Microsoft Windows Vista breaks common keyboard usage patterns

If you’re like me and you prefer the keyboard over the mouse then you’re likely to find Windows Vista as frustrating as I do. I can’t believe some of the keyboard patterns that Vista has completely busted. For example, on the common open file dialog pressing Shift-Tab from the File edit box leaves you on the column header of the listview like this:

Vista open file dialog

[UPDATE] Pressing ESC from here fails to dismiss the dialog!!!

At this point, pressing Enter does this!

Vista open file dialog

What the hell?? After Shift-Tab you have to press Shift-Tab again to focus the listview. Who decided making the listview columns into a tab stop was a good idea? But this is just scratching the surface, the Vista Explorer is another can of worms.

Below is a screenshot of the Vista Explorer right after I launched it, what has the keyboard focus? Pressing tab lands you at #1 then consecutive tabs take you through the rest of the backwards tab order. Based on the file open dialog I’d have expected to go from the column header to #8 but instead it jumps backwards and to the upper left corner!

Vista Explorer tab order

There there’s the sublte stuff like this for focus difference

Vista tab focus

This one is focused.

This one is not.

The next problem I struggled with for a bit was our build not working. During our build process we run gacutil and register a number of assemblies but I kept getting:

RegAsm : error RA0000: An error occurred while writing the registration information to the registry. You must have administrative credentials to perform this task. Contact your system administrator for assistance.

But what about???

Well, that’s just not enough. You have to right click the 4NT icon and select:

Which invariably lands you here:

By the way, I had to switch to using Remote Desktop just to get a screenshot of that dialog because PrtScn doesn’t work when you’re locked into a UAC confirmation.

That about wraps up my first hour in Vista and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

6 thoughts on “Microsoft Windows Vista breaks common keyboard usage patterns

  1. I’m glad I’m not alone to find Vista extremely annoying in certain area. Another one I can’t shut my trap about is Windows Explorer.
    Explorer in Vista is buggy (much more than XP’s), diluted and poorly implemented.
    The most annoying problem I’m having is simply expanding directories over network shares. Pressing on the small arrow to expand a directory will have Vista look in each subdirectory and enumerate ALL FILES in them!
    I found that out using SysInternal’s Process Monitor. So if you have directories with tons of files in them, get ready for huge delays, several minutes in my case.
    There’s my rant. Part of it anyway 😉

  2. Hi Steve,
    In itself, puting focus on the Header Bar is not a bad idea, since Vista is the first version that actually allows the reordering of a ListView by using the keyboard alone. If I want to do the same in XP, I have to use JAWS’s mouse emulation to wander around the screen, find the header bar and click the column I want.
    But the fact that the tab order and reverse tab order are totally messed up is something that I also found very annoying when first playing with Vista.
    I’m sticking with XP for the time being.

  3. I have been having just as many problems as Steve doing COM work on Delphi. Windows Vista is a new and interesting world that I don’t know I will ever get used to or like. I just posted a blog entry on my blog about COM registration and some of the problems there. It sure ain’t fun.

  4. Yet another reason why CodeGear should seriously start thinking about Mac OSX in its future plans. With Mac’s magnificent multimedia support, releases every year, reasonably priced software, a search feature that works (SpotLight), etc. You may see more and more people coming on board with Macs and leave the PCs to Gamers and Corporations.

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