Icon See It Now

By Lance Ulanoff  |  Posted 2003-10-28 Print this article Print

Microsoft's menu bar icons are in serious need of an overhaul.

Microsofts menu bars are awash in anachronistic images, and its especially evident in the latest edition of the Office 2003 application suite. This struck me as I was authoring my 364th "Inside PCMag.com" newsletter. Clicking on the Save icon, I found myself wondering why its still an image of a 3.5-inch floppy disk. When was the last time you saved a file on a floppy? Fortunately for Microsoft, we all still own a bunch of dusty disks we dig out in emergencies, but how long will that last? Its only a matter of time before the icon—and the floppy itself—becomes unidentifiable to new generations of computer users.

Then theres the Print symbol. Whens the last time you saw a printer spit documents out the top? And doesnt the icon bear a striking resemblance to a dot-matrix printer? Try explaining what that is to anyone under 20.

The New Document icon is okay—even passable. The Open Document icon is marginal, at best, though. The act of storing documents in physical folders and then returning to those folders to find the same documents is a visual metaphor with a short shelf life. How many of your important documents are stored in physical file cabinets? Arent we shifting more each day to electronic storage? Someday, the only folder people will understand will be the electronic one in Windows.

The Search icon is, of course, a magnifying glass. Have you—even once after you were a kid—used a magnifying glass to find something? I know I havent. I might use one to look more closely at, say, the inner workings of an old watch, but certainly not to find the watch.

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Lance Ulanoff is Editor in Chief and VP of Content for PC Magazine Network, and brings with him over 20 years journalism experience, the last 16 of which he has spent in the computer technology publishing industry.

He began his career as a weekly newspaper reporter before joining a national trade publication, traveling the country covering product distribution and data processing issues. In 1991 he joined PC Magazine where he spent five years writing and managing feature stories and reviews, covering a wide range of topics, including books and diverse technologies such as graphics hardware and software, office applications, operating systems and, tech news. He left as a senior associate editor in 1996 to enter the online arena as online editor at HomePC magazine, a popular consumer computing publication. While there, Ulanoff launched AskDrPC.com, and KidRaves.com and wrote about Web sites and Web-site building.

In 1998 he joined Windows Magazine as the senior editor for online, spearheading the popular magazine's Web site, which drew some 6 million page views per month. He also wrote numerous product reviews and features covering all aspects of the computing world. During his tenure, Winmag.com won the Computer Press Association's prestigious runner-up prize for Best Overall Website.

In August 1999, Ulanoff briefly left publishing to join Deja.com as producer for the Computing and Consumer Electronics channels and then was promoted to the site's senior director for content. He returned to PC Magazine in November 2000 and relaunched PCMag.com in July 2001. The new PCMag.com was named runner-up for Best Web Sites at the American Business Media's Annual Neal Awards in March 2002 and won a Best Web Site Award from the ASBPE in 2004. Under his direction, PCMag.com regularly generated more than 25 million page views a month and reached nearly 5 million monthly unique visitors in 2005.

For the last year and a half, Ulanoff has served as Editor, Reviews, PC Magazine. In that role he has overseen all product and review coverage for PC Magazine and PCMag.com, as well as managed PC Labs. He also writes a popular weekly technology column for PCMag.com and his column also appears in PC Magazine.

Recognized as an expert in the technology arena, Lance makes frequent appearances on local, national and international news programs including New York's Eyewitness News, NewsChannel 4, CNN, CNN HN, CNBC, MSNBC, Good Morning America Weekend Edition, and BBC, as well as being a regular guest on FoxNews' Studio B with Shepard Smith. He has also offered commentary on National Public Radio and been interviewed by radio stations around the country. Lance has been an invited guest speaker at numerous technology conferences including Digital Life, RoboBusiness, RoboNexus, Business Foresight and Digital Media Wire's Games and Mobile Forum.

Lance also serves as co-host of PC Magazine's weekly podcast, PCMag Radio.


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