I just got a new work laptop which means that I’m now running on Windows Vista. I guess it’s an improvement over XP — at least it looks nicer and search finally works.
However, I was disappointed to discover that the implementation of ALT+TAB (or Windows Flip as it is now known) — for all its good looks — is worse than in its predecessor.
Here’s how ALT+TAB looks in Vista (flashy but hard to use):
And here’s how it looks in Windows XP (boring but functional):
While it might seem on paper that displaying thumbnails of each application is a good idea, in reality it makes ALT+TAB harder to use.
The problem is that thumbnails are too small to be useful, so I still find myself relying on the icons, which as they are now combined with the thumbnails, are harder to see.
In addition, whereas in XP it was easy to read the details of the application you were cycling through, now that the black text is overlaid onto a blue (slightly patterned) background in Vista, it is harder to read.
Looking at the screenshots above it might seem that the Vista implementation is the better one, but when you’re actually using it to quickly switch between applications it clearly is not.
Seems like I’m not the only person who feels this way.
Fortunately, help is at hand through some registry tweaking to make the thumbnails bigger. However, it’s frustrating to have to go to these lengths in order to fix functionality that should have never been broken.
In addition, I’m not that this even fixes the problem. The problem is that most applications look pretty similar in thumbnail view, so it’s not a useful way to differentiate between them.
Maybe that’s why Microsoft created Windows Flip 3D.