Microsoft claim that their UAC security prompts in Vista are designed to annoy you. I’m trying hard to take them seriously and to not laugh them off… but did they really think it’d work? OEMs and users have been disabling it in droves. Other users have probably taught their muscle memory to automatically click the Continue/Allow button without the slightest acknowledgement or thought. I think Microsoft need to get their act together when it comes to UIs. Some of their recent efforts have been frustratingly inconsistent.
A major reason given by Microsoft in their UAC scandal was to encourage developers to avoid privilege elevations as much as possible. A noble cause, especially in the security-inexperienced world of Windows development, albeit poorly executed. It reminds me of Apple’s perpetual opposition to the multi-button mouse. One stated reason is to enforce more ‘sane’, ‘usable’ and consistent UI design, and overall I think they’ve done well. They don’t ban multi-button mice (‘XY-PIDSes’?), but given the simple one-button default there’s less need for them. I might prefer using a conventional 3-button scroll mouse, or even Apple’s own Mighty Mouse (a cleverly-disguised multi-button mouse), but I don’t lose any functionality by not using them.
It goes to show how much the graphical interface can be influenced by its physical input, something a lot of us don’t acknowledge in today’s world of >100-key QWERTY keyboards, multi-button mice and multi-finger touchpads. The real innovation in that space seems to be happening in the mobile and embedded sector, the iPhone being a good example. Players of games on both desktop computers and games consoles might notice the difference in ‘look and feel’ between games designed for keyboard/mouse versus control pad. Particularly for action and strategy games, ports from desktop to console (or vice versa) often aren’t successful. The software was designed with the assumption of particular input devices, and anything that deviates from this will also alter the feel of the game.