot Windows 95.
Use the UNC Path to "Run" a Favorite Network Folder
  1. From the Start menu, choose Run.
  2. Type the full UNC path to your favorite network folder, such as \\MKTG\PROGRAMS\SARAHB, and press ENTER. The folder opens in a new window, with no drive mapping.
Create a New Folder from Within Common Dialog Boxes
  1. Click the Start button, and then choose Programs, Accessories, and WordPad. (WordPad is the word processing equivalent in Windows 95 of Write in Windows 3.1. It uses the common dialog boxes.)
  2. From the File menu, choose Open, and click the Look in drop-down box, which provides access to the entire PC hierarchy, including the Network Neighborhood.
  3. From the File menu, choose Save, and click the Create New Folder icon. Unlike in Windows 3.1, where you have to start File Manager or exit to the MS-DOS command prompt to a create a new folder, you can create a folder when you save a document.
The Recycle Bin: Easy Deleting and Undeleting of Files

The Recycle Bin is an easily recognizable metaphor for being able to “throw away” files and then recover them by simply removing them from the bin. Files deleted in Windows 95, or deleted from the common dialog boxes in applications that support them, are moved to the Recycle Bin. Users can remove an item from the Recycle Bin and drag or cut/copy/paste it to another location, or they can restore it to its original location by choosing Undo Delete from the Edit menu.

The Recycle Bin graphically indicates whether it is empty or contains items. Information about “deleted” items is available in the Recycle Bin’s details view, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. The Recycle Bin with deleted items and the Recycle Bin details view showing additional information

Focus on Documents: Working the Way Users Work

OLE introduced the concept of “document-centricity” by incorporating in-place editing of objects. In a document-centric environment, the application window changes and the document stays the same, so that software works the way people work, rather than vice-versa.

The UI in Windows 95 picks up on the concept of document-centricity in the following subtle but powerful ways:

Figure 10. The icon for a new Word document

Try It!

Create a New Document from Within a Folder

  1. Select a project folder in which you want to create a new document.
  2. From the File menu, choose New and then select Microsoft Word 6.0 Document.
  3. Type a name and press the ENTER key.
  4. Double click the new document to open it in WordPad.

Hint This functionality can also be accessed by right-clicking from within any folder or on the desktop.

Backtracking: Undoing File Operations

When working with files on your system, how many times have you said to yourself, “I didn’t mean to do that!” after accidentally deleting, renaming, moving, or copying a file that you didn’t intend to? Windows 95 has a simple answer for putting things back the way they were. Windows 95 provides a multilevel undo feature that allows users to undo one or more of their preceding actions. Users can undo file deletions, renames, moves, or copies by simply choosing Undo from the Edit menu of any UI window, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. The Undo command on the Edit menu, which can be used to undo file operations

Try It!

Undo a File Operation

  1. Open a folder and select a file.
  2. Rename the selected file.
  3. From the Edit menu, choose Undo Rename to undo the rename operation.
Undo Multiple File Operations
  1. Open a folder and select a file.
  2. Rename the selected file.
  3. Drag the file from the folder to the desktop.
  4. Delete the file.
  5. Go back to the folder you first opened.
  6. From the Edit menu, choose Undo Delete to undo the delete operation.
  7. Choose Undo Move from the Edit menu to undo the move operation.
  8. Choose Undo Rename from the Edit menu to undo the rename operation.
Wizards: Guides to Powerful Capabilities

Originally developed in Microsoft’s Applications Group and used in applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, Wizards are a proven tool that make it easy for all classes of user to take advantage of powerful but complex functionality. The Wizards guide a user through a series of questions, which are posed to the user in a friendly and straightforward way, and walk the user through a process like the one shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. The Add Printer Wizard, which walks the user through the printer installation process

Windows 95 uses Wizards throughout the operating system to assist all types of users. For example, Wizards are used to perform the following operations:

A New Help Engine: Accessible and Useful Online Information

Online Help has been completely retooled in Windows 95. It underwent extensive usability testing and the result is a significantly easier-to-use and easier-to-learn Help system. Additionally, it is now dramatically easier for independent software vendors (ISVs) and corporate customers to customize and develop Windows help files. Following are brief descriptions of the major features of the new Help system in Windows 95:

Figure 13. A Help shortcut button (in step 1)

Try It!

Use Help's Shortcut Button to Change the Desktop Color

  1. From the Start menu, choose Help.
  2. Select the Index tab.
  3. Type display. Double-click the background pictures or patterns, changing topic.
  4. Click the Properties for Display shortcut button to move directly to this property sheet.
Transition Aids: Easy Migration to the Windows 95 User Interface

Windows 95 provides several aids for helping both users new to Windows and users of Windows 3.1 become productive quickly in the Windows 95 UI. Usability tests indicate that, with little or no additional training, users can complete common tasks under Windows 95 as quickly as they did under Windows 3.1, or even quicker. Windows 95 offers the following self-paced aids:

Powerful Features

Experienced users glean many of the same benefits from the taskbar and the Start button—quickly launching a new program, quickly switching to another task, and so on—as novices. However, experienced users need more, including the following:

The new UI in Windows 95 definitely enables the experienced user to do more, as the following sections show.

The Windows Explorer: For File Management and Information Browsing

The Windows Explorer, shown in Figure 14, has been described as “File Manager on steroids.” It is powerful, flexible, efficient, and extensible. It also solves many of File Manager’s fundamental problems, such as having different windows for different drives. For many power users of Windows 95, the Windows Explorer will be the primary interface for navigating through information.

Figure 14. The Windows Explorer

The best way to understand the Windows Explorer is to experience it firsthand. However, here is an overview of its major features:

All the powerful right-click and properties features described in the next two sections are supported in the Windows Explorer.

Try It!

Copy a File to a Different Drive Without Opening a New Window

  1. Right-click My Computer and choose Explore. Maximize the window.
  2. Select a file that you want to copy to a network or floppy drive.
  3. Move to the left pane in the Windows Explorer and use the + icons to the left of the folder and drive icons to find the network folder to which you want to copy the file. Do not click the destination folder.
  4. Go back to the right pane where the file is currently stored and drag or cut/copy/paste the file to the destination folder.
Operations like this one could not be performed in Windows 3.1 without opening two or more File Manager windows.

Right-Click to Create a New Folder

  1. In the Windows Explorer, right-click an unused space inside a folder in which you want to create a new folder.
  2. Choose New Folder.
Shortcuts: For Accessing Objects

Shortcuts are an extremely powerful tool for increasing efficiency. They are especially useful in a networked environment. Users can create a shortcut to any object, such as a file, program, network folder, Control Panel tool, or disk drive, and place it anywhere in the UI or in an application. Opening the shortcut opens the object that the shortcut is “pointing” to. For example, if a user creates a shortcut to My Network Folder on a network server and drops the shortcut on the local desktop, opening the shortcut actually opens My Network Folder. Shortcuts are represented by icons that have a small “jump” arrow in the lower-left corner, as shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15. Shortcut icons for a folder and a program

Shortcuts are created by selecting an object and choosing Create Shortcut from the File menu or by right-clicking the object and choosing Create Shortcut. After creation, shortcuts can be renamed. If the shortcut is for an object that was created after installation of Windows 95 and the object is renamed, Windows 95 changes the shortcut definition to reflect the new name. For example, if a user creates a shortcut on the local desktop to \\Server\Share\Public Folder and the folder is subsequently renamed, the shortcut will still work. A shortcut can be deleted without affecting the object to which it points.

Uses for shortcuts are virtually limitless, but the following are some common powerful uses for shortcuts:

Try It!

Discover Where the Start Button's Programs Menu Is Stored

The shortcuts and folders are those that appear on the Programs menu. Adding or deleting shortcuts and folders changes the items that appear on the menu.

Properties: For Customizing All Objects

Property sheets are a pervasive feature in Windows 95. All objects in the UI carry context-sensitive properties that can be accessed and customized by choosing Properties from the File menu or by right-clicking the object and choosing Properties. Good, consistent, easily accessible property sheets have been a favorite of power-user testers. Try the following examples to see how property sheets work.

Try It!

Rename a Hard Drive

  1. In the Windows Explorer or My Computer, right-click to select your hard disk and choose Properties to open a property sheet like the one shown in Figure 16.
  2. In the Label box, type a new name and choose OK.
  3. From the View menu, choose Refresh.

Figure 16. The properties for a disk drive

Share a Folder

  1. In the Windows Explorer, right-click a folder you want to make available to others on your network and choose Properties.
  2. Select the Sharing tab.
  3. Select Shared As, and then complete the other fields in this dialog box.
Customize a Shortcut Icon
  1. Click the Start button and choose Settings and Start Menu.
  2. Open the Programs folder.
  3. Right-click any shortcut and choose Properties.
  4. Select the Shortcut tab.
  5. Click the Change Icon button.
  6. Select a new icon for the shortcut and choose OK.
  7. From the View menu, choose Refresh.
Right-Clicking: For Performing Actions on Objects

Right-clicking, like properties, is a pervasive, context-sensitive feature of Windows 95. (In this book, “right-clicking” refers to clicking the secondary mouse button. Most right-handed people set their mouse options to use the left button as primary and the right button as secondary.) Usability tests have shown that right-clicking as a shortcut way of performing common actions on an object is a very popular power-user feature. However, in general, right-clicking is not a feature that novices discover or remember, so the vast majority of functions that can be performed by right-clicking can also be performed by choosing the corresponding menu commands.

The power of right-clicking can be explored by carrying out the following examples.

Try It!

Right-Click the Desktop to Customize It

  1. Right-click a blank space on the desktop.
  2. Choose Properties.

Minimize or Tile All Open Windows
  1. Right-click a blank space on the Taskbar.
  2. Choose Minimize All or Tile Horizontally.
  3. To undo this operation, right-click a blank space on the Taskbar and choose either Undo Minimize All or Undo Tile.

Create a Shortcut
  1. Right-click an object for which you want to create a shortcut.
  2. Choose Create Shortcut.
Drag a File and Create a Shortcut
  1. Right-click and drag a file from the Windows Explorer onto the desktop. A menu like the one shown in Figure 17 appears.
  2. Choose Create Shortcut(s) Here.

Figure 17. The menu that appears when a file is dragged using the right mouse button

Right-Click a Screensaver to Test It

  1. Choose Find Files or Folders from the Start menu.
  2. Type bezier and choose Find Now.
  3. Right-click Bezier.
  4. Choose Test.
Close a Task from the Taskbar
  1. Right-click the Task button for a window or program you want to close.
  2. Choose Close.
Access the Property Sheet for an Open Window
  1. Right-click the mini-icon in the upper-left corner of any window.
  2. Choose Properties.
The Control Panel: The Consolidated Control Center

The objective of the Control Panel is to consolidate all command, control, and configuration functions in one location. With Windows 3.1, these functions were difficult to find, use, and remember—for example, video resolution was changed in Windows Setup, but a printer was installed by selecting the Control Panel’s Printers icon. As shown in Figure 18, in Windows 95 distinct graphics make all important functions instantly recognizable and previews are offered where appropriate.

Figure 18. The large icon view of the Control Panel

The individual functions available through the Control Panel tool are discussed in the relevant sections of this book—for example, the Network tool is discussed in Chapter 9, “Networking.” However, one Control Panel tool, Display, controls the configuration of the UI in Windows 95 and allows users to customize the UI itself. As shown in Figure 19, its property sheet has the following four tabs:

Figure 19. The display properties

Try It!

Switch the Display Resolution

Dynamic resolution switching allows the resolution of the display to be changed without having to restart Windows 95 or reboot the PC. This feature depends on several factors, including the type of video card and the selected color palette.

  1. Choose Settings and then Control Panel from the Start menu.
  2. Open the Display icon.
  3. Select the Settings tab.
  4. Set Color Palette to 256 colors and click Apply Now to restart your PC.
  5. After your PC restarts, repeat steps 1 and 2 to reopen the Display icon.
  6. Choose another video resolution that is supported by your card by sliding the Desktop Area slider bar. For example, change the desktop area size from 640 x 480 to 1024 x 768.
  7. Click Apply Now.
  8. Now try playing a video clip.
Finding Files or Folders: Easy and Efficient

A powerful new Find utility is built into Windows 95. As shown in Figure 20 and Figure 21, it goes far beyond the minimal functionality of File Manager’s Search utility in Windows 3.1.

Figure 20. Finding files or folders in Windows 95

Figure 21. Searching in Windows 3.1

The Find utility includes the following features:

Try It!

Save the Results on a Complex Search

  1. Click the Start button, and choose Find and then Files or Folders.
  2. Type a partial string that you know will be present in many files, such as rep or doc.
  3. Select the Date Modified tab.
  4. Select Modified during the previous seven days.
  5. Select the Advanced tab.
  6. If necessary, select a file type.
  7. Click Find Now.
  8. When the find operation is complete, choose Save Search from the File menu. (Notice that because the Find feature is 32-bit preemptively multitasked, you have control and can go perform other tasks while Find is running.) A Find Results icon is automatically created on the desktop.
  9. Double-click the Find Results icon.
The Printers Folder: Consolidated Printer Control

The Printers folder, shown in Figure 22, offers one-stop shopping for printer management and configuration. It replaces the troublesome Print Manager and Printers dialog box in the Windows 3.1 Control Panel, which is shown in Figure 23.

Figure 22. The Printers folder in Windows 95

Figure 23. The Printers dialog box in Windows 3.1

The Printers folder is discussed in more detail in Chapter 11, “Printing.”

Font Settings: More Powerful Font Management and Preview

The Fonts folder in the WINDOWS directory represents a single namespace in which all fonts used in the system can be installed or manipulated. (If any fonts are identified in the WIN.INI file, Windows 95 moves them to the Fonts folder on startup, so all fonts in the system reside in a single location.) Different views of the Fonts folder present additional information about the fonts installed in the system (the large icon view is shown in Figure 24.)

Figure 24. The large icon view of the Fonts folder

Operations can be performed on fonts in the same way they are performed on other file system objects. For example, a font can be removed from the Fonts folder by dragging it to another location, a font can be deleted from the system by deleting it from the Fonts folder, and a font can be added to the system by dragging it from another location into the Fonts folder.

Try It!

Preview the Fonts

  1. Open My Computer and open the disk drive where Windows 95 is installed. Open the WINDOWS directory, and double-click the Fonts folder (or open the Fonts icon in the Control Panel).
  2. Right-click the font you want to preview.
  3. Choose Open. Samples of the selected font are displayed and may be printed.
Quick Viewers: Examining Files Without Opening Them

The Quick Viewers allow users to preview a file from the UI without having to open the application that created the file. In fact, users don’t even have to have the application that created the file on their system. As a result, documents can be sent over a network or through e-mail. Figure 25 shows a quick view of a Microsoft Excel worksheet.

Figure 25. A quick view of a Microsoft Excel worksheet

For more information about the Quick Viewers in Windows 95, see Chapter 20, “Applications and Utilities.”

Try It!

Quick-View a File

  1. Right-click an icon for a file created by a registered application—for example, a bitmap, a text file, or a WordPad document.
  2. Choose Quick View.

Compatibility is a requirement for Windows 95. It is a no-excuses, “no-brainer” upgrade from Windows 3.1. Overall, compatibility is most important for third-party software and hardware. However, it also applies to the UI. The UI in Windows 95 must be compatible with the way current Windows and MS-DOS users work, and it must scale itself to the level and preferences of individual users.

For Users of Windows 3.1

Of primary importance is that new UI features be easy for current Windows 3.1 users to learn at their own pace. In addition, UI visual elements and operations in Windows 95 must be consistent, to the extent possible, with the elements users are already familiar with in Windows 3.1. In addition to providing aids for users migrating from Windows 3.1, Windows 95 also includes tools familiar to Windows 3.1 users. For example, the system menu in the upper-left corner of most windows, and keyboard shortcuts such as ALT+F4, ALT+TAB, CTRL+X, CTRL+C, and CTRL+V, are present in Windows 95, easing the requirement for relearning or retraining. In addition, users can run the Windows 3.x Program Manager and File Manager, if desired, as they transition to the new capabilities of Windows 95.

For Users of MS-DOS

Users of the command line in MS-DOS won’t have to give it up when they move to the graphical UI of Windows 95. In fact, “command-line junkies” will find that the usability and power of the MS-DOS command prompt have been dramatically improved. New command-line functionality includes the following: