In the earliest days of Windows, the Control Panel was only available with icons for the individual Control Panel applications. However, that changed with Windows XP.
Windows XP offered the option to show the Control Panel in a "Category" view. I fact, WinXP, Vista and Win7 default to the Category view of the Control Panel.
Windows also allows you to change back to the Classic View (icon view). Windows 7 goes further and drops the term Classic view to give the three alternatives of Category, Large Icons and Small Icons.
The main advantage of the Icon views is that you can usually jump directly to the topic that you want. However, that can also cause some problems — when the illustrations in articles don’t match the screens that you see on your computer.
That’s the problem that Mike Gallagher had with my recent article Changing Windows 7 Ease of Access Options:
Thanks for the tip about the full screen happening when the edge of the display is reached. That has always been an annoyance.
I am running Windows 7, 64 bit, SP-1, and my control panel windows do not look anything like the ones in this example. For one thing, I never found a view that allowed me to change the mouse arrow characteristics.
Here is what my Access Center looks like:
I wrote back to Mike to explain the reason why he saw the above dialog box when he linked out of the Control Panel instead of the dialog boxes that I showed in my earlier article (image below).
Mike had set his Control Panel to show icons instead of category links. That caused him to miss the first dialog box (Adjust Your Computer’s Settings) all the way to the Ease of Access Center screen.
If you display the Control Panel as icons, you get an icon for Ease of Access Center, so you go:
Control Panel –> Ease of Access Center
Control Panel –>Adjust Your Computer's Settings screen –>Ease of Access Center
Similar to Mike, when I moved from Windows XP to Windows 7, I chose to stay with the icons in the Control Panel. I was used to them and it was easier to navigate with the icons than to read and think about the categories.
After a while, however, I switched the Control Panel to Category mode. It didn’t take very long. I learned to like the Category view.