Behold, the first screenshot of the Windows 7 desktop

Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie is up on stage at a developers conference as I type, basically chewing cud until the embargo lifts later this morning on Windows 7. But reporters and developers are playing around with Windows 7 right now — and one, tired of waiting, sent me this screenshot. Similar screenshots will be all over the web in just a couple of hours, so bask in the meaningless ephemeral frisson of this PNG while you can. (Clicking the image will give you a larger version.) Update: Did I say hours? How about minutes. [Ars Technica]
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47 Responses to Behold, the first screenshot of the Windows 7 desktop

  1. natkay2603 says:

    Well, i like it. The look and feel of Vista is good, just the speed. So a slight imporvement in look is welcome aslong as the speed is improved too.

  2. SamSam says:


    They’re not. Did you read the article, or are you just basing this off of the single picture that was posted to BoingBoing?

  3. LightChan says:

    Wow yeah, looks really bulbous.

  4. trr says:

    Looks just like…Vista. With some empty transparent boxes on the desktop.
    Hmmm. I’m intrigued and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  5. Gemma says:

    They’re using Internet Explorer, not Firefox. Weirdos. ;)

  6. Bugs says:

    Does that look a lot like KDE 4 to anyone else? Especially if those empty rectangles are “view folder” plasmoids.

    (Then again, I’ve never used Vista; maybe KDE 4 was copied from that?)

  7. Chris Furniss says:

    Why do I need two clocks and two different ways to tell what day it is? WINDOWS – MAKE THINGS EASIER NOT MORE COMPLICATED.

    Also it looks like someone got happy with the default photoshop styles, there. I have no idea who is designing the interface for these things but they aren’t doing a very good job.

  8. technogeek says:

    I’m not particularly interested in screenshots. What I want to know is whether they’ve cut the resource demands down and undone the Vista mistakes.

    In other words, I want to know whether my customers are likely to adopt it, or will continue to stay on XP until they’re ready to migrate to Linux.

  9. zuzu says:

    Will it still have those annoyance bubbles popping up from the tray?

    I can’t wait until OS 11 from Apple emerges with a zooming user interface (ZUI) based on Core Animation.

    c.f. Jeff Han, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Jef Raskin

  10. knifie_sp00nie says:

    Looks like an improvement, but the UI designers seem to be a little outline-happy. Everything doesn’t need a box drawn around it. Whitespace is your friend.

  11. Garr says:

    Windows is getting unsightlier by the version…

  12. HeavyD14 says:

    I don’t see a problem with more than one clock. I look at whatever one is convenient at the moment. Right now I have one on each of my screens, one on the desk phone, one on my cell and another on the wall. And don’t forget about the timestamps in my shell.

    I look at them all, depending on where my eyes are, or how stupid I am.

    Besides, I’m sure you can turn off the clock gadget if your OCD is that severe.

  13. HotPepperMan says:

    As a user of XP, Vista, Ubuntu (and Kubuntu), and Mac OSX. On Vista I have disabled the widgets. Good idea but they take up too much desktop space and in Vista were/are not adjustable to my requirements (plus I am not blind so do not need a clock in my face when there is a watch on my wrist, a good clock on the wall, and another bottom right). Most of the add-on widgets have far superior functionality as add-ons in Firefox for example.

    Having seen several screen shots I will raise three things. One question, two statements:

    Q: Does/Will it do the job for me?

    S1: MS with Vista (and specifically with regard to Win7) need to sort out backward hardware / software compatibility, the ridiculous hardware requirements, and grant any ‘Administrator’ true admin rights (as in Linux ‘sudo’). It is sold as an OS for a ‘Personal’ computer.

    NB: I know about the Linux hardware compatibility issues. Known and some action being taken rather than abandoned (e.g. Several perfectly good HP printers, BTooth devices… etc

    S2: Lipstick on a pig…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Yes KDE, with a very Apple-like implementation of widgets…

  15. Duffong says:

    Maybe this is ridiculous, but it’s a sad commentary of humanity to see the weather/time as a permanent fixture of our desktops. It highlights to me the impractical obstacle nature poses in our modern lives as we scurry briefly outside from our homes to the havens of our offices.

    Instead of embracing the outside, we keep a watchful electronic eye on nature to make sure it doesn’t act out of line and interrupt our day.

    Like I said, I’m probably being ridiculous.

  16. OM says:

    “What I want to know is whether they’ve cut the resource demands down and undone the Vista mistakes.”

    …I think the presence of those three desktop gadgets answers your question with a big fat NO.

  17. salsaman says:


    I look forward to the day when Microsoft lets their interface designers design their interfaces.

    Immediate visual issues:
    * Multiple clocks,
    * No second-hand on the (otherwise detailed) analog clock or seconds counting in the digital clock,
    * The desktop pattern should not have high contrast window-like boxes,
    * Microsoft blue is still way too saturated.

  18. Dillenger69 says:

    Do not want: transparent crap slowing things down. Garbage like clocks, calendars, and weather cluttering the place up. Big chunky icons to launch things. I don’t want my UI to look like downtown Tokyo on acid. unless my desktop covers an entire friggin’ wall there’s not enough room for that garbage.
    Do want: crisp, clean, clutter free desktop. Small icons, or text to launch from the start menu. small window borders containing minimal but useful information and controls. I want my UI to look like it was designed by a nice Amish guy who left the faith and went in to UI design.

  19. Angstrom says:

    that is ugly

    The windows team seem to think that making anything Transparent and Reflective make that item ‘well designed’. I am quite sick of the ‘glassy’ meme now and I am really, really, looking forward to the 2010 ‘matte opaque’ design meme.

    Bring on the Sand !

  20. Xakh says:

    It looks like a ten year old’s doodles of Mac OS X. Seriously there’s a dock, and, on Ars’ coverage, apparently when you click on the Windows button to go to the main menu, it glows with RAINBOWS! The whole of Microsoft’s UI’s look like a big blue circus tent, nothing looks productive, everything is warped, or just cartoony, and the colors are way too bright. If anything would switch Windows user’s to Linux right now, it would be the eyestrain of all that blue compared to the soothing brown or green tones of Ubuntu or Mint, respectively.

  21. RedShirt77 says:

    When will there be an open source OS?

    something supported by a community and developed and advanced rather then repackaged and re-marketed.

  22. mgfarrelly says:

    I like the two clocks on the desktop. Because what you really need in a computer is a clock.

  23. Anonymous says:

    That screenshot explained: the boxes aren’t the background, obviously, because they’re in front of the widgets. They are the Windows 7 equivalent of F11 on OS-X, where all the windows fly to the edge of the screen so you can see the desktop. In Windows 7, the windows stay where they are, but turn transparent. Maybe it looks cool animated? Maybe Apple patented the Expose effects?

  24. retrojoe says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and surmise that you can probably remove the clock, the weather-thingy and (can you imagine?) change the background.

  25. chrisdodds says:

    That does look like KDE. A lot.

    I really hope we’re not too far away from getting away from this whole 2D UI construct. I want a straight to the brain computing experience a la Neuromancer or Otherland. Except without the whole almost getting killed all the time thing.

  26. nerak says:

    You know what I do when I want to check the time or weather? Clock in the corner and – my life is not so fast paced that I cant wait 5 seconds for the site to load so i can know if i need a jacket or not.

    I agree that the extra clock and weather widgets are not innovation, they’re just more garbage piled high onto my computing experience.

  27. AudioTherapist says:

    I agree with Bugs – It looks almost ludicrously identical to KDE 4.1 but repackaged for 10 year old children. I’ve not used Vista either, hoping to skip that entire iteration.

    Redshirt77 – Ubuntu is nearly almost kinda sorta there. More than anything else the Linux world needs to agree on a standardized one click program installation. I don’t think hardcore coders get what a ballache it is even for willing amateur nerds like myself to remember CLI strings.

    Until then I’ll remain a happy if poorer Mac convert…

  28. DTPhantom says:

    I love how all of you guys are bashing windows after seeing ONE screenshot. Seriously go look at the galleries on giz or engadget and see how the whole system works together, then make a judgment. But jumping to conclusions after a single picture is pretty dumb.

  29. stjarna says:

    The clock, weather and calendar widgets are exactly the same as those that ship with Vista (for the sidebar, but you can also dock them on the desktop) so it’s hardly that new.

    It’s more of an evolution rather than anything massively new but I’m sure there’ll be a ‘Vista Classic’ mode for the whiners out there…

  30. sheshe says:

    looking through all of the screenshots.. nothing excites me at all.. windows is still stuck in a boring rut

  31. Angstrom says:

    I love how all of you guys are bashing windows after seeing ONE screenshot. Seriously go look at the galleries on giz or engadget and see how the whole system works together, then make a judgment. But jumping to conclusions after a single picture is pretty dumb.

    I love how you jump to that conclusion. I love that it makes you look dumb.

    Even dumber than this nightmare of pastels and reflections

    or this clusterfuck of reflective blurred unintelligibility

  32. scaught says:

    Does anyone really care about widgets anymore? Truthfully, I check the weather one in OSX really occasionally but that’s about it.

  33. hep cat says:

    The only feature that i was interested in that they promised for Vista , was WinFS nee the Storage+ file system. That and virtual folders that actually worked. Instead it got slower and buggier. Think they will ever get around to shipping the vista they demoed in 2003?

    I can’t think of anything since windows 2000 that Microsoft has done that makes the software better.

  34. Agies says:

    The look and feel is just about the last part of an OS to get pinned down. Windows 7 is still about two years out and only in pre-beta. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ships looking nothing like this.

  35. el_beardo says:

    ahhh windows. all the features of apple since 1984… and still ripping off the competition. nothing’s changed. next!

  36. Thad E Ginataom says:

    “Similar screenshots will be all over the web in just a couple of hours”

    Quite that’s how long it’ll take them to load.

    Please guys, have you forgotten that we are not all on multi-megabyte connections?

  37. toxonix says:

    Why are there transparent panes over widgets like clocks? This looks horrible. Thankfully this won’t be in widespread use until at least 2012. But what sad times those will be. We were supposed to have public space stations and colonies on Mars. Thanks for destroying the future, MSFT.

  38. noen says:

    Griping one way or the other about the GUI seems really superficial to me. It isn’t like you can’t change that if you want to.

    What is more important is the actual design of the OS, what it actually does differently than another OS. Will it run the software I currently own? Will it run on my hardware? How will it benefit me? I couldn’t give a crap about the GUI.

  39. Anonymous says:

    bulbous, also tapered

  40. bardfinn says:

    Years ago, I pleaded that Microsoft just make a friggin’ OS and leave the desktop design / window theming / user interface design to someone else.

    Yup. So glad that they did /that/. Glad to know that users will never again be forced to scroll/navigate through endless hierarchies of little yellow file folders, tens of thousands of items long, just to open a rarely-used application/document.

  41. ideaprison says:

    microsoft needs a design team

  42. SamSam says:

    Erm, all these people posting about the calendar and clock (“Windows is bloated!!! OMG! Who needs more clocks!!!”), would they be surprised to know that my [b]Mac OS X 10.5 desktop looks almost exactly the same[/b]? I mean, widgets are widgets, little weather and clock apps are on every OS, and all can now use transparency. If you don’t want them, delete them. Done.

    The existence of a transparent clock app allows us to judge Windows 7 about as much as the fact that they went with a blue background…

  43. icky2000 says:

    My thanks to previous commenters – fascinating discussion about your personal preferences in reference to clocks on your screen.

  44. Dillenger69 says:

    to people saying “just delete the clock!” … um, duh.

    What I don’t want is someone touting desktop clutter widgets as “innovation”.

    Show me what’s under the hood. That’s what counts.
    That and letting me make the UI look like I want so I don’t have to adapt to a new UI every time I upgrade my OS.

  45. Anonymous says:

    With all its gadgets it seems to look a lot like like gOS Linux to me. It wouldn’t surprize me if Windows came out with a “Beryl” cube thing in the near future. All the OS’s are copying one another nowadays. After using Linux for a year now I personally hope Windows 7 is a flop.

  46. xzzy says:

    When will there be an open source OS?

    something supported by a community and developed and advanced rather then repackaged and re-marketed.

    Yeah, that certainly wouldn’t be linux.

    Every single linux developer spends the majority of their time trying to make the system behave like windows. Development on the GUI front is the worst, both Gnome and KDE have spent the last 5 years regurgitating every change that comes out of Redmond.

  47. AudioTherapist says:

    DTPhantom, why so sensitive? I feel the love, and have been doing so through the dark dark years of 3.1, 95, 98, ME (yuck) to the glory days of XP.

    XP3 is really quite marvelous, and as someone pointed out you can pretty much change anything about the look if you want to. Large pain in the ass to keep any major GUI changes update in my experience but you can.

    But Vista is just XP with lipstick and DRM, plus a crap ass “ain’t our fault you did it” security system. Also that thing with DX10 not able to run on XP – sigh, there’s only so much being lied to a customer can take and I’d taken it so I took my money elsewhere.

    XZZY – slightly unfair, they’ve borrowed from each other and OSX as well ;-)

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