10 Features Longhorn needs

My wish list

Friday, October 7, 2005 by Frogboy | Discussion: Windows Vista

The next version of Windows really does need to take things to another level.


Let's face it, Windows XP is basically Windows 2000 with some fixes and cosmetic enhancements.


Longhorn needs to be much more than that.  Here are a few things I think it needs:


1) New display system. This is what Avalon is supposed to address. The new display system needs to let us always run our systems as the maximum resolution our monitor supports and have the DPI (dots per inch) be fluidly scaleable without impacting software compatibility.  I shouldn't have to run my laptop at 1024x768 in order to be able to read text if it supports 1600x1200.  I should be able to run at 1600x1200 and size everything on the fly to be bigger. 


2) Updated Searching.  Google Desktop search only exists because the Find Files feature of Windows is essentially useless.  I should be able to quickly find something on my system instantly.  WinFS won't be out as part of Longhorn so what will they be improving in the meantime?


3) Smoother Multitasking.  Windows still sucks at multitasking.  Even when running on an SMP box, if the OS is "busy" doing something, you still can't quickly do something else.  I eventually gave up on SMP since on Windows it's only good for CPU bound tasks and doesn't really affect multitasking efficiency very much (on MacOS X and OS/2, for instance, SMP basically made it so you could always be doing something in the UI, but on Windows, the UI is apparently not as multithreaded as it could be). In the meantime, I use Multiplicity to maximize my computing power. But I'd like the OS itself to let me always be able to do stuff -- even if the app is written badly.


4) More Componentized. Whether we'll get Microsoft to make it so that pieces of Windows can be replaced or inherited from remains to be seen. I would like to be able to easily add more views (no, Ishell stuff doesn't cut it) to foldrers. 


5) Stop bloating with needless bundling.  Every new version of Windows throws in some half-assed immitation of third party software.  While we can all appreciate having a "free" version of ZIP or uxtheme or movie maker, it damages third party software development. I'd rather think that when I BUY my copy of Windows that the work was put into features that only the OS vendor could do.  Especially since Microsoft rarely puts any effort to let third parties expand on what they bundle (like adding RAR support to the compressed folders for example). There are some features only the OS vendor can really do. I'd rather see resources put there.


6) Make Networking better. I don't know about you guys but the LAN support in Windows is still quite a pain.  As I type this, I am on a wireless LAN which has several computers on the same work group.  It often takes several seconds, if at all, to find all the machines on the network.  It would be nice if Microsoft re-thought how people use network resources and included ways of working with them in a more straight forward, ROBUST, centralized way.


7) Better use of memory. I have 2 gigabytes of memory on my main machine. I turn off the swap file.  And yet I still hear the hard drive chipmunks going away.  Why is that? And don't even get me started about the limited number of handles. Even on my 2 gigabyte machine, if programs use more than 24,000 or so handles, programs start crashing. The average person doesn't even know why their system becomes unstable because limited user handles on Windows XP has been largely ignored.


8) Fix Internet Explorer. CSS 2.0 compliance would be a nice start. How about making it much smarter about what it caches? I have lots of friends at Microsoft who admit to having switched to Firefox (or Opera).  That's sad.


9) Fix your third party licenses. One of the ugly secrets of the PC OEM market is that computer manufacturers can't install things on Windows that changes the first boot-up experience. At best, they can put a few things on the desktop.  But they can't, for example, include an alternative shell or have WindowBlinds running by default or change the boot screen or many ohter things.  In short, there's not much way for PC manufacturers to distinguish their computer from every other computer.  That means a LOT of lost innovation.


10) Fix Security.  Outlook Express is still a spyware/spammer's dream. We shouldn't have to "upgrade" to Outlook to have some basic protections. There should be more end user tools that make it very easy to monitor net traffic.  The "Network" tab in task manager is a nice start but it needs to go much furthre than that.  Worms and the like should be stopped at the OS level. SP2 was a nice start, but there's still so much more to do.


There's lost of little things that are being addressed that I'm very excited about.  Avalon is the big thing for me. XAML in particular is interesting but I fear it may lead to a ton of wacky looking "apps". I don't want my apps to be as poorly designed UI as the typical website. Let me put it this way, the people who make Office are VERY different from the people who made http://www.microsoft.com.  I want the former writings the stand alone apps I use, not the latter.


So what would you like to see? What features in Longhorn make you excited?

First Previous Page 1 of 4 Next Last
Double Zero
Reply #1 Saturday, April 2, 2005 4:04 PM
I would *Definitely have to agree with #6..I have alot of friends that have issues with their LAN's and Windows XP "jiving" with each other, leaving them stranded without a clue why they cannot connect to their ISP..I am soooo tired of fixing these problems. Sure, it only takes minutes when you know where to look and what to do..but it really should not be necessary to do anything..Grrrr!.

Also I would like better support for Hardware and Periphial's.. It seems that I spend the other half of my time trying to get windows to recognize a Printer, or a Scanner, Zip Drive..etc..etc..Some of this hardware only comes with unsigned drivers and you have to force XP to accept them, which in turn creates a few bugs here and there to squash.. I'll admit, XP has made improvements over older windows OS's, but needless to say there are still issues to resolve and I would like to see an improvment in this area.

Other than that I agree with everything else, those changes would be great.

Larry Kuperman
Reply #2 Saturday, April 2, 2005 4:44 PM
I haven't tried MSN Search, which is available as part of the MSN toolbar suite (http://toolbar.msn.com/) currently in beta, but MS is taking a stab at addressing #2 on your list.
Reply #3 Saturday, April 2, 2005 5:16 PM
#7 will probable be realised in some form, watching their tendences for growing their share in high-end machines market but it's not still sure whether it will be only quantity (possibility of dealing with more memory) or quality (better optimisation). I'd like to see 7 too.
Better integration with other Micrsoft software would be nice too. (now I see you've mentioned it too)
Maybe you're right about 5. They bundle mediocre software and lots of common users don't look for better alternatives because it's too complicated for them. It would be better for Microsoft to say we recommend that, that and that product for this assignment. It would help less experienced users - assuming they would recommend good apps but knowing their greed for money who knows what would end up.
Internet integration into programming should be in reverse. Adding more internet options to programming languages and not forcing markup languages.
And of course as flexible UI as it's possible.
Reply #4 Saturday, April 2, 2005 5:38 PM
i've got the same problem with #1...so all i gotta say is...

Jeff T
Reply #5 Saturday, April 2, 2005 6:29 PM
It's a bit funny that if you change a few words here and there you have the list of wants for Windows 95, 98, and XP. Change a few more and you have the wish list for Windows 3.1, 3.11. When I think back (I won't go back as far as CP/M and 10" floppies) at where this has all come from I am totally amazed. I am not that old (52) either.

I remember a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) on Windows 3.1/95 called Windowblinds that would allow you to right click on the titlebar and it would rollup/rolldown the window, with optional sound effects.

Today I have fish swimming on my desktop, I have a butterfly flying around, I have a fuzzy thing with big eyes and a mouth shaking it's head at me, I got the weather and a calendar and they are all customizable...I can launch my programs from a dock, a bar, the keyboard.

I do agree with the list, it is still valid today.
Bigger, Better, Faster...more.
Reply #6 Saturday, April 2, 2005 6:51 PM
1) Yep
2) Just remove that annoying dog and I'll be happy
3) Yep - Though the feature of Task Manager being the highest priority process for shutting frozen others up is a useful backdoor.
4) Love to see it too, but it's unlikely - Removing them and not just hiding them would be a decent idea to have, but unlikely to happen. Unless you buy it from Europe, of course
5) See 4. I'd just wish the same would be enforced on OEMs - I do not need or want desktop links to installers for AOL or Wanadoo, and would rather stab the person who decided it'd be ideal to put them on the emergency install disk of my Toshiba laptop.
6) Plug & Play for ethernet connections, perhaps? It's also an idea for wireless, but it'd be ideal to add encryption to make it hard for piggybackers (For those I'm talking about, get your own damn internet line)
7) True, but aren't software developers also to blame in part for that (especially the sloppy ones)?
8) It might happen now in IE7 now that Firefox...whoops, I mean now that people have finally asked for it. Even though they apparantly didn't months earlier
9) I'd rather have it that these items can be done easily by those who have the know-how (e.g. put it in Control Panel) and that manufacturers add their stuff in by default (kinda like what some do with Wallpapers, or in Alienware's case bundle in a different visual style). Better extensibility is great, but unless the user has the possibility to reverse or change it later it's asking for trouble (*curses the fact he can't change Toshiba's hardware boot screen or their logo on various out-of-bounds areas*)
10) Agree.

As for Longhorn, I'm just looking forward to the software that will be developed for it - The best being OD software like WindowBlinds. After all, the WB version available now is different from the one coded for Win9x
Reply #7 Saturday, April 2, 2005 7:50 PM

I would like a kill -9 equivalent. If I can see the process, apart from very core system ones, I would like to be able to kill it. A fancy window that says "this app may have hung, why not wait and see if it comes back" isn't what I'm looking for. I know its hung, let me get rid of it.

Could task manager maybe remember its sort order? Please?

I just wasted 3 hours trying to load the x64 RTM on my AMD64 at home. I realize this is not all on Microsoft, but if the drivers exist, offer incentives to the vendors to get them tested, WHQL'd, and on the CD. It's one thing if I have to install the networking drivers after the OS loads, but if I can't even see the hard drives? Come on. I've tried a usb floppy, I've tried a floppy that I attached just to load the drivers, I've tried installing to a tertiary IDE drive, I've tried slipstreaming the drivers onto the CD. Your typical user is not jumping through those hoops.

And along with my pony and peach tree, I would like peer networking with other Longhorn or XP machines to automagically use IPSEC. If that means the ability to generate and share a public key with info-cards or my Passport or whatever, so be it. Letting me add those keys to users, contacts, address book entries, ip's, or whatever would also be nice, though violating #5 below. Yes, I realize it takes resources to create, support, and potentially allow extending this. But should we wait another 5 years for more secure communication between machines by default?

Reply #8 Sunday, April 3, 2005 5:54 AM
1. Yes. Apparently they will.

2. Fast searching will be in Longhorn even though WinFS isn't there yet. (WinFS is more than meta searches)

3. I Agree.

4. Yes yes yes oh yes! ...I mean, I agree...

5. It'd be nice if there was an option to install a "plain" version of Windows and then get components as you please. Like Firefox have done. (Yes, I know Firefox to an OS is a leap, but I still like the idea. Didn't say it was easy.)

6. I never look forward to setting up a LAN. There is allways something that causes the show to stop. All thought, I think it has gotten better though the years. I really liked the WLAN improvements in XP SP2.

7. Yes! And no limit to how much you can have before Windows gets confused.

8. YES! in ten foot big capital letters!

The feature in Longhorn that excited me the most was WinFS. Now, since it'll ship after Longhorn, it'll be the improved support and untilization of next generation hardware. And I find Aero to be very interesting with skinning and customazation in mind.
Avalon and .NET2 sounds nice as well. Beeing able to create applications in markup language and C#, VB, JS or whatever.
Reply #9 Sunday, April 3, 2005 6:52 AM
#6. Xp sometimes detects my LAN (for heavens sake, it's WIRED!), sometimes not. To get it to detect is the hardest part..
Reply #10 Sunday, April 3, 2005 9:41 AM
I'm hoping they don't decide to carry over the endearing feature of explorer crashing when a folder is opened and it has jpg's set to thumbnail view. It's a known issue which they even mention on the MS site, yet 2 service packs down the road and unmpteen bug fixes and I still find myself having to delete jpg's from a command window just to access the folder.
Reply #11 Sunday, April 3, 2005 10:22 AM
I would LOVE it if they would fix the buffer overflow error when a large number of files are selected in explorer.
Reply #12 Sunday, April 3, 2005 10:32 AM

You find a way to code a filter engine that sits in the stack happily and you have your fix.

One used to exist but no more.
Reply #13 Sunday, April 3, 2005 12:03 PM
No limit (or at least an very high limit) to handles.
Reply #14 Sunday, April 3, 2005 4:35 PM
I think that if you can get the drives on desktop too like cd rom and
you are able to lock the cd rom and plus it should me much protected beside if you have change some resolutions and the screens go black
thier should be a command line version like C:\>SetX 800x600 it still needs improment of killing an app sometimes an app gets wacky and windows get hanged even on a fast processor its app killing should be fast like linux beside that it should also be free of that nasty problem when you mount a cd and then you eject and horrible screen comes up saying insert the xxxx driver in to the rom when you press cancel it gose again all of that its need work out in security layers and also the media player should have a fix to like in version 10 when you in full screen and you press a key on keyboard and their gose the bar again it should be
as back to the windows media player 8 where you need the mouse to bring the screen on

forgive me for me spell mistakes
Reply #15 Monday, April 4, 2005 6:14 AM
I really like this feature-list idea. I wanted to make a website dedicated to wishlists about Longhorn but i became a nihilist after i realized it's impossible to make LH developers listen to our ideas. They have more important things to do. Brad, i hope you read comments.

Some of my favourite features would be:
- Full customization of the UI
Some ppl says Windows is the easiest OS to use, others say Windows is for power users. I don't really know which true is but i think the OS should be comfortable for both.
There should be a standard interface for novice users and another interface for the power users. Third party software may help advanced users to customize their workspace but not from every aspect. For instance it's not possible to set 0 pixel windowborders.
And the other problem that there is no strict rules for third parties. There are some applications it's not possible to hide toolbars or menubars at all... (these are only the simpliest examples). There are no necessity to follow UI Guidelines!
Another example: it's not so easy to change icons in Windows because the icons are packed in dlls and executables instead of having a systemfolder like there is one for event sounds and one for cursors.

- Improve navigating features
There's no hotkeymanager in Windows. A real good one (like Link - best one). I think it's really important and a very integrated hotkey manager (with an automate feature) would be wonderful.
I like the keyboard so much but sometimes it's impossible to work without mouse. For instance it's really hard to position the windows on the desktop easily and it's rather difficult if you have to drag that stupid small titlebar/windowborders. And if there is 0 pixel windowborder it would be possible to move/resize windows with mouse ( Link ).

- Search
These modern search features (GoogleDS, MSNDS, Spotligh, etc) are really nice but sometimes it's simply not enough even if it's very fast. It should be integrated more deeply. It's very hard to find something in Open/Save dialogs and others. There should be "search here under the mousepointer" or something like this, "i don't care if it's slow just search here, please!"

- MDI, tabbed interface
A lot of ppl complaining that IE is not tabbed... I heard they will include tabbed interface in IE 7. OK, it's nice but i don't know how we will find an IE window with the latest Alt+Tab (using PrintWindow() API) or the upcoming Longhorn taskswitcher. I always hated Photoshop because it's MDI. It's very hard to find what i'm looking for. In mIRC we can detach windows from it's main window, that's nice.

- Much cleaner registry or no registry at all
No comment.

Fortunately, I could ask some questions about the upcoming Windows UI from a former Aero Team member.
He replied my wishlist but i didn't replied back - i didn't want to disturb him again:
- Customizability
"It's a trade-off that may not be the right thing for our customers or for our business goals... We try to focus our customization opportunities around things that allow people to make the experience more personal (things like color and wallpaper) instead of functional changes."
I don't really understand why it's impossible to hide a control element (like gpedit.msc) that is obvious only for the power users.

- On hotkeys/resize/move:
"That’s a very interesting idea. The challenge we run into when we try to do things like this is that people have trouble finding it. Teaching hot-key’s to 600 million customers isn’t all that easy"
There are hundreds of hidden hotkeys in Windows. They don't hurt anybody but it's fun to investigate them and they are very useful.

He agreed my other ideas.

What do you think?
Reply #16 Monday, April 4, 2005 10:49 AM
I'd like to see IE or its equivalent integrated into the shell itself. My browser is always open, and is the program I'm using most frequently, so why not incorporate it directly into the desktop?

You could incorporate machine searches/cmd prompts, etc. directly from the shell.

Reply #17 Monday, April 4, 2005 11:36 AM
I think the problem with windows is that it is integrading the wrong things into the core OS. While Microsoft is making sure to corner the 3rd-party program market, including programs such as Movie Maker, Zip folders, as well as OS CD burning, they are reducing the edge of such companies who are in the industry for such programs. My problem isn't this per se, but rather the lack of integration of other core elements, and even though SP2 attempts to address security flaws, I think that it does little beyond annoying dialog boxes.

I would love to see integrated searching (Similar to OS X's spotlight feature debuting on Tiger), the ability to completely customize folder views (similar to how you can completely change how your library looks in windows media player or iTunes) as well as a cleaner interface. I don't know who's doing the visual planning at Microsoft, but the XP interface, though much cleaner than that of 98 or 2000, still appear bulky to me.

Even the new windows media player is too busy, too cluttered, and overall not visually pleasing.

So many things I would change...but overall, I'd like to have more freedom to completely change how my windows system behaves, looks, and responds to me. I guess this is why I'm saving up for a mac...
Reply #18 Tuesday, April 5, 2005 2:11 PM
I like most of what everyone said... but I don't want to just get picky on how things look. I think it's well past time for Microsoft to push beyond the interface we all know and "love". Stardock does some amazing things... but I mean to push beyond that as well. It's time to let us interface with our PC's without a keyboard or a mouse if we so choose. It's time for voice recognition, voice synthesis, "Virtual" control. I'm tired of interfacing with my PC in this way. Each new iteration of Windows simply puts a little more visual polish on the previous internals. They add lots of new security (while accidentally opening a ton of new holes), put a newer, more "shiny" Media Player interface (pick the app of your choice), but fail to really innovate. For the life of me, I can't see any strong reason to buy Longhorn.

Mac OSX is doing some really nice things, particularly in the visual category, but they aren't really innovating all that much either. Linux is still playing catch up ALTHOUGH they are beginning to take the lead in some areas... look at applications like Beagle/Best/Dashboard. That's innovation.

As a software developer and avid computer user I want to be wowwed again. It's been a long time.
Reply #19 Tuesday, April 5, 2005 2:26 PM
1) New display system.

Resolution independant rendering for support of high DPI displays is one of the primary goals in Avalon. Hardware assisted scaling of GDI-based apps was demonstrated at WinHEC back in 2003. You can consider this one addressed.

2) Updated Searching.

Addressed in Longhorn. See here:


3) Smoother Multitasking.

It has taken several fairly recent releases of OS X for the Finder to become as threaded as it should. In the past, "The Spinning Beachball of Death" would effectively prevent all access to the machine even when a single Finder window task was blocking. I still find Windows multitasking to be consistantly smoother than OS X on average.

NT's highly threaded heritage in VMS has served it well in this regard as only recently have UNIX variants begun to fully embrace threading over process forking.

4) More Componentized.

The OS itself is being significantly componentized in Longhorn:


End-user extension should be much easier in Longhorn through managed interfaces to the shell rather than archaic COM interfaces.

5) Stop bloating with needless bundling.

Several have touched on this issue elsewhere. It in unreasonable to expect my mother for example to download the latest version of WinRAR or WinZip in order to uncompress a few documents I've sent her. Having basic Zip handling embedded in the OS using a folder metaphor is a huge win for the average user. I can certainly understand your point of view as an ISV, but common functionality should be bundled into the OS with additional functionality being offered by ISVs.

6) Make Networking better.

Fully addressed in Longhorn:


"Our principal focus in Longhorn is to "make WIFI a great experience", both for users and for managers. We are investing a lot on a great diagnostic service, so that users can quickly understand and correct issues with wireless services. We are also investing a lot on a configuration and management. Finally, the extensibility of the stack paves the way for future innovation."

"There is going to be a Network Explorer in Longhorn that will show the PCs and devices on your network. Users will be able to organize the PCs and users in different sorting order and will show PCs in the different workgroups and domains."

7) Better use of memory.

You can solve this "handle" problem already in Windows XP. What you're actually running out of is desktop heap, not handles. After making the below change to my registry I can consistently have more than 30,000 handles in use with no problems on my 3 monitor workstation. I have yet to reach a limit where stability is affected:


I imagine that this limit will be raised by default in Longhorn.

Reply #20 Tuesday, April 5, 2005 7:08 PM

Isn't it already? I mean open "my computer" in the address tab type www.google.com and bammo your there.

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