I thought you said people don’t know how to read analog clocks

Date:October 30, 2003 / year-entry #113
Orig Link:https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20031030-00/?p=41993
Comments:    19
Summary:I had mentioned in passing in a comment on 10/10/2003 10:07PM that one of the reasons the clock on the taskbar isn't analog is that some disturbingly high percentage of people (30%? 40%? I forget exactly) do not know how to read an analog clock. Yet there is is in the Longhorn sidebar. What gives?...

I had mentioned in passing in a comment on 10/10/2003 10:07PM that one of the reasons the clock on the taskbar isn't analog is that some disturbingly high percentage of people (30%? 40%? I forget exactly) do not know how to read an analog clock.

Yet there is is in the Longhorn sidebar. What gives?

Ah but if you look more closely, the digital time is printed immediately below it.

That was our compromise.

Comments (19)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Will it let us just choose one or the other instead of having both? I know it’s probably a bit early to tell….

  2. Dylan Greene says:

    It would be cool if the alalog design was taken advantage of.
    For example:
    1) Show where I have meetings on the clock face with a small dot or icon. A mouseover shows full meeting details.
    2) Let me replace the 12 hour clock with a stopwatch
    3) Let me change the clock to a pie-graph style showing how much longer until something I have set is going to happen (next meeting, end of work day, etc).
    4) Show on clock when downloads are expected to be finished (see number 1).
    5) Show multiple time zones, or at least a time zone other than my own.
    6) Access to set alarms (still can’t believe a $1500 computer can’t be *easily* used as a wakeup alarm).

  3. Dylan Greene says:

    Eric – when I posted that comment I got an ASP.NET error. It also didn’t remember me. At least the comment was posted.

  4. runtime says:

    30-40% of people cannot read an analog clock, so a digital clock is introduced. Longhorn now introduces the HUGE and redundant analog clock for the XX% of people who cannot read a digital clock??! Why bother, except to make the Sidebar look "k3wl dewd"?

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s HUGE!

  6. Chris says:

    Dylan – sounds cool. If they don’t do that stuff I’m sure there would be room for someone to write a sidebar add-in that does.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I hope that clock is a prototype-showoff sort of thing thing, and will not be on the default install for Longhorn. Anolog clocks (without the nice features that Dylan describes) are really useless when a digital display can do, and the screen real estate usage is just unacceptable. Its bad enough already when it looks like aero wastes giant areas of the screen already with the giant IE captionbar and mostly-useless action area directly below the menu.Soon we will all need 30 inch monitors!

  8. Jon says:

    I don’t think anybody mentioned it, but Pocket PC’s clock can be switched to analog. It ends up being smaller than the digital version.

    If you look where human factors are most studied– airplanes, you’ll see both analog and digital displays simultaneously. Often, the digital displays scroll like the digits were on a drum, to show the current trend.

  9. Shane King says:

    An analog clock can be smaller than a digital clock. You can make an analog clock small enough to read the time accurate to 5 minutes fit in the sidebar docked to the left side of the screen one icon wide. I know this because I’ve seen it done in KDE. Windows unfortunately doesn’t offer this feature.

    The digital clock simply does not fit. Which is a great shame, because I find the taskbar being docked to the left to be the most usable position (less screen wasted, frees vertical space which is more valuable than horizontal space, programs don’t shift position as you open more, start menu drops down like a normal menu).

  10. Eric Lippert says:

    Dylan: First off, you’re reading Raymond’s blog, not mine. (Or perhaps you were thinking of Eric Rudder, or some other Eric.)

    Regardless, the server has been having problems all week, apparently due to some hardware issue (whereby "hardware issue" I mean "probably someone didn’t put enough memory in the box"). Top minds are looking at the problem.

  11. Heh. I use Desktop Sidebar — it kinda Longhorn bar but for 2000/xp. I turned the big analogue clock off. :))

  12. Curt Hagenlocher says:

    The analog clock on Longhorn is beautiful — the most attractive analog clock I’ve ever seen on a computer. It stood out right away.

  13. TheCodeFoundry says:

    Beautiful isn’t always functional, though. Look at the gumdrop UI on a Mac and while it is pretty, has some serious functional UI issues. Apple has always been form before function; and this isn’t an Apple-bashing post.

    I just think whatever UI Microsoft decides to go with in Longhorn, they do not forget the power users. I’m tired of the user interface being dumbed down with every revision of the operating system.

  14. Michael C. says:

    To whoever posted about needing 30" screens, that’s not entirely true:

  15. Anonymous says:

    Heh, that screen is just the right size for a nice little clock.

  16. Simon says:

    Can you please point me to a scientific article claiming that 30% can’t read an analogue clock?? Sounds like bullshit to me, even if it’s the US we’re talking about here. ;)

  17. Erin Corliss says:

    I think they probably did a usability study and found that 40% of randomly selected Americans flew into a frenzy and started pecking the computer screen rather than being able to tell the time from an analog display.

  18. Eric Lippert says:

    I have not found any studies in adults, but 30% of children between 4 and 8 are unable to tell time on an analog clock according to this study:


  19. Dylan: If you get Plus! Digital Media Edition, you _can_ use your computer as an alarm clock. I established this before rearranging the furniture so that the computer was in the living room. Rudder’s "Gloria Patri" makes a good wakeup call. :-)

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