Sample Thunderbird UI redesign

Klaus Hartnegg hartnegg at
Fri Nov 18 17:22:40 UTC 2016

Am 18.11.2016 um 17:04 schrieb Blake Winton:
> And, as you imply, we don't hear from any of the people
> who /aren't/ using Thunderbird because they feel it looks old and
> outdated…

Ok, I'll try to kill this trend once and for all. Not generally making 
the UI nicer, or making features easier to use, but the aspect of 
wasting desktop space:

Since a few years we are seeing large players in the market applying two 
opposite strategies when it comes to desktop UI elements.

One strategy is to keep the desktop UI more or less the same, and 
desktop UI strictly separate from mobile UI, by putting larger icons 
only on devices with touch screens. Because on touch screens the icons 
just have to be larger. That's for technical reasons: capacitive touch 
detection is not very precise. Much less precise than the older touch 
detection method, that was used before the iPhone.

The opposite strategy is to give the desktop UI also larger elements. To 
make the desktop look less cramped, and similar to what people have 
become used to see on their smartphones. Because using the same UI on 
all devices is nicer ("modern") and easier than having to switch between 
two different UIs.

Is it?

The first strategy is the one that Apple has decided to apply.
The second strategy is what Microsoft was following in Windows 8.

The result was an epic desaster for Microsoft. It was so bad that today 
just hearing "tile" or "charms panel" makes blood pressure go up.

The had to paddle back, completely redesign everything, and even skip a 
version number.

But even with less tiles and no charms bar, Windows 10 still is in many 
places a mixture of desktop (small elements) and mobile UI (large elements).

As result, Windows 7 keeps to be much more successful than versions 8 
and 10 combined. Even with growing market share for Windows 7. Whow!

Microsoft got all that pain for putting the same UI elements into 
Windows 8, which they had designed for Windows Mobile. To make both look 
the same.

Usually Microsoft does have the power to push into the market whatever 
they want, just by putting it inside Windows. Everything. Except larger 
UI elements on desktop computers.


Once capacitive touch gets better resolution, it will become possible to 
shrink the UI elements on touch displays. My prediction is that they 
then will actually shrink. The future is small icons, not large ones.

Copying large icons from smartphones to desktops, because it is 
'modern', means going in the wrong direction. We do not have large icons 
on mobile phones because it looks great or is better to use, we have 
them purely for technical reasons.

The Palm Treo keeps having the much better organizer functions than all 
todays smart phones. Because for example its calendar view can fit much 
more on one screen, eventhough the screen is smaller. And every item is 
precisely selectable. You cannot reproduce that much better UI on a 
capacitive touch display, because its display lacks the required touch 
precision. Todays smartphone users have no idea how much better a 
calender on a smartphone could be, if the screen did not have that 
technical limitation. Unfortunately capacitive touch is cheaper.

Please don't touch the desktop.

Klaus Hartnegg

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