Microsoft's efforts to simplify Windows 7's user interface actually make the operating system harder to use, according to Windows expert and blogger Paul Thurrott.

Thurrott, who's testing the pre-beta version of Windows 7 handed out by Microsoft last month, highlighted the difference between simple and easy, using the iPhone's lack of a Back button as an example. One less button, either as hardware or as a touchscreen icon, makes the iPhone simpler. But if you click on a web link in an email, examine the resulting page, then want to return to the original message, it's definitely not easier.

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The Windows 7 user interface, according to Thurrott, abounds with similar problems. For instance, in order to simplify the taskbar, Microsoft has eliminated the Quick Launch Toolbar. If you want the convenience of launching favourite programs from the taskbar, you "can simply mix and match shortcuts (for applications, documents and folder locations) with buttons that represent open window.." But the resulting taskbar doesn't make the distinction between launchable shortcuts and running windows clear.

Other examples include difficulties with the new Jump List feature, and a default setting that hides all systray icons.

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