Windows Aero

Windows Aero

Windows Aero is the graphical user interface and the default theme in most editions of Windows Vista, an operating system released by Microsoft in November 2006. It is also available in Windows Server 2008, which was released on February 27, 2008. Its name is a backronym for "Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open". [cite web
title=The Sounds of Windows Vista
authorlink=James Allchin
date=November 9 2006
work=Windows Vista Team Blog
] Intended to be a cleaner, more powerful, more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing user interface than the previously used theme (Luna), it includes new transparencies, live thumbnails, live icons, animations and eye candy. Aero also encompasses a set of user interface design guidelines for Microsoft Windows.


Like Windows XP, Aero's base icons were designed by The Iconfactory.cite web |url= |title=Iconfactory : Design : Windows Vista |accessdate=2007-05-22 |author=The Iconfactory |authorlink=The Iconfactory |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher= |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]

Until the release of Windows Vista Beta 1 in July 2005, little or nothing had been shown of Aero in public or leaked builds. Previous user interfaces were "Plex", which was featured in Longhorn builds 3683-4029; "Slate", which was featured in build 4051 and was available until build 4093; and "Jade" (builds 4074, 4083 and 4093, actually an early preview of Aero). Microsoft started using "Aero" in public builds in build 5048. The first build with full-featured Aero was build 5219. Build 5270 (released in December 2005) contained an implementation of Aero which was virtually complete, according to sources at Microsoft, though a number of stylistic changes were introduced between then and the operating system's release.

Originally, Aero was to have three levels available, one code-named "To Go", which had the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) composition engine (previously known as DCE) disabled. The next was to be AeroExpress, lacking many features of the highest level code-named Aero Glass. However, in December 2005, Microsoft announced that there would only be two levels available, "Windows Vista Aero" and "Windows Vista Basic", with the previous "Express" level integrated into the new "Windows Vista Aero" level. A control panel was added to enable the user to fine tune this functionality, such as being able to turn off the "glass" translucency effect. These levels are provided so that the Aero interface (to some extent) can be used with a relatively low-end graphics card.

Initially, a variation of Aero, codenamed "Aero Diamond", was slated to be the user interface for the Windows Vista Media Center experience. Although there has been no official mention of Diamond for a number of years, it may refer to the expectation that the interface is written in pure XAML (as was Aero initially) but this has not been confirmed.

User interface

For the first time since the release of Windows 95, Microsoft has completely revised its user interface guidelines, covering aesthetics, common controls such as buttons and radio buttons, task dialogs, wizards, common dialogs, control panels, icons, fonts, user notifications, and the "tone" of text used.cite web
title=What's New in Windows Vista
work=MSDN - Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines

Aero Wizards

Wizard 97cite web
title=Wizard 97
work=Platform SDK
] had been the prevailing standard for wizard design, visual layout, and functionality used in Windows 98 through to Windows Server 2003, as well as most Microsoft products in that time frame. Aero Wizards are the replacement for Wizard 97, incorporating visual updates to match the aesthetics of the rest of Aero, as well as changing the interaction flow.

More specifically:
* To increase the efficiency of the wizard, The "Welcome" pages in Wizard 97 are no longer used. (A precursor to this change was implied in a number of wizards in products such as SQL Server 2005 where a check-box was added to welcome pages, allowing a user to disable the welcome page in future uses of the wizard.)
* Aero Wizards can be resized, whereas the Wizard 97 guidelines defined exact sizes for wizard window and content sizes.
* The purpose of any given Aero Wizard page is more clearly stated at the top.
* A new kind of control called a "Command link" provides a single-click operation to choose from a short list of options.
* The notion of "Commit pages" is introduced, where it is made clear that the next step will be the actual process that the wizard is being used to enact. If no follow-up information needs to be communicated, these are the last pages in a wizard. Typically a commit page has a button at the bottom-right that is labelled with the action to be taken, such as "Create account".
* The "Back" button has moved to the top-left corner of the wizard window and matches the visual style of the back button in other Vista applications. This is done to give more focus to the commit choices. The "Next" button is only shown on pages where it is necessary.
* At the end of a wizard, a "Follow-up page" can be used to direct the user to related tasks that they may be interested in immediately after completing the wizard. For example, a follow-up for a CD burning wizard may present options like "Duplicate this disk" and "Make a disk label".


Notifications allow an application or operating system component with an icon in the system tray to create a pop-up window with some information about an event or problem. These windows, first introduced in Windows 2000 and known colloquially as "balloons", are similar in appearance to the speech balloons that are commonly seen in comics. Balloons were often criticized in prior versions of Windows due to their intrusiveness, especially with regard to how they interacted with full-screen applications such as games (the entire application was minimized as the bubble came up) . Notifications in Aero aim to be less intrusive by gradually fading in and out, and not appearing at all if a full-screen application or screensaver is being displayed – in these cases, notifications are queued until an appropriate time. Larger icons and multiple font sizes and colors are also introduced with Aero's notification windows.


The Segoe UI typeface is the new default font for Aero with languages that use Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets. The default font size is also increased from 8pt to 9pt to improve readability. In the Segoe UI typeface, the numeral zero ("0") is narrow, while capital letter "O" is wider, and numeral one ("1") has a top hook, while capital letter "I" has equal crown and base.

Phrasing tone

The Vista User Experience Guidelines also address the issue of "tone" in the writing of text used with the Aero user interface. Prior design guidelines from Microsoft had not done much to address the issue of how user interface text is phrased, and as such, the way that information and requests are presented to the user had not been consistent between parts of the operating system.

Research done by Microsoft informed them that users were finding Windows difficult to use and understand. Users were dissatisfied or felt insulted because of the phrasing of some messages. In particular, computer terminology and jargon were overused and used inconsistently, creating a barrier to understanding for newer users, and messages were unclear or perceived as patronizing.

The guidelines for Vista and its applications suggest messages that present technically accurate advice concisely, objectively, and positively, and assume an intelligent user motivated to solve a particular problem. Specific advice includes the use of the second person and the active voice (e.g. "Print the photos on your camera") and avoidance of words like "please" and "sorry". [cite web
title=Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines - Text

See also

* Features new to Windows Vista
* Development of Windows Vista
* Desktop Window Manager


External links

* [ Windows Vista Aero User Experience]
* [ Long Zheng's Aero Taskforce] - Find, publish and rate user experience "quirks" in Windows Vista
* [ 64 MB RAM supports Aero with up to 1,310,720 total pixels (1280 × 1024) but is not Premium Ready]

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