#2041 Installer violates UI norms, clutters Start Menu

Installer (56)
Aren Cambre

In Windows:
1. You use the Start Menu to start programs or access things not available in programs.
2. You use Control Panel to uninstall programs.

See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/The-Start-menu-overview for reinforcement, but it's been this way since at least 1995 (Windows 95). http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa511447.aspx#files says: "Don't put shortcuts to the following items on the Start menu: ... Program uninstallers. Users access uninstallers through the Programs control panel item."

WinMerge is violating this paradigm with its Start Menu uninstall shortcut.

Please only put a shortcut to the WinMerge program in the Start Menu. If you do this, you don't even need a WinMerge folder in the Start Menu, eliminating a "dry click".


  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-09-28

    Yes, that seems really a little bit old school.

    I added a patch, that add least reomve the uninstall icon from the start menu.

  • Aren Cambre

    Aren Cambre - 2010-09-28

    Thank you! Would love to see it further improved by moving the WinMerge out of its own Start Menu folder. That way it'll "just appear" when you go to the Start Menu, just like Wireshark, Pidgin, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Inkscape.

  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-09-29

    The patch looks good., Uninstalling item was added years ago when it was common to have those items. I've thought about removing it few times but always forgot it.

    I don't agree with removing the start menu folder. What harm it causes to you, it only allows faster access to documentation etc. Seems many programs have both icon in programs area (or whatever we should call it) and start menu folder with links to documentation etc.

    It should be also remembered that we still support e.g. W2K where start menu behaves quite differently than in Vista or Windows 7. And even Windows X has great problems in sorting/arranging longer menus...

  • Aren Cambre

    Aren Cambre - 2010-09-29

    A few comments:

    First, documentation and web site links also don't belong in Start Menu. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa511447.aspx#files. All documentation should be accessible through the program's own Help menu.

    Second, it does not allow faster access to documentation. UI norms, and probably almost everyone's conditioning, is you go to the program's Help menu or consult Google for all documentation needs. Why would I want to surf the Start Menu for documentation?

    Third, Windows 2000 is completely unsupported by Microsoft as of July 2010. See http://support.microsoft.com/ph/1131. Are you really making product design considerations simply to support that dead OS, that almost nobody runs anymore? You're probably targeting the same demographic as w3schools.com, and their latest numbers show 0.4% on Windows 2000. Of that tiny group, what percentage of the readings are really erroneous or faked?

    Fourth, Windows 2000 and Windows XP do support icons in the Start Menu that are outside folders.

    Fifth, putting your icon outside a folder puts you in very good company. Other programs that use best practices and just put one folder-less shortcut in the Start Menu: Wireshark, Pidgin, Internet Explorer (unless you're on x64, where there's 2 IE links), Apple Safari, Tweetdeck, Inkscape, Adobe Reader.

  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-09-29

    So you just want to have everything by the letter of some guidelines. Welcome to reality..

    Documentation link has been in start menu for years, it does not bother anybody in there. But removing it means people used to open it from start menu cannot find it anymore.

    I don't care a bit what MS supports. I care what users are using. That is, I care about users.

  • Aren Cambre

    Aren Cambre - 2010-09-29

    Sorry, but there's nothing user-centric about cluttering up the Start Menu, hiding WinMerge in a folder only to support this clutter, providing multiple access points to the same content, and not following UI norms.

  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-09-29

    Right. If somebody sends patches - fine.

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-01

    Ok, even the “Designed for Microsoft Windows XP” Application Specification says that you do not place shortcuts to documents, such as Readme files, in
    the Start menu.

    "F1.1 Install shortcuts correctly

    The Start menu is designed to give users easy access to launch
    applications. Usability studies show that when the Start menu and/or
    Windows Desktop become too cluttered, users have a very difficult
    time finding and launching their programs. This leads to a bad user


    * If any additional shortcuts beyond the main executable are
    required to be on the Start menu, then these should be
    placed in a subfolder using a <publisher\product> hierarchy.

    That is, there would be only one entry on the Start menu for the
    publisher and under that entry would be folders for each product.
    Place any required ancillary functionality in this product folder,
    including shortcuts to: the main executable, the Readme file, web
    site access, update mechanism, uninstall, and so on.

    * Although many items may be placed in the product folder on
    the Start menu as described earlier, the best practice is to
    avoid putting most items on the Start menu:

    * Do not place shortcuts to documents, such as Readme files, in
    the Start menu.
    If you have important information that the user should see,
    consider displaying that information during the install process
    or on the help menu of the application.

    * Do not put shortcuts to help files in the Start menu. Users can
    access Help after they launch the application.

    * Do not place shortcuts to remove the application in the Start
    menu. It is not needed because your application’s uninstaller
    is in the Add or Remove Programs Control Panel item."


  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-10-01

    Guidelines have their own purpose and use. But they can't change what people are used to do. And MS has been changing way they expect people to use software quite often. Like this new ribbon thing which causes people don't know how to save documents (I've seen this happen several times to my coworkers).

    My point is exactly this - if we *REMOVE* links to documents then users won't find them from the same place they've used to find them. It is hard to change your muscle memory. It requires re-learning things. If WinMerge was new application it would not bother so much but the links have been there past 10 years.

    And trying to argue with hand-selected list of applications following the guideline is pointless. I have many applications installed which have document links in start menu. So there goes the consistency argument too. It won't help users looking documents from same place than other apps they've used to find them to say "yes, but we are according to MS guidelines!".

    We can remove the documents links in trunk. But not for 2.14 release.

    Just to have some reference:
    - my new Canon printer installed even own documentation start program group!
    - Google Chrome adds uninstall link
    - Itunes installs 'About Itunes' -link
    - Microsoft Visual Studio 2005/2008 installs documentation link - I quess MS developers don't know MS guidelines...
    - VLC installs several dociumentation links
    - WinRAR installs documentation link
    - WinSCP installs documentation links

    And thats just few most important programs I'm using.

  • Aren Cambre

    Aren Cambre - 2010-10-01

    "...MS has been changing way they expect people to use software quite often."
    MS has been consistent on this Start Menu organization for years.

    "My point is exactly this - if we *REMOVE* links to documents then users won't find them from the same place they've used to find them."
    Seriously, who references documentation or uninstall from the Start Menu anymore? Those familiar with Windows UI conventions already know:
    -documentation = product Help menu or Google search
    -uninstall = Control Panel

    Creating non-standard access points to these features just confuses users.

    "I have many applications installed which have document links in start menu."
    If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?
    If you see a thief steal candy, does that make it OK for you to steal candy, too?
    Sometimes we need a leader to do the right thing. Please make Winmerge one of those leaders.

    I've already reported the inappropriate Start Menu usage to Google Chrome and WinSCP maintainers:
    -http://winscp.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=32179 (just posted it now!)

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-01

    As Windows 7 user I like the idea to remove the WinMerge start menu folder and use only WinMerge icon at the root start menu. The menu is designed to type for your programm. You start typing "Win..." and the menu show you the WinMerge entry. On this way you will never see the readme from the WinMerge menu folder. (Of course you can still select the menu folder with the mouse.)

    And I never use the start menu folder at Windows XP. The desktop and quicklaunch icons was much faster. ;-)

    Big players like Adobe and Mozilla (Firefox and Thunderbird) link only to programs and I think we should do this too.

    As compromize we could remove for WinMerge 2.14 only the uninstaller and remove the complete startmenu folder only at Trunk.

    I added a patch for this at this item.

  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-10-01

    > Seriously, who references documentation or uninstall from the Start Menu
    > anymore?

    Users who have done it past 20 years already. As much as you talk and wish for it it won't change the behavior of users.

    > Creating non-standard access points to these features just confuses
    > users.
    It is not standard, it is guideline by manufacturer. Guidelines are suggestions or best practices for how things should be done. Standards define how they must be done.If it were standard then it could be even enforced by preventing adding additional items by the installer. Which would break lots and lots of software and hence it can't be done.

    WinMerge is not and won't be the model citizen, we have a lots of legacy we need to maintain. If we were creating a new application then we could try to follow all the latest guidelines.

    Just found out that MS Works also adds documentation link to start menu. So like already mentioned even MS own applications don't seem to follow these guidelines.

  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-10-01

    We have bigger troubles than start menu for Windows 7 (like 64-bit versions)... And we still need to work consistently for older Windows versions. So we won't be optimizing for Windows 7 now.

    Yes, I already agreed (but that got lost in the discussion) that we can remove the uninstaller. That is not so important. But we'll keep the documentation for 2.14.x. We can change these things for WinMerge 3.x later on. But WinMerge 2.x it is better to maintain consistency for users.

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-02

    Ok, I committed the patch to remove the uninstaller shortcut to Trunk (In Revision 7292).

    Should I also commit it direct to Branch R2_14?

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-02
    • milestone: --> Branch_+_Trunk
    • status: open --> open-accepted
  • Kimmo Varis

    Kimmo Varis - 2010-10-02

    Yes, fine for 2.14 branch too,

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-02

    Committed to Branch R2_14 (In Revision 7293)...

  • Tim Gerundt

    Tim Gerundt - 2010-10-02
    • status: open-accepted --> closed-fixed

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