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    Well, this is not really a “UI layer”, as I haven’t been able to find any interface elements predating Windows 95 (although I have a feeling that there certainly are).

    odbcad32 still uses the Windows 3.1 file selector because of those two checkboxes on the right hand side.

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      I know this is kind of iconoclastic today but I think this is part of why Windows is (still) the most successful OS on the market.

      All that’s wrong with the things after Layer 1 is that they don’t look exactly like the things in Layer 1 – and this includes a lot of things (like MMC) that the proverbial Aunt Tilly, for whose tech naivite we’re designing everything from file managers to IDEs for some reason, would never touch anyway.

      This would’ve maybe been a problem 20+ years ago. In the age of web apps and Electron you’ll be hard-pressed two find two apps that look the same anyway. Even if Microsoft were to update all the design of all the different bits of Windows to a consistent form, that would barely make a dent in the average professional user’s desktop.

      One way to look at it is that this is a mess of unmaintained software, or that it’s the price for backwards compatibility – but my take on it is that this is just a case of Microsoft spending (increasingly scarce, as far as Windows goes) money on things that actually make a difference.

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        It’s relatively easy to find pre-95 elements by remembering that the current code came from NT, not 3.1.

        I’m always a bit amused by things like disk management or performance monitor whose code has been substantially modified but went to great lengths to preserve the visual appearance of NT 3.1 tools.

        The normal way I give a UI tour is through the system control panel: it starts out in the Settings app, but if you go to “Advanced system settings” you’ll get a Windows 2000 era property page dialog, and you can drill into things like Virtual Memory configuration which have changed very little since 3.1. (There’s now a “let Windows manage it automatically” option, but in terms of visual style, it’s obviously the same dialog.)

        Or, look at command prompt properties. New properties have been added, and at some point the preview was moved from the left to the right, but it is so clearly the same dialog.

        In terms of 3.1 elements, look at something like Notepad’s find dialog.

        Unfortunately the fact that these are recompiled means the visual display has been changing implicitly. Often these dialogs started in black-on-white, although it’s also worth noting that they started life as flat, non-3D dialogs, became 3D in NT 4.0-Windows 7, and are now back to flat again.

        I’d be curious if anyone can find any 2.x elements though. The best example I can think of is the system menu (the menu from the icon in the top left of the window chrome.) In 2.x there’s shortcut keys for each option which were removed, and in new versions there’s icons for some options on the left, but it’s the same menu with the same options, same order, separator in the same place, etc. During the 3.x era there was also a “Switch To” item, but that’s been removed, leaving the original 2.x options untouched.

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          yeah, I’m thinkin’ it’s a lot.