[UX] My Issue with Windows 10’s Multiple Desktop Feature

One of the more productive features I’ve embraced is the multiple desktops. I tend to compartmentalize tasks, and being able to actually do that visually, helps me focus on what I’m doing, and keep my process organized.

I use Windows at my day job and I was thrilled when I saw that Windows 10 was adding this feature. Unfortunately it comes up short due to one major flaw in the UX, the implementation.

OS X splits the various programs running in to the program and the windows (or instances) of that program. Windows does that too. OS X indicates which  programs are running in the dock with a little dot underneath the icon of that program. Windows does too.

But here’s where Windows, sadly, goes amiss. In OS X you can have different instances of a program running in multiple desktops. No matter which desktop you’re on, if the program is active on ANY desktop, it will show a dot under the icon. If you click that icon it will (should at least) take you to the most recent instance of that program regardless of the desktop that instance is in. Yes, it could work a little more smoothly as it doesn’t always work that way, but it DOES indicate that it’s running somewhere.

Windows 10 separates completely between desktops so that there is no connection between the programs running on the different desktops. This means that when I need a program, I can’t see that it’s running on a different desktop, because the dock only shows me what’s running on the current desktop I’m on. This leads to unnecessary instances of a program running leaving the benefits of the multiple desktops mute and void.

Windows 10

If I don’t know what’s running on my computer I’ll never find that instance, or I’ll waste time trying to find it. If I need my email and I don’t see it’s open, I’ll open it up again. If I waste time looking for it on the 5 different desktops I have open I lost the benefits of having multiple desktops.

True, multiple desktops came in on the Mac in 2009 with OS X 10.5 “Leopard”, and true, it wasn’t great with it came out either. But I had hoped that Microsoft would learn from Apple’s mistakes with this feature.

All in all, I must saw that upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has been painless, it’s a shame it wasn’t eventful.