A few of my favorite Win7 Sound features – UI refinements

Well, we shipped Windows 7, and now I’d like to talk about a few of my favorite features that were added by the Sound team.  Most of them fit in the “make it just work the way it’s supposed to”, but a few are just cool.

I also want to call out some stuff that people probably are going to miss in the various Windows 7 reviews.

One of the areas I want to call out is the volume UI.  There’s actually been a ton of work done on the volume UI in Windows 7, although most of it exists under the covers.  For instance, the simple volume control (the one you get to with a single click from the volume notification area) uses what we call “flat buttons”.

Windows 7 Simple Volume UI:      

Windows Vista Simple Volume UI:

Win7 Simple Volume Vista Simple Volume

Both the mute control and the device button are “flat buttons” – when you mouse over the buttons, the button surfaces:

simple volume with "flat button" enabled

By using the “flat buttons”, the UI continues to have the old functionality, but it visually appears cleaner.  There have been a number of other changes to the simple volume UI.  First off, we will now show more than one slider if you have more than one audio solution on your machine and you’re using both of them at the same time.  This behavior is controlled by the new volume control options dialog:


As I mentioned above, the device icon is also a “flat button” – this enables one click access to the hardware properties for you audio solution.


The volume mixer has also changed slightly.  You’ll notice the flat buttons for the device and mute immediately.  We also added a flat button for the System Sounds which launches the system sounds applet.


Another subtle change to the volume mixer is that there are now meters for individual applications as well as for the master volume:


And finally, the volume mixer no longer flickers when resizing (yay!).  Fixing the flicker was a problem that took a ton of effort (and I needed to ask the User team for help figuring out the problem) – the solution turned out to be simple but it took some serious digging to figure it out.