Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Windows 8 Preview.
June 1, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

"Today, at the D9 Conference, we demonstrated the next generation of Windows". Previewing "Windows 8"

The shiny stuff starts at 0:50.
posted by Memo (227 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. I wonder what kind of graphics card that will need.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:57 PM on June 1, 2011


I don't like how desktop operating systems are veering away from the desktop metaphor. Linux has done this on the KDE, Gnome and Ubuntu Unity fronts: It may even be good for people who don't know anything about computers and just want to browse the web, listen to music, and send their grandchildren chain e-mail in Comic Sans.

But for people who actually need to get work done, I think it's a major regression. I'd hate to think desktop computing peaked at Mac OS X 10.5.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:01 PM on June 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Give Windows 8 a pass."
posted by mek at 6:02 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


I just watched this a few minutes ago. I had no idea that windows 8 was going to be touch based.

Press release says: A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.
posted by ericost at 6:06 PM on June 1, 2011


dunkadunc: I'd be shocked if they don't give you a way to keep your desktop too.
posted by uni verse at 6:07 PM on June 1, 2011


Interesting tidbit: back in 2007. Jensen Harris, the bald man in the video, was a primary architect of Microsoft Office's Ribbon user interface. A lot of people love to hate on the Ribbon, but regardless of your feelings about it, you can probably allow that it was a pretty daring and innovative UI exercise (and especially so coming from Microsoft, a company not often lauded for its design innovation).

I'm glad to see that they have somebody like this placed at a high level in the Windows 8 effort.
posted by killdevil at 6:08 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


That's pretty amazing. Especially for something coming out of Microsoft. Hopefully they don't blow all their cash before this comes out buying other companies.
posted by chunking express at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2011


My black friend will be excited.
posted by Trurl at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2011


I wonder how many editions this version of Windows will have? My bet is...fifteen.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:11 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised microsoft hasn't bought out Montserrat for its tasty tldcc.
posted by boo_radley at 6:12 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't want this.
posted by Malice at 6:12 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Blah blah blah. Let me know when a version of Windows comes out that will tell me what is currently using my USB drive. Windows has had USB since Windows 95, OSR 2.1. I'll save you the trouble of looking that up: August 27, 1997. I'm using Windows 7 at work and it still won't tell me. I have to get some junky freeware to do it. I'm coming up on fourteen years of that.

I noticed something new in Office 2010 today. A feature I have wanted for Word for a very, very long time, which I call "Just Paste the Text, By Default," is finally there. I think I've wanted that since ... Word 2003?

And, wow, file searching has gone backwards from Windows XP. "No, really, Windows, I know you probably don't have an IFilter for it, and yeah, I did just connect to the drive, but pretty please, look inside all of the *.php files for this string." Nope. The advanced search syntax won't clue you in that it won't look inside that file. You have to go look for settings for each and every extension to do this. Again, I have fallen back on junky freeware for reasonable searches.

If they want to make Windows 8 be worth a damn, they could build a checklist by grabbing a Windows Annoyances book and then looking at the hundred most downloaded freeware applications that supplement Windows. Bam. (As a bonus, getting the freeware functionality means fewer users installing Random Crap from the Internet, which is always better for security)

They won't do it, though.
posted by adipocere at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [55 favorites]


Even their walls are cluttered with features.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


I was impressed- I like that you can still access the traditional desktop if you want to.
I'm still not completely on the touchscreen bandwagon. My fingers are far too greasy.

Also, "Picture Feedr?"
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:15 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really want Microsoft to do great things, and I hope Windows 8 will shake off the shackles of the mediocrity that has slowed down the company lately. But with that tit Balmer in charge, it seems doubtful.
posted by oxford blue at 6:15 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


More snark: Who let the Kin guys take over everything?
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:16 PM on June 1, 2011


That's just more crap to turn off within fifteen minutes of having a Windows 8 machine.
posted by octothorpe at 6:16 PM on June 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


It would seem Microsoft has committed to letting their programming and design teams innovate. I dig it. I don't see how this will run on anyone's old PC in the accounting dept, but I can see how it will run on an nVidia-based tablet for example.

It's all about the apps. The interface looks very nice. (Mac/Linux zealot here)
posted by nutate at 6:16 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


yo microsoft invest in a microphone
posted by nathancaswell at 6:18 PM on June 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Supposedly the entire point of the Ribbon interface was to have something distinct enough to be patentable, therefore un-copyable by OpenOffice. I'm still loathing it.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 6:19 PM on June 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


That looks so fucking cool. If it works as well as their new mobile phone, I'm excited for Microsoft's future.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:20 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of apps that are optimized for full screen, and I'm glad that all of the players are experimenting with those ideas. I really am not convinced that an OS can scale across devices and interaction methods, however, without supernaturally good third party developers. The usability situation is already difficult, but now you need to test and tweak your app both on small touch screens, large touch screens, and desktops with a keyboard and mouse? I don't see it.

One thing that I've found with my iPad is that I'm far less tolerant of applications working well. Part of this, I think, is that by making the experience so much more tactile and governed by quasi-physical rules, my intuitive reaction to software is more similar to how I react to objects on my coffee table. In a good app, it makes using software fairly seamless with the rest of my life. However, breaking that illusion is far more disruptive than it is when a desktop app acts strangely. I hope that Microsoft figures out how to nail that aspect and make it easy for developers to nail it too, but as of this video, I'm not sure what this really brings to the table other than better widget management.
posted by Schismatic at 6:20 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er, applications not working well. Whoops.
posted by Schismatic at 6:21 PM on June 1, 2011


You know, I'm so used to just instinctively disliking almost everything that Microsoft does that I don't really know how to react. Is that genuine gadget lust? For a Microsoft product? How very disconcerting.

That looks pretty great, but of course that's in a very controlled environment with tightly controlled art assets; how well it'll work in real life is still open to question. If they avoid doing stupid stuff with it, that has the potential to be, to coin a phrase, insanely great.

But this is Microsoft; they always shoot themselves in the foot. Sometimes the head. I will put my burgeoning gadget lust on hold, pending the discovery of the bullet(s).
posted by Malor at 6:21 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


yo microsoft invest in a microphone

Yeah I really don't want to snark because this looks interesting and I don't want this to turn into another Macs Rool Windowz Drool thing, but Jesus God if your first impression of your new user interface is your blown-out muffly voice through the built-in mic on the camera I am going to have a negative impression of your commitment to quality.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:21 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Screen of Death Blue
posted by DU at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


But for people who actually need to get work done, I think it's a major regression. I'd hate to think desktop computing peaked at Mac OS X 10.5.

It doesn't really seem like a problem to me. Applications that rely on a GUI to function will probably continue to work as well (Ableton Live) or as poorly (Photoshop!) as they still do. The reliance on HTML5/JS/CSS for simple apps means that people who want to be Windows power users can whip up their own little tools pretty easily if they feel like it. Those same people look like they will still have access to whatever Control Panel fuckery they've learned to deal with previously.

What worries me about the touchscreen-oriented future is that it seems as though professionals who use things like Photoshop and Live have a bit of an uncertain future ahead of them; I would use my Linux PC exclusively if there weren't things that I can't do without that only run on OS X (or Windows), which also seems to be heading in that direction.
posted by invitapriore at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


chunking express: That's pretty amazing. Especially for something coming out of Microsoft. Hopefully they don't blow all their cash before this comes out buying other companies.

It's just a glorified version of the smart phone interface.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Adding comments has been disabled for this video."

Wise choice.
posted by aerotive at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's an interesting paradigm, but what they're showing mimicks very closely what they did with Windows 7 Phone. So we're seeing, I guess, Windows 7 Phone Desktop.

There's something to this, but I don't know if they're 100% of the way there yet. Tiles as work surface is interesting, and it's an interesting evolution of (I will grasp at a term here) faceted computing, where the device's interface streamlines to what you're mostly doing.
posted by boo_radley at 6:23 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an iPad for your desktop. How useful. Pushing us more and more towards passive consumption.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Again, I have fallen back on junky freeware for reasonable searches.

Damn that junky find | xargs grep!
posted by DU at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


It certainly appeals to me more than Win7 (which I'm using now); which has always come across as 'just like XP, but then we hid everything'. At least it's some actual change.
posted by pompomtom at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate to think desktop computing peaked at Mac OS X 10.5.

If you want talk about getting work done, it probably peaked with Wordperfect 5.1 on dos.
posted by empath at 6:26 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Microsoft has been doing some damned impressive stuff since 2006 at least (Pivot, which inspired Bing Visual Search is a great example, Photosynth is another). It's time for these ideas to come to fruition if for no other reason than that there's room for different types of cool, outside the infuriatingly pedantic Apple kind of cool.
posted by eeeeeez at 6:27 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


And all, still, apparently running on top of that miracle of file system innovation, NTFS. I'm thrilled.
posted by paulsc at 6:28 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's an interesting paradigm, but what they're showing mimicks very closely what they did with Windows 7 Phone. So we're seeing, I guess, Windows 7 Phone Desktop.


Apple has a similar relationship with their desktop and mobile software, although in reverse. But I don't think that invalidates the design.

I liked that Pioneer Woman was one of the feed things. Were they trying to de-geekify it from the get go?
posted by oxford blue at 6:29 PM on June 1, 2011


nutate: "I don't see how this will run on anyone's old PC in the accounting dept"

Oh, I can, easily. Perhaps even especially if you're in the accounting department. Rather than dealing with a start menu full of garbage, you have a tile for Excel with recent documents or if your workplace is adept with windows workflows (imagine the following in a tile) or tasks

Microsoft Excel
Last document: quarterly review.xls
Documents waiting for your review: Accounts payable, Accounts receivable (... and 2 others)
Documents you're waiting for others to review: Bank reconciliation.
Documents nearing disposition: Mar 2010 financials, Apr 2010 financials

posted by boo_radley at 6:30 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's different, but is there any reason why this is better?
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


BECAUSE SHINY
LOOK AT IT
SHINY
posted by adipocere at 6:36 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


It was running on Atom in the demo. And popular ARM cores are around a gigahertz. This interface looks shiny but it's really a bunch of very simple animation, easy to crunch by even a minor GPU. Don't worry about how it'll run. Worry about whether they fuck it up some other way. I think it's cool but Microsoft has a track record of assassinating their coolest products.

I grabbed some screenshots from the video and put them here, by the way, in case people don't want to pause all the time. I got most of the main screens.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:38 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, the fancy schmancy tile UI is just an overlay on the good ol' Windows UI that has barely change a lick since Windows 95.

Seriously, when they launched a legacy application, I checked out. That's fucking awful. Either make it seamless, or go the fuck home.
posted by SansPoint at 6:38 PM on June 1, 2011


I don't get all obsession over the beauty or lack of it in the Windows UI. Shouldn't they first concentrate on making it work (and not crash)?
posted by DU at 6:44 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


They keep telling me that they are making the Windows experience better, but it just feels like they keep making it stupider.

I don't want apps running on my desktop. I have the internet (or the window) if I'm interested in finding out what the weather is. I don't want "tiles" because Windows Explorer works really, really well already (really) - a fully customizable launch bar would rock, though. I want to store shit where I want to store it. If I can get somewhere with 2 clicks now, don't make me go through 3 clicks in the next version. Touchscreens on a desktop setup are generally a ludricrous idea.

I use Windows 7 on my laptop and XP on my desktop. Win 7 has some benefits, but overall it's harder and less convenient than XP. That's not progress in my book.

Just give me something fast, configurable and reasonably secure. I can do the rest.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:44 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let me know when a version of Windows comes out that will tell me what is currently using my USB drive... I have to get some junky freeware to do it.

For techie users, you could try Handle or Process Explorer from the Microsoft SysInternals toolkit.

For regular users, there's the tray-icon that lets you "safely remove USB device".

You're right though that there's nothing really in between.
posted by rh at 6:44 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And all, still, apparently running on top of that miracle of file system innovation, NTFS. I'm thrilled.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but if you're being serious, that's badly misplaced. NTFS is pretty good even by modern standards, and considering when it was designed, it's ridiculously impressive. Of all the filesystems that have been designed since, ZFS is the first one I'd consider genuinely better from a general-purpose standpoint. There are quite a number that are comparable, but I wouldn't call them better. And my ZFS endorsement comes with with a reservation; I don't know how well it handles ACLs, one of NTFS' strongest features.

Microsoft has done a lot of stupid shit over the years. But by god, one of the things they absolutely nailed was NTFS. It's freaking eighteen years old, it's still in active use, albeit with a number of improvements over the last two decades, and it's just about as good as anything else you can find. It's WAY better than its main desktop competitor, HFS+.

Criticize Microsoft in general, and I'm right there. But if you seriously take that kind of dismissive tone with NTFS, I'll cut you.
posted by Malor at 6:46 PM on June 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


For regular users, there's the tray-icon that lets you "safely remove USB device".

He's talking about the times when clicking that icon tells you it can't be removed. I've gone so far as to close every running program (that's visible on the taskbar at least) and it STILL won't let me remove it!
posted by JHarris at 6:47 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


looking at the hundred most downloaded freeware applications that supplement Windows

Back before Apple decided to become a consumer-electronics company and stop doing anything interesting with its operating system, this seemed to be their strategy for a while. From OS 8 to 10.4ish, maybe, they seemed to regularly include stuff that had become popular as add-ons. Sometimes by buying the product or company, sometimes by just ripping them off. Either way, they got a lot of handy features.

(That I can think of off the top of my head: WindowShade, Sherlock, Spotlight [I think], the little grey widget-strip that was the Classic predecessor of the Dock...)

Microsoft really wouldn't even have to develop anything, they could probably buy the rights to the 100 most popular Windows shareware utilities for less than the cost of the meetings it would take to make the decision to do it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:48 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh my god this month is just going to be a never ending stream of jism for user interface nerds. First this and then iOS 5 (assuming iOS 5 is legitimately interesting and not overhyped, but considering Apple just unveiled a fairly biggish thing before their keynote I'm assuming good things are coming there).

I like that Microsoft is deliberately taking all the routes Apple's not taking. It's almost like, OMFG!, you can create radical user interfaces WITHOUT waiting for Steve Jobs! I hope that fucking Google takes note of this, and every other company that's seemingly incapable of developing an interface without immediately reducing themselves to what's been done before. (I mean they're not actually going to, because most tech companies are run by gerbils, but IN THEORY OKAY)

Tackling this from a visual-only perspective, because yes, text-based interfaces with highly sophisticated keyboard mappings will always be more efficient, but, going from the assumption that the goal is to make the easiest thing in the world to use, the two things I like the most here are:

tiles — a few nights ago a friend and I were talking about how much cooler Windows Mobile's tile system is than iOS's icons. I mean iOS was revolutionary in how it disposed of everything on screen BUT its icons, meaning you were either looking for an app to launch or you were running an app fullscreen, but tiles kind of combine the old idea of "widgets" with iOS's app launching idea. I like that I can look at a set of 9 panels and see 9 different bits of information at a glance. It gives me less incentive to do what I absolutely do on both OS X and iOS and Windows, which is flip between various applications nervously looking for new things.

that split screen thingy — it seems like a really elegant way to manage multitasking. OS X sucks at multitasking, iOS doesn't even let you do it. The best solution I've seen is Windows 7's, with the snapping things to the screen, but that splitting thing looks like it makes so much sense.

Lion's solution to multitasking is just to fullscreen everything, but that's not as efficient. As far as I've seen Apple has no solution to people who want to watch crappy movies while Facebooking. A set-up like this would be a dream for me.

Most of the rest of the stuff looked pretty basic, like "let's make things stupidly simple and pretty", but I wasn't expecting that from Microsoft either, so that's great too.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:50 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


If they want to make Windows 8 be worth a damn

Which they don't because they think they don't have to... But mine is not the only big company that's still on XP, with little-to-no-incentive to authorize upgrades to Win7 or Office 2010... At some point, they're going to have to realize that slapping some paint and a coupla rhinestone pasties on the old girl is just not going to cut it.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 6:53 PM on June 1, 2011


Their Twitter client is called "Tweet@rama"? I know it's supposed to mean "Tweet-o-rama", but my brain keeps trying to parse it as "Tweet at Rama", some kind of software for sending short messages to Arthur C. Clarke's cylindrical space habitat.
posted by skymt at 6:54 PM on June 1, 2011 [20 favorites]


Also, the video just shows that Microsoft still thinks that you can use the same software on touch screens as devices with pixel-perfect pointers. Every day that I get my ipad out I think to myself, man, this would suck if I had to use a menu bar, or a damn "ribbon", or even something like the close button on a window of a desktop app. I'd rather go without that software and just relegate the device to Plants vs. Zombies (best use of a touch screen ever, by the way) instead of having a few apps that are good and a few that are unusable because they were designed for desktops.

Bottom line: Completely different user interfaces (fingers vs. mice) require completely different user interfaces (iOS vs OS X, e.g.).
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:54 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


tiles — a few nights ago a friend and I were talking about how much cooler Windows Mobile's tile system is than iOS's icons..

I am very intrigued by Windows Phone 7 - I'd kinda like to learn to develop for it. The interface is exciting, I know C# well enough to get going (Objective C? The brackets. Oh my god. The brackets)
posted by device55 at 6:55 PM on June 1, 2011


I didn't like how midway through the demo he shows MS office and you see the start bar at the bottom of the screen and suddenly it is clear that this is just glitter on top of the old windows UX. The whole new UX metaphor comes crashing down the minute it appears. It is abrupt, confusing and utterly unforgivable. This is their showcase demo, even if it will work this way, they shouldn't show it that way. Office is their other flagship product, it all needs to come together.

The other thing I don't like is the concept of HTML at the desktop and throughout the OS. Didn't we learn how terrible this idea was back in the 1990s when they tried to do this before and it created a security and maintenance nightmare.
posted by humanfont at 6:56 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the split screen thingy as well. Overall looks good, Looks like it will be great on tablets, I'm probably the closest thing MetaFilter has to a Microsoft Fanboy so I'll shut up. Go Microsoft!
posted by Ad hominem at 6:57 PM on June 1, 2011


I didn't like how midway through the demo he shows MS office and you see the start bar at the bottom of the screen and suddenly it is clear that this is just glitter on top of the old windows UX

You expect the OS to update the look and feel of legacy apps? The ones people spent years learning?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:58 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really hope it is more then skin deep. Win 7 seemed to have hope, but falls very short as soon as you get deeper; things like search are painful to use, lots of dialogs (system, not legacy apps) are 10 years plus old. But I'm willing to give them yet another chance.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:04 PM on June 1, 2011


BlackLeotardFront: " I think it's cool but Microsoft has a track record of assassinating their coolest products."

Typically the assassination happens by API.
posted by boo_radley at 7:08 PM on June 1, 2011


"... But by god, one of the things they absolutely nailed was NTFS. It's freaking eighteen years old, it's still in active use, albeit with a number of improvements over the last two decades, and it's just about as good as anything else you can find. It's WAY better than its main desktop competitor, HFS+. ..."
posted by Malor at 9:46 PM on June 1

That's kind of damning NTFS with faint praise, Malor. In a OS monoculture like Windows, the OS developer either sets the future technology track, or buckles under developer flack. The latter course being what Steve Ballmer chose for Windows File System (WinFS), originally thought to be a key technology component of Vista, fer cryin' out loud.

So let's not go too far down the road of celebrating the longevity of NTFS, without shedding a tear or two for good ideas broken on the hard reality of backwards application compatibility, and developer comfort. Not that WinFS was the be-all or end-all of possible file system evolution, but (let's be honest) since Hans Reiser went to jail, the interest in the file system underpinnings of operating systems has pretty much evaporated.
posted by paulsc at 7:10 PM on June 1, 2011


I didn't like how midway through the demo he shows MS office and you see the start bar at the bottom of the screen and suddenly it is clear that this is just glitter on top of the old windows UX. The whole new UX metaphor comes crashing down the minute it appears.
Linux folks have been experimenting with full-screen and tiled user interfaces for quite a while, and they've managed to make it mostly work with programs written for normal window systems (with a few exceptions, *ahem* GIMP). So it's not entirely impossible, though it will never be perfect. I'm hoping Microsoft will do a lot more integration work before release time.
The other thing I don't like is the concept of HTML at the desktop and throughout the OS. Didn't we learn how terrible this idea was back in the 1990s when they tried to do this before and it created a security and maintenance nightmare.
Entirely different ideas are at work here. Active Desktop was Microsoft's attempt to ride the Web's hype wave by integrating it into the OS. Windows 8's HTML/JS apps are all-local; the only differences from normal native apps are the UI & technologies used. It's clearly an attempt to get web developers to write software on Microsoft's locked-in platform.
posted by skymt at 7:13 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supposedly the entire point of the Ribbon interface was to have something distinct enough to be patentable, therefore un-copyable by OpenOffice. I'm still loathing it.

Love it or not, that Ribbon UI is probably the most thoroughly tested user interface decision in the history of computing. Microsoft has tens of thousands of instrumented copies of office in the world, gathering quite fine-grained feedback on how people are using it, what paths they take through the code, etc.

One of the neatest pieces of information I've heard about Word 2010 is that of the top 10 new-feature requests they received after Office 2007, six (iirc) of them were already in Word, and worse, had been for two or more major versions. The features people were asking for were there, people just couldn't find them.

Microsoft understood, correctly, that that's a sign you've got to make a radical change. Sure, veteran users need to relearn stuff, but it's not a steep curve once you accept that you shouldn't drill down into menus anymore, because they're trying really hard to put all those options in front of your eyes as quickly and discoverably as possible.

posted by mhoye at 7:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


paulsc, it's eighteen years old. You're beating up on something that was originally designed when the 486 was in vogue, and the Pentium 60 was hot shit. Yet, it's still pretty comparable with everything else shipping today. Calling that anything other than a remarkable achievement is myopic.

I don't really agree with your assertion, but if we grant that the interest in filesystems has evaporated, wouldn't that mostly be because the ones we have are working pretty well?

Sure, WinFS would likely have been better, and I'd have happily switched up. But that doesn't mean that NTFS is crap.
posted by Malor at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


How much shit will they have to take before they give in and sell Windows XP downgrade licenses for this one too?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tiles, there will be lots of tiles. Microsoft has invested heavily in tiles.
posted by the noob at 7:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What an interesting interface that I will attempt to switch off immediately.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:29 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


eighteen years old. You're beating up on something that was originally designed when the 486 was in vogue, and the Pentium 60 was hot shit.

Ahhhhhhhhh I am old. Seems like yesterday I was hiding the doom demo downloaded in 14 parts from bbses from my mom.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:29 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Touch Slate ???

Betcha Bulmer instantly fires anyone who uses the word "tablet".
posted by the noob at 7:31 PM on June 1, 2011


This is apparently designed to lock you into the desktop. The desktop OS and the proprietary apps that run there is where MS makes almost all its profits. This is designed to direct you away from cloud computing where MS is manifestly uncompetitive. This redirection is apparently to be achieved with eye-candy and sparkly bits. Sorry, I don't think I'm interested in furthering the MS business model...
posted by jim in austin at 7:33 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


You expect the OS to update the look and feel of legacy apps? The ones people spent years learning?

I expect that when a company the scale of Microsoft tells me that this is the future of the user experience that they don't into Windows 95 at the first sign of doing anything I ordinarily do on my PC. I half expected him to start editing autoexec.bat or config.sys in notepad midway through.

I'm not pro or anti-MS. There are billions of dollars riding on this new user experience, so I think it isn't unreasonable to expect something polished and complete. Instead we have the wall of clutter and a warmed over demo of Metro thrown on top of Windows 95. Yet somehow this is going to all go from my mobile phone, to my tablet to my laptop and whatever future thing comes along next.

I will say that the tiles concept is nice, and the split screen is interesting.

This is in serious danger of becoming MS Bob all over again. There was a lot of research that went into Bob in an attempt to overtake the Desktop GUI that Apple had brought to the mass market. The idea behind Bob was to leapfrog beyond the desktop. Microsoft had a number of interesting ideas in that UX, but there were also clunkers. The most glaring flaw of Bob was, that when you really wanted to do something on your PC, you left the Bob UX and went back to Windows. And since that made you learn windows, Bob became this unnecessary splash screen that kept you from getting your actual work done. So despite the ease of use, it was just a redundant screen. At that point it was just a distraction and an annoyance and no amount of pretty graphics was going to save it.
posted by humanfont at 7:34 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


They should make each tile 1 pixel wide and 1 pixel high. Then I could access hundreds of thousands of apps with a touch of my finger.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:35 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


humanfont: " Microsoft tells me that this is the future of the user experience that they don't into Windows 95"

Windows 8: The future of UI and don't into anything.
posted by boo_radley at 7:35 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


mhoye: "Love it or not, that Ribbon UI is probably the most thoroughly tested user interface decision in the history of computing."

You know what else was thoroughly tested? Poochie.

The Ribbon seems like an equally outrageous paradigm.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:39 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to admit that that is not a bad tablet interface at all: tiles + snap + the split keyboard for thumb-typing. Certainly the space between app icons on the iPhone model serves no purpose at all; and screen-splitting is a very good compromise between "every app fills the whole screen" on the one hand and dragging overlapping windows around on the other. Nothing here for the non-tablet market but it's great for that. I'd use it. If it wasn't on top of freaking Windows.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:40 PM on June 1, 2011


"... Sure, WinFS would likely have been better, and I'd have happily switched up. But that doesn't mean that NTFS is crap."
posted by Malor at 10:22 PM on June 1

When was the last time you did a search on a 1 TB drive, with 400,000+ files, for a file whose file name contains the string "mybestportrait" and which might, to the best of your human recollection, be anywhere on the drive? A lot of Windows user complaints, including some in this thread, stem directly from performance issues dictated by the limits imposed by the design of NTFS. I don't know about you Malor, but as I get older, and keep paying for faster hardware, I'm getting really, really tired of waiting for the computer to just find stuff, much less do anything with it.

If you can't materially improve your file system after 18 years, in concert with the vast increases in storage device capacity, and end user expectations, and chose to focus, instead, on stuff like touch screen integration, I, for one, feel pretty justified in calling out "Hey, wait a minute! What's up with local search, and common application file system performance and compatibility, and simple application function stringing (ala *nix), and file system related application multi-threading performance? "Where's the beef," so to speak, insofar as "the beef" is a fundamentally faster, better OS ecosystem for applications to work within?"
posted by paulsc at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ahh, so it's Windows, but not Windows. Windows Everywhere is a concept that Ballmer has been pushing for a while, very much to the company's detriment. I mean, their initial response to the iPad was a piece of shit running Windows 7 that everyone has forgotten about. So here we see their actual tablet solution, and it's something entirely different yet designed for touch running on top of the same old windows like Windows Media Center does. Combining them like this strikes me as hilariously useless, and they will probably only be used in tandem about as often as people use Windows Media Center. And I expect that they'll have a version of Windows 8 that runs well on a tablet about the same time that Adobe makes a mobile flash that doesn't run like shit.

So yea, this is Microsoft's iPad competitor, for better or for worse.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:47 PM on June 1, 2011


Local Computer Policy -> User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Desktop -> "Disable Start Screen"

I am going to go ahead and predict that this GPO, which I just made up, gets set to enabled instantly by 95% of system administrators.

Also this UI fills me with a nameless dread.
posted by tracert at 7:50 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


You expect the OS to update the look and feel of legacy apps? The ones people spent years learning?

Yes. Apple moved all their major apps to a touch interface on iOS. Microsoft could do the same if they weren't so heavily invested in a slowly but surely dying model of user interface. The fact that people have to spend years learning an interface is not a reason to keep it; much the opposite, that suggests it's a terrible interface and it should be radically changed as soon as technology allows.

Touch screens give us an opportunity to radically change how we interact with digital objects, more directly than we ever could before. We no longer have to tell the cursor where it should touch; we just touch ourselves. It will take a while to figure out how to do everything like that, but that's just a temporary lag. The interaction model itself is far more powerful, not less. The quicker we can jump to the new paradigm, the better. That's why it was so disappointing when what initially looked like a quick transition for Microsoft became a very slow transition as soon as they opened a legacy app entirely emersed in the past.
posted by scottreynen at 7:50 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing I don't get is the "flicking hidden things from the left onto the screen." What order are running apps in? How do you rearrange them? h,mm
posted by kuatto at 7:52 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


scottreynen: "Touch screens give us an opportunity to radically change how we interact with digital objects, more directly than we ever could before. We no longer have to tell the cursor where it should touch; we just touch ourselves."

The idea of trying to do serious Excel work with a touch screen would scare the bejesus out of me.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:55 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah... no.

This might be the pretty, pretty frontend but it will be killed for corporate machines... and will hopefully never se the light of day on a server variant.

These days, after the release of GNOME 3 and it's new shell, I regret NOTHING about my switch to KDE 4.6.2.

NOTHING you hear me!?!
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:59 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supposedly the entire point of the Ribbon interface was to have something distinct enough to be patentable, therefore un-copyable by OpenOffice.

People who believe things like this deserve to deal with broken package managers. Yes, Giant Public Company totally made a billion dollar UI bet because they're worried about $open_source_competition that 0.01% of the market uses. Especially when 99% of that group would use it even if it sucked ass for religious reasons.

I say that as an open source lover & contributor. Shit like that does not help the cause, Holmes.
posted by yerfatma at 8:03 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know what else was thoroughly tested? Poochie.

I wonder what the term for "argument by simpsons reference" is? I bet it doesn't have a fancy latin name.

You expect the OS to update the look and feel of legacy apps? The ones people spent years learning?

The UI state of the art has moved past "issuing imperative commands" and now past "invoking verb-objects on managed state" to the current leading edge, which seems to be "having meaningful interactions directly with representative noun-objects", and is a lot more transparent to the end user, at least on the surface level.

If you're heavily invested in the previous paradigm, new things will always be hard and new interfaces will always suck, and sure, there will be stuff they can't do. The important question is, can they do newer stuff, as that newer stuff becomes more important, better? We'll see, we'll see. Is the new stuff going to be confusing? Of course, but that's the high price of rote learning.
posted by mhoye at 8:06 PM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


The idea of trying to do serious Excel work with a touch screen would scare the bejesus out of me.

Does anyone honestly think this will happen? We're talking about a company who employs hundreds of people (like poor Raymond Chen) just to help stupid companies (looking at you, Intuit) keep their terrible programs compatible with all versions of Windows. I'm shocked, shocked people on Metafilter would take a short eye-candy video about an unreleased Microsoft product and extrapolate failure from it.
posted by yerfatma at 8:06 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think our confusion, paulsc, is that you're criticizing Microsoft for not pushing past NTFS, and I'm hearing it as criticism of NTFS itself. That would be unfair, since it's so comparable with the competition despite its age. The filesystem in BeOS kinda-sorta did what you're talking about, maintained an index, but it died with the OS.

You are, in essence, arguing that every filesystem on the market is terrible. And I think I even agree with that; maybe every filesystem does kinda suck. And, like you, I think Microsoft is in the best position to give us something new, and they're abrogating their responsibility to do so.

Regardless, NTFS has saved my assdata on more occasions than I could hope to count. And in the final reckoning, whether or not it's missing features, that's the part that really matters to me.

If you can't materially improve your file system after 18 years, in concert with the vast increases in storage device capacity, and end user expectations,

Hey, like I said, if you want to criticize Microsoft, I'll join in the chorus. I will, however, point out that Apple is doing the exact same thing. If you think NTFS sucks, stay far away from HFS+, which is the creakiest piece of shit in modern use. Horrible.

It would be nice to see Microsoft working more on the plumbing, not just the glitz. They did do a lot of that with Vista, part of why it took so very long to ship that OS.

Oddly enough, that kind of basic janitorial work seems to mostly be happening in the free OSes. The stuff they're doing with Linux is so complex that I'm not even fully grasping what they're up to, anymore.
posted by Malor at 8:06 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The idea of trying to do serious Excel work with a touch screen would scare the bejesus out of me.

I do intensive CAD and spreadsheet work and over many, many years have honed a method of working based on keyboard macros and shortcuts that is completely unbeatable by people who push mice or fingers around. You don't have to look away from your work, keyboard buffer lets you type ahead of the action and your eyeballs don't get sore from darting around the screen looking for unique shaped hieroglyphics for each action. The Mac OS is difficult enough to use this way- The Ribbon was a step in the wrong direction for me and the 8 interface looks dreadful.

I guess I am just a dinosaur. But a damn fast dinosaur.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


PROD_TPSL: "These days, after the release of GNOME 3 and it's new shell, I regret NOTHING about my switch to KDE 4.6.2.

NOTHING you hear me!?!
"

I thought KDE 4 threw away the desktop and introduced stupid, individually-resizing "icons" that didn't represent files, wouldn't drag-and-drop normally, and ran on top of some stupid widget engine? Or did they realize their blunder?
posted by dunkadunc at 8:08 PM on June 1, 2011


Oddly enough, that kind of basic janitorial work seems to mostly be happening in the free OSes.

Where worries about backwards-compatibility are non-existent.
posted by yerfatma at 8:09 PM on June 1, 2011


I like this. It's a Good Thing. It's not as though Windows will abandon the keyboard; I'd love to have an OS capable of transitioning smoothly from desktop to tablet and back.
posted by Room 101 at 8:11 PM on June 1, 2011


The idea of trying to do serious Excel work with a touch screen would scare the bejesus out of me.

There were plenty of people similarly scared by the idea of trying to do serious Lotus 1-2-3 work outside DOS. So Microsoft didn't drop DOS support until Windows 7. At that rate, we're now on track to drop cursor interface in Windows 14. By then, my unborn children will be in college having never owned a computer with a cursor.
posted by scottreynen at 8:25 PM on June 1, 2011


What's interesting to me is that both Microsoft and Apple are trying to turn PCs into cellphones, but they're going about it in different ways. Microsoft is trying to embrace the phone/table UI/UX. Apple is trying to embrace cellphone lock-in and walled gardens on the computer.

I really think that by 10.8 Ocelot Or Whatever Cat Jobs Is Hot On Now the only way to purchase software on a Mac will be through the App Store. And there will be general approval of this and the shouting down of anyone who suggests otherwise. And maybe by then Linux will have its act together enough to finally make a real push against both Apple and MSFT, but I really doubt it.
posted by dw at 8:32 PM on June 1, 2011


One of the neatest pieces of information I've heard about Word 2010 is that of the top 10 new-feature requests they received after Office 2007, six (iirc) of them were already in Word, and worse, had been for two or more major versions. The features people were asking for were there, people just couldn't find them.

I'm betting that they couldn't find them with the ribbon interface either.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:40 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much. It's just menus, except they're laid out horizontally instead of vertically. What's the difference?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:47 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Linux has always had too many cooks spoiling the broth, as well as mindnumbingly bad UI design (do we really need file browser toolbars with dozens of huge icons? GNOME and KDE, I'm looking at you.) Don't get me started on the amount of parallel software projects trying to do the same thing, all of them buggy as hell.

Thing is, they've realised this as of recently, which is why GNOME has thrown everything out with GNOME 3, and likewise Ubuntu has thrown everything out in a similar way with Unity.
Thing is, they're desperate and trying to reinvent the wheel- when all they needed to do was make a proper, consistent desktop OS that just works. Hell, they could have taken a lot of cues from Apple.

Did I mention that you get shouted down each time you say some things just don't work? I stopped talking about it over on Slashdot for this very reason, they said I was lying.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:53 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much. It's just menus, except they're laid out horizontally instead of vertically. What's the difference?

Decades of muscle memory knowing where things used to be before it got moved around, for one.

This preview of Windows 8 does extend the "design with mobile in mind first" paradigm for web development to the desktop. However, whether this actually pans out into something humans can use to get their work done, well, that's a different story. What works in one context doesn't always work in another.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:56 PM on June 1, 2011


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much. It's just menus, except they're laid out horizontally instead of vertically. What's the difference?

It's context-sensitive, so things move around, appearing and disappearing. It's trying to read my mind, and sometimes it fails. Software shouldn't try to read my mind. We tried that before and it failed spectacularly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:56 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hah. It's windows 7 with an iphone grafted onto it. Hopefully you can turn off the iphone bits - the tile interface and touchscreen focus are terrible ideas that would hobble any machine used for actual work. That's where Microsoft makes their actual money - machines used for real work, not screwing around - and they need to not drive away that market.

Did Microsoft learn nothing from the Windows Vista / Windows 7 round of development? Nobody wants radical changes to the user interface! Just make the damn thing work, make it fast, and make it secure.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:01 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did Microsoft learn nothing from the Windows Vista / Windows 7 round of development? Nobody wants radical changes to the user interface! Just make the damn thing work, make it fast, and make it secure.

I'm reminded of the fact that the basics of the car UX havn't changed in 70+ years or so. Steering wheel, pedals, shifter. Same thing with the qwerty keyboard. Doesn't matter if a UX efficiency could be gained by rethinking the whole thing, consumers want consitency. The iOS could break the mold because they were new devices and a whole new experience. That isn't going to happen in the PC.
posted by humanfont at 9:07 PM on June 1, 2011


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much. It's just menus, except they're laid out horizontally instead of vertically. What's the difference?


For me: In the old interface, any task you repeated was eventually learned as a keyboard shortcut. The pattern 'alt-this that' or 'alt-this that theother' worked for just about everything, and there were hints on the screen. Eventually, almost everything could be done without one's hands leaving the keyboard, which means higher productivity.

That said, I also agree with the other answers given to this question.
posted by pompomtom at 9:07 PM on June 1, 2011


The iOS could break the mold because they were new devices and a whole new experience. That isn't going to happen in the PC.
posted by humanfont at 2:07 PM on June 2

I'm not sure. I think there will be a degree of conceptual convergence. The popularity of the iPad will have some degree of impact on desktops and computing generally.
posted by oxford blue at 9:10 PM on June 1, 2011


The pattern 'alt-this that' or 'alt-this that theother' worked for just about everything, and there were hints on the screen.

This is exactly what happens when you press ALT in Office 2010. Try it! Keyboard shortcuts still work, and if anything, the on-screen hints are more obvious.
posted by rh at 9:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


When was the last time you did a search on a 1 TB drive, with 400,000+ files, for a file whose file name contains the string "mybestportrait" and which might, to the best of your human recollection, be anywhere on the drive? A lot of Windows user complaints, including some in this thread, stem directly from performance issues dictated by the limits imposed by the design of NTFS.

Why do you think NTFS is the reason for slow searches? The search tool Everything manages to search instantly and actually requires NTFS to work - it does not work on older FAT32 drives.
posted by netd at 9:17 PM on June 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


humanfont: I'm reminded of the fact that the basics of the car UX havn't changed in 70+ years or so. Steering wheel, pedals, shifter. Same thing with the qwerty keyboard. Doesn't matter if a UX efficiency could be gained by rethinking the whole thing, consumers want consitency.

I can understand what you're saying, but the reason I don't like the looks of this preview of Windows 8 is that it looks like efficiency was hurled out the window. Touchscreen interfaces are not efficient - they're slower than mice and less versatile. Tile interfaces are not efficient - they waste tons of screen real estate, and if I'm only going to have eight icons on the screen, I already know what they all do and they don't need text descriptions.

One of the reasons I like the Windows 7 interface is that, when adjusted properly, it feels incredibly efficient. Most of the things you'd like to do have hotkeys. The taskbar can be set back to Windows 95 style, so you can have eight documents open, see the titles on all of them, and switch to any of them instantly. Programs are run from tiny, unobtrusive icons that stay out of your way when you don't want them. Different icons are used to access running versions of programs and start new ones. It's really nice and I don't think other interfaces compare at all (Linux can be made decent if you set it the same way, but Macs have that awful dock.) It really feels like everything Microsoft is trying to do here are massive steps backward.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:28 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised at the Windows 7 hate. I love Win 7's UI- the taskbar is the best of its kind, what with the command lists and thumbnails-per-window and perfectly-sized icons. And it comes with PowerShell preinstalled on every machine! And you can open a command line from any folder without installing a PowerTool (shift-right-click). And...
posted by Jpfed at 9:42 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The iOS could break the mold because they were new devices and a whole new experience. That isn't going to happen in the PC.

I agree, but I also think the PC will follow mainframes into the dustbin of computers that can do more we don't value. You couldn't do as much on the intial PCs because they had a new interface that required more processing power and also because the industry was focused on mainframes. But PCs were cheaper, so people bought them even though they did less. Eventually both the processing power and the industry focus got the point where the PC was good enough. You could still do more with a mainframe today, but that more is no longer anything anyone values. I don't see any reason this won't happen again with touch screen devices, and it seems to be happening much faster this time.

Cars have both safety and slow technological progress as barriers to interface change. And even with all that, I don't think we're quite done with car interfaces. There's very little barrier to interface change with computers. I think we're very far from settled on the ideal computer interface.
posted by scottreynen at 9:45 PM on June 1, 2011


The ribbon was the best thing Microsoft had come up with in decades. It was the only honest attempt I think I've ever seen to build an intuitive interface from the ground up that not only worked for both casual and power users but also adopted a pedagogical structure to try to help people move from being casual users to power users. The fact that it was met with such virulent ridicule sort of cemented my own conviction that Microsoft has been preparing its own destruction by building their empire on mediocrity.
posted by koeselitz at 9:46 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mitrovarr, I'm about to start using Windows7 (coming from XP). Where is your "How I got Win7 to behave" blog?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:47 PM on June 1, 2011


Mitrovarr,

Don't worry too much. I went from Win98SE (yes I know how old that is) to Win7 Pro 64-bit on my personal machines, and it really wasn't that big of a deal.

I'll admit, I leafed through of a couple of guide books, just to familiarize myself with some of the new features, but it wasn't overwhelming by any means.

(Just so people don't think I was stuck in the dark ages, I have used XP and Vista and even a couple different iterations of Apple's operating systems along the way. I just didn't personally own them on my laptops.)

You'll be fine and you'll figure it out. Even the Office ribbon (which while not my favourite feature is usable when I have to resort to it -- like when I have to do something that I don't normally do and therefore don't have a keyboard shortcut to use).
posted by sardonyx at 9:55 PM on June 1, 2011


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much.

Well, I've pretty much switched to OpenOffice, but someone sent me a .docx that OpenOffice wouldn't Open, so I let Windows Office open it. And I couldn't find the 'Print' command. Thank goodness Ctrl+P still worked.

Now I didn't give it much of a chance, but why should I? Microsoft may have reduced the pitch of the learning curve, but they took everybody who had already climbed it and threw them back down to the bottom again.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:56 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


what i'd like to know is what functionality they're going to remove - i've never been so mindblowingly pissed off when i discovered my vista64 box with onboard sound no longer had midi - xp and the onboard sound had it - win 95 had it

and then there's the fact that my vista box can access any drive i want to on my xp box but xp isn't allowed to look at vista -

and then there's the fact that i've got a 64 bit computer with a 64 bit operating system and most of the software for it is still 32 bit - especially the browsers, which crash with the compulsive repetitiveness of crash test dummies

don't tell me about the new fancy schmancy interface you have - how about making the shit we have now work better?

xp is still the best os microsoft has come up with - it's been going strong on my xp computer for 5 years now - vista was a step backwards - and now that i've gotten that working somewhat decently - although i'm currently waiting for this damn thing to copy files that it would take xp 1/4 the time to copy - ANOTHER broken functionality - i'm just not into taking any damn chances with windows 7 or 8 or 666 ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well shoot, sardonyx just confirmed my suspicions. When people are using old keyboard shortcuts rather than use your spiffy new interface, I think you've done something wrong.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:58 PM on June 1, 2011


Mitrovarr: “Did Microsoft learn nothing from the Windows Vista / Windows 7 round of development? Nobody wants radical changes to the user interface! Just make the damn thing work, make it fast, and make it secure.”

There is no way to do this. The interface was not great to begin with, and now it's doing an insane new set of things. And Microsoft is competing in a marketplace where other companies are actually innovating.

It's funny to me; people are constantly demanding that Microsoft stop innovating and be more mediocre. Usually Microsoft gives them what they want, which is sort of why they manage to keep so many users. But a hint of innovation and change, and people start complaining that they don't want to learn anything new, even though that sentiment hardly makes sense on a computer.

Hell, all you have to do is look at Excel – which is at the same time Microsoft's most consistently lucrative product and a program whose workings almost literally have not changed in three decades – to see that this is true.

This is why Microsoft is a sad company. It's a computer company with bright employees who know intuitively that a computer company should be innovating – led by a bunch of executives who know that the secret to world domination is intentional mediocrity that caters to the lowest common denominator combined with enough market share to quash the competition.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


benito.strauss: “Well shoot, sardonyx just confirmed my suspicions. When people are using old keyboard shortcuts rather than use your spiffy new interface, I think you've done something wrong.”

Hold down the "alt" key. That's all you have to do with the ribbon if you want to know how to do something: hold down the "alt" key. Letters will pop up giving you options for your next step in the command structure. Keyboard shortcuts with the ribbon are actually vastly easier to figure out with the ribbon than they were with the old menus.
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I couldn't find the 'Print' command.

I had a similar problem when I was first exposed to it. The root of the problem was not the ribbon, though (which IMO does a great job of grouping commands); the problem was that Office turned their File menu into a round button with the Office logo on it. I had no idea, when I first started Office up, that this button was even a clickable entity, let alone one of the most important menus in the app. I poked around for half an hour before I, intensely embarrassed, called a coworker to ask for help.

If they had made their File menu into just another ribbon tab, neither you nor I would've had any difficulty.
posted by Jpfed at 10:08 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't call it wrong. I'd just call myself old.
benito.strauss,

I know what I know, and like Mei posted above, I learned the keyboard-based shortcuts that I need to do my job efficiently and effectively quite a while ago. (Mainly I work with words and numbers. I'm not drawing pretty pictures freehand, so keeping my hands on the keyboard makes sense.)

When I do have to perform a task in Office that I don't do a regular basis, then it's time for a non-keyboard approach.

For the younger generations who grew up not as dependent on the keyboard, MS is probably heading in the right direction. As new software comes out that I've never used before, I'll either end up interfacing with it in the same way all the youngsters do, or I'll look for the (keyboard) shortcuts that make sense to me.

Despite my own personal, previously antiquated system, I've given lots of people tech support and/or computer lessons. As I always say to them, there are at least three ways (and probably a lot more) to perform any function on a computer. You just have to pick the method that makes most sense to you.
posted by sardonyx at 10:08 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


*watches video*

give me a break - i can fit 60 -70 icons on my desktop, including icons for directories or files i want to access right away

now they want to dumb this down to 12 or so tiles so the programs can show their "personalities"? - so i can have the "windows user experience?"

i had this funny idea that *I* was the personality who mattered in my computer and *I* would create my own experience

i hate this
posted by pyramid termite at 10:09 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find the 'Print' command. Thank goodness Ctrl+P still worked...Now I didn't give it much of a chance, but why should I?

If I'm a regular user of Excel, Word, and other Office programs, the very last thing I want the user interface designers to care about is whether some newbie can glance at the interface and find the print button in 5 seconds. I want the interface built around making the program fast and easy to use for people who already know where the print button is.

Maybe the ribbon sucks, but that anecdote sure doesn't demonstrate it.
posted by straight at 10:09 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh, and that keyboard on the screen? - hmmm, i thought i had one of those on my desk ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:10 PM on June 1, 2011


Well, I've got "Office Word 2007", so maybe it's different, but, while Alt brought up some short-cut labels (very nice looking ones, too), I couldn't see 'Print'. Turns out that's under the "Office button", which I thought was just eye candy.

Thanks, but I'm not inspired.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:10 PM on June 1, 2011


Sorry. That was a bad cut-and-paste.

Of course it should have read:

"benito.strauss,
I wouldn't call it wrong. I'd just call myself old...."

(I wish MF had an edit button. )
posted by sardonyx at 10:11 PM on June 1, 2011


The problem that Microsoft seems to be running into is dealing with a wide user experience spectrum, from new users through power users all the way to developers and sys admins. Each has a different background; each has different expectations and skill sets. Migrating them all to a new version of Windows, while maintaining compatibility with everything else ever created, has to be a design nightmare. No one truly wins; some lose very, very badly.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:13 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish MF had an edit button.

I'm sure MF 7 will. It'll just be hard to find.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:13 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really don't get why people hate the ribbon interface so much.

Well different people respond to different dynamics is all I'd say. I'm a big fan of the Ribbon, though I rarely use Office. When I do I find the Ribbon to be an improvement. I'm a big fan of keyboard shortcuts as well while others never really get into them.

I find Windows 7 to be an improvement over XP almost to the degree that OS X was over OS 9. Little things about it everywhere that are just much nicer. I'm not to fond of the latest Ubuntu but I'll give it some time for me to adapt. After all, the first time I used a Mac, an Amiga, a C64, Windows 95, and any program ever for example, I gave them time too. I don't but the instant interface gratification model and I certainly don't buy the you shouldn't have to learn to use things model. Fucking nonsense that.

As for this. We'll see. They say quite clearly you can still use your keyboard or mouse so they are going nowhere. Perhaps it will be like many modern computing systems, where you can use it the way you like and not get all up in arms if your neighbour uses it in a different way.
posted by juiceCake at 10:16 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


sardonyx: "(I wish MF had an edit button. )"

Super, we haven't had a MeTa thread about this in what, two weeks now!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:17 PM on June 1, 2011


In other news the Chromebook just went on sale - seems a bit pricey for what you get though.
posted by Artw at 10:18 PM on June 1, 2011


Chrysostom,
And you won't find me starting one now. That was just me thinking aloud to myself.
posted by sardonyx at 10:19 PM on June 1, 2011


Maybe the ribbon sucks, but that anecdote sure doesn't demonstrate it.

Maybe Jpfed's wasted half-hour does?

And I was a regular user of Word and Excel. Then M'soft decided I wasn't. It's the general trend in Microsoft products. They change them every 3-7 years, whether they're bad or not. Eventually I just learned not to get too used to any Microsoft technology; they just don't stick around for that long.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:21 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


HOLY SHIT THEY'VE INVENTED LCARS!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, it occurs that Microsoft is making the exactly same mistake they made with their previous generation of mobile phones, except in reverse. Before, they were like "We need to have a consistent user interface! We'll make our phones like our computers!" Now, they're saying "We need to have a consistent user interface! We'll make our computers like our (competitor's) phones!" The real problem, I think, is that phones and computers are so totally different in purpose and interface that it is a mistake to try to apply the same concepts to both interfaces.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:29 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


benito.strauss: “It's the general trend in Microsoft products. They change them every 3-7 years, whether they're bad or not. Eventually I just learned not to get too used to any Microsoft technology; they just don't stick around for that long.”

I think you mean computers. That's the general trend in computers.
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 PM on June 1, 2011


I think you mean computers. That's the general trend in computers.

You're talking to a C programmer. The world reached perfection in 1990 and hasn't changed since.

/smiley face
posted by benito.strauss at 10:44 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The popularity of the iPad will have some degree of impact on desktops and computing generally.

It already has. To a large extent, the touch model of computing is where Apple is now, and where everyone else will try to be over the next 5-10 years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 PM on June 1, 2011


The problem that Microsoft seems to be running into is dealing with a wide user experience spectrum

Not really: the problem they are running into is having a commodity as one of their main products. Nobody with real work to do cares about how the OS looks, it just needs to get out of the way so I can do the things I need to be doing. It turns out however you can't charge people a couple hundred dollars every few years to buy a product that is small, fast, stays out of the way and does what it says on the tin, so you need to reinvent some paradigms every now and then.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:48 PM on June 1, 2011


For all of the supposed usability research that led to the Ribbon, you'd think it would have occurred to them to let you dock the fucking thing on the side of the window instead of the top. So in an era where I have more screen real estate than ever before, I see even less of the Word document I'm editing, because the Ribbon takes up even more vertical space than its predecessors, while leaving even wider wasted gutters on either side of the document. Thanks, Ribbon!
posted by Lazlo at 10:57 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Minimising it so you just click on the tabs when you need them works quite well for me. You actually get a lot more of a view of your document than with toolbars.
posted by Artw at 11:03 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


(while you're at it you can add your commonly used stuff to the quick access bar - I;m in two minds about that - it starts looking cluttery very quickly when you do too much of it, and stuff easily gets lost there)
posted by Artw at 11:04 PM on June 1, 2011


... while leaving even wider wasted gutters on either side of the document.

Slightly off topic, but if you've got a stand that supports it, try rotating your monitor(s) 90 degrees. Dual monitors in portrait mode is fantastic for reading, editing and coding, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.
posted by rh at 11:12 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the ribbon. The ribbon is good. Keep the ribbon. The more I think about tiles though the less I like. Too much crap going on there. Feels like a web portlet from 2000
posted by humanfont at 11:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


To a large extent, the touch model of computing is where Apple is now, and where everyone else will try to be over the next 5-10 years.

But Jobs has stated clearly that they think a touch screen for a desktop is terrible. Their touch interface is next to the keyboard on a touch pad or touch enabled mouse.
posted by PenDevil at 11:14 PM on June 1, 2011


The thing that is strangest about the whole ribbon thing is that it turns out there are people who are so keen on toolbars, which previously I think most people were complaining about as an ever growing UI blight.
posted by Artw at 11:16 PM on June 1, 2011


I consider KDE the least broken of the big desktops. I'm looking long and hard at LXDE and XFCE at this point. KDE and it's indiosyncracies seem moslty functional especially compared to GNOME 3.

We will see what the future holds.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:19 PM on June 1, 2011


Tiles? In my windows? On my desktop?

The mixed metaphors, they hurt my brain.

They should have called them 'panes', but then the joke about them being painful would have been way too easy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:26 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Pane" is already a term for something in GUI though.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on June 1, 2011


I use a tiling window manager in Linux (i3 to be exact) and I prefer it to having to keep track of floating windows. Although I do run all my apps in full screen and cycle through them with keyboard commands.

But tiling mixed in with touch screen and traditional apps like Excel I can see being a bit of a pain.
posted by PenDevil at 11:35 PM on June 1, 2011


The fact that you can work around some of the problems in the Ribbon's basic design by hiding it away (and thereby making the tools on it harder to get to) isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the design itself. There are workarounds for most things that annoy me in Windows, the problem is that I need to work around them in the first place.

Pivoting monitors are nice, but in yet another stupid usability oversight, Cleartype doesn't work properly with them. More of the basic housekeeping-level usability stuff that for some reason never seems to occur to anyone in product development at Microsoft.
posted by Lazlo at 11:36 PM on June 1, 2011


Lazlo: Pivoting monitors are nice, but in yet another stupid usability oversight, Cleartype doesn't work properly with them.

Well, Cleartype works because pixels are arranged as horizontal triplets in an RGB pattern. If you rotate the monitor, now they're vertical -- you can only antialias vertically, which is fairly useless, because there's hardly any curves there.

Now, if the problem is that it doesn't turn OFF, and fuzzes up the edges of the letters, then that is indeed an issue. But if you're complaining that you no longer have horizontal antialiasing when you pivot the screen, there is simply no physical way they can do that.

pyramid termite: I have decent working MIDI on my Win7 installation. What version are you running?
posted by Malor at 11:42 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fact that you can work around some of the problems in the Ribbon's basic design by hiding it away (and thereby making the tools on it harder to get to) isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the design itself.

I'd say it is. I make my browser full screen all the time and then bring back the hidden elements when I need them. I do the same in Photoshop, InDesign, etc. Great way to access elements when needed and make them disappear when not.

But this is just me. Others have or may have different ways of working that makes sense to them. Hence the lack of universal consent.

Pivoting monitors are nice, but in yet another stupid usability oversight, Cleartype doesn't work properly with them.

Cleartype works perfectly fine with my pivoting monitors.
posted by juiceCake at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2011


But Jobs has stated clearly that they think a touch screen for a desktop is terrible.

Jobs also said he wasn't getting Apple into the ebook business, and yet the iPad is there (not to the same extent as Amazon, granted, but the shift was notable). Where iOS is headed, I think OS X is a transition to that point, wherever iOS happens to end up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on June 1, 2011


None of the new features of Win8 are causing me any great stress, because they're inevitable. Mostly that's because 90% of the businesses I work with are Windoze-oriented and that's just part of the price you pay in order to get money out of them. Hell, I'll even be an early-adopter of Win8, for two reasons. The first is that, sure as shit, some corporation will REQUIRE something that uses a feature of Win8 and I'll be expected to provide that for them. The second is that as corporations slowly migrate to Win8, they'll want answers for issues they might have coming from XP/Win7. And I like to have those answers, it makes me look smart, like Geordie. And justifies larger fees.

My real problem with that video is what sort of sadist takes a poor goggie PARAGLIDING, for the love of jeebus?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:53 PM on June 1, 2011


Honestly I find this pretty pointless. I hardly ever run apps full screen, and instead keep a bunch of windows open and switch to them by clicking on them or whatever.

So what happens if I have 10 windows open and have to thumb through them one by one? It would be a huge pain the ass (maybe they will have a zoom out feature or something?)

Also seperate systems for "old" and "new" apps is totally lame. THey should be handled the same way Make the 'tile' for a traditional app just a zoomed out view of it. Or you should be able to manage full-screen apps as regular windows.

It seems like they want a system that will work as well on a keyboard-less tablet as a desktop or laptop, or even a phone. I find it annoying. Desktop's should have desktop UIs.

----

What I would really like to see is something that would make life easier for ordinary users: automatic passive backup of data, so when you copy your pictures to your hard drive, they'd would automatically get backed up to your USB drive and your offsite storage provider and so on.

I'd like to see a move away from hirarchial filesystems and a move towards tagged databases of data that automatically get synched across devices (WinFS was supposed to be something like this, but it sounds like they basically gave up. Lame)

----

Also, I used the ribbon a bit and it was fine. People bitching were people who didn't like change, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 11:59 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that you can work around some of the problems in the Ribbon's basic design by hiding it away (and thereby making the tools on it harder to get to) isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the design itself.

Er, that you can minimise teh ribbon isn't gvetting around the design, it's part of the design. Trust me, when I work in Word I don't stare at the page saying "OH MY GOD, I CAN'T SEE THE RIBBON, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I CAN DO!".
posted by Artw at 11:59 PM on June 1, 2011


but in yet another stupid usability oversight, Cleartype doesn't work properly with them. More of the basic housekeeping-level usability stuff that for some reason never seems to occur to anyone in product development at Microsoft.
Like Malor said, cleartype would be physically impossible on a pivot LCD. So it's not really an "oversight"
posted by delmoi at 12:01 AM on June 2, 2011


I really think that by 10.8 Ocelot Or Whatever Cat Jobs Is Hot On Now the only way to purchase software on a Mac will be through the App Store. And there will be general approval of this and the shouting down of anyone who suggests otherwise.

I'm a long time Mac user, and they would lose me if they did this. I put up with it on my iPhone because I don't do anything important on it.
posted by brundlefly at 12:14 AM on June 2, 2011


I've only ever experienced the Ribbon in Office 2010, but the File menu isn't an icon or button or anything anymore, it's a menu item ("File"), just like any other, so I guess they listened to the feedback from Office 2007.
posted by Bugbread at 12:16 AM on June 2, 2011


humanfont: "I'm reminded of the fact that the basics of the car UX havn't changed in 70+ years or so."

True. But look at the 30+ years or so before that, and you'll find that the car UX was largely non-standardised, or at least tied to an outdated paradigm (horse & buggy). Karl Benz first started making cars in 1888; it wasn't until 1908 - 20 years later - that Ford started making the Model T.

Hand-crank to start. Fiddling a knob to match spark timing to revs / load. Co-ordinating 3 pedals and a lever to change gears. Throttle on the steering wheel, not the floor.

See any parallels there?

It wasn't until the late 10's / early 20's, ~30 years after Benz, that motor vehicle controls became standardised. Ford was one of the last to change to what's now the familiar layout, with the Model A in 1927-8. Automatic transmissions had to wait another 15-20 years to be introduced.

For all that we now consider home computers advanced compared to their humble beginnings in the late 70's /early 80's, they're still at the Model T stage…

As for the Ribbon - I was all prepared to hate it when it was first introduced, but I actually warmed to it quite quickly. It's not a bad design idea, albeit one with huge problems (like the previously-mention issues with the button which, unless you're aware it does something, appears like pointless bling rather than the hub of the application). The context-sensitive bit is actually quite well done, once you realise that a) it is context sensitive, and b) you can determine the current context from the tab/flag bar at the top.
posted by Pinback at 1:02 AM on June 2, 2011


rh:This is exactly what happens when you press ALT in Office 2010. Try it! Keyboard shortcuts still work, and if anything, the on-screen hints are more obvious.

I get that they still work. I tend to close my eyes to use them when using 2010. I don't have an office 2010 machine in front of me now (the work win7 install decided to explode the other day, just one day before IT were going to upgrade it to Win7 (no, I don't understand either)), but IIRC the on-screen hints aren't more obvious to me. Do they even show up if you're in the wrong, ummm, context or whatever? I've been using menus across the top of the app, which drop down with alt, since my 8088 which didn't have a hard drive. I even get that the ribbon is probably easier for new users, but I'm still going to be one of those grouchy types that wish they'd just left the bloody thing alone (or given the user the option to use old-style menus).

There's some comment about lawns coming, I can feel it in my water.
posted by pompomtom at 1:12 AM on June 2, 2011


Wow, this has gotten long.

Love it or not, that Ribbon UI is probably the most thoroughly tested user interface decision in the history of computing. Microsoft has tens of thousands of instrumented copies of office in the world, gathering quite fine-grained feedback on how people are using it, what paths they take through the code, etc.

It just goes to show that market research can only take you so far. The Ribbon reminds me of the kind of non-standardized, every-program-does-it-different thing that user interface guidelines were written to solve. Are those UI lessons obsolete now?

dw: I really think that by 10.8 Ocelot Or Whatever Cat Jobs Is Hot On Now the only way to purchase software on a Mac will be through the App Store. And there will be general approval of this and the shouting down of anyone who suggests otherwise.

I've been viewing this possibility with apprehension too. I'm sure Apple will drag out whatever excuse they can to justify it, from solving the problem of malware to making computing simple and consistent between all apps, but no excuse could Apple come up with be enough to justify total authorial control over everything your computer runs. When I hear someone make excuses on Apple's behalf to justify the locked-down nature of the iOS App Store, it's a sign in my mind that someone's been around Jobs' reality distortion field without enough radiation shielding.

I remember the old 1984 commercial Apple made to publicize the classic Mac. Who would have thought their sympathies lay with Big Brother?
posted by JHarris at 1:40 AM on June 2, 2011


"Do they even show up if you're in the wrong, ummm, context or whatever?"

Yep. When you hit "Alt", it shows you the shortcut key for each ribbon type, in the same way that pre-ribbon, the menu showed you the shortcut keys for each submenu, like this:

File Edit View Tools

Then if you hit the shortcut key, like say "F", it shows you the ribbon you picked, plus the shortcut keys for each thing on the ribbon, in the same way as the old system which showed:

File
Save
Save as...
Print
Exit

There are things I like about the ribbon, and things I don't, but they did shortcut keys pretty darn well (you don't have to keep the "Alt" key held down the whole time; it works as a toggle, which is nice).

Note: The description above is all about Office 2010. I have never used Office 2007, so it may differ.
posted by Bugbread at 1:53 AM on June 2, 2011


I don't think Apple will ever prevent software installed via CD but with the growing concern about Mac malware it is a good idea that Apple has specified that the Mac Software store is a place where you can download software you can 'trust'. For far too long I've been uninstalling crap of various relatives Windows based computers that they downloaded and thought was a simple photo retoucher was in fact full of malware.
posted by PenDevil at 1:58 AM on June 2, 2011


(and, of course, I should point out that the ctrl shortcut keys, like ctrl-p or ctrl-s, work exactly as they always have, with no changes)
posted by Bugbread at 2:01 AM on June 2, 2011


The Ribbon is more like a toolbar than a menu. It has that thing where you can expand and contract sections of it, which makes it a little more like a menu, and there are tabs at the top... so it's a toolbar with three levels of organization.

I think it's really the mixing of metaphors that confuses people, and not anything about the ribbon as such.

By the way, I googled it and although Microsoft filed a patent for ribbons, they don't seem to have gotten one.

KOffice has something fairly similar, but graphically it's more like the tool palettes you get it GIMP et al.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:22 AM on June 2, 2011


Might I suggest that the infighting in the FOSS arena is not helping matters? Is it really so terrible to admit that different people have different preferences for user interfaces, and encourage everyone to find the setup that works best for them? Customizability is supposed to be a FOSS selling point.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:24 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering most of my personal use has switched from heavily administrative (Remote desktop, SSH, etc...) to more consumer stuff like reading metafilter all. goddamn. day, this slick interface is actually kind of interesting to me. If more and more of our applications will be cloud driven then this could actually be completely usable. How about we launch office from a tile showing our document space instead of from the Start menu? Would it be that drastic a shift? Games? Steam would fit into this model perfectly. IM and buddy lists? Tiling is a much better interface dynamic when more and more of the information you're presented with is changing. And if you really just need to Do Work, you can full screen the app and forget about everything else until you pull it back to the foreground again.

This is actually kind of exciting. I have been jaded about computing for a long time and this actually gets my brain churning. That's a good thing!
posted by tmt at 4:14 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Touch Slate ???
Betcha Bulmer instantly fires anyone who uses the word "tablet".


Yeah, Balmer & co. just keep hammering away at the "slate" moniker. It's kind of sad, really, since the world at-large seems to have gone with both "pad" and "tablet" for that iPad-like product niche. Of course, in Microsoft's world, "tablet" is supposed to refer to a whole different, and largely failed, product category. And they'll be damned if they call the touchscreen products "pads". So, they keep flogging the dead "slate" horse.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:24 AM on June 2, 2011


I hope there's a light edition.

They can call it App.LE
posted by chavenet at 4:31 AM on June 2, 2011


Word for Mac 2011 is genuinely one of the best word processors I've ever used -- and it has both the ribbon and menus. If only they'd get rid of the vestigal stump of a toolbar they'd be there.

You expect the OS to update the look and feel of legacy apps? The ones people spent years learning?
Not so much for touch, but I do wish they'd do something about the apps that suddenly spring up Windows 3.1-era buttons and UI elements in the middle of an XP world. It's laudable that all the old stuff works, but it makes the environment feel like a rag-bag.

As for Windows 8, they've already nailed some things Apple has been hopeless on -- multiple apps on screen at once (you know, user multitasking), and glance updates (beyond a numbered icon badge). I like the look of the next Windows Phone, too. If only they could get rid of their execs.
posted by bonaldi at 5:20 AM on June 2, 2011


As a power user, I've actually thought about Windows OS bugaboos a lot over the years - more than I consciously realized, actually. And it irks me that we keep getting fed more bling while basic issues have never been addressed. A couple off the top of my head:

1. Automatic Services: Go ahead, type "services.msc" and take a gander at all the (mostly useless and/or unsecure) shit running right now. Why? Why can't services load and unload as needed?

2. Centralized .dlls and program info in the registry: Again, why? Space is cheeeeeaaaaap. Keeping each program's info in its own folder would remove a ton of potential issues and provide super granularity.

I'm not a programmer, so I may be talking out of my ass, but IMO the goal should be a system that's as bulletproof and using as few cycles as possible. Not tons of bling.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:43 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Touch screens give us an opportunity to radically change how we interact with digital objects, more directly than we ever could before. We no longer have to tell the cursor where it should touch; we just touch ourselves.

I don't want to touch my screen, my fingers are dirty and I like the viewport into my machine to be nice and clean. Why don't TVs have touchscreens?

And my mouse-driven cursor has way better resolution than my finger. It's like moving from a jeweler's screwdriver to a #1 Robertson bit, with no handle - do not want. The mouse works excellently, my cold dead hands, etc.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:57 AM on June 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Plus the fact that on a desktop/laptop, you're pointing arm is going to be held horizontal 90% of the time. If touchscreens take off for "normal" computers, I'm investing in the local chain of PT clinics.
posted by bonehead at 6:11 AM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


you're your
posted by bonehead at 6:11 AM on June 2, 2011


Well, I have to say I like the idea of splitting the window into panes, then filling those panes with apps. I liked it so much in fact, that I used this back in fucking 2002 with the ION window manager on Linux.

Nice "innovating" Microsoft.
posted by odinsdream at 6:19 AM on June 2, 2011


Touch Slate ???

Betcha Bulmer instantly fires anyone who uses the word "tablet".


I also thought it interesting that the demo voiceover seemed to purposefully avoid saying "Phone" since that's apparently a different project. But, sure, "All kinds of devices!!"
posted by odinsdream at 6:36 AM on June 2, 2011


Automatic Services: Go ahead, type "services.msc" and take a gander at all the (mostly useless and/or unsecure) shit running right now. Why? Why can't services load and unload as needed?

Well, they actually kind of do. See all those services that aren't running?

And yes, there's a lot running on a Windows machine by default, but there also is on a Mac or on Linux. Right this second, I'm on a Mac, running Firefox, Preview, and a Terminal window to run 'ps xa | wc -l', and I show 51 active processes. My freshly-rebuilt home Linux server shows 108. (many of those are kernel daemons, but I think those count.)

Running all those services can actually reduce the total amount of code being executed by your machine, because programs can all call into that same codebase for various functions, instead of having to reimplement them, possibly poorly, and probably in incompatible ways. Abstraction is important for getting work done; one of the biggest differences between a modern PC and a 386 running DOS is all the layers of abstraction that have built up between you and the physical reality of running code. Services are a critical part of that series of abstractions.

Centralized .dlls and program info in the registry: Again, why? Space is cheeeeeaaaaap. Keeping each program's info in its own folder would remove a ton of potential issues and provide super granularity.

Well, at the time the idea was implemented, it wasn't a bad one; the central database format allows very fast lookups on machines that were glacially slow by modern standards. And programs don't have to write libraries to store settings themselves.

I think the biggest criticism I have of the registry is that the layout is too complex. It's way, way too hard to track down all the settings for a given program and remove them. I think that's the problem you're trying to solve with the granular-file approach, and it could be handled just as well with a central database with better partitioning. The REAL problem is that the schema is too complex, not so much that it's one database.

And, again, by running everything against one central store, you only need to carry around one instance of the database engine.

Centralized DLLs are used by all operating systems, because it allows for shared code. Everything on a Linux box that uses glibc, for example (almost all programs) ends up sharing the same memory space. Glibc gets loaded once, and everything calls into it.... it saves a tremendous amount of memory. Further, centralized DLLs allow for easy security patching; fix the DLL, and all programs that use it are automatically fixed as well.

The big issue there is having multiple incompatible DLL versions, aka 'dll hell'. Win7 has some method of handling that better, but I can't summon the details at the moment, curse my aging brain. Linux handles it through versioning that's built right into the filename.
posted by Malor at 6:47 AM on June 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's where Microsoft makes their actual money - machines used for real work, not screwing around - and they need to not drive away that market.

This is far, far too late. Talk to any company with more than 10 Windows machines and see how many are still on XP. It would take awhile to get into specifics, but post-XP, Microsoft made a handful of very odd decisions that, though they don't impact home users at all, make it really, really annoying to deploy consistent, locked down desktops on multiple machines. One of these involved simply disabling a particular checkbox used to make a default user profile. No, they didn't take out the underlying code, they just grayed-out and disabled the checkbox. Yeah, really.

A number of other short-sighted decisions leave people tasked with rolling out dozens of Windows machines with very few workable options that don't involve expensive retraining, third-party software, or methods that violate Microsoft's EULAs. Most I've talked to have opted to just stick with XP.
posted by odinsdream at 6:50 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check it out guys, here's a new unreleased screenshot of Windows 8.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:12 AM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just want to say that I use Windows 7 and Ubuntu with KDE4.5 and both UI are equally usable and equally quirky and weird. I've been using KDE for a while now. KDE4 was really bad until 4.5 but the plasma widget system turned out to be brilliant in my opinion. Depending on what I use my computer for, I can drag around widgets and put any element of the UI anywhere I want. I can set up different interfaces for different things I use my computer for, and if I'm using a lot of another operating system I can rearrange KDE to mimick the other OS so I don't have to think as much. I'd love to use KDE on a touchscreen device.

What I hate is that the mainstream OSs are taking away all the customizability. I remember when I went from Windows 98 to OSX and was aghast I couldn't change the colors of all the OS interface elements. I'm frustrated that MetaFilter doesn't have a dark, hi contrast theme.
posted by fuq at 7:19 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I hate is that the mainstream OSs are taking away all the customizability.

An infinitely customizable desktop leads to things like absurd Winamp skins and Myspace layouts. And this.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:25 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Malor- another issue with the registry is that it's hard to migrate data in it from one machine to another. If apps store their settings in a local folder of their own, "migration" is just copying a folder.
posted by Jpfed at 7:33 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Malor, for the cogent explanation.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:33 AM on June 2, 2011


An infinitely customizable desktop leads to things like absurd Winamp skins and Myspace layouts. And this.

Well, I may disagree with your ugly user "interface" but I will defend to my death your right your right to put black text over an animated fire gif.

And this is beautiful to me. I want this one. I think you proved my point.

...

Actually, every one of those are awesome because they are most-effective for their user. If some other design principle other than "best-for-user" was applied to any of those interfaces (or winamp skins) they wouldn't be fulfilling their purpose (provide an interface for the user). So I guess I completely disagree with you and say your type of thinking could lead to worse interfaces and less innovation through walled and lacked down gardens. Don't presume people don't know the best way for themselves to interact with a device for their specific needs.
posted by fuq at 7:51 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


An infinitely customizable desktop leads to things like absurd Winamp skins

Yeah, 99% of everything is crap. But Winamp skins lead to this favorite of mine.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:51 AM on June 2, 2011


An interesting take from Daring Fireball.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:09 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Malor- another issue with the registry is that it's hard to migrate data in it from one machine to another. If apps store their settings in a local folder of their own, "migration" is just copying a folder.

That's true, but you can easily export sections of the registry and then import them on another machine. In theory, a copy plus an export/import should only be a little harder than a straight copy. In actual practice, because of the bizarre, scattered schema, it's quite difficult to transfer registry settings from one machine to another.

Another valid criticism of the binary registry approach is that you have to use special programs (e.g., regedit) to modify it, instead of just any random editor. Linux is starting to take up the registry idea, but at least some of the time, it's generated from flat text files that you CAN edit. You make your change, and repopulate your database, giving you kind of the best of both worlds.

This also helps protect you from registry corruption. If your Windows registry goes south (which, fortunately, is exceedingly rare these days, barring hardware failure), you pretty much have to restore from backup or reinstall the whole system. If a Linux registry bites the dust, you can usually recreate it from the contents of other files. This will likely require surgery from the command line, but a repair method that's hard to use is better than no repair method at all.
posted by Malor at 8:10 AM on June 2, 2011


Microsoft has tens of thousands of instrumented copies of office in the world, gathering quite fine-grained feedback on how people are using it, what paths they take through the code, etc.

Can their instrumentation read the expressions on my face? The distate when the ribbon first appears, and then the grimace of rage when I can't find what I'm looking for? Gah.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:11 AM on June 2, 2011


Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad:
Microsoft’s demo video shows Excel — the full version of Excel for Windows — running alongside new touch-based apps. They can make buttons more “touch friendly” all they want, but they’ll never make Excel for Windows feel right on a touchscreen UI. Consider the differences between the iWork apps for the Mac and iPad. The iPad versions aren’t “touch friendly” versions of the Mac apps — they’re entirely new beasts designed and programmed from the ground up for the touchscreen and for the different rules and tradeoffs of the iOS interface (no explicit saving, no file system, ready to quit at a moment’s notice, no processing in the background, etc.).

The ability to run Mac OS X apps on the iPad, with full access to the file system, peripherals, etc., would make the iPad worse, not better. The iPad succeeds because it has eliminated complexity, not because it has covered up the complexity of the Mac with a touch-based “shell”. iOS’s lack of backward compatibility with any existing software means that all apps for iOS are written specifically for iOS.

There’s a cost for this elimination of complexity and compatibility, of course, which is that the iPad is also less capable than a Mac. That’s why Apple is developing iOS alongside Mac OS X...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:24 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


7 is the new XP.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 8:29 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, every one of those are awesome because they are most-effective for their user.
User testing shows a lot of areas where users have absolutely no idea what is most-effective for them, and will choose options that actively slow them down. I'm for all "it's an opinion it can't be wrong", but that clashes hard with "all I need is a faster horse".

A good designer could most likely take the bits of that ugly-ass interface that's somehow beautiful to you and make it so it was rather more broadly attractive, without losing any of the stuff that appeals to you. (Unless you're actively into dischord and dissonance, although the people who like that stuff generally don't insist it's harmonious and beautiful.)
posted by bonaldi at 8:33 AM on June 2, 2011


DF:
But I think it’s a fundamentally flawed idea for Microsoft to build their next-generation OS and interface on top of the existing Windows. The idea is that you get the new stuff right alongside Windows as we know it. Microsoft is obviously trying to learn from Apple, but they clearly don’t understand why the iPad runs iOS, and not Mac OS X.
Putting aside that he's talking about a shell rather than an OS, this thinking fundamentally encapsulates why the Apple clean-sheet approach has never taken off with people who have an existing infrastructure or just a lot of stuff.

I have lots of stuff that depends on those old programs, stuff that I need to access regularly enough to matter a great deal to me: As an example: I'm currently involved with a big project proposal that references data from their early eightes for example---if we can get this right, we're employing a couple of dozen people for the next four or five years. We NEED those reports (WordPerfect) and data (DBase and old spreadsheets).

At a corporate level, we have all kinds of little internal programs which run our financials, HR, etc... Many of these have been scrutinized by third parties to meet GAAP and ISO certs, for example. Changing them for a clean-slate UI is a multi-year effort. Considering this also costs literally millions of dollars, that's a high price to pay just because a designer wants to try something new, which, if history is any guide, will change again in a few years.

So, there's a fair bit of need, both at a personal and coporate level for a sense of continuity and backwards compatability. The one largely-unsung realy genius thing MS has done is ensure that I can still run an MS-DOS v1.1 program in an Win7 shell window and not have to think too hard about it. There's no digital data hole, no big lapse in digital data, mostly because MS has worked really, really hard at making their modern system compatible with those of thirty years ago.
posted by bonehead at 8:34 AM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Microsoft’s demo video shows Excel — the full version of Excel for Windows — running alongside new touch-based apps. They can make buttons more “touch friendly” all they want, but they’ll never make Excel for Windows feel right on a touchscreen UI.

Does he think that Microsoft isn't going to make a new touch-based version of excel? Is he retarded?
posted by empath at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


> The big issue there is having multiple incompatible DLL versions, aka 'dll hell'. Win7 has some method
> of handling that better, but I can't summon the details at the moment, curse my aging brain. Linux
> handles it through versioning that's built right into the filename.
> posted by Malor at 9:47 AM on June 2 [3 favorites +] [!]

It's the ever-growing and (if you ask any MS MVP) un-editable and un-shrinkable and un-moveable-off-the-boot-drive WinSxS folder structure, where they store a copy of every version of every single dll ever installed, and then hard-link to these ad libitum. It's the dll Hell solution they married before they ever heard of e.g. laptops whose entire boot drive is flash memory--meaning expensive and space-limited.

Of course, now they say "Don't even think of hand-pruning anything in WinSxS, the damage is instant and terrible." We've been through this particular Windows user experience before, though. When XP was new they said "Don't even think of hand-editing the registry, the damage is instant and terrible." Today, of course, registry hacks are a way of life. We'll see how fast similar know-how about WinSxS accumulates, but for now at least MS is Not Going To Help.
posted by jfuller at 8:50 AM on June 2, 2011


Does he think that Microsoft isn't going to make a new touch-based version of excel? Is he retarded?

Well, they didn't do one for their much-hyped and Billg-backed "Tablet PC". Net result: you had all those tablets out there with versions of Office that were built for mouse and keyboard.

I think that more than anything else killed the tablet PC dead. If they had embraced it properly, they could have had an iPad-like experience aeons ago. The reasons they didn't do it was because the execs in charge of Office are dicks, basically. Your "retarded" arrow is pointing the wrong direction.
posted by bonaldi at 8:57 AM on June 2, 2011


Can we just get rid of the 'retarded' arrow altogether?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


where they store a copy of every version of every single dll ever installed

Legacy apps use all sorts of old DLLs. There are still apps using the "coolbars" from ancient versions of IE. They can't break third party apps.

Does he think that Microsoft isn't going to make a new touch-based version of excel? Is he retarded?

I think the touch based version will be Office Live.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:09 AM on June 2, 2011


> Legacy apps use all sorts of old DLLs. There are still apps using the "coolbars" from ancient
> versions of IE. They can't break third party apps.

I understand that, but they better not prevent me from breaking third party apps.
posted by jfuller at 9:14 AM on June 2, 2011


Can their instrumentation read the expressions on my face? The distate when the ribbon first appears, and then the grimace of rage when I can't find what I'm looking for? Gah.
posted by wenestvedt An hour ago [+]

Don't you notice the little green webcam light that comes on everytime you open an Office app? Why wenestvedt, I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over..
posted by oxford blue at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2011


If I wanted a "personal mosaic of tiles" I'd want it laid out in lapis lazuli.
posted by ...possums at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I have to say I like the idea of splitting the window into panes, then filling those panes with apps. I liked it so much in fact, that I used this back in fucking 2002 with the ION window manager on Linux.

Nice "innovating" Microsoft.


This is precisely the same reaction I had when I discovered my Toyota has a DOHC engine! I mean fuck, Renault was doing that first close to a century ago.

Nice "innovating" Toyota and every other automobile manufacturer that uses DOHC engines. If only they could all make technology in a vacuum.
posted by juiceCake at 9:48 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't think we didn't see what you did there: "engines…in a vacuum." Nicely played Old Boy, nicely played.
posted by oxford blue at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2011


I really think that by 10.8 Ocelot Or Whatever Cat Jobs Is Hot On Now the only way to purchase software on a Mac will be through the App Store.

According to Ars Technica, that's in the air because of the current "Mac Defender" malware. One of the strongest tools Apple may have against malware is to only allow digitally-signed binaries from the Mac Apps Store in OS X. That's certainly the easier solution that the years-long effort it took to secure Windows.

It's interesting. MS's approach to security problems was to build better security tools. Apple's may be to enforce stronger DRM.
posted by bonehead at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


juiceCake: The difference is that Microsoft is claiming it as some kind of interface breakthrough when it's been in existence for over a decade.
posted by odinsdream at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2011


Can their instrumentation read the expressions on my face? The distate when the ribbon first appears, and then the grimace of rage when I can't find what I'm looking for?

Don't worry. I'm sure I've been swearing loud enough that they can hear me on the other side of the continent.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:17 PM on June 2, 2011


MS's approach to security problems was to build better security tools.

what
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Windows firewall, Windows Defender (which became Windows Security Essentials), User Access Control, the Malicious Software Removal Tool are some of the major security improvements that come to mind on the client side. WF+MSE are good enough now that every computer I've set up in the past few years hasn't needed 3rd party security software at all. Even a couple of years ago it was all ZoneAlarm and Avast and HijackThis! and Ad-aware or what have you, crappy little utilities to fix the holes left by MS. The native utilities have completely swept those away now, as far as I'm concerned. Microsoft has done a lot of work to make XP onward a lot more secure than they used to be.
posted by bonehead at 12:49 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have to say I like the idea of splitting the window into panes, then filling those panes with apps. I liked it so much in fact, that I used this back in fucking 2002 with the ION window manager on Linux.

I like it so much, I'm using it even as I type, with Ratpoison.
posted by Zed at 12:53 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Vista and later are much more secure than XP was. Microsoft did an assload of work to secure the operating system properly. They're still finding holes, of course, but there are just so, so many things they've fixed. They're trying to make the operating system actually secure, proof against malicious code.

OS X is years behind; it's probably at about the same level of security as XP was. It does have user separation, and the underlying BSD code is quite good, but the stuff Apple has layered on top is really poorly thought through from a security standpoint. Security is very, very low on their priority list, and OS X machines are pretty easy to crack if you can get code running on one.

Hell, I remember experimenting with the first version of OS X I was running, either 10.2 or 10.3, and finding out that the nidump utility could dump out all the encrypted passwords for the system, even running as the nobody user. That's a Sony-level fuckup. It's been fixed long since (I don't think nidump even exists in OS X anymore), but it's a good indicator of their general level of security thinking.
posted by Malor at 1:19 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The difference is that Microsoft is claiming it as some kind of interface breakthrough when it's been in existence for over a decade.

Aware of that. Aware also that companies, and not just Microsoft, often make such claims for marketing reasons. As recently as about a decade ago cars had DOHC badges on the outside of them to advertise this super cool engine feature, even though it had been around for decades. Very similar I'd say. Hilarious yes, but very typical. The cult of innovation is one I find amusing but I like absurdity.
posted by juiceCake at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2011


One thing about Windows 7 that has grown on me is the ability to drag application windows to the sides and top of the screen to maximize them to half- or full-screen sizes. I've been playing with Flexiglass for OS X and it adds that feature, as well as a few other useful UI improvements. Windows is still a clunky and poorly designed econobox that gets in the way of doing things, but Microsoft is starting to think, finally, about what makes software interfaces usable and useful. More of this, please, definitely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:33 PM on June 2, 2011


Supposedly the entire point of the Ribbon interface was to have something distinct enough to be patentable, therefore un-copyable by OpenOffice.

That makes a lot of sense, and fits in with the general Microsoft culture, from what I've experienced.

I don't really want this either. I like the small improvements Windows 7 made (particularly in regard to security), but Win8 looks (so far) like MS is shoehorning a mobile interface onto a desktop computer ... why?

The evolution of the "snap" feature is cool, but pretty obvious. It was one of the few main new interface features of Win7 that people liked.

I was also disappointed not to hear anything about an improved media center.

It certainly appeals to me more than Win7 (which I'm using now); which has always come across as 'just like XP, but then we hid everything'. At least it's some actual change.

Performance optimization was probably worth it alone, as were the security improvements. Or what Jpfed said.

I generally like Windows, or at least prefer it to OS X, but I have little interest in Win8.

It's all about the apps. The interface looks very nice. (Mac/Linux zealot here)

...

You know, I'm so used to just instinctively disliking almost everything that Microsoft does that I don't really know how to react. Is that genuine gadget lust? For a Microsoft product? How very disconcerting.

Windows should stop courting that tiny band of Mac users that might ever use Windows, and focus on users who actually prefer Windows.

I'm not sure what this really brings to the table other than better widget management.

Ditto.

It's just a glorified version of the smart phone interface.

Double ditto.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:39 PM on June 2, 2011


Windows 8 paired with a more power version of an Asus Transformer type computer would be great.

A touch interface for media consumption in tablet mode, and the ability to use more fuller featured Windows apps when connected to the keyboard dock.

Mind you it sort of depends on if Microsoft releases an ARM version of Office.
posted by Harpocrates at 2:47 PM on June 2, 2011


An infinitely customizable desktop leads to things like absurd Winamp skins and Myspace layouts. And this.

"And this" is an BIG argument for, not against, my friend. ^_^ (or what fuq said).

Winamp skins lead to this favorite of mine.

One of the reasons I use QCD is the number/quality of and ease of managing skins.

You really want an OS that restricts users from making tacky desktops? De gustibus and all that ...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:20 PM on June 2, 2011


An infinitely customizable desktop leads to things like absurd Winamp skins and Myspace layouts. And this.

Wow. I can't believe someone would object to that. There are dozens of Winamp skins that are better than the default. I'd be super-surprised if you can't find one that you like and that objectively works better for you than the default. And there's no way to get those excellent skins without opening things up so that people can make anything from crap to awesome and everything in between.

Does Geocities make you wish we'd never created HTML?
posted by straight at 3:41 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mind you it sort of depends on if Microsoft releases an ARM version of Office.

Microsoft has not only announced but already shown Office running on ARM. Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, and if I misremembered that fact, I may not have a job tomorrow.
posted by Slothrup at 4:23 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"There are dozens of Winamp skins that are better than the default."

And thousands that are worse…

"I'd be super-surprised if you can't find one that you like and that objectively works better for you than the default."

My experience has been that it's difficult to find the very few gems amongst the tonnes of dross (unless your tastes run to the tasteless, or flavour-of-the-month pop / TV / game themes). I too would be super-surprised if you couldn't find one eventually, but the time taken to get there makes the whole exercise not worthwhile. The only reliable way I've found is to skip the searching, try and remember a decent skin I found back in the early days when there were only a dozen decent skins amongst hundreds of crap ones, trying to remember the name so I can search for it, and hoping it's still compatible with or been updated to the current release.

Now that's not a UI problem, but it is a UX problem - and one that nobody has solved really well. Searching for apps / themes / skins is terrible; nobody's developed / implemented a really good way of winnowing down the selection based on user preferences because the whole thing is so subjective. One man's "wow, cool theme!" is another man's "ugh, yet another ugly Pink / Lady GaGa / WoW / 70's timber-panelling / OS X fanboy monstrosity!"

If you think about it, searching for music is only marginally better; the only reason it's better at all is because you come at it from a fundamentally different direction - you can easily state and define your tastes by listing your favourite bands / songs, and the search algorithm can take that into account.
posted by Pinback at 4:49 PM on June 2, 2011


Does Geocities make you wish we'd never created HTML?

MySpace made me wish for something like Facebook.
posted by bonaldi at 5:02 PM on June 2, 2011


MS's approach to security problems was to build better security tools.

what
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:36 PM on June 2 [1 favorite +] [!]


This is the going to be the collective sound of many Apple fan's heads exploding when the find out they whole "they were writing malware for windows" thing was more accurate then OSX being some invincible super OS impervious to viri.

Before XPSP2 or so, they didn't have their eye on the ball, but since then....

Microsoft introduced many security innovations like Address Space layout randomization and true data/execution space protection. Google built Chrome off the very excellent native process protection and IPC built into modern Windows. This is stuff they had to add for the OSX version.

Sure, the Russian kid's got around it. They will get around *anything* eventually if they feel compelled.

Win7+latest Chrome running Flash sandboxed and WebGL/WebSockets off is probably the safest mainstream browsing experience.

Welcome to the big league's.. Having malware is actually some kind of honor for your operating system.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 7:15 PM on June 2, 2011


My experience has been that it's difficult to find the very few gems right command amongst the tonnes of dross menus that get moved every 2-4 years. I too would be super-surprised if you couldn't find one it eventually, but the time taken to get there makes the whole exercise not worthwhile. The only reliable way I've found is to skip the searching, try and remember a decent skin the command I found back in the early days when there were only a dozen decent skins amongst hundreds of crap ones it was easier to scan the menus, trying to remember the name keyboard shortcut so I can search execute for it, and hoping it's still compatible with or been updated to the current release.

Wow, it was surprisingly easy to make it apply to Office instead of Winamp.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:45 PM on June 2, 2011


Security is very, very low on their priority list, and OS X machines are pretty easy to crack if you can get code running on one.

Tautology detected.
posted by odinsdream at 8:18 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


the time taken to get there makes the whole exercise not worthwhile

5 minutes?

Now that's not a UI problem, but it is a UX problem - and one that nobody has solved really well. Searching for apps / themes / skins is terrible; nobody's developed / implemented a really good way of winnowing down the selection based on user preferences because the whole thing is so subjective. One man's "wow, cool theme!" is another man's "ugh, yet another ugly Pink / Lady GaGa / WoW / 70's timber-panelling / OS X fanboy monstrosity!"

I've already mentioned it, but QCD (a winamp clone) does it well. Click Ctrl+S to get the skin browser, where you can select your "Skins Folder" if you care, see all your installed skins, and browse downloadable skins from the central depository. where you can preview, get user reviews, etc. Skins are ranked by popularity and user rating.

It's really quite an elegant little solution. I'm not even sure what you're arguing about though ...

If you think about it, searching for music is only marginally better; the only reason it's better at all is because you come at it from a fundamentally different direction - you can easily state and define your tastes by listing your favourite bands / songs, and the search algorithm can take that into account.

My tastes are fairly eclectic, but my friends are all pretty amazed at how well Pandora picks out new music for them. Searching for music is easy; finding good new music you like is hard. But it's still easier than it ever has been.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:17 AM on June 3, 2011


Tautology detected.

No, what I meant was that the local protection against privilege escalation is very limited. Further, protection against remote code execution is similarly weak. It's just not a terribly secure operating system. Vista and 7 are much better.
posted by Malor at 10:06 AM on June 3, 2011


Kinda germane to this discussion: Crap Cleaner "CCleaner" is coming out with an OS X version.
posted by bonehead at 10:37 AM on June 3, 2011


Ok, I just tried to use Open Office to lay out some business cards. I only use open office for very basic wordprocessing, so I guess I never realized how broken that shit is on a fundamental level. I'm kind of traumatized here. I take back everything nice I've ever said about OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Yeah, I struggled with the ribbon and I hate hate how it takes up so much vertical screen space but in OpenOffice every single step of the process of making business cards is broken in some way. The interface, outside of putting letters on a page, is almost unusable. I didn't realize it until I had to use OpenOffice for something other than writing a simple paper I could use textedit for.

My, my mind... something's... happening to it... it's... it's... cchhaannggiinngg...
posted by fuq at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I struggled with the ribbon and I hate hate how it takes up so much vertical screen space but in OpenOffice every single step of the process of making business cards is broken in some way.

What's your process for making business cards, and did you by any chance try to do this in Writer? Try Draw, it does pretty well in the Put this Thing Where I Want It department, unlike most word processors. I hate being the stereotypical condescending geek (OK I don't), but if you are using the enter key when making a business card you are Doing It Wrong.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:39 AM on June 3, 2011


I hate being the stereotypical condescending geek (OK I don't)

I hate to be the stereotypical condescending user, but I'm just going to stop using OpenOffice/LibreOffice because of these frustrations and your attitude. Problem solved!
posted by fuq at 12:47 PM on June 3, 2011


The irrational belief Apple will prevent or inhibit the installation of software on desktop machines is as laughable as it is ludicrous. For one, Apple SWALLOWED MICROSOFT WHOLE by means of third party virtualization software, Parallels and Fusion. Apple wants you to be able to run all software on one of their machines.

Except Flash.

For another, Mac OS X v. 10.7 rolls in enterprise capable server software and server administration tools. There is no "client." Bulid and sell your next big idea with one of their sexy pieces of iron.

Back to Windows 8. The touch interface seems interesting. I'm curious. I'll definitely run it virtualized.
posted by mistersquid at 7:19 PM on June 3, 2011


I take back everything nice I've ever said about OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

Try it again in a year or two. From all reports, LibreOffice is under rapid development. OpenOffice has a messy, horribly snarled code base, and there's a lot of work to be done to fix it up, so it's gonna be awhile before you start seeing major improvements. But it should start to get pretty good in another couple years.

Meanwhile, if you like Office, use Office. I frequently refer to Microsoft as the Empire That Word Built. It's my belief that Windows became dominant because of Word, not the other way around.
posted by Malor at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2011


Oh, and:

Except Flash.

From what I can see, Flash has been improving a lot on OS X. I used to have trouble with the high-res videos on YouTube, and my MacBook Pro now plays them flawlessly without having to boot Windows. I think Apple's fierce (and mostly justified) criticism may have lit a fire under Adobe.
posted by Malor at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2011


It's my belief that Windows became dominant because of Word

Excel is much more full-featured than alternatives (as compared with Word). It and Powerpoint are more influential now than Word for sure.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:25 PM on June 4, 2011


It's my belief that Windows became dominant because of Word

I'd say it was primarily because of configurable commodity hardware, even from brand name sellers.
posted by juiceCake at 11:58 PM on June 4, 2011


« Older The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, bui...  |  Our Blood Stained Roof... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments