Super UserWindows annoyances
[+25] [71] guillermooo
[2009-07-16 14:12:32]
[ windows annoyances ]


[+49] [2009-07-16 14:23:08] splattne

How Windows Explorer decides to show your file lists. There seems to be no logic. "Music" folders if it finds a WAV [1] file, folders with one BMP [2] as thumbnail preview...


(7) This is indeed totally screwed up in my vista install, and I haven't found a way to restore that up until now. And no, "Explorer -> tools -> Folder Options -> View -> Apply to all folders" doesn't work... it did for me on XP, but not on Bista... I've recently changed to Windows 7 RC1 so I hope I won't have to deal with that again. - fretje
(typo) *Bista = Vista - fretje
The worst is that folders inside "Music" Explorer decides that are Pictures folder because it has a Folder.jpg file. Ridiculous - Eduardo Molteni
(3) The Music type is really easy to get. All you have to do is make a directory with nothing but .sql.gz files. - MiffTheFox
I second that @fretje... I CANT STAND how that just doesnt work anymore. - Optimal Solutions
[+42] [2009-07-16 14:57:14] cdenker

That the operating system is totally unaware of user activity, i.e. typing and will happily pop up a window over the top of the application that currently has focus, steal the focus and send your keystrokes to the new on-top app, sometimes with disastrous results.

That, and the mouse cursor should politely move aside when it obscures the active edit box.

(5) For your second annoyance: Control Panel > Mouse Properties > Pointer Options tab > Check "Hide pointer while typing". - T Pops
agreed in theory.. in practice it never seems to work, I have it enabled and my mouse cursor is right there ][ - cdenker
What program are you using? - Daniel A. White
IE, I think the cursor hide only works when the focus is a Winform edit control, which makes it only half useless/useful. - cdenker
(4) I suppose that's why download (and addon-install) dialogs in firefox start with buttons disabled the first few seconds - hasen j
(2) hasen j: No, this one is a securite measure to prevent user to click too fast and install some malware. A malicious link telling you to "doubleclick", where the second click would actually mean to install something. - liori
It happened for me once. An update was installing in the background; I was typing. When it finished, it asked me to restart. Certainly, the Restart Now button was focused, and I pressed Space exactly that time. - Nyuszika7H
[+37] [2009-07-16 14:41:46] Jamie Ide

The "There are unused icons on your desktop" notification.

There are random piles of paper on my real desktop too but no one nags me about it periodically.

(5) You can disable that, you know ( - fretje
This can be disabled either via the Display control panel, or in the registry. - Scott
(25) I've gotten nags about my random piles of paper. My manager told me to clean up my area because we had people taking a tour. I said to him, "So, you want it to look like I don't work here?" He said, "Basically." - Joseph
(1) I realize you can disable this, and there are workarounds for most of these annoyances. But that just defers the annoyance to having to disable something. - Jamie Ide
(7) Another workaround is to use the icons on your desktop. - T Pops
@Jamie Ide - disable your manager ? How do you do that ? - ldigas
(1) @Jamie: I take it you're not married? ;) - Charles Roper
(4) Dude, you should clean up your desk. A lot of those papers you probably aren't using. If you want me to, I can come to your workplace and place them in a manila folder labeled "Unused Desktop Papers". - Grant
[+34] [2009-07-16 19:10:16] jasonh

The Windows equivalent to Clippy:


I actually like the pup. Clippy I can't stand (WTF; a paperclip giving me advice how to do something ??! ) - ldigas
He is so slow and all those clicks obscure me getting to the options I'm trying to get to. If I want to dismiss him, I actually have to wait for him to walk away! - jasonh
(3) This one drives me batty! Tell me, has anybody ever used search to search for more than just files on the local filesystem? - Mark Ransom
(7) Assistant is gone in Vista, and in its place is a much faster, integrated search that I can't live without. And, yes, I use it to search email and newsgroup posts, and OneNote pages, etc. - John Saunders
And btw, it's IMHO completely unusable for proper searching, it often does not search in half the files I want it to, just because of the extensions or so. When I need to search within files I use - mark
(5) @Idegas: And you do trust advice from an animated dog ?? - fretje
(5) I hate how MS treats you like you're a complete imbecile who needs a friendly animated dog to "help" you. And when you manage to turn the little bastard off, they just can't resist getting in a little "walking away" animation! Grr. - Blorgbeard
(1) This blunder is summed up perfectly here: - sblair
(1) Kill that stupid dog permanently with one, easy registry edit:… - Neil
That's the dog from Microsoft Bob. - Brad Gilbert
You can kill that stupid dog in one easy step:… - Neil
[+34] [2009-07-16 20:16:41] Daniel C. Sobral

The one most annoying thing? That's a harsh limitation, man!

But I do have one answer, and I haven't seen anyone mention it. So, here it goes:

I HATE, HATE, HATE IT when Windows decides the windows I'm presently typing things on is no longer deserving the focus I gave it, AND CHANGES THE FOCUS TO SOMETHING ELSE ALTOGETHER!!!

I particularly hate it when this something else is a notification I'd need to pay attention to, and carefully select a reaction, but gets completely lost as it gets closed by whatever I was typing at the moment before I have a chance to even notice the focus change.


(1) Absolutely true. Ever entered sensitive data somewhere and whops it's in another dialog OR it the other dialog asked for something and because of your typing you instantly activated some action? - mark
(2) Stealing the focus is one of the smallest, yet most annoying things that can happen while you're using a computer. For all the work that's been done to make apps stop stealing the focus, it still happens way, way, WAY too often. - Keithius
(3) Particularly bad when the focus-stealer is the "restart your computer to apply updates?" and you accidentally trigger the restart because you're typing expecting focus in your original window. - Matt
Entering admin password > IRC/IM window pops up and steals focus > Password gets broadcast everywhere. And you might not even notice... - marcusw
[+29] [2009-07-16 14:43:07] Macha

Mac fanboys trying to "help" you by telling you to get a Mac. This was my experience when I had to use iTunes for my new iPod Touch. (iTunes on my PC is pathetically slow).

Me: iTunes is too slow on Vista. How is it lagging with 
CPU/RAM usage at less than 10%?
Fanboys: Vista is crap. Get a Mac.
Me: So their program isn't working, and you want me to fix it, 
by trusting someone who can't get a media player right to do 
hardware AND the OS aswell?
Fanboys: (Start calling me a MS fanboy).

(2) Mac fanboys isnt a feature of windows - barfoon
(1) No, but it something that annoys me when using Windows. - Macha
(13) You should get a Mac though - it's a lot better. - John Topley
(1) you forgot to "suggest a workaround/fix or indicate what you'd like to change." - umegastar
(1) @umegastar. That's because, short of shooting all Mac fanboys, there isn't one. - Macha
(1) -1 bad answer. You're supposed to bash windows and M$ in this question/thread, not Mac! =P - hasen j
(1) It's not a Windows feature, exactly, but it annoys me when people abbreviate "Microsoft" as "M$". - Grant
(7) There is one thing PC users can do that Mac users can't... - DisgruntledGoat
[+28] [2009-07-16 15:54:48] Neil

The lack of a decent shell. Windows users have no idea what they're missing.

Cygwin is good, but still doesn't compare to a full-fledged UNIX environment.

cmd.exe is a complete abomination.

I haven't used Microsoft Shell, or whatever it's called, but it's not deployed on Windows by default, so you can't rely on it.

One of the many reasons why Windows sucks.

(25) PowerShell is the one you're thinking of. And starting with 7, it is deployed by default. - person-b
Finally! Maybe I can actually use Windows for something other than playing games now. - Neil
PowerShell still suffers from a lot of the same issues that have plagued cmd.exe. In my opinion, it's not much better (unless you're a .NET programmer). - musicfreak
You can't be serious. What problems does it have inc common with cmd.exe? - John Saunders
(1) They invented Yet Another Language - user2499
cygwin's shell sucks compared to bash? That's odd, as cygwin's default shell is... bash. - derobert
I meant it sucks compared to the bash on a full-fledged UNIX environment. I've updated the answer. - Neil
This is so true, I've switched to python for my own automation scripts because cmd sucks so bad. - Bobby
[+25] [2009-07-16 14:22:02] Rob Hruska

Windows Update (in several versions) restarting my computer and closing all of my applications. I know it's configurable (in some ways), but when you've got a fresh install and you forgot to configure it, it's very annoying.

From the comments, here are ways to fix this:

(6) I hate it when it says "Restarting in 10 minutes, is this ok?" but you're AFK so it just does it anyway - tjrobinson
(1) And here's how you get rid of it on XP: - user2367
(1) Relevant question!… - Ryan Versaw
This doesn't happen in windows 7 as far as I know, or Vista for that matter. Time to upgrade from XP you people :p Vista has a message thingy, but it doesn't restart automatically and it can be postponed. - Svish
This is why you always save your work as you go. What if you had a power cut? Same result. - DisgruntledGoat
(4) As an addendum to this annoyance - when the little window pops up asking you to "restart now" or "later". When you're typing by the time you realize this window has stolen focus you've hit the necessary keys to initiate the restart. - Matt
@DisgruntledGoat - It's not about saving work. It's about having to relaunch the 15 applications that were open at the time of reboot. - Rob Hruska
We had a production server which was configured to do updates at 3 a.m. ... for some reason he wasn't able to do that and decided to do the updates at 11 a.m. including a restart NOW. None of our servers have automatic updates enabled since then...odd. - Bobby
[+24] [2009-07-16 14:18:00] Jonathan Sampson



More annoyances at [2]


(2) LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! (That makes more than 15 chars Atwood!) :-) - guillermooo
+1, this is a funny thing that always annoyed me :) - Amr ElGarhy
(14) Funny, but it's an Office annoyance, not a Windows annoyance - tjrobinson
You can call those from other apps. Saw a IronPython demo using them. - Dykam
-1, not windows, plus it's old (it's included in newer versions of office, is it?) - hasen j
guillermooo: it helps to add spaces ;-) - liori
see? - liori
@liori Not anymore - Macha
(1) OpenOffice still has clippy equivalents installed by default, even though Microsoft Office has got rid of it from the default. Work that one out... - Andrew Grimm
[+21] [2009-07-16 15:58:33] Jason S

The fragile, insecure, unmaintainable Registry.

(2) Registry entries can have access control lists on them. Is the registry insecure in some other way? - John Saunders
(7) Registry entries almost never suffer from syntax errors, unlike 1000 different config file types. I don't think it's any more fragile than Unix. - grawity
(1) I think perhaps the longstanding gripe with the Registry is that you need to use a special program to edit it, as opposed to be able to edit it using any text-editor. This was a concern when a misconfiguration could stop your computer from booting (had to boot from a floppy to fix it, and if you needed a special program to edit your configuration, then you were probably out of luck). Seems like it might be less of a concern these days though (what with bootable live CDs or USB memory sticks and such). - Keithius
(2) It's just way too easy to mess things up. Never mind the whole binary thing... you have all these COM entries which aren't localized, they're split among many different areas in the registry. Whereas ini files are localized, and I can back them up easily. I know enough about the Registry that I could probably mess up the OS operation beyond repair if I modified some of the keys. So I don't like to touch it at all. It just seems like a house of cards waiting to collapse. - Jason S
Where else do you propose to store config information, an ini file? - Chris
[+18] [2009-07-16 14:46:10] Nik Reiman

I've never understood why Vista seems to randomly decide which view to use when displaying my folders in Explorer. Sometimes it uses big icons, sometimes small list, and sometimes the actual preference that I picked of list + details.

And even then, it bugs me that the columns of the details are always so tiny, forgetting the sizes I've set for them, and hard to resize.

(3) I also hate when the columns are set for music (Artist, Album, etc) but I have absolutely no music files in that folder. - musicfreak
Yes, this is my #1 peeve about Vista. Practically everything about Windows Explorer is horrible. - DisgruntledGoat
@DisgruntledGoat: Check out Directory Opus 9 for a great Explorer replacement: - Lars Haugseth
[+18] [2009-07-16 14:40:47] fretje

The taskbar which doesn't support multiple displays.
Also the fact that I can't change the order of the applications on the taskbar with drag and drop for instance.

This can all be solved with a tool like Multi-Mon, but I find it annoying that this isn't included in the os by default.

(4) Please don't flag this comment, but the other day I read that the ability to move entries in the task bar is one of the new cool features of Win7. - innaM
(2) Couldn't agree more with this answer. When I found out this wasn't in Windows 7 I was baffled. - cowgod
In my version of Windows 7 (Pro, v 6.1 Build 7600 ) I can move open app Icons on the Taskbar to re-order them. - Clay Nichols
@Clay: Indeed, Windows 7 finally supports re-ordering app-icons, but the taskbar still doesn't support multiple displays, which was my main "complaint". - fretje
[+15] [2009-07-16 14:40:16] Drake

I am a bit maniac of have my files tidied up and delete unnecessary ones for this reason if think that automatic creation of Thumbs.db, used to cache thumbnails, is quite annoying.

You can find a workaround here [1].


(4) Those files aren't there any longer starting with Vista where the thumbnail cache lies in another location. - Joey
@Johannes Rössel: You're correct that Vista (and Windows 7) has a local thumbnail cache in the user profile directory. But, Thumbs.db files are still created on writable network shares. - Chris W. Rea
(1) @marco.ragogna: Your workaround provided is good for Windows XP. I just posted a solution I found for Vista and Windows 7. See - Chris W. Rea
(2) at least it is just one file, and not a whole folder like it is on mac os x. Also, if you don't like them you can just turn them off in the explorer properties. - Svish
[+15] [2009-07-16 15:50:59] chaos

That money they want me to pay for it.

(1) And the fact that the OEMs get it for so much less (so the profit margin on the retail version must be ridiculously huge). - Zifre
long live the linux - hasen j
(8) Yeah, people getting paid for their work is totally ridiculous... - Svish
(4) I'm happy to pay for the work done on building an operating system. I'm not happy to pay for the work done kneecapping competitors and removing my options through corporate lock-in. - chaos
[+14] [2009-08-08 18:37:57] Manu

What really infuriates me in Windows is the way you rename files.

Say you're editing video01.avi, renaming it to summer vacation 2007 - Italy.avi.

If the file can't be renamed when you press enter (ie Windows was accessing it to get its media info for example), then you get a dialog box saying "the file cannot be renamed", and the filename goes back to what it was ! Where's what you typed ? Gone.

Windows has been doing this for as far as I can remember. How hard would it be to show the error message, then let me copy what I typed ?

(5) Or just tell you straight away that it won't work. - Rich Bradshaw
[+12] [2009-07-16 17:03:30] Lance Roberts

The way that Windows Media Player 10+ treats USB drives.

It wants to do a sync everytime instead of treating it like a hard drive. I had to start using third-party media players after that upgrade.

[+11] [2009-07-16 14:40:29] Brad Gilbert

That the control panel changes every 5 years. Back in the Win9x days, I used to know where everything was. Now I need to think about where Microsoft has hidden everything.

(4) No need to think in Vista/7. Just type the name of it when you open Control Panel or directly on the start menu. - jasonh
(4) @jasonh: Vista changed the names of the elements from those of winXP. - Adriano Varoli Piazza
(2) Also, some of the Contol Panel things are dialogs, some are programs, and some are wizards. A distinction that didn't matter before, but of the 3, only programs can be launched by the command line/Vista start menu - Macha
@Macha: whay is this a bad thing? It means they can give you the best UI possible for the given control panel, and don't have to change them all at once. - John Saunders
I love the new control panel layout in Vista and 7. I cringe when I see people switch to Classic View. - cowgod
(1) The last time I used Windows regularly is back in the Win9x days. So it is annoying to try to figure out what they changed the name to. - Brad Gilbert
[+11] [2009-07-16 14:18:40] wikiti

Smug Linux / Mac users ;) or having to reinstall periodically, as it gets bloated after a while, is irritating.

How bloated it gets depends on how bloated you make it. I only have to reinstall windows after a while if I install lots of junk. - Svish
(1) Sandboxie solved that problem partially for me. I can test programs by installing them to a sandbox. Still gets bloated after a 'longer' while. - egon
[+10] [2009-07-16 14:37:07] Jason S


The crash dialog. If someone besides Microsoft wrote the program, why the hell do they need to know about it? And why do I have to repeatedly go through these dialogs? I'm always going to hit "Don't Send" and would like to disable it.

(11) You can disable it by going to System Properties (Win+Break, right-click My Computer->Properties), then Advanced, then Error Reporting. Choose "Disable error reporting". - person-b
Is it possible to disable that, you know ( - fretje
(24) Application writes can register to receive the notifications formwarded from MS. So it dose have use. - Richard
(1) It also helps application developers in finding the most severe issues which is a great thing to have when deciding on what to fix in what order. The other option would be to randomly poke around thinking of what to do as it was usually done in the late 90es. - Joey
@Richard: ahhhhhhh. Still, if I'm writing an application, why do I have to get Microsoft involved as a middleman? Why can't the application just register an email address with the OS directly? (user approval required at setup time, of course) - Jason S
This is actually something my mom was freaked out about just yesterday - Some installer crashed on her vista and this got her the notion that Microsoft is to blame. - shoosh
(1) @Jason S: one could think that, since you're writing the app to run on a MS OS, they are a middleman whether they want it or not. - Adriano Varoli Piazza
@Adriano: I bet that's exactly the reason. Can you imagine how many phone calls Microsoft must get a day from people thinking it's Microsoft's fault their favorite program crashed? That message has changed over the years to make it more clear which program is at fault. - John Saunders
(8) Microsoft has an entire Application Compatibility team that does in fact make your broken ass program work on their operating system. - cowgod
You can also disable the Error Reporting Service entirely, via services.msc. - EvilChookie
(1) Raymond Chen says (well, writes) that they've discovered a ton of worms and viruses that way. - grawity
"Add/Remove Programs"? Nah, in Vista let's call it "Programs and Features", just to tick people off by having it show up in a different place in the list now. Let's not even add any kind of placeholder in the old Add/Remove Programs position so that people can find the new one. Make 'em hunt through the whole list. - Kyralessa
[+9] [2009-07-16 15:35:52] Jason S

Windows neither provides internal mechanisms, nor encourages applications to provide their own mechanisms, to get a copy of text in a message box, list, or other display field.

I can't tell you how many times I've used programs that display important information, and there is no way to record that information for further use other than taking a screen capture.

edit: OK, so it's put up or shut up time. Here are a few examples, mostly from Microsoft products. I'm running Windows XP SP3. These were very easy to find, I think only one or two dialog boxes did have copyability.

A description of the programs/dialogs below (click on images to see full-size):

1 and 2: Microsoft Excel 2003. An error dialog and the about dialog have no ability to copy any text.

3 and 4: IE7: No ability to copy any text.

5: Windows XP System Properties: Only the user ID can be copied.

6: Firefox 3.5 about box: Only the user-agent string can be copied.

1-3: excel-error excel-about IE7-about

4-6: IE7-homepage system-properties firefox-about

(10) I believe Ctrl-C copies message box text to the clipboard. - Mark Ransom
I can't imagine what you're talking about. Most message boxes allow you to copy the text by click, drag, context menu->Copy. On Vista, many now have a separate "Copy" button. - John Saunders
Our company won't touch Vista with a 10-foot pole. Maybe Windows 7, once it's run through its paces and gets most of the bugs worked out. - Jason S
(4) Ctrl+C works in standard message boxes, but (in general) not for dialogs (e.g. an About dialog). - Peter Mortensen
@Mark That's nice to know! Thanks. - Nyuszika7H
Update: it copes [Window Title] for me in Win7 x64 when I type random things in Run and try copying the error message with Ctrl+C. - Nyuszika7H
[+9] [2009-08-09 00:59:03] Ryan

I don't know if this is still the case in Vista/7, but the following behavior infuriated me in XP:

  1. Click "Shut Down"
  2. Close the lid on the laptop
  3. Come back later
  4. Click the power button
  5. Laptop resumes... in the process of shutting down.
  6. Wait for laptop to finish shutting down
  7. Wait for laptop to come back up
  8. swear uncontrollably
  9. Install ubuntu

Steps 8 and 9 optional.

I usually do step 8 while doing steps 6 and 7. - Daniel
I've had that. All you need to do is wait until it says "Shutting Down..." then close the lid. - DisgruntledGoat
(2) Yes, but it should know that you just clicked shutdown, so to ignore the message from the lid closing. - Rich Bradshaw
Actually, Kubuntu does this as well... - marcusw
[+7] [2009-07-23 21:12:40] Gnoupi

The "file copy" system in general :

  • The lovely time estimations [1]
  • The fact you can't pause it (even if suddenly a heavy process started scanning all your harddrive...)
  • The "lose everything" cancel/errors

Edit : Apparently the "lose everything" is fixed in Vista and Seven, high time for me to upgrade :]


Also the fact it occasionally takes 5 minutes to copy one 2kb file for no particular reason. - DisgruntledGoat
This is fixed in Vista and 7. If you get an error, you have the option to skip the current error/decision and continue, or perform an action and apply it to all the subsequent decisions like it. - Chris
[+7] [2009-07-16 14:48:23] Zifre

The fact that it has to be different at no technical advantage. Newlines are \r\n? What's up with that?

(14) That's so logical... If you only had a \r (carriage return) you would be over-typing the same sentence over and over, if you only had \n (line feed) you would never return to the left margin. - fretje
(16) That's design decision actually dates back to MS DOS and back to CP/M before that and then even to Ye Olde Days™ of Teletypes, etc. It's not Windows that is different here, it's UNIX which inherited LF as line terminator from C. Many internet protocols also use CRLF. - Joey
(7) If you only had a typewriter instead of a computer. - Vinko Vrsalovic
(3) I understand the historical typographical reasons, but this is 2009! - Zifre
(1) And therein lies the problem with having close to 20 years of backwards compatibility to support. - p5ycho_p3nguin
(6) @Zifre: how many programs would you have us change, just to be like Unix? - John Saunders
Yes, like the weird decision to place the menu bar at the bottom (default, I know) just to be different from Apple. - Peter Mortensen
[+6] [2009-07-16 14:40:00] Jonathan Sampson

Confirm File Replace when Uploading to FTP - The Confirm Window gets hidden nearly all the time. You then have to click the blurred window, bring it into focus, press "Okay" and then the process can continue. Really annoying.

alt text

U wonder how much of the motivation for the Aero transparency was to alleviate this problem of dialogs covering other dialogs. - Clay Nichols
[+6] [2009-07-16 22:16:34] tsilb

The animated dog character in the Windows XP Search. Win-F should go straight to the list, and be a keystroke from the "all files and folders" option, which will of course default keyboard focus to the filename. Putting a dog there is useless, distracting, and it slows the whole thing down because you have to wait for it to animate sometimes.

(2) Also, once you get to "all files/folders", it's a more useable UI than the search in Windows Vista and 7. - tsilb
Couldn't agree more. I have given up on the find function and use the find function of a Norton Commander clone (FreeCommander) to search for files. It is also more powerful, e.g. excluding folders from the result list, ranges for time and file size (e.g. between 47 MB and 49 MB). The result list can also be exported to a text file. - Peter Mortensen
You should try the free software Everything ( It doesn't search inside of files, but is lightning-fast for a search by file name(even regexps). Now if I don't even bother to remember where my files are...I just type Windows+O and part of the filename. - altermativ
How about the fact that after you've told Windows you don't want to use an animated character, it actually animates the dog giving you a sad look and then leaving. It actually takes a second or two before the normal search dialog comes up. Comical. - Benjotron
@Benjotron: True, but I don't want comical in my OS. I want reliable and performant. - tsilb
Duplicate answer. - Andrew Grimm
[+5] [2009-07-23 22:45:10] GvS

Double click

Double clicking is a stupid "invention" copied from an OS (no names, but the logo resembles a piece of fruit that is left over after just one bite, must have been a very bad taste) with a mouse that only has one button. So they invented stupid stuff like double-clicking, to hide the biggest UI mistake that this company has made. (Current UI's by this company are very good, but not as good as their hype-creation skills).

And for some reason a mindless UI designer at Microsoft copied the double-click.

Ever tried to explain double clicking to users over the age of 70?

Starting with XP you can disable double-clicks, to prove that the world can be a better place without it.

I thought you could disable them even back in window 98 - hasen j
(2) I love double clicking ! - Manu
(6) the good news is that in 30-40 years, the 70-year olds of the future will know how to double click - shufler
(1) @Shufler - it's not just an awareness issue, it's a physical dexterity issue. the over 60 crowd often (in my experience) move the mouse while clicking and click too slowly. Slowing down the double-click speed does help. - Clay Nichols
[+5] [2009-07-16 14:16:10] digiduck

They need to be cleaned so much! This has accosted every version of Windows I've used. Although Windex works well for my "home version" of Windows, a regular (yearly) rebuild (reformat drive, reinstall all software) of my computer seems to be the only solution for the Microsoft branded Windows :P

(2) This is really only true if you install and uninstall a lot of applications, particularly ones that leave a bunch of junk behind in your registry and file system. I've been running Windows XP strictly for games and I haven't reinstalled it in over four years. It's just as fast as it was four years ago. - cowgod
(2) What is Windex? - Peter Mortensen
@Peter Mortensen: Something that doesn't clean Aero Glass. - bk1e
I'm planning to install anything I'm trying out in either Windows XP Mode (on Win7 Pro) or using some of the Sandbox apps that let you isolate a program. (See my post on SeverFault about Sandbox apps: - Clay Nichols
[+5] [2009-07-16 14:50:36] Scott

Activation. Deploying a large number of workstations was so much easier in the old days.

In my experience, activating the volume licensed versions of Windows Vista using KMS has been entirely painless and transparent. (Then again, I've never actually set up a KMS server; maybe that part's difficult.) - bk1e
[+4] [2009-07-16 22:28:24] Oscar Reyes

I don't like this in Windows, but pretty much applies to most common file managers.

If I'm working on a folder with some documents and I need to switch to a folder which is, let's say 10 nodes in the tree hierarchy, I most of the times end up opening a new Windows Explorer window.

Then I do what I need, and close one of them. 10 minutes later I need to repeat the operation and then I have to invest time into get on that folder again.

Using shorcuts doesn't help, because they don't scale.

Using a tabbed explorer is the (almost) the same, eventually I have to close the tab.

A workaround will be using some kind of search or history (like in a webbrowser) so I can easily and quickly jump from there.

Another annoyance is the file tree pane in Windows Explorer. Sometimes the tree can be very very large and then I get lost very easily.

The problem with alternative file managers is that I can't just install them when I move to another PC for a while, and my habituation gets broken.

[+4] [2009-07-18 00:10:15] fretje

The default windows file copy behaviour: if you start a copy of files, and then another one, Windows by default starts them independently at the same time. This mostly results in poor performance, especially when you're copying from or to the same drive.

Fix: I always install TeraCopy [1] which is a much better file copy handler. It adds the files you copy to a queue and handles that queue sequentially in stead of trying to multitask the different file copy tasks.


[+3] [2009-07-16 19:59:33] phsr

From using Mac OS X as my main OS: The inability to use the scroll wheel to scroll a window that is not in focus, but the mouse is hovering over. I got spoiled by this in Mac OS X, and I find myself constantly doing this. Like when I'm in Visual Studio (VS) and on my other monitor I have some reference open, and I want to scroll down, but keep VS in focus so I dont have to move my mouse back into VS or Alt+Tab back into VS.

In Mac OS X, I have my mouse over the reference, and focus on my text editor. I'll grab the mouse and scroll and then go back to type.

Seems minor, but very annoying to me. You don't notice it until you start using it.

You can have XP/Vista focus a window on mouse hover with TweakUI (XP) or TweakVI (Vista) if you like this behavior. - Nick
But that still makes me return focus to the text editor that I am working in. Thanks though!! - phsr
I use OpenBSD & Fluxbox and I do this same thing! - Earlz
[+3] [2009-07-24 01:51:55] Robert Cartaino

Most applications under 'Start' > 'All Programs' are labeled with the default "folder" icon.

You can't find an application "visually" in the start menu because most applications are listed in their own folder. The main application icon should propagate up to the start-menu entry.

alt text

And how would that work with your Games folder? - Svish
I beleive actually manages to get this right, or at least on Windows XP is does. - MiffTheFox
@Svish - Since your Games folder is actually a folder of games, the folder icon is appropriate. But when iTunes is labeled with the same generic folder icon because the folder contains "iTunes" and "About iTunes"... that's what I feel cripples the visual experience. - Robert Cartaino
[+3] [2009-07-16 14:43:22] person-b

XP's "Low Disk Space" balloons - they appear every two seconds for me. I have a small hard drive. I know. I've filled it with crap. I know. You don't need to tell me again and again.

Thanks for that! - person-b
[+2] [2009-07-16 14:26:28] Andrija

Definitely UAC in Vista.

Workaround: How to disable UAC [1]


(1) I have read somewhere that it's an annoyance by design, so software developers would write programs that do not need Administrator rights to do the smallest thing. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have affected them at all. - grawity
(2) Having used Vista since early 2007 and Windows 7 since early 2009 I can safely say that after the first two or three days of setting up the computer I rarely see more than one UAC prompt a week ... and then it's because I actually want to run something as Administrator (cf. sudo) - Joey
@Johannes: I agree with that concerning windows 7, but definitely NOT for vista... If I don't disable UAC there, it nags me daily! - fretje
I am wondering what you're doing there. I mean, I am working as a non-admin user ever since I used Vista/7 and I even have to type my password every time because of that. I still don't get them daily or even more often. Then again, I don't feel that obliged to poke aroudn in system internals every day or so. - Joey
(11) Downvote: Turning off UAC is a terrible idea. Don't do it. - Factor Mystic
@FactoryMystic Why? - Andrija
(1) UAC is there to save your bacon! It make you stop and think before you do something potentially stupid or harmful. - Bob King
(3) @Bob: Or you could just avoid doing stupid things. :) I've used Vista for a year now without UAC on and there's never been a moment where I wished I had it enabled. - musicfreak
(1) Oh no, this random program is wanting to do something?? Is it a virus or a key part of my system?? Well, let me just Google it and... HOLY LACK OF BEING ABLE TO ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING ELSE WHILE THE MESSAGE WINDOW IS UP, BATMAN! - MiffTheFox
(2) @Bob King: I agree, but only for users that don't know how to use mouse or how to use Notepad, UAC has to be turned ON. - Andrija
I actually get nervous when I don't see a UAC prompt, like in XP. - Chris
[+2] [2009-07-16 14:31:28] Bala

The very loud beep when setting sound. Have used to stop the beep. I can't say enough about how annoying that is.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you - lagerdalek
[+2] [2009-07-16 14:32:46] grawity

When I am unable to delete a file from my flashdrive because I have Ubuntu on dualboot, and I somehow created a file whose filename ends with a dot. (The del \\.\Q:\file.blah. trick doesn't work.)

[+2] [2009-07-17 14:03:55] Mr. Shiny and New

Windows Update: I hate the update dance you have to do whenever you re-install or otherwise require a bunch of update cycles.

Step 1: Windows Update: download Step 2: Windows Update: install Step 3: reboot Step 4: Goto Step 1

In Linux you can install everything at once. Just installed Fedora 9 from the original, virgin install media? No problem. yum update will install the latest packages of everything. It will take a long time to download, but that's OK.

With Microsoft, you have to download and install all the patches in the order they were released. Why, oh why, can't it at least download it all, and then just install->reboot->install->reboot->etc?

And it doesn't even matter if the 10th update in the cycle is a service pack, which ALREADY CONTAINS all the previous updates.


You can use an offline updater; see e.g. At least it works well for the second Tuesday of the month update. It will download everything at once. - Peter Mortensen
[+2] [2009-08-11 12:58:47] Manu

I dislike the fact that, in Windows, when I try to remove my usb key I sometimes get the message "the device is in use". Great.

On ubuntu, when I try to eject a removable disk, it finishes writing what it has to write, and then ejects it.

Windows just say "I can't do it. Screw you."

[+2] [2009-10-26 11:02:43] datatoo

The textbox for editing the Path in System Properties> Environment Variables is un-sizable, and virtually un-readable if there is anything already in your path.

If you are given the option to edit, then make the text viewable when you try.

[+1] [2010-02-10 05:48:29] Robert Cartaino

You know a service pack or a big update is going to take a long time to download/install, so you start the update and go to bed (to lunch, or whatever), thinking it will run all night.

You come back hours later to find that the update barely got started waiting for your to verify acceptance of the license agreement.

[+1] [2010-02-14 20:31:13] tsilb

All Windows OSs: Threading.

Threading has always been a huge problem for Microsoft. They're improving recently, but they have a long way to go.

When I'm in a window and I give it an input, that input should be the first priority above aeverything else that's going on. Except critical background timing stuff like network/audio/refresh/kernel thread timing control. Plenty of CPU left over.

Not just a Windows problem, I guess it's a problem with almost all Windows software. I just notice it more in Microsoft apps than others because the Microsoft apps are doing more in the background. But these background processes should never freeze the UI.

I propose a global thread marshalling system, which would handle all communications between the dedicated UI thread and all background threads. And all apps should have a dedicated UI thread.

[+1] [2010-03-17 19:36:14] Earlz

I didn't read them all, so forgive me if it's already been stated but I absolutely hate the Desktop contains My Computer idea. It's so stupidly backwards.

So lets see..

Desktop -> Computer
Computer -> C:
C -> Documents and Settings (or Users)
 -> someuser
 -> Desktop (?)
 -> This desktop has all my files but doesn't contain my computer or network places. wtf? 

[+1] [2010-03-17 19:46:49] Bryan

Dialog boxes that don't have buttons stating what their action is.

For example, "Click YES to continue or NO to exit", why not label the buttons with 'Continue' and 'Exit'.

p.s. and yes I know this is a limitation in the Microsoft libraries, but come on devs, it isn't that hard to create your own dialog box. p.p.s any yes, I do use a Mac at home :)

[+1] [2010-03-17 19:51:01] jburke

Windows UAC!!!

I don't care about windows UAC, i know what im doing i don't need to be asked 35 times if i want to install VLC player or any kind of program. I know it is useful for the less computer literate, but i CANT STAND IT. The first thing i do after a fresh install of windows that i will be using for myself is disabling it.

Start>Control Panel>Users>Change User Account Control Settings

[+1] [2010-03-17 19:52:47] Bryan

Not exactly specific to Windows, but it's very common on Windows compared to other systems...

Applications that are skinned. Media players, VoIP software and Instant Messengers are the worst culprits.

I want my desktop to look consistent. If I apply a theme on my OS, I want to see nothing but the theme that I choose. Don't force pointless gimmicky curvy windows on me, or colours I don't like, or non standard widgets that aren't obvious what their purpose is. Use the Microsoft APIs and make the application look like it should!

[+1] [2009-08-09 00:22:45] sippa

One thing that happened to me recently was when I was copying some files between two hard drives. Then I accidentally pressed restart somewhere (like Windows Update or something) and then the computer restarted while I was still transferring files.

I think it could at least ask one extra time when you're doing something important, like transferring files or installing something.

Although this doesn't happen very often I still think it's pretty annoying that the computer just lets you restart like that when it's moving files.

Another time (also pretty recently), my friend was moving all his important stuff to my external hard drive because he was going to install Windows 7 on his laptop. While we were waiting for the files to get moved we watched a movie, so then he closed the lid which made the computer go into sleep, and that almost got ugly, but it still managed to transfer all files when it woke up (it was extra scary because he didn't copy the files, he cut them).

So I think it would be good if Windows had some protection against doing stuff like that when files are moving.

[+1] [2009-07-16 19:50:16] community_owned

The delay associated with accessing other computers on the network. First, listing the computers or devices. And if you have authentication set up at all, expect nice long delays while it figures out you aren't in the same workgroup or domain.

This has been the case since Windows 95 and remains even through Windows 7.

There is no delay when you have a single master browser properly set up. But yeah, they really ought to make that work better. - derobert
[+1] [2009-07-23 21:25:07] community_owned

In-place file name editing in Windows Explorer.

  • Attempt to double-click a file but you end up doing two single clicks, putting you in rename mode
  • Now you must be careful to get out of rename mode without accidentally renaming the file.

Rename should not be quite so easy to access. Keystroke (F2), Edit menu, right-click menu are alternate ways to perform a rename.

What you mean is: The double-click should be forbidden. I run XP/Vista/W7 without it, and never have this issue. - GvS
It's a nice idea to make renaming easy, but it just gets annoying. Better way is to create a small button in the icon to enable renaming (similar to the checkbox that allows multiple selection as if you're doing ctrl-click). - hasen j
(1) What ? I use renaming in windows all the time, and I miss it in Ubuntu ! - Manu
[+1] [2009-07-18 00:25:49] AZ

My development machine has XP. When I have to do some testing on Vista and using Windows Explorer, I hate it that, backspacing takes you "back" and not "cd .." as I am used to in Windows XP.

That's because the "back" isn't an "up" button like in XP, it's "navigational" back, like a browser. - Chris
[+1] [2009-07-18 22:23:43] swamplord

The lack of virtual desktops. I tried some third party tools for virtual desktop support but none of them seemed to work well enough.

[+1] [2009-07-23 15:05:45] Jason S

No easy way (not that I can figure out, anyway) to export/import your window manager preferences. Every time I log on to a new lab computer at work, I have to go to Tools -> Folder Options..., then turn off hiding extensions, Use Windows Classic Folders, Display Full Path in the Address Bar; then I have to remember how I enabled Tab completion in the Command Prompt, and a zillion other little things.

Where are those settings stored ? In the registry ? It may be possible to create a .reg .... - Manu
like I said: no easy way. - Jason S
[+1] [2009-07-23 20:51:40] Jason S

Poor terminal software provided with the OS. There's this evil thing called Hyperterminal [1] which is dialup-centric and urges you to type in phone numbers and save different connections, when all you want to do is connect to a serial port; we've seen it have problems at our company with USB ↔ RS232 converters. And the Microsoft Telnet program doesn't connect to some sites, I forget what the problem was, could have been binary characters.


[+1] [2009-07-16 19:07:48] Lasse V. Karlsen

That you can't configure Windows to not allowing dialog boxes to be dismissed with the keyboard.

Sure, I understand that disabled people that can't or won't use a mouse needs to have a way to answer a dialog boxes, but please oh please, let me avoid having a dialog box come up with a question in the middle of me typing something, only to have my next space dismiss it with an OK response, to whatever it was it was asking me.

(3) The problem isn't the keyboard. The problem is Windows deciding to change the focus. - Daniel C. Sobral
Agreed, either way, it's mighty annoying when it happens. - Lasse V. Karlsen
(1) TweakUI can stop 3rd party apps from stealing focus. MS apps may not play be the same rules, however. - Nick
[0] [2009-07-16 19:29:59] scunliffe

The horrible delay when trying to delete a shortcut (favorite) in Internet Explorer. I've had this take literally 30 seconds to delete 1 link.

(1) IE is sad to see it go :-) - ldigas
(2) I won't be sad to see IE go though ;-) - scunliffe
[0] [2009-07-16 19:39:39] ldigas

This is not an annoyance, but more of a general principle.

For example, every time I install a new version of something (Microsoft software) I find new features in it (good !), but they're enabled by default, and they work completely different than the old ones. So every time, I have to go and turn them off if I want to have an old state.

I don't mind new features, security options and such, but not turned on by default. Or at least not without a very simple explanation how to turn them off (going through KB... articles and then through registry is not simple - it requires time and effort).

Nobody's holding a gun to your head to install the new version. (except when they are) - Ryan
@Ryan - I don't install anything new for a caliber less than a beretta's :-) - ldigas
[0] [2009-07-16 19:02:16] BCS

The styling. The default XP skin is IMNSHO UGLY! Vista and 7 are barely any better. And I'd rather have that (almost useless) last 2% of my CPU than burn it with all the blur and transparency effects.

[0] [2009-07-16 14:53:25] Axxmasterr

The worst annoyance with Windows is the virtual deluge of updates and patches required to keep the system working. I remember the Windows Genuine Advantage spyware issue that MS quietly settled out of court. They could slip something on your computer quite easily if they only wanted to do so.

[0] [2009-07-16 14:35:35] Tim Post

The first time I used Vista, I had to change to my back up ISP. No worries, I thought .. I'll just disable / enable the NIC so that it changes settings via DHCP.

After almost 30 minutes of looking for a way to do that, I finally just un-plugged the cable .. waited 2 - 3 minutes and plugged it back in again.

While this is a particular issue, things in general (in Vista) are not where you'd expect them to be.

(1) more like "where you're used to finding them". In any event, pulling the cable is the fastest way to do that even on legacy Windows or other OSes. No need to wait minutes, however, mere seconds are enough. - Joey
yeah same way if your computer is locked up just pull the plug its WAY faster than hitting the shutdown button!!!! - jburke
[0] [2009-07-16 14:16:06] kpoehls

Version: Vista x64
Problem: when Windows Explorer quits working.
Fix: at least minimize the occurrences. some reliability would be nice, this seems to happen at random (doesn't everything lol) when doing common tasks like browsing my folders/files in a Windows Explorer window.

any idea why this was voted down? - kpoehls
I didn't downvote but I'm going to venture to say that you're answer is too simple/general and you broke 2 of the only 3 rules the question-asker set. - T Pops
T Pops, you're right. thanks for informing me. I've updated my post to be more thorough & fulfill the requirements. - kpoehls
This is likely a problem with a particular program you are running or a hardware problem. I've been running Vista x64 for well over a year without a single explorer.exe crash. - cowgod
[0] [2009-07-16 14:25:11] umegastar

The XP start menu with too many programs and not organized at all. It gets unusable after a while.

Fix: use a launcher or other way to organize/launch the applications.

worse: ordered not by area, but by name of the vendor / product. - Adriano Varoli Piazza
Yet another reason not to use XP anymore. (As if there weren't enough :)) - Joey
Vista fixes this. I think Ive needed to click all programs once since Ive had Vista. - Macha
[0] [2009-07-23 21:03:13] Adam Bronte

On Vista I have noticed a bug where after saving a file to the desktop, I can't actually see the file on the desktop. But if I go to the desktop through explorer, I see the file is actually there.

[0] [2009-07-19 03:04:10] Babu

The lack of virtual desktops [1]. After using Linux with 4 desktops, I got spoiled, and now frequently have too many windows to fit on just one.


[0] [2009-07-18 00:17:07] Oscar Reyes

Windows Explorer: I have to "click" too much to get to a certain folder which is very deep. I really hate that.

F6 to focus on location bar, it has auto completion (use down arrow to select match). - hasen j
[0] [2010-03-17 19:42:05] Earlz

One of the more annoying problems is how Windows every time I start up warns me about how "my computer is insecure." Just because I don't want to use their crappy firewall and OK every single application that possibly needs network access. It's ridiculous.

[0] [2010-03-17 19:24:44] hagope

XP => Can't get the time to adjust automatically...doesn't sync with, after the time change I'm still stuck an hour behind!

[0] [2010-02-10 06:14:12] Benjotron

Spaces in important default system paths:

  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office
  • C:\Documents and Settings\Rita and Justin\My Documents\Folder of cygwin projects you will never get to run\

Not only are the names long and unwieldy, it turns command line paths into a mess of "C:\Program Files\" which turns into a mess of \"C:\Program Files\" or /cygdrive/c/program\ files/ once you move over to any sort of linux or cygwin based tool. I don't mind the ABILITY to have spaces in file and directory names, but FORCING it on every installed machine ever is just annoying. It makes me long for the days of C:\Progra~0.

This was bad in XP. Windows 7 has done away with most spaces with C:\Users\Tony\Documents style paths, but still has the Program Files name by default. The "Files" is's a file system!

Fix: You can change the system paths to C:\Programs and C:\Documents\ with some convincing, but good luck moving all your installed programs and settings without reinstalling EVERYTHING. You can also try using links or equivalents to point to the long path, but support for this varies. Perhaps there is a utility that I don't know about?

[0] [2009-08-08 21:58:17] Bob Weber

The lack of so many Windows management features that are available under KDE.

Things like:

  • Multiple desktops
  • Keep Above Others
  • Shade Windows
  • Focus Follows Mouse
  • Center Button Paste
  • etc...

[0] [2009-08-11 13:54:41] DisgruntledGoat

I really hate how every app you install creates its own folder in "All Programs" in the Start menu. Traditionally most apps added the program launcher, help file and uninstall link - the latter two are pretty useless really.

Actually the really annoying thing is all these programs now with auto-update keep adding the folder back after I've moved the launcher and deleted the folder...

It would be much better to list apps in categories - Ubuntu does this and it works great! Vista added a "workaround" by allowing you to type program names but it would still be much better to categorise programs.

[0] [2009-08-11 14:11:04] Matt

I have a tablet running Windows XP Tablet Edition. It's gone through a couple of completely fresh installs - both from the latptop restore CD and from an OEM disc. But, for whatever reason, this computer always pops up the "Connected to wireless network" bubble in the bottom right hand corner/system tray when I boot or come out of standby/hibernation. The problem, though is IT DOESN'T GO AWAY unless I click on it. Every other XP box I've used will popup the notice, and then it goes away a few seconds later. But for whatever reason, this one always requires an action on my part. Annoys me every single time.

[0] [2009-08-12 21:09:11] pavsaund

Windows verify unsigned driver dialogue

This is something that really get's to you after a while, unless you disable it [1].

Verify unsigned driver


(1) Faulty drivers being the first cause of BSOD, I can understand why such "warning" is needed. Of course, most people here know what they do with their drivers, but not everyone does. Not something bothering in my opinion, unless, of course, you reinstall your drivers 10 times a day. - Gnoupi
[-3] [2009-07-16 14:54:32] Stefano Borini

The lack of compatibility/support for many important (for me) Linux and OSX apps.

Don't laugh. In my job, Windows is irrelevant.

Cygwin? CoLinux? I agree with you though... - Zifre
Cygwin is indeed a possibility. I had very positive experiences with it, but in any case it does not sport the full fledged flexibility of a linux distro. - Stefano Borini
(2) I could say the same for Linux and Mac OS X... - musicfreak
@musicfreak: Yes, but the question specifically says "in your opinion". - Stefano Borini
Well it works backwards too, so you just have to go with the OS with the most working apps. - MiffTheFox
Uhh.. why don't you just use Linux? - Oscar Reyes
I do, but as I already said, the question ask what is the worst Windows annoyance in my opinion, and that is my opinion, for my experience, usage patterns and requirements. Of course your opinion will be probably different, but this is orthogonal to the question being asked. - Stefano Borini