The U.K. periodical Windows Vista Magazine* touts the following as a “great new feature”. It’s the “warning you are overwriting a file of the same name” dialog:

One major difference from XP here is that instead of being interrupted as soon as the conflict is detected, it will copy everything else and then ask you what to do about the conflicts at the end. I’m not the only person to think this dialog could be improved, but in my opinion, there are so many things wrong about this dialog that I’m going to discuss each of them. The first is process-related but the rest of them are UI related:

1. I’d really like to be warned of the conflict before the files are copied.

It’s possible you expected to overwrite some files, but I’d suggest that most of the time, this dialog comes as a surprise. What are the chances that in this case, you don’t want to do the copy operation at all? I’d say they’re good. I’ll take 50/50. Maybe that’s what the Cancel button is for.

2. What happens if you press Cancel?

Can you tell? It’s not obvious. The dialog goes away, but all those other files have still been copied. Were you perhaps expecting the operation to roll back? I was. What if you press Skip?

3. “Do this for the next 4 conflicts”

The number 4 actually reflects the total number of conflicts. So why doesn’t it say, “Do this for all 4 conflicts” then? Then I wouldn’t be concerned about whether I should worry about a fifth or sixth one.

4. How many font & color combinations do you need for this?

I count at least 4. And my eyes hurt. This is symptomatic of the failure of the UI designers currently working on Vista.

5. Transparent window borders are *ahem* clearly a mistake.

I mean, really. Just look at the screen shot. I have enough trouble with my eyes as it is without Vista deliberately fuzzing things for me. Microsoft’s Vista web site describes this effect thusly:

A noticeably new element of the Aero experience is the translucent effect of Aero Glass, featuring dynamic reflections and smooth animations. The glass windows create an open, lightweight environment – and more importantly, help you to better focus on your content, rather than on the surrounding interface. 

That explains why every review I’ve seen of Aero Glass focusses on the “cool transparent window borders”. Ok, cheap shot. Let me just disagree and say that the transparent effects do not do it for me. And remember – assuming your laptop has video hardware capable of rendering the nice effects, you can enjoy it for all of 30 minutes while the battery lasts, while burning the palms of your hands. (Fancy rendering = work = heat, you know.)

Now, kudos to Microsoft for trying to fix the deficiencies of the same dialog in XP:

But I award zero points for execution. Sorry.

* Seriously, how long has this magazine been in existence, do you think? And just how unbiased editorially can they afford to be?