back to article Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file

From the department of Just Because You Could Doesn't Mean You Should comes the arrival of a CSS library to transport your HTML pages back to the world of Windows 98. While retro websites are all well and good, replete with banners and whiffy HTML, software engineer Jordan Scales found himself with a bit of time on his hands …

  1. Peter2 Silver badge

    You know, given a choice between a Win98 GUI and a TIFKAM GUI i'd be quite interested to see what the users would pick to do work with.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The emergency stop on this machine tool is a big red button on the front - it isn't a menu on a web page

      The parking brake on my car is a handle - I don't have to two-finger swipe in a circle on the windscreen (unless you have a Tesla)

      1. gv

        The parking brake on my car is a switch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The parking brake on my car is a bit of brick I keep in the rear seat.

          1. Paul Herber Silver badge

            I LOVE my brick!

            1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

              Ah, feck it! Fed up with briiiiick!

            2. swm

              I LOVE my brick!

              Just download the latest windows 10 update.

          2. JassMan


            Never forget the string so you can pull it back onboard without leaving the car with no brakes at all. Especially, if you have an automatic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @AC

              @"the string so you can pull it back" already patented by Topcat designs, incorperate it and expect a visit from Officer Dibble, ditto bricks with rounded corners are also owned along with anvil and large baulder by apple and Wile-e-Coyote inc (part of ACME group) repectively.

          3. Captain Scarlet

            The parking brake on my car, is now a tree as the mysterons blew up my front tyre and made me crash!

    2. VicMortimer Silver badge

      That's like being offered a choice between being stabbed in the eye or having your hand cut off.

      They're both horrific.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        At least Win98 controls followed a thought-out design standard. You could see the reasoning behind it even if you found the appearance a bit stark, and controls are easily recognisable.

        Modern UI's tend to appear as though thrown together by some MBA cretin who thinks crusty concepts like usability aren't sufficiently "disruptive".

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          TIFKAM also had a thought-out standard and has some good aspects to it but it went too far on the flatness, making non-touch UX really awful. It's interesting, and constructive, to compare the design manuals since then with especially Material Design emphasising the importance of visual feedback in elements to support the interface, as has been standard in design manuals for years. I like Material Design not least because the manual includes some "design defence" and examples of what does and doesn't work, so trying to educate and not just dictate.

          The use of big, bold tiles based on signage has its place but quickly becomes a problem when you have a lot of them competing for attention: it's okay for passive consumption but poor for highlighting actions. I find the UI of Office 2016 for Mac a refreshing change from the coloured crayon of Office 2010 but I am really struggling with Office 365 for Windows with its stickmen minimalism: the lack of depth is downright confusing.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            TIFKAM probably worked if you were pressing the screen and it vibrated to give tactile feedback.

            That doesn't appear to happen when I use in on my PC. Everybody knows why Microsoft went down the route of pushing the TIFKAM GUI on desktop users; we were supposed to then want to go out and buy a familiar feeling Microsoft mobile phone.

            Instead, they pissed off all of the potential users by forcing an unsuitable GUI on desktop users which probably actually helped to kill windows phone by convincing people it was crap, and they are still stuck trying to push TIFKAM on people despite the fact that they no longer offer a mobile phone.

            Complete lunacy.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Well, enough on a large touch screen you soon get a tile overload, akin to too many road signs. And they never did the Material thing. Presumabling rewriting presentation manager yet again after the Windows Vista debacle didn't leave them with much time for niceties!

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            >TIFKAM also had a thought-out standard

            From what I remember, TIFKAM was based on a well-defined design philosophy/school of thought. However, from the interviews, it was obvious the people behind TIFKAM had zero experience of the real world outside of the Design School clique they adhered to.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      was the reason I gave Windows the elbow. YMMV naturally but TBH it is a pile of smelly dog poo. Usability went out the door with Windows 8 and MS has made it worse with almost every release since according to my SWMBO who has to fight it every day at work.

      1. DJSpuddyLizard

        Re: TIFKAM

        Usability went out the door with Windows 8

        Yep, that why on the machine I built last month, I installed Windows 7.

        Asus Motherboard with Ryzen 2700, zooms along nicely.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: TIFKAM

        The Windows "tock" releases are generally shit. Remember Windows Vista and what a kludge of UI crap that was: "people have GPUs now so not only can we punish them by making the UI out of XML, we can also add useless and distracting effects like milk glass".

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: TIFKAM

        >Usability went out the door with Windows 8 and MS has made it worse with almost every release since

        Totally agree with Win8/8.1 and WS2012 (which used the Win8 UI) are a total pain in the arse and even more so when you are having to switch between Win7, Win10, Win8/WS2012, depending on which system you are having to access.

        However, Win10 1909, is a vast improvement, albeit still not as coherent as Win7 and prior.


      The Interface Formally Known As Metro, (TIFKAM), totally sucks.

      Everyone I know would always prefer the Win98 GUI by far.

  2. red floyd

    I would definitely prefer the 98 style. Even better would be if the buttons made a nice "thunk" sound when pushed...

    Seriously, when I took my user interface class, one of the key elements was easily discoverable (what are the elements that do things), feedback (Yes! YOU PUSHED THE BUTTON), etc... TIFKAM GUIs have completely lost those elements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd prefer it if it had one of those awful sound themes. Like when a window opens it makes the door opening noise from star wars.

    2. Ottman001

      I completely agree. I honestly think the Windows 95/NT4 UI was one of Microsofts finest achievements. Windows 98 and 2000 added a few minor tweaks but since then, the trend has been down hill ever since. I remember Microsoft advertising telling us of R&D effort they put into Windows 95. In the years since, Microsoft have reworked their UI without paying attention to the lessons they learned previously.

      1. Twilight

        Win95/98 was good. I vaguely recall liking the "classic" theme in Windows XP a little better (the "new" XP UI/theme was pretty bad) - it's possible I did extra tweaking with PowerToys (I so miss the original set of those). I liked Windows 7 but it required some extra installs to fix the worst bits of changes.

        I *HATE* the flat design and current color-schemes that seem to be so in-vogue right now.

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          I'm glad it's not just me that feels that way.

          It's not just Windows either, iOS is a horrible soup of evil these days. Every time I see someone on a movie with an iPhone with a pre-iOS-7 interface I almost want to cry. iOS 6 was so nice.

          These nasty flat interfaces really need to go. What evil scum decided we can't have nice interfaces any more?

        2. Dajve_Bloke

          > Win95/98 was good. I vaguely recall liking the "classic" theme in Windows XP a little better (the "new" XP UI/theme was pretty bad)

          Agreed, although I did quite like the 'Embedded' theme (combined with the win9x style start menu), that managed to look pretty classy.

          Currently on Win8.1 with whatever they are calling classic shell these days, you'll pry my categorised program groups out of my cold dead hands. With a bit of tweaking 8.1 doesn'r deserve quite all the hate it gets - but yes, all the tweaking shouldn't be necessary. Libraries and Homegroup can get to fsck.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    This is exactly what the internet was designed for

    ^^^ see title.

    Paris... because, it's been too long.

    1. Julz

      Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

      Let's just get some content. Oh, bugger, too much to ask...

    2. macjules

      Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

      Yeah, next up: Geocities Throwback Thursday.

  4. Tom 7

    Now we just need someone to do a JS Form Builder

    and a couple of hundred lines of server code and we can get the internet working proper like!

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Death to Flat Style !

    However I despise Microsoft, this is excellent work.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Death to Flat Style !

      from the article:

      But if there is a particular bit of Windows 98 UI design that needs to come back in 2020

      How about 3D SKEUOMORPHIC!

      (I would like VERY much to say "IT IS HAPPENING" but not *quite* enough activity for THAT claim... yet)

      I should look at this and see what could be ported over to FIREFOX'S CSS somehow...

  6. Johnny Canuck

    This is exactly what the internet was designed for

    No, this is what the internet is for...

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

      "This video is restricted", and I'm buggered if I'm signing in to something just to watch it...

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

        maybe just bite the bullet with a) a browser that destroys all history/cookies/cache on exit, and b) 10 minute e-mail address

        (assuming the video is worth watching...)

        /me wonders if youtube-dl will download it ANYWAY

        ["restricted content" usually means pr0n and THAT would make sense, as a joke]

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

          Youtube-dl will download it. 1.7MB, 1m 2s long. Resolution is 320x240. It is more the sort of thing you would see on Tic Tok these days.

          Extreme god botherers would consider it to be pornographic. It's not.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

        I thought everyone knew by now how to furtle the the URL to get round sign-in:

        But probably not at work, even if you are working from home...

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

          If you are a closeted heterosexual male or lesbian [1] who is trying to pretend to be asexual, and are concerned that mere sight of a reasonably pretty young lady might provoke an uncontrollable response, then yes, don't watch it when other people are around. Otherwise, I really don't see the problem.

          [1] Obviously if you are bisexual, you will be invisible and therefore won't need to worry about any of this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

            As opposed to a lap-dance from Margaret Thatcher? (or Janet Reno for us Yanks...)

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

            I was thinking more of having to explain to your better half or bored kids why you're watching that, rather than any shock value itself.

      3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: This is exactly what the internet was designed for

        I agree, it's probably the video that started YouTube's popularity, Hippos Farting - I'm not going to watch that again.

  7. Alsibbo

    Bring back win98 UI

    IMHO the windows 98 was the most clear and easy to understand MS UI apart from maybe windows 2000 (I don't remember there being a massive difference)

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Bring back win98 UI

      I still hold that Win2k was the best UI Microsoft has put out so far. XP was OK, but a bit crayola. And it was steeply downhill from there.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Bring back win98 UI

        You could at least turn off the XP ui and get it looking approximately the same as win2k.

      2. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: Bring back win98 UI

        Actually, NT4.0's UI and overall design was much better than 2000, but not as many people were exposed to that one.

        1. deadlockvictim

          Re: Bring back win98 UI

          Win2k had an agreeable interface. The interface that I found easiest to use, though, was from Macintosh System 7.1. Clear and not too complicated.

        2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          Re: Bring back win98 UI

          NT 4 without the Internet Explorer 4's "enhancements" installed on it was just about as good as Windows UI was ever going to get.

      3. BigBear

        Re: Bring back win98 UI

        I agree about Win2K. Win 7 can easily be made to look very much like WinXP, was much more secure than either, was very stable, and still has a decent UI.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Bring back win98 UI

      The GUI is one thing that just sits on top of the Operating System, users should be able to chose the GUI they want without caring which version of Windows is running.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: The GUI is one thing that just sits on top of the Operating System

        You make a very good point indeed.

        This is the way applications are supposed to be built these days and why should an OS be any different?

  8. Wibble

    At least it's not that minging Bootstrap. Where's the pointless "hero banner" when you need it. Oh, nobody's ever needed a hero banner.

  9. batfastad


    Nice. And a fuck-load better than any UI innovations from the last 10+ years. More usable than burger menus in unexpected positions, whirly date/time pickers, huge font sizes etc.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Better


      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Better

        It's an excellent explanation of how crappy Windows is these days when I'm upvoting bombastic bob again!

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Better

      And this obsession with bits that are dynamic. The scroll bars that disappear until you hover over them, buttons like those in the new version of Skype that disappear. Menus flashing up and down when you go near them and Windows suddenly expanding and causing everything open to rearrange just because you dragged to the edge of the screen.

      The stupid windows with no edge so you cannot see what is what on the screen. I really fail to understand how any of the crap passed any sort of usability test. It has all been designed by a load of idiots in the 20's that have no idea of actually using anything to do work. It just has to look pretty. The trouble is we are saddled with this in the corporate world and nothing is going to change. The investments and vested interests are just too big.

      That is the rant over....

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Better

        Pah usability tests are so last-century. This is the era of being agile and disruptive, form over function. Which is why almost every UI design is a steaming pile of inconsistent, confusing, poorly thought out shite.

      2. Down not across

        Re: Better

        It's a travesty I can only upvote once.

        Moderatrix, the coders need whipping.

      3. SecretSonOfHG

        Re: Better

        Amen. I cannot understand why anoyone thinks that a user interface where actionable items that are always possible to be used are not visible by default is sensible.

        Yeah, everyone now knows that such things as scroll bars or window resize handles are there if you just hover over the edges, but for the uninitiated they are simply not discoverable because they are not there.

        And don't forget that there is still a large portion of the population that, at best, is used to the smartphone metaphor of a single window taking up all space and won't we able to adapt well to a desktop environment without some visual helping clues.

        Oh wait, you can always dumb down the desktop interface...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where is the Motif version?

    Anyone up to the challenge?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is the Motif version?

      Motif is not much different from the Win 98 UI. MicroSoft was involved with the creation of the Motif look and feel, and it fed back into the UI design for Win 95, 98 and NT 4.0.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Where is the Motif version?

        Win 98 is not much different from the Motif UI.

        FTFY - MS were not members of OSF, who released the first edition of Motif in 1989.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 98 -- let me explain.....

    In 1998 Windows 98 was delivering endless BSODs to my PC....endless. So in January 1999 I started a personal project to move to Linux, specifically Red Hat 5.1.

    Success, both then and now. Currently here at Linux Mansions, everyone is on Fedora31 and XFCE.....absolutely no Microsoft OS products here!

    XFCE may not have the sculptured buttons.....somewhere between sculptured and flat....but who cares anyway?

    [Oh.....Fedora32 is out next week....go on......give it a try!!]

  12. Blackjack Silver badge

    Horrible times

    "Sadly, this hack's CSS skills stop at swearing loudly at a web page when an entire section of text is mysteriously thrown off the screen after an innocuous setting is changed elsewhere."

    That's also part of the Windows 98 charm.

    Why do you think Microsoft released Windows 98 SE just a year later?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Who needs gooey?

    Bring back MS-DOS!

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Who needs gooey?

      Or the DOS Shell for those who absolutely MUST have something to click on.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Who needs gooey?

        Have fun, I recommend Arachne DOS web Browser

    2. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: Who needs gooey?

      Why noy go the whole hog and bring back CP/M ?.....or maybe even some tally sticks ?

      1. Down not across

        Re: Who needs gooey?

        BDOS Err On A: Bad Sector

  14. Boothy

    The Modern UI/UX

    Quote: not knowing to tap things because they just look like text


    It puzzles me that basic things like readability (e.g. obvious buttons, search boxes etc) usability (i.e. it should be obvious how it works) etc. seem to have been dropped from modern UI designs!

    There really should be a basic check list of should and should nots, that all UI designers must follow. At the moment, many seem to either not bother, or seem to be using a check list that makes no sense, and really shouldn't exist!

    1. ExampleOne

      Re: The Modern UI/UX

      I think the assumption is all users are familiar with computers, and design paradigms designed for users who are not familiar with point and click guis are no longer relevant.

      To the people who think I like that, I have a couple of elderly relatives they should meet!

      1. Boothy

        Re: The Modern UI/UX

        As someone that is used to computers (in the 'bus' for about 23 years now, mostly development (not web!) and was an electronics engineer for about 10 before that, so I consider myself very technical), but even I find some modern UI's to be just plain awkward sometimes.

        I remember a few years ago being given access to web based system, that pulled system and application logs together into a single central location. Doing complex filters was easy, this expanded a section that had obvious things text entry boxes for keywords, drop down lists, date and time entry fields that were editable (and it was obvious they were in the UI).

        But it took me ages to figure out how to do a simple date/time filter, such as just show me everything up to a specific time, or only for yesterday.

        Turned out at the top of the page was a date and time display, that just looked like part of the page background, no border, same background and text colour as everything else, nothing at all that indicated this could be interacted with.

        Turned out of course, these were actually buttons, and once clicked brought up a date and time filter section! So inconsistent with the rest of the UI!

        1. Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

          Re: The Modern UI/UX


          I'll see your 23 years and raise you 12...

          1. Boothy

            Re: The Modern UI/UX

            Quote : "I'll see your 23 years and raise you 12..."

            Does learning machine code on a 48K rubber keyboard Sinclair Spectrum in 1982 when I was 14 count? ;-)

            I also did lots of hardware hacks on the Spectrum from age ~13 to 17 (girls and beer became more interesting at that point!), custom joystick, an external keyboard, motor control systems controlling meccano and lego devices etc. which I think is partially responsible for me heading into electronics as a career initially!

            1. Michael Maxwell

              Re: The Modern UI/UX

              Learning FORTRAN IV and PL/1 with card decks and printouts.

      2. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: The Modern UI/UX

        I would say I am pretty familiar with point and click GUIs – and I am still regularly baffled by basic controls concealed in obscure places.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: The Modern UI/UX

      You are forgetting the primary reason for changing the UI

      To make it look cool and new so people dont mind paying m$ more money for the SAME DAMN THING!

      If win 10 had been released with the win 7 UI, although 'under the hood' would be better/more stable(laughs) and able to cope with new tech, every bean counter/decision maker would have said "Its win 7" and not bothered upgrading.

      Now its got a new UI, its 'different' therefore exciting therefore the bean counters are happy to spaff company money on a 'new OS'.

      1. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

        Re: The Modern UI/UX

        In all honesty I am quite convinced that it's the designers who insist that GUIs must be regularly changed because it's the only way they can justify their jobs.

        1. Shadow Systems

          At Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan...

          For some odd reason your pseudonym makes me want to run screaming for a bomb shelter & slam the blast doors shut behind me in the fear that we're all about to die in a hideously gruesome & agonizingly painful manner.

          I think it's akin to the little anime girl with the pigtails, "Pure, Sweet, & Innocent(TM) Smile", carrying the teddy bear that has one eye torn out, a blood encrusted muzzle filled with razor sharp fangs, & scythe-like claws gouging up sparks as they drag on the pavement.

          Enjoy a pint on me while I go make sure the door seals are working. =-)p

        2. jelabarre59

          Re: The Modern UI/UX

          In all honesty I am quite convinced that it's the designers who insist that GUIs must be regularly changed because it's the only way they can justify their jobs.

          I think it's the only reason ANY products, product packaging, etc get changed. And the stupider, the better. I know I've complained MULTIPLE times to companies that decide they'd rather put some big dopey picture of their product on BACK of the packing, while the microwave directions are in miniature type, and they tell you "see our website for conventional oven directions". NO, dickwits, get rid of the fecking picture and put all the text there, in READABLE type.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Modern UI/UX

      I agree, there was a time when accessibility was an important thing, these days, it's "Disabled people? - Meh".

      These things weren't beautiful but they did actually deliver.

      1. JassMan

        Re: The Modern UI/UX

        Yup. I think UBports (Ununtu)Touch would have a wider acceptance if wasn't for its Suru theme. It is very nearly a direct take from HHTGG with black buttons on a black background which light up black to tell you it has been pressed. OK it is actually light grey on mid grey with dark grey ”highlights”, but combined with extremely tiny fonts, it does result in serious eyestrain.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: The Modern UI/UX

        It's not even disabled people. It's "ordinary people?" Meh!

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Well I'm glad it's not just me

    I detest the buttons that aren't buttons, and uniform washed out appearance.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: Well I'm glad it's not just me

      Battle ship grey every where isn't uniform and dull as washed out?

      1. Blane Bramble

        Re: Well I'm glad it's not just me

        It's uniform but not washed out. You could also change all the element colours individually to customise the look. Try to do that with Win10.

    2. Fred Bernal

      Re: Well I'm glad it's not just me

      ... and let's not overlook the awful fonts that a lot of sites with trendy minimalist designs use nowadays. They are difficult enough to read on a computer screen, much more so on a phone. And to make it more aggravating, some sites use a color scheme that make the text blend in with the background (e.g., grey text on a light background).

  16. Mage Silver badge


    No need for graduated title bars, or excessive 3D. Even a slight 3D hint 1 pixel is better than flat!

    It may not cool or pretty but the win9x/NT4/NT5 style is EASY TO USE!

    I never liked graduated title bars.

    I've found that the classic 3D borders work on Mint 19.3 on themes, but not so well on 18.x, so I'll update from 18.3 to 19.3 soon. Tested it on a different laptop.

    Why has everyone forgotten how to do buttons, tabs, check boxes and option (radio) buttons?

    It's worse on recent ereader GUI updates than Win10.

    FLAT and the same style for everything DOES NOT WORK. Fake slide switches for checks and/or options do not work.

    Same style for check and option doesn't work.

    Skinny flat scroll bars for content that actually pages doesn't work.

    FLAT and over-simplified Icons are as evil as too much skeuomorphic or Vista Candy. You could tone down NT 5.1 (Windows XP) to be very like 3D Win 3.11/Win9x/NT4.0, Win7, the fix for Vista not so much. The Classic shell only fixes the Win 10 start button a bit. There is also the whole stupid distinction on Win10 of two sets of "Programs", the traditional ones, and the tablet friendly apps, often from store. The Win10 tablet experience is ghastly to do real work, a bad copy of Android. MS has turned Windows into a lackluster chimera of desktop WIMP and tablet touch.

    1. Michael Maxwell

      Re: Great.

      "graduated title bars" are simply "look what I can do!" There's no other reason.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "graduated title bars" are simply "look what I can do!" There's no other reason.

        It means one has graduated from the UI course with fading colours.

  17. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Pretty much every website and OS has dropped the 3D design of what used to be obvious buttons to become a flat design. But this seem a step back in terms of usability and before now I have missed certain features because I hadn't realised that some flat icon was actual a button. This is worse on touch where you don't even get a change of mouse pointer icon when you hover over a button so end up just pressing randomly to see what is clickable.

    1. Carlie J. Coats, Jr.

      One of the reasons I'm running (KDE3-fork) TDE.

      Another is that KDE has decided that it won't suppport XRANDR panning ;-(

  18. martinusher Silver badge

    It all makes work for the working man (and woman) to do.


    or, for the abridged version....

    If web page design had got stuck 25 years ago there would have been a whole pile of jobs that would have never existed. Instead, we have this coding/performance spiral that yields the same results (and as a beneficial side effect obsolete otherwise useful hardware in the process) that's built a whole mighty industry. (..and for those who complain about Windows 98, it and its IE browser kind of worked but even then there were viable alternatives.)

  19. Geoffrey W

    Ha Ha Ha...

    I love articles like this. It brings out the "Get Off My Lawn!" crowd in hordes.Windows 98 buttons were new back then and many people simply hated them. Everything new is hated...until it isn't. Then there's a new "New" to hate. Honi Soit. Go listen to the morning chorus and talk to the trees and whistle a happy tune; It'll work wonders in the long run.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Ha Ha Ha...

      Which Universe did you just come from?

      3D "clickable" buttons have been strongly recommended by every single piece of HMI research from shortly after the dawn of pointing devices.

      The exact way of doing it changed as resolutions improved, and then suddenly in Win 8 Microsoft decided that four-ish decades of research into human behaviour was all entirely wrong and they needed to make an undiscoverable, inaccessible mess.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Ha Ha Ha...

      I'm no git orf ma lawn type (although nearly old enough to be one)

      a lot of us came at the win95/win98 gui designs from either win 3.1, or from Amiga/Atari ST gui

      And the win98 way of doing things (while more hungry for resources) seemed the right way to do it (even if the OS was about as stable as a deranged US president.

      The university taught way of doing things on UI was kiss, make it so that the user does'nt have to think about what button to press , they can visually see "Its a button" , stick a decent label on it and yay we have a button(and as an added bonus, you can always put in the keyboard shortcut too).

      I'm looking at the UI for a guitar effects program right now, its not winUI but you can see the buttons thats say "Overdrive on/off" along with the sliders to vary the parameters, if you've spent any time in the audio business, its obvious how you use the UI.

      Now you make all those sliders and buttons 'flat' then it becomes a problem to see and understand the UI, especially for us old timers.

      Now take that and stick it in a mission critical situation, say a robot control panel, and it takes time to understand and react to the controls in a situation where you may not have time to do that, the old win98 UI with its raised buttons does not have that, it says "heres a button, this is its label and this is where you press"

      keep it simple

      1. Roger Kynaston

        Re: Ha Ha Ha...

        > (even if the OS was about as stable as a deranged US president.

        Is that the answer? Is President D'Orange running on an outdated MS operating system. If we just upgrade it to a newer one (linux for my preference but I don't insist) will it suddenly work like a real president?

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Ha Ha Ha...

      I can understand average users complaining about an interface changing, but as a sysadmin I've always held it as a point of pride that I can pick up any new bit of software within a short amount of time.

      I find Win 10 just as easy to use as any other version (back to 3.0, I was Workbench only before that), or OSX, or any of the variety of Linux window managers that I've used come to that. None of them are perfect, but all of them work. I guess the choice is to learn how they work, or complain on the internet.

    4. RLWatkins

      Re: Ha Ha Ha...


      The GUI for Win95, as well as earlier versions of Windows, the Mac and the Amiga, were based on something called the Common User Access standard, which has been around for about a half-century.

      It was devised specifically to make it obvious to the user how to operate a graphical user interface. It evolved from part of IBM's System Application Architecture standard, which they began to revise when Xerox first created a GUI.

      People worked on it and refined it for decades, with the end-result that it was possible to figure out at a glance how to operate GUI-controlled software.

      But you're in favor of abandoning decades of user-experience work in favor of "slick, modern" incomprehensible user interface designs?

      Well, everybody has the right to be wrong. Exercise it proudly.

  20. Kev99 Silver badge

    The Windows 98 format had one big advantage over todays format. You could tell at a glance which picts were button and which were just picts. Or clutter.

  21. The Central Scrutinizer

    I love it. Who doesn't like a bit of retro computing? Now if only I could turn my Linux UI into something resembling an Irix workstation or similar.

    1. Down not across

      Now if only I could turn my Linux UI into something resembling an Irix workstation or similar.

      IIRC IRIX's 4Dwm was pretty much Motif. And after 5.1 or thereabouts they did bring out the MagicDesktop.

      I think there are 4Dwm (or very similar) themes for most window managers.


    Consistency, Not Style

    We can adapt to other styles. That is not relevant. But adaptation is time consuming, painful, and absurd when unnecessary.

    What makes Windows so terrible is that they keep changing it, for absolutely no reason at all.

    Vista was awful for no reason. The Metro look of Win 8 was ridiculous, tedious, and stupid.

    I don't see why MicroSoft does not get it, that people just want consistency.

    You can add new features, but NEVER take away or change existing features.

    Is that so hard?

  23. MrNigel

    UX/Unix the same way the VT220 ruined the VT100. what were they thinking with those F-keys?? Taught me how to hack termcap/terminfo though....

  24. SuperGeek

    I miss the days of buttons that looked like you could just reach and touch them! Oooh, buttons! Now they just look like labels with a grey background, similar to labels in VB6 before you changed their background colour!

    Flat is bleurgh!

  25. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Now for a Win 3.11 version

    Hotdog Stand theme FTW.

  26. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Style versus content

    An increasing number of web sites are now so over-styled that they consume massive processing power just to render static pages. Turn off the style sheet and the demand drops like a stone. The source of one page I examined recently referenced some twenty separate external style sheets, but its meaningful content was little more than a single brief product description, photo and price.

    A combination of Dunning Kruger, fun tools to play with and total neglect of ergonomics has made web pages primarily a vehicle for showing off supposed "web development skills" - their original purpose of communicating information has largely been forgotten.

    This is, however, just one more example of the inward-looking attitude of the entire IT industry - it's there to "shine", "compete" and make loads of dosh, not to serve the needs of users.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Style versus content

      It's like the early days of home desktop publishing. Oooo, I've got six hundred fonts, I MUST USE THEM ALL!!!!

    2. sillyoldme

      Re: Style versus content

      to be fair, the designers I work with are much more constrained and consistent... the issues come from user interference (aka pointy haired bosses)

  27. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Remoting in...

    I think one of the areas where the designers of these things don't think about the consequences of their actions is when you're logged remotely into another pc. To get maximum throughput means often having to disable special effects, colours, etc. which can make navigation in a flat landscape that extra bit of a challenge.

    Now consider imparting those skills to someone who needs also to access that same pc remotely, and both of you can't login to it at the same time. Very topical subject at the moment, of course. You ever tried describing what to do next with someone who has to carry out these tasks when modal features appear no longer to be modal?

  28. Captain Scarlet

    Where is Clippy!

    To complete this it needs to include Clippy!

    1. a__d

      Re: Where is Clippy!

      Be careful what you wish for... :)

  29. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    This prompted me to wander over to Jakob Neilson's interface usability website.

    Yeah gods! What's happened? The old site used to be nice and fast intuitive, clear, an examplar of recommended usability. It took about 40 seconds just to get the main page to load, sloooooooooooooowwwwwwlllyyy scrolled some crap up across the screen and then it killed my browser.

  30. Citizen99

    The look is available 'out of the box' if you use Trinity Desktop Environment on Linux (or whatever other *x OS it might run on. It's a fork of KDE 3. Go to Control Centre -> Appearance & Themes -> Theme Manager ->" Redmond" theme.

    You lose the default start menu and the bar it sits in, but you can find the menu in the side bar of the Home icon.

  31. karlkarl Silver badge

    For some tasks... has it really gotten better?

    Whats this? I remember requiring a lot less code in order to add a few radio buttons to a form back then...



    <legend>Today's mood</legend>

    <div class="field-row">

    <input id="radio13" type="radio" name="fieldset-example2">

    <label for="radio13">Claire Saffitz</label>


    <div class="field-row">

    <input id="radio14" type="radio" name="fieldset-example2">

    <label for="radio14">Brad Leone</label>


    <div class="field-row">

    <input id="radio15" type="radio" name="fieldset-example2">

    <label for="radio15">Chris Morocco</label>


    <div class="field-row">

    <input id="radio16" type="radio" name="fieldset-example2">

    <label for="radio16">Carla Lalli Music</label>




    1. Poncey McPonceface

      Re: For some tasks... has it really gotten better?

      That's adding a group of labelled radio buttons to a fieldset, not a form. Doesn't appear overly verbose to me.

  32. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Designers seem to have forgotten the power of the Tab key

    The philosophy with the old Windows UI was that if you were on a desert island with no mouse, you'd still be able to access everything with the keyboard. I think that was one of ths stipulations to earn the Approved sticker.

    The applications I tend to get involved with require a lot of data to be entered as quickly as possible. As soon as the operator starts having to scroll around using the mouse that kills productivity. I try to make it that you enter data into a field, press Tab to go onto the next field and, at the end, tab to the Ok button, press Enter to submit that form, then focus is given to the most natural next option the operator may want to carry out.

  33. tehcurrymonstah

    Let me know when someone does one that reasonably apes ASR-33 would you?

  34. Michael Maxwell


    And I'm looking at this page, where every "Reply" button is just a white-on-black rectangle, and I'm wondering what other buttons there are. I see "Preview" and "Submit" white-on-black rectangles, so I guess those are also buttons. Then there are hyperlinks to "edit your details" and "log in here"; at least those are clear. But there are other things that are probably clickable, like "Report abuse"--but that's just greyish text on a white background, so how do I know it's a button? Then there's "Add an icon", black text on light grey, which sounds like it ought to be a button; but below that is "Title", also black text on light grey, and that doesn't seem to be a button. Indeed, I just moused over them, and it's true--but completely non-obvious from the coloring. And more things that might, or might not, be hyperlinks or buttons down at the bottom of the page. I'm confused.

    The Register, bring back real buttons!

  35. Cwrw

    Reskin Win 10?

    So how do I use this to reskin Win 10 - is that possible?

  36. AndrueC Silver badge

    While we're dissing Microsoft UIs can I also throw in a moan about focus stealing? Surely the one thing any GUI should do is respect which control the user is interacting with? Windows is a multi-tasking OS and if one application is a little tardy in responding we should be able to switch to another application and use that without the tardy application suddenly shoving itself in our face and demanding our attention.

    Hands up anyone who hasn't accidentally typed half a password in plain text into an application that suddenly thrust itself in front of another application's log on dialog?


    Oh and (a bit specialist this one) FFS guys. Trying to make Visual Studio start up quicker by deferring tasks is pointless. Yes, it renders immediately, but there's then damn' all you can do with it anyway. It will occasionally respond to a click or a key press and you think you're finally on your way only for it to stall as yet another 'startup' process wakes and blocks the UI thread. It is not clever, it is bloody irritating. It would be far better if it just displayed a 'Please wait, I'm initialising' dialog so that it at least I wouldn't keep having to try and do stuff on the off-chance it was finally ready.

    Oh and it focus steals as well. It steals the focus only for you to discover that it's not even ready to respond. Sometimes it's so busy at startup that it steals the focus and then you can't get back to the application you were trying to use.


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