Ed Bott links to Long Zheng at istartedsomething.com for creating the Windows UI Taskforce. Long's idea is to document all the crap UI in Windows Vista, so that there is a chance those issues get escalated to someone on the product team and land in Windows 7 before it ships. You have to give it up for Long, a really ambitious project. Anyone that has to work with Windows on a regular basis would benefit from this work because it would reduce the cognitive dissonance when working in Windows, which has to be a good thing. Here's what I mean. "The Aero UI looks decent, but oh wait what is the Windows 3.1 font dialog still doing there?!?" I think it's the equivalent of urban blight, where you see a new building next to an old building with broken windows or graffiti, you think the whole neighborhood is suspect. Long is cataloging the UI Decay of Windows over time, and it obviously needs renewal.
Update Talk about serendipity. As I posted this entry, Jeff Atwood, who I just posted about here, bemoans the lose of Windows UI consistency and links to his own post on the broken windows (no pun intended, like in a neighborhood) phenomena. He also makes the point Apple cares a lot more about UI consistency for their OS than Microsoft does about theirs. That was only true again in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. OS X 10.2-10.4 had, not so much UI decay, as lots of new architects building brand new buildings in the same neighborhood without coordinating (e.g. Safari Brushed Metal, iTunes, and the Finder). Leopard largely fixed that, every app had their veneer replaced with a unified theme. Microsoft needs to go through the same cleanup, to whatever Windows 7 will look like, and those need to be high priority issues. I am sure Microsoft is going to add a ton of new features to Windows 7, but seriously guys follow Apple's lead here, fix and improve what you have here and add less totally new features to Windows 7.