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Operating Systems GUI Windows

The Classic Control Panel In Windows May Be Gone 347

jones_supa writes In Windows 8, there was an arrangement of two settings applications: the Control Panel for the desktop and the PC Settings app in the Modern UI side. With Windows 10, having the two different applications has started to look even more awkward, which has been voiced loud and clear in the feedback too. Thus, the work at Microsoft to unify the settings programs has begun. The traditional Control Panel is being transformed to something temporarily called "zPC Settings" (sic), which is a Modern UI app that melts together the current two settings applications.
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The Classic Control Panel In Windows May Be Gone

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  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:47PM (#48207059) Homepage
    It's one thing to abuse the users with interface changes, but don't make the job for I.T. techs any harder as it it. We already got a lifetime of job security because of Windows.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:57PM (#48207205)

      Don't fret. This shouldn't affect your daily routine of telling people to restart their computers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by creimer ( 824291 )
        We have a script that automatically boots off all the users on the weekend. That fixes half the problems. The other half of the problem is all the systems that didn't come back up from the reboot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But after windows 8, the users need help even to restart their machines. Who would have thought at UX meeting, that people do not find the hidden shutdown option by moving mouse cursor to magic right upper corner.

        • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:56PM (#48207783)
          Even worse. I RDP'ed into a Server the other day and nobody, even those running Windows 8 on their laptops could figure out how to do a "log out" on the server.
          • Which is why everyone voted with their wallets and Windows 8 flopped like a fish on the bank in August!

            I'm running Win10 on the netbook at the shop (figure if it runs good on an AMD Bobcat with a 5400RPM HDD? It'll run good on anything) and I have to say...I like the new UI, its enough like the traditional control panel you aren't sitting there playing "guess WTF they called it" like you did with Win 8 but at the same time thy have an easy mode for the casual users...I have no problem with that as long as I

          • by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @07:47AM (#48211397)

            Yeah, if they reorganize the "PC Settings" into categories where we have to read the minds of the MS development team to figure out what category the applet runs under,it'll be another C-F. How many IT folks here _don't_ switch the current control panel to "Classic" view on Win Server 2003/2008 or Win7? Don't force folks into an extra layer of memorization to figure out how to get to the WIndows Services dialog, etc.

            • Or, better yet, in Windows 2012 when you right click on the computer and select "Manage", you get the completely useless Server Manager application that takes forever to populate with data and become usable rather than the computer management MMC snap-in that we're actually looking for since Windows 2000.

              Now I have to either run MMC manually and add the snap-in, or use the shitty start "menu" to click on administrative tools, and click computer management.

              Thanks for that.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:47PM (#48207069)
    Had to maintain a Windows 2012 Server system last weekend.... dealing with the Windows 8 configuration interface on a server makes me very angry.
    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:52PM (#48207143)

      Had to maintain a Windows newer Server system last weekend.... dealing with the Windows newer configuration interface on a server makes me very angry.

      Said every Windows admin, ever.

      Though all joking aside, changes should make the job easier, or more intuitive, or more cohesive. The change from the 3.1/NT3.5 interface to the Windows 95/NT4.0 interface was an improvement, but slowly fragmented as the GUI design kept changing over time (I dare not call it evolving!).

      It's already awkward enough having separate control panels, one for most functions, the other for "Administrative Tools - Computer Management". That needs to be addressed, along with reconciling between two separate GUIs.

      • Ah........no. NT>2000>2003>2008 was all good. 2012 sucks balls bigtime. I put classic shell on every 2012 machine I am forced to use and that doesn't even account for the drop in performance when you go from 8 to 12 on the same hardware.
        • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:38PM (#48207625)
          Why is there a resource-intensive GUI on a server anyway? Is the server supposed to be able to play Solitaire or World of Warcraft? Or is the server supposed to, oh, I donno, serve files and applications to client stations?

          That's one thing I never understood, why Microsoft went GUI with the servers like they did, other than to know that they sold a lot of server OSes to people that had no business running servers in the first place...
          • by PRMan ( 959735 )
            Because they saw how crappy Novell Netware servers without it were? There are many amazing server apps that run with a convenient GUI when you are administrating the box.
            • by TWX ( 665546 )
              So why not make the GUI application run on the client workstation being used by an administrative-level account? After all, lots and lots of servers are VMs now, not OSes tied directly to real hardware.
            • I seem to recall Microsoft saying that more installs of Windows Server were of the GUI-less "Server Core" version. Microsoft even boosts about how much more secure it is and that it requires fewer patches. Maybe they are trying to push the rest of the hold outs to Core by adding Metro!
          • by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @06:45PM (#48208169) Homepage

            That's one thing I never understood, why Microsoft went GUI with the servers like they did, other than to know that they sold a lot of server OSes to people that had no business running servers in the first place...

            Simple. Most business people had been exposed to DOS, then moved to Windows and found it much easier to use and understand. The Novell guy comes in and tries to sell a Netware server. Yep - looks like DOS. I came in with a Windows server. Looks just like his PC. He sees File Manager, drive letters, Notepad, Paint, and suddenly he feels like this is the more advanced system, and he is far more comfortable with it.

            A lot of the Netware guys around my area were extremely arrogant, and treated their customers like crap. Once they got a server installed, the customer was clueless and the vendor would abuse that. Our business model was to be open with the system and point out that we can easily be replaced, keeping us focused on their satisfaction. With NT Advanced Server (the correct name), the business owner could actually watch us and understand what we were doing with his system. We replaced a fair amount of Netware servers in those days. And you can see who won.

          • Why is there a resource-intensive GUI on a server anyway? Is the server supposed to be able to play Solitaire or World of Warcraft? Or is the server supposed to, oh, I donno, serve files and applications to client stations?

            Because the admin changed the default install mode to include the GUI.
            A default installation of Windows Server 2012 and newer does not include a GUI.
            For 2008 R2 (and possibly 2008), the recommendation was to not install the GUI, but I do not recall if what was also the default.

    • Yeah, until I learned that you can just go straight to the traditional control panel interface and skip through the tablet-PC nonsense.

      I don't know that the old way is necessarily "better" from a user-interface point of view, but certainly long-time windows power users and system administrators prefer it and it seems very contrary to Microsoft's philosophy of "legacy-forever" to remove it completely.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:28PM (#48207513)

        The reason is because the old panel had everything in front of you. There was no guesswork where to go. It was either the control panel or one of the mmc snapins, with regedit as the worst case scenario. The tablet interfaces are too simplified to be of much use beyond basic settings. Their full screen nature is also irritating on a desktop.

        Hell even the changes they did in vista are clunkier than 2k/xp was. Awkward, hard to remember phrases replaced one or two word descriptions, and a lot of the options were hidden, leaving the user to guess where things are, and no, searching for everything is NOT a solution. At least it was still possible to get a compact, complete list in vista through 8.1. If they plan to remove that in 10 and replace it with some stupid touch interface, I will avoid the os.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Yeah, until I learned that you can just go straight to the traditional control panel interface and skip through the tablet-PC nonsense.

        In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, administrators already cannot create or modify a user account inside Control Panel. They have to make changes "in PC settings", which is code-word for "click here to open the tablet-PC nonsense".

    • Had to maintain a Windows 2012 Server system last weekend.... dealing with the Windows 8 configuration interface on a server makes me very angry.

      Imagine Bruce Banner had been a sysadmin. The world would have been a different place.

  • And... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:48PM (#48207085)

    It will have even less functionality than before. Because they keep trying to "simplify" things for the dumb users out there, by removing any type of "advanced" feature. Which means you will be stuck having to manually edit the Registry or gpedit or through some third party software that allow access to those now "hidden" features.

    • im hoping they don't do something stupid and disable the GodMode trick.

      could somebody please either try that trick by creating the folder from scratch or grab https://dl.dropboxusercontent.... [dropboxusercontent.com]??

    • Re:And... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:36PM (#48207611)

      Removing control panels isn't MS's style. If past experience is anything to go by, the same ones that were in 98/NT will still be there in 10, they'll just be buried under yet another layer of new stuff. Seriously, try find network adaptor settings in 7. After you've navigated through the morass of the network and sharing centre you'll see that it's practically the self same advanced dialog that was there in 95.

      Personally, I'm not averse to change but it's well past time MS just started over again instead of tacking on useless, obfuscating fluff over the top of controls that I actually need to get use.

      • Worst thing was after XP, the Windows Control Panel was displayed in groups which made everything hard to find, or you had the option to display by icons which sorts everything into columns. This would be great except instead of ordering in alphabetical order down the column it displays across, so that when you resize the window everything moves around. The human eye is used to scanning down a list in order, not across. Whoever decided this was the best way needs to be fired.
    • The Registry.

      Oh, god, the Registry.

      Those of you know more than me can maybe advise: why the hell does this thing even exist? Why not stick with ordinary text files containing things like

      # set the preferred meaning of life
      meaningoflife = 42

      like sane OS's? Yes, okay, sometimes they're hard to find, but if you want to mimic the "registry" idea, make it standard practice to name them "foobar.ini" and symlink them into a central location.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        So that multiple programs can share the same settings system-wide. The worst thing about Linux is that every program works in a different non-standard way.
        • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

          So that multiple programs can share the same settings system-wide. The worst thing about Linux is that every program works in a different non-standard way.

          Like putting system config in /etc and user config in $HOME, you mean?

          • by tepples ( 727027 )
            The format for each of the various system config files in $etc and the various user config files in $HOME differs from program to program.
          • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @07:22PM (#48208445)

            So that multiple programs can share the same settings system-wide. The worst thing about Linux is that every program works in a different non-standard way.

            Like putting system config in /etc and user config in $HOME, you mean?

            Like putting system config in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and user config in HKEY_USERS, you mean?
            The registry is trash, but so is a mish-mash of non-standard textfiles strewn about.

            The problem that's specific to Windows is that programs can decide to use the registry, text files, or both, and when they use text files they can be in my documents, (which is now a library with no fixed location), the program's installation folder, the system-wide application data folder, or a user-specific application data folder. When using an application data folder, you have the choice of using Local, LocalLow, or Roaming. No one in the world understands the difference between these folders or why some programs use one over another (or use multiple!).

            It wouldn't be a problem if everything was relegated to living in one of:
            A: The application's install directory
            B: A single directory (one per application) in a specific user/system directory (or both)
            C: Living in the registry (again, user/system/both as appropriate)

            But when applications can choose A, B, C, A & B, A & C, B & C, or A, B & C it's a fucking nightmare.

    • It will have even less functionality than before. Because they keep trying to "simplify" things for the dumb users out there, by removing any type of "advanced" feature. Which means you will be stuck having to manually edit the Registry or gpedit or through some third party software that allow access to those now "hidden" features.

      First of all, I agree with the general thread that the Windows 8 GUI had no business being on a server. Heck; even Server 2008 R2 had all the chrome turned off and ran as close to NT4 as it possibly could.

      But removing all the "advanced" stuff? Like what, precisely? If it's a DC, all the normal DC stuff is there (buried under the "Manage this server" nonsense). Because I can remember setting up NT4 and needing to specify IRQ and base settings for things like network cards. Back in the day, it was easier

  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:51PM (#48207139) Homepage

    And how exactly do they plan on dealing with Non-Microsoft items in this new settings environment? A huge part of why Windows has always won the OS wars was due to 3rd party extensibility and backwards compatibility.

    This is forcing things to become non-standard, where programs are going to have to start having their own "control panels" in their own hard to find locations, rather than having a single place we all know and rely on to administer machines.

    • The way OSX does it is to allow third parties to add an applet to the control panel app. Not sure if Microsoft will think of that, but it's something they could do.
      • OS X? It's been that way since OS VI. System 6 had a desk accessory called "Control Panel" that would load "cdev" applets. System 7 shifted the cdev loader to Finder, but otherwise they worked similarly. Microsoft has had a long time to copy this stuff.
  • Even though I do not like Windows I never thought that it could ever really die. However with the absolute idiotic things that Microsoft has been doing with their OS lately I think that it might actually be possible. I cannot say how or this would happen, but I think it will be inevitable (I could be wrong here). I for one can’t stand the direction that they are taking. The only reason I still use Windows is for gaming. Maybe I should bite the bullet and only buy games that run on Linux from now on.
    • How does it really affect you? Sure they changed the UI just like they did with 3.x to 9x and then 9x to 7 but with 10 they've put the start menu back so the only real change is the desktop theme, and even that you can put back to classic if you want. They've improved it to use less system resources as well which is good for any intensive computing tasks like games.

      Sure 8 was confusing to Windows users that expected the desktop and a start menu but that's what 10 gives you.

      • by Agares ( 1890982 )
        I understand things change overtime, and progress is important. It is just that the changes they made lately seem very counter intuitive to me. If it works out for them though why should they care what I think? lol
        • It is just that the changes they made lately seem very counter intuitive to me.

          What part of it is counter-intuitive? It's all the same concepts as before, sure if you want to administer your PC you may find things in slightly different places or named slightly different but I can't say I do that very often, I use my PC to run programs and those programs run just the same as they always have.

          As far as control panel is concerned I just use search because the actual location of things changes based on the size of the window anyway.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:54PM (#48207167) Journal

    I don't know the architecture that well, but aren't all of these things just safe interfaces to the registry or rundll commands? Whenever the UI goes nuts, the fix almost always involves regedit or rundll. How about just giving us a safe, generic interface to regedit and rundll commands? Such a beast could be made to look like the classic control panel, or customized to look like anything you want.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      I suppose a lot of that already exists, but since it's not documented, such a project requires a lot of effort.

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @04:55PM (#48207187)

    As a Mac user, I find the "zPC Settings" categories quite similar to what Apple uses in OS X.

    It's not about "dumbing down" features, it's about having clear categories at the first level. If Microsoft hides settings from level 2 and up, then it does become a problem.

    Also, I find the look of those GUIs horrible, even more so than OS X Yosemite. Where did the latest GUI designers graduate from? Both OS X and Microsoft look more plain than twenty-five years ago, surely that can't be a coincidence. Are they preparing us to go back to monochrome displays?

    • by Vylen ( 800165 )

      Maybe graphic design is also moving to the "retro" look as with every modern thing these days.

    • by Mr_Wisenheimer ( 3534031 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:21PM (#48207455)

      That's one of the most frustrating things about OSX, is that they try to make it as difficult as possible to actually make meaningful modifications to your system.

      Microsoft isn't quite as libertine as Linux's, "if you don't like our billion options, then compile your own version of KDE or Gnome," (unless you are the US government or another big contract holder with access to MS source code), but it has always been power-user and system-administrator friendly by giving straightforward tools to micro-manage system settings that were just a step or two behind the "friendly" interface.

      We'll see if that changes in Windows 10. I doubt it, but you never know.

    • Simple answer is YES. Everything will be monochrome soon.

      Have you seen Microsoft's Visual Studio lately? It is mostly a monochrome mess. You get bits of colour here and there, but I'm sure the next version will "fix" this.

      Heck, you can also look at Corel for this stupidity. I think it was Paint Shop Pro X6 which by default all the icons were monochrome. They patched it later to add colour icons and then patched it again to make the colour icons the default.
    • Well if history is any indication, the first attempt by MS will be poor. The second attempt will be almost usable. So by Windows 12, settings will be usable again (assuming MS doesn't jump version numbers again).
    • Where did the latest GUI designers graduate from?

      Somewhere cheap, I presume. I mean, come on, I could make as good-looking as any flat icons. I could never make even passable skeuomorphic icons. This has to be a scheme to not have to hire actual artists to make your UI.

    • The flat look scales easier between various screen sizes. By just having a big monochrome square, it doesn't look any different whether on a 4" screen or 30".
  • by Rejemy ( 78237 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:00PM (#48207247) Homepage

    As long as they leave intact the ancient, tiny, unresizable Environment Variables window that hasn't been updated since it was first introduced in Windows NT, I'll be happy. Who doesn't like editing a huge path in a tiny 40 character single-line text field?

    • by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @05:10PM (#48207353)

      You just reminded me about that.

      I looked in my Build 9680. There, in all it's annoying pop-out glory and quite tasteful shadow (but minus any discernible windows border) is the Environmental Variables window in all it's NT 3.1 glory!

    • Can't be any worse than trying to change Security Permissions|File Ownership through the GUI.

      Environment Variables are better off being set via CMD.exe

      SETENV.exe [syr.edu]
      SETENV -m PATH "%PATH%;C:\Somewhere\Else"

      Then you don't even need to reboot/logout to have the change take effect.
      Or the old-school way, but you'll need to logout/or reboot.

      SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\Somewhere\Else

    • MS didn't even bother to update the "Add Font" dialog until Windows 7. The one in Vista was still from the 3.x era, complete with a 16-bit style COMDLG file picker!
    • by Tteddo ( 543485 )
      You know what kills me? IIS STILL has the list of your sites initially sorted by the date/time installed versus oh, I don't know alphabetical? What kind of basic UI design are they smoking anyway? Been that way since 2000 at least.
  • So ... (Score:2, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 )

    ... no CLI then?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For those to young to remember...MicroSoft thought that they could get away with doing away with a whole profession - the systems administrators. They put out this "initative" to get rid of the admins...it was called "ZAW" which stood for Zero Administration for Windows. They alienated a bunch of sys admins...I moved completely to UNIX/Linux....why would I stick around in a technology that was being pushed away.

    As it turns out...the Internet and server administration and desktop administration are too co

    • I don't know if it ever went as far as trying to get rid of sysadmins (Redmond has made no lack of money off of MCSEs and the like over the years), but they certain encouraged an attitude that command prompts, scripting and of the more "traditional" methods of system administration had been rendered obsolete; or rather, would be with "the next version". I have been subjected to numerous issues over the years that required me manually altering the registry, registering/re-registering/de-registering COM DLLs,

      • How could anyone competent ever call scripting obsolete?

        It is no more or less than a tool to tell the computer wtf you want it to do in precise terms. If you don't have that you're reduced to hoping someone already thought of the things you're trying to do and implemented the correct clicky bit for you to click on. If not, you're SOL.

  • With Windows 10, having the two different applications has started to look even more awkward

    So they're going to add a third?

  • Interactive live tiles could shine here, turning the click-fest we have now into a modern (no pun intended) take on the original Macintosh control panel [bott.org].
    By replacing dumb menus with interactive gadgets you could shave a click or two off most setting changes, so the user doesn't get lost in nested screen after nested screen.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft's "modern" design guide seems to be a manifesto on how to make the user as lost as possible, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

  • If you use the settings a lot and want them to appear at the top of your menu, change the name from "zPC Settings" to "(space)PC Settings" :D

  • Feedback was about NEGATIVE experience with the METRO, NOBODY wanted more of that shit.
    Thanks M$ .....

  • until systemd folks figure out how to force all to binary config format requiring an additional program to edit.
  • was there any problem with Control Panel that they had to get rid of it? I liked a central place to change all settings in the OS, and similar settings managers in OS X and Linux Mint.

  • by BLToday ( 1777712 ) on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @06:01PM (#48207819)

    The Control Panel's organization has been terrible. I can't think of a time when it was actually good, but it's just getting worse with each Windows release. Use to be Add/Remove Programs, then it's Program and Features but does the exact same thing. Printers got moved to Devices and Printers. Here's the thing, printers and ability to remove programs are fairly important, why make it less descriptive? While at the same time, there are applets/control panel applications that doesn't deserve their own icon at the top level: Windows Cardspace, Notification Area Icons, Indexing Options, Getting Started (really?), Folder Options, Default Programs (should be within Program and Features),

  • How about a control panel, that melts the two together into, you know, a control panel? Why, on a regular PC, do I need to deal with Metro at all?

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 22, 2014 @07:08PM (#48208361)
    (N/T)
  • by SuperDre ( 982372 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @03:56AM (#48210777) Homepage

    I really don't like the new UI PC Settings, it's missing about every option one might need to control, at least if you are even a bit serious about configuring your PC..
    Just keep the old screen for people who know what they are doing, and the other crap for people who actually never have to use it...

  • WHY (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @09:16AM (#48211983)

    This is a terrible idea. The point is that the 'Modern UI' is designed around full screen apps. But system configuration is one thing that enormously benefits from opening up windows alongside the control panel (for example, to follow a set of instructions), opening up multiple control panels to refer to each other, and so on. Microsoft is basically directly removing usability.

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