9. December 2006 19:31
A little while ago, Long Zheng wrote a post about one of the nice little "experience" points of Windows Vista - a feature he christened "dynamic multi-dimensional scrolling", which is just a fancy way of saying that the tree view of the folders in Windows Explorer automatically scrolls so that the majority of the view isn't whitespace (go see his post for the picture/1000 words type thing).
I like it, and I agree with Long - it's not really a feature, but it does have a good, positive image on the end user's experience with Windows. I'd like to add another: the ubiquitous use of the "sorting/filtering/grouping/stacking drop down task pane from a header in Explorer's list view". (Might not be as fancy, but it's definitely a longer name than Long's.)
XP allowed you to sort items, by date, file type, whatever. You could even group on these attributes. But it was really awkward to set; a menu option buried in a sub menu on the right click. Vista's brought it front and centre, and it's a great way to slice and dice your file views.
One of the simplest yet most effective changes is to make this functionality far more discoverable by keeping the header bar visible at all times - in XP, it was only visible in details mode (which made sorting all the harder).
The feature set it exposes is terrific. It really augments the search functionality with filtering, sorting, grouping and stacking, but that's not my favourite bit. That would be finding it in places I wasn't expecting, the most surprising of which was the add/remove programs dialog. Once you've got more than a few applications installed, that list isn't the most friendly to work with. Being able to sort, group and filter (no stacking, but it's no big loss) all of my applications is brilliant. Looking for that application you just installed that's a pile of rubbish? Just filter the "installed on" date as today.
It just makes it so easy to get at your data.