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Talks on technology and the latest developments in Placid Systems.

How many of your Windows apps use the native Windows UI?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Today I was looking at the screenshots of IntelliJ Idea 6 when something suddenly struck me. Intellij UI looks far better than Eclipse! I realized that in fact that the Eclipse UI looks far ugly than the UI of most of the programs I use. Since I use Eclipse as my everyday IDE, I just switched to it and tried to make out what is it about eclipse that makes it look so ugly. Hmmm... I thought for a second, maybe it's the icons. But no, the icons are pretty modern with all the gradients and stuff you would expect of any modern app. Then? Suddenly I realised what it was! The default Windows Xp UI!! Eclipse uses the SWT java lib which gives it the look of the native UI which in turn is not too good to look at while Intellij uses a custom Swing skin.

But then I thought, hey I am on windows. If the windows UI was so ugly then why don't I find all the other apps ugly too?That is when I started noticing this. How many programs of everday use *really* use the Windows native UI? Lets take a look.

First lets see the programs running in my system tray -
  • Windows Messenger
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • Outlook 2k3
  • ZoneAlarm
  • AVG Anti Virus
  • LeechGet
  • Copernic Desktop Search
Guess what, NONE of the above programs use the native Windows look and feel!!!

Then I look at my Quick Launch bar which is to the side of the Start Button.Here I just keep (instead of the 'Show Desktop' button)
  • Winamp
  • Itunes
NO windows native UI in these either!

Now I really start thinking. Here are some of the most commonly used programs which *don't* use native windows look and feel-
  • Everything in MS office (word, excel, etc)
  • Visual Studio
  • Windows Media Player
Actually NONE of MS programs have the native windows look and feel. Talk about following what you preach! Anyway continuing with our list -
  • Ad Aware
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Reader
  • Opera
  • WinDVD
  • Quick Time
  • Real Player

And of course a lot more.

In fact after noticing this I tried to see what programs that I frequently use on my computer *do* have the native look, and here is what I found -
  • Eclipse
  • Firefox
  • Solitare :)

So the next time you find that a UI is ugly, don't blame the programmers, they were just following the MS guidelines for Windows apps :)
posted by Prashant Deva, 4:02 AM | link | 11 comments |