Windows (Design basics)


This design guide was created for Windows 7 and has not been updated for newer versions of Windows. Much of the guidance still applies in principle, but the presentation and examples do not reflect our current design guidance.

Windows are the main "canvases" or UI surfaces of your desktop app, including the main windows itself and pop-ups, dialogs, and wizards. Follow these guidelines when deciding which surface to use and how best to use them.

In this section

Topic Description
Window Management
This article covers default placement of windows when initially displayed on the screen, their stacking order relative to other windows (Z order), their initial size, and how their display affects input focus.
Window Frames
Most programs should use standard window frames. Immersive applications can have a full screen mode that hides the window frame. Consider using glass strategically for a simpler, lighter, more cohesive look.
Dialog Boxes
A dialog box is a secondary window that allows users to perform a command, asks users a question, or provides users with information or progress feedback.
Common Dialogs
The Microsoft Windows common dialogs consist of the Open File, Save File, Open Folder, Find and Replace, Print, Page Setup, Font, and Color dialog boxes.
Despite that wonderful, whimsical name, wizards are not really a special form of user interface, and they have only a particular range of utility.
Property Windows
Property window is the collective name for the following types of user interfaces (UIs):
  • Property sheet: used to view and change properties for an object or collection of objects in a dialog box.
  • Property inspector: used to view and change properties for an object or collection of objects in a pane.
  • Options dialog box: used to view and change options for an application.