Windows UI Fails: Dissecting Upload dialog box

File Upload Dialog Box in Windows

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This is a very common task. It affects so many people it should be right. The internet and cloud we are always uploading files, so our perception of Windows is resting on this among other things. They have APIs for this dialog and they have updated and tweaked these APIs with little regard to end users and maximum regard to programmers.

This box appears on:

  • Every Web Site that has a default upload (Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)
  • so many places that it really deserves to be a first class experience.

Those who say we give them an API. it’s the application programmer’s fault we have several answers:

  • This dialog box comes in all browsers YOU WROTE THIS MS
  • You strong arm programmers all the time about APIs and break them, and ditch them and change them. But suddenly now you can’t to help your customers?

I know whose fault this is not. It is not the User’s fault. They have every right to expect a big successful product that cost them money with expensive upgrades to be easy to use.

Windows 30+ years to get it right… Still waiting…

Windows has been around a while 1, 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1, Win 10 they have had plenty of time to get this right.

We have paid and paid and paid and paid (and our bosses paid, and our PC manufacturers paid) premium prices for our OS. Money was paid for premium support and per incident support. Bosses paid for annual software subscriptions even when no new OS releases were happening for years. OSes are free now in post PC world from Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. and you still have the gall to consider charging XP and Vista and Win 7 users for Wins 8.x and Windows 10. Wow! Really.

Really Microsoft? Really?

And your OS is full of dialog boxes like this for core features and enough UI Gaffes whole books can be written about it. Yet boo hoo, nobody trusts you and nobody wants to buy your OS and hardware any more.

If your primary strategy for keeping customers is

  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • We know more than the users
  • paid support and demanding the users file reports you ignore and close for years without fixing…

Maybe you should reconsider your business model. Or just accept that you created the post-PC era by consumer computing neglect, so the consumer mistrust of you and trust of others is your own fricking fault for inability to take consumer computing seriously for decades.

Windows 10 does not fix that

We pay a fortune in Windows license fee around the world. So does Dell, HP, Cmpaq, etc. on tour behalf because they pay a lot for our license to bundle it with our computer. They sure are not spending our money on perfecting Windows.

Sigh maybe by Windows 20 and another decade of upgrade fees and subscription

Uploading a file in Windows (in this case a graphic)

Here is the upload dialog.

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Let me list the flaws:

  • The preview can only be resized / split by grabbing a tiny 1 pixel strip to the left of the scroll bar. WTF with that much screen real estate and a huge monitor??!!
  • No maximize button.
  • Preview Tile is irrelevant when you have an extra large icon option.
  • Most of the time when I go to select the icon size it looks like I switch to another app entirely till I select it the upload Window actually looses focus.
  • Text Search does not work on Filenames or Folder when I am in DropBox or Google Drive (which can be done easily technically Mac Spotlight Search does it as does Void Everything Search a freebie for Windows)
  • Filename on status bar does not wrap when extra long (not surprising since Windows support for long path and filenames is still broken at many levels)
  • Filename is in TINY PRINT what is this a phone instead of a 2-5 million pixel monitor?
  • Button names like Open and Cancel are very ambiguous and not user friendly. They should be labelled by “application context” i.e. “upload pic to Facebook” and “cancel FB pic upload” plenty of room to label it we have 1920 x 1080 and larger monitors.
  • Print for all filenames captioning files is so small, illegible font, and NOT scalable. Do you just hate older users? They are the ones most likely to be using Windows instead of some post-PC solution. Have you just never seen a Mac Retina display? Have you never learned that responsive design is not just for the Web and post-PC devices.
  •  Drag and Drop folders works but no undo or confirmation. So anyone with no co-ordination could accidentally drop a directory somewhere they could never find it again.
  • I can rename a file with F2 or right click and choose rename. But if I rename and then select it and click “Open” it gives an error message about the old filename and I have to select it again.
  • If I right click a file there is a copy and move option. Neither offers a directory picker which means either opening a new window for drag or drop, or navigating to new place and then losing the original folder context.
  • Title is NOTHING which is ambiguous. What app/location/context are we uploading this too?
  • No check boxes for multiple selections. This is not Windows 3.x no one should have to learn about Ctrl and Shift and hold keys down.
  • No icons for select all or filtering to select a group.

What they got right on Upload

Its a short list unfortunately:

  • The icon sizes including extra large are nice. It never remembers it consistently so you will be constantly choosing “Extra Large” so many times if you upload a few dozen files.
  • The “Recent Places” is a godsend. Wish it noticed every interaction and added every folder instead of just most of them.
  • Nice they stole the ability to add shortcuts to the left from the Mac. Also very nice.

microsoft-mug

Get it right Microsoft!

Or

  • Don’t complain when Android, Mac, iOS becomes beloved because they are releasing fixes for their UIs several times a year and listening to customers and they are releasing their OS upgrades free. You have been charging hundreds of $$$ each for OS upgrades since Windows 1.0 and there has been Win 1, 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, Vista, 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, and Win 8.1. We paid you thousands of $$$ to get this OS right, as did our corporate bosses.
  • Microsoft Bloggers, quit writing blog posts about the imperfections of your competitors you need to enter the market to offer an alternative for.
  • Microsoft Bloggers, quit writing about platform fragmentation on iOS and Android unless you have 100% of PCs running Win Latest (8.1 at moment) you are typically at 20% adoption or less of a new OS the first few years of its release. Android and iOS have that beat by a wide margin.

Broken-Windows

You had one job in 30 years!

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