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A wizard is a sequence of pages that guides users through a multi-step, infrequently performed task.

Compared to alternative user interfaces (UIs), effective wizards reduce the knowledge required to perform the task successfully.


New in Windows Vista®

  • Aero Wizard replaces Wizard '97.
  • A cleaner, simpler, better-looking design.
  • More flexible page layout and text formatting, allowing for better presentation of information.
  • Pages can be resizable.
  • Unnecessary Welcome and Congratulations/Finish pages have been removed to increase efficiency.
  • Pages have a prominent main instruction that replaces page heading and subheading.
  • The main instruction and flexible layout help eliminate much of the repetition found in Wizard '97.
  • Command links allow for immediate and more expressive choices, eliminating the need to always use a combination of radio buttons and a Next button.
  • Commit buttons and links are explicit, self-explanatory responses to the main instruction, resulting in efficient decision making and a smooth inductive navigation flow.
  • Navigation is more consistent with Web and Windows Explorer navigation.
  • The Back button is moved to its standard location at the upper-left part of the frame, giving more focus to commit choices.

Why are these changes important?

Wizards are a fundamental form of user communication. Wizard pages with a clear main instruction and explicit, self-explanatory commit buttons make that communication much more effective. Additionally, the new Aero wizard design brings the experience of wizard-based UI and Windows Explorer-based UI closer together.

Look and feel

All wizard pages have these components:

  • A title bar to identify the name of the wizard, with a Back button in the upper-left, and a Close button with optional Minimize/Maximize and Restore buttons.
  • A main instruction to explain the user's objective with the page.
  • A content area with optional text and possibly other controls.
  • A command area with at least one commit button to commit to the task or proceed to the next step.

Wizards are made up of the following types of pages:

Getting Started page

The Getting Started page is an optional page that outlines prerequisites for running the wizard successfully, or explains the purpose of the wizard if there isn't room on the first choice page.


Choice pages

Choice pages are used to gather information and allow users to make choices. Typically there are several Choice pages. If there are only one or two simple choice pages, consider using a dialog box instead of a wizard.


Commit page

Commit pages are similar to Choice pages, except that by continuing on, users are performing an action that cannot be undone by clicking Back or Cancel. Wizards preferably have a single Commit page, but there may be more than one if there are multiple commit points within a task. If there is no need for feedback or follow-up actions, a Commit page is the last page in a wizard.


Progress page (optional)

Progress pages show the progress of lengthy operations (more than 4 seconds) with a progress bar or animation. They typically follow Commit pages, but not always. Usually once the operation completes, the wizard should advance automatically to the next page.


Follow-up page (optional)

The Follow-up page provides users with feedback on completion, such as when the results aren't visible, or lists related tasks that users are likely to do as follow-up. Alternatively, use notifications for feedback for long-running tasks that are performed after the wizard is closed, such as for backups or print jobs.


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