Icon See It Now

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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