Regional Options is not intuitive (Duh!)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2004/12/13 02:31 -05:00, original URI:

I was saying it before I started working on the team at Microsoft that owns it. I said it when I owned the UI myself. And I still say it today:

Regional Options is not intuitive UI.

The literal-minded, anal-retentive freaks like to correct me; they point out that the name has changed and isn't that an improvement in usability? To them, I say:

Regional and Language Options is not intuitive UI.

For years I had a web page put together that was designed to point out what often ended up being the important pieces related to problems people were having. It took the position that most people (once they understood the UI) would laugh at the people who had problems after them. Even if those were the same problems that they themselves had when they knew less. It was in a very irreverent style, and although lots of people liked it, I did get some flame mail about it as well.

Irregardless, I will now post the article here in the (more visible) blog, as well as a new one for Windows XP and Server 2003 (you are welcome, Ted!). The style of each is a little different, but they are both a bit less polite than they ought to be....

If you think that such a writing style will not appeal to you, then you should probably skip both of them.

The articles are:

For Windows 2000:

For XP/Server 2003:


# Dean Harding on 13 Dec 2004 2:01 PM:

Your pictures in the Windows XP/2004 one all reference "file:///C:/TEMP/images/image1.jpg", etc :-)

# michkap on 13 Dec 2004 2:19 PM:

Duh -- that was stupid. Ok, the images should work now....

Sorry about that, folks.

# Mike Dimmick on 17 Dec 2004 1:10 PM:

This dialog pisses me off because it makes me specify the same information in three places - that I'm in the United Kingdom, dammit, not in Seattle. Here in the UK we get the Worldwide English discs which all default to 'English (United States)' for language and keyboard, and the Pacific Standard Time time zone.

It's hardly surprising that a great number of the systems in the UK have the system default locale (language for non-Unicode programs) set to 'English (United States)'. This plays merry hell with any applications written correctly, i.e. to use standard locale-aware format strings, because the answers always come out wrong if you run the software under a system account. It happens because the setup UI for telling the system where you are is too hard to configure.

We used to see a lot of systems configured with Pacific Standard Time, but that's mostly gone away due to the enabled-by-default Windows Time service (w32time) in Windows XP and Server 2003. Previously it caused problems on the one week each year when we're in Daylight Savings and MSFT isn't - people would complain that their clocks were off by an hour.

# Michael Kaplan on 17 Dec 2004 1:32 PM:

Mike, I completely agree with the reasons you are pissed off, though perhaps not the target. After all, the dialog only displays the SKU's choices, it does not dictate them.

Blaming Regional Options for that is like holding Ronald McDonald responsible for a Big Mac that did not turn out well....

With that said, I somehow doubt that the biggest market for the International English edition would be the US, which makes US settings for it seem like a bad decision to me.

One small technical correction -- the default system locale setting is not one that the system account runs under, so that setting should have no effect on such software. I'll be doing some future topics on this issue....

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2005/04/15 When a user sets something. please assume they meant it

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