Silly features and IM clients

I upgraded to the latest Skype beta. Its great, except for one very silly feature:

The Skype folk implemented a new behavior when minimizing the application to the system tray.

It does not.

Allow me to explain:  Windows 7 comes with a feature called called “Taskbar Jump lists” (also here) the above comes with a recommendation applications should not be minimized to the system tray, but rather stay on the taskbar.

Let me say that again: you are working on a couple of documents, alt-tabbing between the latest requirement doc and a very nice mockup you are whipping up and what gets in the middle? your IM client.

Yes, being on the taskbar, instead of being minimized silently to the tray, appearing only when needed (i.e. a message comes in) means your IM will now become an annoying part of the window list, and you will have to remember than (and skip it) each time you switch between windows.

Guess which application I am going to close next?

I turned to the user community of Skype, my favorite IM client (it can also handle voice and video!). The poor developers had the only defensive reply that “this is by design” (new windows 7 taskbar behavior). Apparently, one enterprising community member launched a survey. Answers on both threads were overwhelming: not a welcome change Skype!

For now, I am running Skype in Windows Vista compatibility mode.

The lesson is simple: if your application is designed to be working “behind the scenes”, obnoxiously bringing it to the foreground when no clear benefit is to be had is just plain silly.

Being “in your face” will just result in people shutting the obtrusive application and going on with their lives.

Don’t let it break your concentration!

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