Windows 7 FAIL

January 16, 2011

[tl;dr: I try to not hate Windows, and it undermines my plan… yet again]

Most of us have a Windows installation lying around somewhere because they need it every now and then for some quirky application that won’t run in Wine. So I also have a Windows 7, which I got for free via MSDNAA, sitting around on a separate partition for these cases. As I noted in 2010 in this blog, Windows 7 is not as awful as the previous Windows releases. At times, it’s even fun to use.

But then, they’re showing you the meaning of the phrase “over-simplified user interface” again: Windows 7 removes the ability to set different wallpapers per screen. Okay, wouldn’t be so awful for an installation used so seldomly, but then this: Even when you set it to “Scale to screen size”, it will scale the image to the size of the smallest screen, and reuses this (small) image for all screens.

So I’m sitting here, at a Full HD monitor with a wallpaper as small as 1440×900. Yes, that’s awfully small when surrounded by black borders.

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22 Responses to “Windows 7 FAIL”

  1. Frantisek Augusztin Says:

    I know, it’s paid app, but i use this to solve this problem : http://www.displayfusion.com/

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      Windows surely has a long-standing history of third-party apps fixing the base system in a hackish way, like third-party virtual desktop apps or drivers adding multitudes of features that the OS is supposed to implement.

  2. nobody Says:

    after two hours of trying to get windows 7 to install from a usb drive it told me my graphics card was broken and 3d was turned off – the only reason i installed it for. Thanks a lot bill.

    Now im back to running XP in a vm – the only place where an OS from redmond belongs.

  3. Keith Rusler Says:

    Or how you can’t have a taskbar on both monitors. Or how the Windows taskbar is just plain nasty like when you have a pinned application it will be small next to one that’s open and if you have an opened app it doesn’t push that to the far left. It looks and feels like a crappy knock off of Mac’s taskbar.

    Also where’s the virtual desktop?

  4. mat69 Says:

    That is a good reason to hate an OS …

    If that is your only problem with Windows 7 then you should switch full time to it!
    I have larger problems with any OS — including Linux + KDE — I have used than that.

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      Sure, that’s right (says someone who did hardly read any mail for two weeks because KMail was broken).

    • noughmad Says:

      One difference is that with Linux or KDE, you can usually do something about the problem. Change a configuration here, install an additional package there.

      With Windows, you have no such option. Either it just works, or it just doesn’t, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  5. Marand Says:

    I’ve had problems with this, too. It’s annoying, but I never really tried to find a fix, since I don’t use my Windows partition often enough for it to be worth the trouble.

    Funny enough, I was wrestling with KDE over multiple displays yesterday, though not over something as trivial as setting wallpapers. Back in the KDE3 days, I used to use separate X screens without a problem, but now it seems all but impossible to do nicely because of Plasma. Plasma-desktop refuses to run if it’s already running on another display, and the only way I found to work around it was to run plasma-netbook on the second X screen and modify it to look and act like a normal desktop.

    I eventually went back to a seamless desktop configuration, which is more common and apparently better tested. I was mildly annoyed, but I realised that was a good sign: it means I expected KDE to just work and was surprised when it didn’t. It means desktop Linux has reached the point where I can get annoyed at odd things not working as expected, rather than being annoyed about basic functionality being lacking.

    Most of my basic functionality complaints these days are directed at Windows. Though I agree that 7 is better than older releases, it still feels like it’s missing a lot of features that I take for granted with Linux and KDE, and the features that get added seem half-baked, like the weak kioslave-esque functionality they added to apps like notepad.

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      @multiple displays: AFAIR Aaron wrote multiple blogs about this topic. No dev is running a configuration with separate X screens, which means that no or only few testing can be done for these configs.

      • Marand Says:

        I remember seeing something about the devs not having that sort of configuration, now that you mention it. I’m not surprised, since seamless is usually more convenient in almost all cases and KDE handles it very well; there’s not much reason to use separate X screens any more. In fact, the only reason I was trying to do it was because I wanted to work around some strangeness with Nvidia’s proprietary drivers when used with three or more monitors. (One of my only problems with Nvidia’s Linux support)


  6. Ok, I don’t know what universe you’re from, but unless you install 3rd party software, you were never able to set a different wallpaper image per monitor in Windows.
    and as far as it not scaling for your larger monitor? Check your settings. I’ve never had that issue in Windows, even in 7. =/

    • Stefan Majewsky Says:

      Google brings up multiple instances of this issue (I think I linked one). Also, I think to remember that XP had that setting, although this might be wrong, and I cannot check this anymore.

      • Marand Says:

        If I remember correctly, you usually couldn’t set separate wallpapers in XP without a third-party app. I think some video card drivers hacked in support for it, but it wasn’t a feature of XP.

        (It’s been a while, so I could be wrong, I’ll admit.)

      • TheBlackCat Says:

        This definitely was not possible in XP without 3rd-party apps.

  7. Angel Blue01 Says:

    Strange, I’ve never seen a way of getting a different wallpaper on each monitor, nor does Windows stretch the wallpaper to the lowest resolution. Even in Win2000.

  8. MrS Says:

    There were a few fixes that I remember encountering (e.g. using the Active Desktop on XP), but most of the multi desktop woes in Windows tend to be solved by the video card manufacturer. NVidia has utilities to set individual backgrounds and even a second taskbar, as does ATI.

  9. aurelix Says:

    Not possible on WinXP either. However there is an easy solution:
    * open image editor of choice
    * create image with size of combined Desktop
    * insert desired background images at the right places
    * save, set as background image.

    Wish every windows problem was solvable that simple…

  10. maninalift Says:

    Recently I have mostly been living in Windows (7 and XP). My experience is boils down to:

    (Windows) Most of the time you just get on with your work, every now and then something crops up that is infuriatingly awkward to use.

    (Linux + KDE) Most of the time you just get on with your work, every now and then something crops up which is a real joy and pleasure to use.


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