Windows 7 device experience.

The device experience has been drastically altered in Windows 7 to make it easier for users to work with devices in the new Microsoft operating system. The Windows 7 Devices & Media Team has identified two key areas of improvement and has build a new device experience in Windows 7 build on that premise:

1.User experience features that define how people discover and use devices that are connected to their PC.

Connecting new devices to a previous Windows operating system was not always an easy task. While most could be used after connecting the device and installing the device drivers some required the installation to be the other way round to work properly in the operating system. Other problems that were identified included the presentation of devices in the operating system and access to configuration settings.We wanted to enhance the installation and configuration process by improving enumeration and display of device capabilities, presentation of devices, and access to configuration settings. We also wanted to create a discoverable and enjoyable way of accessing applications and services specific to a device.

From a design perspective, we determined the user experience should support finding and recognizing devices, discovering device capabilities and common tasks, and accessing support services and accessories. Also, the user experience should be natural and have a consistent work flow with little to no learning curve.

2.System and platform features that define how device makers present their devices and related services in Windows.

The value for device makers would come from simplified installation and deployment, clear brand association, prominent placement in the experience, and extensibility and customizability of the experience.

Two of the key features of the new device experience in Windows 7 are Devices and Printers and the Windows 7 Device Stage.

Devices and Printers let users see all connected devices from an option in the Windows 7 Start Menu. Microsoft got rid of modules and components that offer no value to the user and streamlined the experience to only display devices that the user can see (like printers, scanners, modems, routers and so on). Multifunction devices like Multifunction printers show up as a single device in Devices and Printers and not as separate devices like in previous Windows operating systems.
Device Stage is the second new key element in the device experience. It is here that users can interact with connected devices. Device Stage is accessed by double-clicking on a device in Devices and Printers.

Microsoft has created several guiding principals for the Device Stage in Windows 7:
Use your device in seconds: Plug in your device to your PC and use it right away.
Everything you need for your device in one place: Windows 7 makes the device the center of your experience.

Different devices have different usage patterns: A single interaction model doesn’t work for all devices.

It’s our partner’s device experience: Windows device experiences are the embodiment of our partner’s brand & unique device capabilities.

Use your device in seconds: Plug in your device to your PC and use it right away.
If you have ever connected a digital camera to Windows XP and to Windows 7 you may have noticed a difference. The digital camera is usually shown with its own drive letter in Windows XP. Windows 7 on the other hand will recognize the digital camera and offer to import photos automatically. Windows XP users who want that functionality usually have to install drivers provided by the hardware developer to create a similar experience.

What we did: The first thing we did was work to improve the reliability of the experience. To qualify for a fully branded Device Stage experience, devices must be certified to meet our minimum requirements. This usually means devices need to earn the Compatible with Windows Logo certification and that their drivers ship in box with Windows or are available from Windows Update. This quality check makes sure that the device is compatible with Windows and that it will have a good experience when connecting to Windows. In the document device case, an in box driver distribution program for printers, scanners, and multifunction printers provides a similar quality check, so it’s also a basis for certification.

The next step was to provide a device experience on connect. To do this, we added a “baseline” feature to Device Stage. When connected for the first time, a device that has opted to use the baseline feature has immediate support in Device Stage. The baseline device experience provides quick access to the core features of the device.
Finally, we needed to support an upgrade mechanism from the baseline to the custom device experience. As users work with the baseline experience, Windows 7 also checks online to see if the device maker has provided a custom device experience for the device. If available, Windows 7 downloads and installs it, and then offers the user the opportunity to upgrade. The result is an effortless first-connect experience-you plug in your device, and moments later you are interacting with a fully branded experience designed explicitly for you device.

Everything you need for your device in one place: Windows 7 makes the device the center of your experience.

The focus of the device experience in previous Windows operating systems was applications, not the device itself. Users needed to know which applications to use with their devices and there was only limited help available in the process.
What we did: In Windows 7, we flipped the device experience model on its head. Instead of making applications the focus of the device experience, we chose to make the device the center of attention. To improve discoverability, we created Devices and Printers within which every device connected to a PC appears. We also enabled device makers to provide photorealistic icons of their device to help customers recognize their device in Windows. If the device maker has opted-in to Device Stage, double-clicking on the device icon navigates to the device’s Device Stage window.
Improving device discoverability was just the first step. We still needed to provide an easy way to access the applications, content, and services for a device. This requirement led us to the model for making device tasks available from within the shell, along with partner customized services and links in a single Window.
Different devices have different usage patterns: A single interaction model doesn’t work for all devices.

Devices have different use patterns. Printers, routers or scanners for example are usually always connected to the computer system while mobile device are not. Mobile devices like digital cameras, mp3 players or USB flash drives are on the other hand heavily utilized when they are connected.

What we did: One example of a device-specific behavior is the behavior of Windows when a portable device connects to and disconnects from a PC. When you connect a portable device to the PC, you’ll notice that its icon automatically appears in the taskbar. Since the device is likely the focus of the user’s attention, this provides quick access to the device while it’s connected. Hovering over the device taskbar icon will show you its status, and right-clicking will display a jump list of its frequently-used tasks.

Placing the device icon on the taskbar helps discoverability and access to tasks while the device is connected – but what happens when it disconnects? Because portable devices come and go, we also wanted to make sure it was easy to remove a device from Windows. Disconnecting a portable device removes it from the taskbar and automatically closes all Device Stage windows, ensuring that the desktop remains clean and uncluttered.

It’s our partner’s device experience: Windows device experiences are the embodiment of our partner’s brand & unique device capabilities.

What we did: We provided a platform to enable the look and feel as well as the contents of the experience to be almost entirely up to the device maker. Device makers can develop custom tasks so that device experiences are specifically tailored to particular devices. Custom tasks could include links to product manuals, shopping sites for compatible accessories, and sites for getting technical support, or even online services that interact directly with the connected device.

Devices and Printers and the new Device Stage will have a huge impact on user perception and workflow. The new device experience makes it easier and more natural for users to work with devices in the operating system.

How is your experience with the new device experience in Windows 7 so far?

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