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Windows Phone 7 Series
February 15, 2010 9:26 AM   Subscribe

The New Microsoft Smartphone. Microsoft has revealed their latest Windows Mobile Smartphone, today, dubbed the Windows Phone 7 Series. Videos from the conference. They've announced the new phone will be available on most of the major carriers.

Microsoft has done what would have been unthinkable for the company just a few years ago: started from scratch.

The Xbox integration will include LIVE games, avatars, and profiles, while the Zune end of things appears to be a carbon copy of the standalone device's features (including FM radio).
posted by shmegegge (217 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
(link to phone site rather than the MS main page)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 AM on February 15, 2010


I hate it when my phone crashes....
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on February 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Internet Explorer AND Bing! AND Zune navigation all on one phone?

What's the exact opposite of "sign me up"?
posted by mightygodking at 9:31 AM on February 15, 2010 [44 favorites]


Wow, announced ten months early? I thought waiting six months after the iPhone was announced was painful.
posted by banannafish at 9:33 AM on February 15, 2010


What an amazing device. We truly are living in the future. Thanks Microsoft!!
posted by swift at 9:33 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait--I thought the MeFi charter only allows Apple shilling. Could someone check the charter?
posted by mecran01 at 9:35 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


(link to phone site rather than the MS main page)

thank you, burhanistan. if a mod wants to replace my link, they're welcome to. I tossed the MS link in there at the last minute when I realized after previewing that my first sentence needed to have a link in order to be posted.
posted by shmegegge at 9:36 AM on February 15, 2010


Does it come in Pepsi Blue?
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 9:37 AM on February 15, 2010


It's been such a hassle to manually tell everyone who calls me my GamerScore. Glad to hear that Microsoft will be making it automatic.
posted by shii at 9:37 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I Facebook my Twitter on it?
posted by chasing at 9:38 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


It does have a smell of "also ran", doesn't it? No data on tech specs without sitting through a video?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on February 15, 2010


The new generation of Microsoft mobile device UIs are extremely pretty and shiny.

Unfortunately, they're completely goddamn unusable, since they are designed to look nice in a demo and are quite confusing when you actually try to interact with them. What can I push? What will happen when I push it? Where is a safe spot to touch to drag, that won't activate something when I touch it?

Shame, really. I love the photo album in the demo.
posted by xthlc at 9:39 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Coming Holiday 2010

Holiday is my favorite holiday of the year.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:42 AM on February 15, 2010 [27 favorites]


Obligatory penny arcade link.
posted by poe at 9:43 AM on February 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


We've scrapped everything and started from scratch!

Just install Microsoft Silverlight and we'll show you.
posted by brain_drain at 9:43 AM on February 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


...started from scratch.

Engadget doesn't really prove that they started from scratch in that article. It seems like it's actually a new shell on top of Windows Mobile. Not that that's necessary a bad thing but saying that it's a brand new OS is misleading.
posted by octothorpe at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The UI seems interesting, but when its just shown in some idealized hardware, its hard to judge what kind of impact its going to make. It sounds like there's still Windows CE at the core, but no one seems to be talking about what's changed there.

Also, what kind of hardware requirements is Microsoft going to be enforcing on the device? How much of the UI is going to be standard on all Windows phones, and what is optional?
posted by curse at 9:47 AM on February 15, 2010


Excitedly, Microsoft continues to innovate in the area of following.
posted by xmutex at 9:50 AM on February 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


I clicked hoping to see something like the Courier. Instead I get a picture of a phone that looks like pure catch-up, and a site that's clearly designed by a team of crack social media flacks: watch video, sign up for updates, "join the conversation."
posted by weston at 9:53 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't wait for the Microsoft Windows 11 ZunePad in 2013.
posted by gcbv at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Once they get twitter on it, I'll actually be interested. The interface actually seems kind of nice. At a glance, it seems more functional and visually clear than the iPhone interface. In the same way that Windows 7 is a very pleasant OS to use and look at. LIVE anywhere is pointless, but I know people who will fucking adore it. It's basically iPhone gaming with achievement points.

It's also only an OS for a mobile platform, so we'll see what the different phone manufacturers do with. I'm guessing MS will have pretty stringent requirements for the phones to hit a moderately high min-spec.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2010


Poor Microsoft. They're so pathetic in this kind of thing-I'm almost embarassed for them. I wouldn't own a phone that runs windows if you paid me to. Until they dump windows mobile or anything like it, their phones will be a piece of crap. crap. crap.
posted by aacheson at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


While a wonder to play with, I and nearly every other person I know who bought one, has had an Xbox 360 red-ring on them. The company kept assuring us that, with this latest model, they had fixed the problem, and yet it kept happening.

My slim PS3, while more stylish, has a smaller userbase and fewer games made for it. However, it is rock solid in terms of hardware.

There is probably a Mac/ PC comparison to be made here, but I won't bother. Microsoft's phone will impress me after it's been on the market for a year with no problems. And based on their recent track record, I don't see that happening.
posted by quin at 9:58 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oooh! I hope they've not ported graphics accelleration again! And I hope they go nuts for cheap HTC partnerships where you end up with hardware where you can charge your phone, and listen to it on headphones, as long as it's not at the same time! And I hope the CPU gets so tied up logging the incoming call that you can't have the 'answer call' button press handled before it goes to voicemail!

seriously. When watching video on my WM6 Athena, the battery drained quicker than it could charge. I could get a few hours of video on, then I'd have to wait for it to charge up again before I could carry on.
posted by davemee at 10:00 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


10 months early? Really?
posted by PenDevil at 10:01 AM on February 15, 2010


It might actually be a good phone, but I use too many Microsoft (and Google) products and services already, and I'm not going to become even more reliant on them.
posted by aerotive at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2010


Does it come in Pepsi Blue?

Surely you meant Pepsi Blue Screen of Death?
posted by condour75 at 10:03 AM on February 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can I Facebook my Twitter on it?

No, much better; you can TwitOnMyFace!
posted by Anything at 10:05 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't own a phone that runs windows if you paid me to. Until they dump windows mobile or anything like it, their phones will be a piece of crap. crap. crap.

Yeah, the only way to make a Windows-powered phone worse was if the hardware was made by Dell.
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shit like this makes me want a landline.
posted by wcfields at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


No Flash at launch, promise of future release.

While the newest version of Windows Phone won't support Flash at initial availability, both companies are working to include a browser plug-in for the full Flash player in future versions of Windows Phone. More details will be shared at Microsoft MIX next month.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:35 AM on February 15, 2010


Not being revalatory isn't pathetic. The iPhone when it came out was a big fucking deal probably the most significant consumer technology product in maybe a decade. This phone looks like it gets a great deal right, it's got a good looking OS that at least seems really functional. It is less derivative of the iPhone than any phone OS since the iPhone.
posted by I Foody at 10:46 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Xbox Live stuff is really interesting. We're already starting to see games interact with players on different media. Here's another example.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 AM on February 15, 2010


Microsoft Silverlight Update

An update to Microsoft Silverlight has been found. Updating will direct you away from your current webpage. This update contains bug fixes.

Would you like to install this update now?

( No ) ( Yes )
posted by Garak at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


" In the same way that Windows 7 is a very pleasant OS to use and look at. "

I've got a box around here that's been running the current "7" version of Windows since the betas, and at no time have I ever looked at it and said "this is pleasant to look at." It looks like Windows but with a bunch of tasteless bling smeared all over it. The art direction is a little better than typical Microsoft work, but that just takes it from "godawful" to "not as painful as expected."

If the general aesthetic of your product is "eh, we've done worse, we usually do worse," I wouldn't ever characterize that as being pleasant.

"Microsoft has done what would have been unthinkable for the company just a few years ago: started from scratch."

What? This thing looks like a rehash of all the bad, clueless, foot-shooting ideas Microsoft has had for the last 5 or 6 years. I don't see anything that looks like it's started from scratch at all. In fact it looks like chiefly a reuse of the existing lowest common denominator crap they've had rattling around the bottom of their nearly-empty can.

Look, I've been using Microsoft stuff since before many of you have been alive. I had Microsoft code in the ROMs of some of my earliest computing devices. I watched them go from a small company with pretty decent tokenizing BASIC interpreter and a chunky 1 frame-per-second Z80 assembly language flight simulator with a Sopwith Camel mode and just about no other products to become a titan of industry. I've seen them lose their way with my own eyes.

I'd never say I'm cheering them on, because they're no longer the company that lies at the core of personal microcomputing they once were. They're mostly just marketing jerks and OEM monopolist strong-armers now. But I would certainly say I'd love to see Microsoft turn back into a company that stands for something, a company that empowers individuals, a company that produces products that form the backbone of personal microcomputing once more.

This, however, is not that. And they are not showing any signs of returning to those values again. This, in fact, demonstrates they're still a bunch of out of touch, middle-aged middle-class middle-managers with some tech guys who have some chops. And while it's cheap and easy to just say "bah, typical Microsoft cluelessness," for those of us who grew up alongside them, saw the horror show the last few decades have wrought and are trying to keep our distance as much as possible from the crazy abusive uncle they've become, it's disappointing if not unexpected.
posted by majick at 10:51 AM on February 15, 2010 [19 favorites]


Very excited about this. For those of you saying it's a pretty shell with the craptacular WinMo 6.x under it, read the article. No app backwards compatibility and strict hardware requirements. Kind of like Android in the sense that Microsoft builds the OS and handset makers handle the hardware. Gizmodo article says "There's a strict set of minimum hardware requirements: a capacitive, multitouchable screen with at least four points of touch; accelerometer; 5-megapixel camera; FM radio; and the like. There are serious benchmarks that have to be met. And only chosen OEMs get to build the phones now, not like before, when anybody with $20 could get a license."

The only problem I see is the fracturing of the OS like Android has where certain older handsets don't support new OS features.
posted by d1rge at 10:51 AM on February 15, 2010


Okay, your first link is directly to Microsoft's homeage. The phone is the featured item, but you here's the page with the info

As far as flash is concerned, I'm glad none of these phones support it. It can die in a fire.
posted by delmoi at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2010


Oh, Metafilter. You're so cute when your knees are jerking wildly out of control.
posted by palomar at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2010 [14 favorites]


My first thought was "Great, one more platform to learn" but the good news is app development is done through XNA, like the Zune. I'm gonna guess that it uses some form of Direct X too, it being microsoft.

But first I have to want to develop for the Windows Phone. Being a small time developer I can't really do multi platform right now. The iphone has a large install base, android has a lot of platforms, and MS has....neither?

MS had to ask devs to make a few apps for it's ZuneHD, I wonder if development is going to be as closed and limited. Based on my experience with XNA, I really wouldn't wanna.
posted by hellojed at 10:57 AM on February 15, 2010


These phones, they squirt?
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2010


The new Windows Phone 7 Series user interface features a new holistic design system that brings together form and function based on key principles.
The key principles in this case are clearly "Copy the iphone, add tweetdeck".
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2010


Gizmodo article says "There's a strict set of minimum hardware requirements: a capacitive, multitouchable screen with at least four points of touch; accelerometer; 5-megapixel camera; FM radio; and the like. There are serious benchmarks that have to be met. And only chosen OEMs get to build the phones now, not like before, when anybody with $20 could get a license."

That's interesting. It's actually the opposite of Android, where you don't even need $20 to put it on your device. And the hardware requirements mean even less fracturing. You can't write an app that relies on multi-touch on android, unfortunately.

As for the 5 megapixel camera. I wish there was a standard for how sensitive the CCD is. My G1's camera is a piece of garbage, unfortunately. Noisy, horrible dynamic range, etc. I'd much rather have a lower megapixel count with better images. There was an article the other day saying "ISO is the new Megapixels". The problem, though, is you can call whatever you want "ISO 3200" regardless of how crappy the pictures. look.

We're now starting to see cameras that do better jobs of taking photos at night, rather then climbing the mountain of megapixels, but where this is really needed in cellphones - with their tiny lenses and people always wanting to take photos at night. But that seems like the place where people are less likely to know or care about a good sensor.
posted by delmoi at 11:06 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But first I have to want to develop for the Windows Phone. Being a small time developer I can't really do multi platform right now. The iphone has a large install base, android has a lot of platforms, and MS has....neither?

Well, there are plenty of Microsoft fanboys. XBox players, .Net programmers and MCSEs are going to love this. That's a pretty sizable number of people. Plus there are plenty of people who will just buy whatever phone looks prettier, has a better deal, etc.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2010


No Flash at launch, promise of future release.

Not a surprise.

I haven't heard Adobe explain how an arbitrary gui development environment is going to work on a small touch screen device without a mouse or a standard keyboard be it iPhone, Android, or Win7.

If you were to tap into a Flash text field, what happens? Does the event bubble up to the OS - then does the on screen keyboard slide up and block the flash movie? Or does Flash implement it's own keyboard?

Adobe has this video: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/devices/articles/htchero.html

The conspicuously lacks anything more complex than tapping the screen. The argument people make for flash is rich interactivity - this demo shows things that work just fine in HTML and JavaScript.
posted by device55 at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2010


It is less derivative of the iPhone than any phone OS since the iPhone.

And this is good why exactly? The iPhone OS just fucking works. You can complain about Apple monopolies or lack of Flash or whatever. I don't care, because the iPhone does what I need it to do and it does so fucking simply. Watching that video of the new Microsoft phone in action was like water torture. "You can do this and this and this and this and this" is meaningless to the average user if they have to nav through Microsoft's shitty user interface (and the Zune interface is shitty and I own a Zune so I know whereof I speak).

Oh hooray the Microsoft phone is its own distinct brand of shitty. Good for them. They're a special snowflake. Now why exactly do I want to buy shitty again?
posted by mightygodking at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


YOU ARE SO ANGRY
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, there are plenty of Microsoft fanboys. XBox players, .Net programmers and MCSEs are going to love this.

scalawags! the lot of them.

In all seriousness, the most open of Xbox development, XNA, which was touted as being the "youtube of indie games" is a sort of neglected area. MS does little promoting for a lot of the games on there, and there are some very good games to be had, but you never hear about them. Apple sticks 3rd party apps in their commercials, Google does a bit of promotion with thier marketplace, etc.

Which is why I'm hesitant to jump on the new platform, they might do it differently this time, but I need to wait and see.
posted by hellojed at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2010


(That wasn't directed to anyone in particular, that is just how these tech threads come across to me.)
posted by smackfu at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2010


Well, it sure looks pretty.
posted by azarbayejani at 11:23 AM on February 15, 2010


smackfu, these are tiny electronic gadgets that will be outdated in 6 months, it's the most important thing ever.
posted by hellojed at 11:24 AM on February 15, 2010


I love how so many of the same snipey comments from the iPad thread are showing up here, too. Hooray for consistency, I guess.
posted by palomar at 11:29 AM on February 15, 2010


Simple flowchart for evaluating a new phone:

Is the device based on a large, multi-touch screen?
 |-Yes
 |   |-Is the software similar to the iPhone?
 |      |-Yes: This sucks, it's a complete iPhone rip-off
 |      |-No: This sucks, they didn't do any of the things the iPhone did right
 |-No: This sucks, it doesn't have a large, multi-touch screen like the iPhone
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


I love how so many of the same snipey comments from the iPad thread are showing up here, too.

Ah, but from different people!
posted by shmegegge at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't care, because the iPhone does what I need it to do and it does so fucking simply.

Yes, indeed. Why should anyone bother trying something new? It's clearly impossible to improve on the iPhone experience (at least until the next version of the iPhone software).
posted by Slothrup at 11:33 AM on February 15, 2010


I fixed the links.
posted by jessamyn at 11:35 AM on February 15, 2010


thank you.
posted by shmegegge at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2010


Um, Microsoft have not announced a phone, they have announced a phone OS.
posted by mr.marx at 11:38 AM on February 15, 2010


It's clearly impossible to improve on the iPhone experience (at least until the next version of the iPhone software).

Hey, that reasoning works for religious dogma, why not for fanboyism?
posted by kmz at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, but from different people!

I know, right? I like how we keep it fresh and new 'round here!
posted by palomar at 11:41 AM on February 15, 2010


So far I've only seen three different references saying this WM 7 won't run older WM apps. Which kind of defeats the entire point of a mature, stable OS. I expect a lightweight like Apple to tend to drop legacy compatibility with newer versions because it does take a significant degree of effort and coordination and multi-vendor coordination, but for MS, this is kind of its entire M.O. HTC has shown it's possible to put a swooshy finger-friendly killer UI on WM with the new Touch and Hero models, which is a backwards approach but does look nice. I can't see that it would be insurmountable for MS to provide some runtime legacy static libraries to enable older apps to run in a compatibility layer/sandbox but there's no mention of this. In pursuit of mindless retweets from candy-enamoured dittoheads with Year Zero mentalities who go "Ooooh! Shiny!" and whose approach to tech is subliminally Messiah Complex oriented without really understanding much of What Has Gone Before, MS is being suckered here. Right now I cannot conceive of working on WM without Epocrates, iSilo, Med Wizards, Skyscape, and uBook. If I can't get them running on a new WM phone then, no matter how pretty it looks, there's no compelling reason for me to pick it over Android or Apple or Palm.
posted by meehawl at 12:06 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's kind of hilarious that the link to MS's latest technological triumph redirects you to the Silverlight download site if you don't have the latest version installed. In the two minutes it took to download and install the necessary multimedia component, any and all curiosity I might have had about the WinPhone vanished. Is it my short attention span or their hamfisted marketing?
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:08 PM on February 15, 2010


Damn, but if one could harness cynicism to generate energy, Microsoft product announcements could power the world!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:08 PM on February 15, 2010


...but according to Gizmodo, "to be anything short of impressed is stupid"...
posted by fairmettle at 12:11 PM on February 15, 2010


Oh great. I just got signatures to work again on our mobile web app (Thanks touchflo), and now this. Looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet, and actually write a frigging mobile application instead of relying on HTML and mobile activeX components.
posted by seanyboy at 12:12 PM on February 15, 2010


You can't write an app that relies on multi-touch on android, unfortunately.

Yes you can, you're just limited to 2.0 and up (Droid/Milestone, Nexus for now, Hero/Eris and Cliq/Dext coming to the party soon)
posted by ConstantineXVI at 12:13 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, indeed. Why should anyone bother trying something new?

Because that's exactly what I was saying, and didn't say anything specific about the Zune-style OS, which is clunky-ass crap.

Look. The iPhone's basic interface is simple, easy to learn, easy to navigate and easy to use. There's a reason Android has a lot in common with it. Now, yes, it's certainly possible that there's an even better UI for a smartphone out there just waiting to be discovered. But this isn't it.
posted by mightygodking at 12:13 PM on February 15, 2010


Um, Microsoft have not announced a phone, they have announced a phone OS.

They've announced a phone OS where Microsoft dictates the makeup of the hardware. They may as well go the co-branding route Google does with the Nexus.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 12:16 PM on February 15, 2010


I'm an Apple lovin', Microsoft hatin' sort, but the interface, with all the lovely type, is intriguing. The iPhone OS interface almost looks cartoonish in comparison.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:17 PM on February 15, 2010


You can't write an app that relies on multi-touch on android, unfortunately.

The multi-touch Google maps on my Droid works very well. And the multi-touch browser is include in 2.1 which the Droid will get in a few weeks (Nexus already has it).
posted by octothorpe at 12:18 PM on February 15, 2010


I had a winmo phone, it is now safe to say that the 6.1 software has permanently burnt my brain to the point that I will have a very hard time trusting MS with my phone business ever again. That phone messed with my life. Selecting a contact and dialing them was a three step process that involved a stylus. It was a terrible phone. As something tiny that runs excel, however, it is still useful. It is my handheld workout-tracking computer now.
posted by rye bread at 12:25 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


So the picture of the phone on the main link, the one that says:
15:00
Monday
15 Februa
How dumb is that? You can't fit February or Wednesday on the main display?

Also, those icons at the bottom: the first one is easy, calls or missed calls. The second one is easy, messages or tweets. The third icon is the windows logo, I'm not sure what that could mean. My first guess is that the phone has 20 high-priority updates waiting to install.
posted by peeedro at 12:25 PM on February 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


A different kind of ignoring UX factors, perhaps. There's an appealing slickness to it, but it is absolutely not going to succeed in the market. Why? Because you cannot just pick it up and know how to use it. Perhaps the iPhone looks cartoony by comparison, but do you know what? I know what to tap on, where to type. I know how to use it just by looking at it. This WinMo7? Any normal human would get confused in seconds -- what are the available functions? Where can one tap? How will it react? You know, Apple may be douchebags about some things, but they know how to design an interface that is clear and predictable, which are the number one factors required for acceptance in the mid-bell curve market.

I watched the videos and I thought -- ooh, shiny -- whoa with the swooshing -- where do I tap? -- what does what? -- this is fucking confusing -- no, fuck this, give me back my candy-coloured buttons with verbs on them.

Basically all Microsoft has done for the past ten years is hire about a thousand designers to put up a freighter full of wallpaper over the shittiest, most carelessly designed operating systems known to science. And that's including Linux, which is saying a lot.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:36 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who doesn't work in tech and though I have my preferences I can't much manage to get het up about one OS or another* I would just like to point out that these devices and their numerous capabilities could not be had for any price whatsoever 25 years ago. Miracles abound lately but fuck the loaves and the fishes, we demand baguettes and bouillabaisse.

*Stop looking at me like that.
posted by vapidave at 12:54 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


How dumb is that? You can't fit February or Wednesday on the main display?

It's completely intentional, and the same aesthetic as the Zune HD. I like it.
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on February 15, 2010


You know, Apple may be douchebags about some things, but they know how to design an interface that is clear and predictable, which are the number one factors required for acceptance in the mid-bell curve market.

To be fair, Apple are douchebags about almost everything. Except GUI and physical UI. And — only sometimes — warranties. But all else? Dooooooouchebags!

Apple desperately needs some competent competition to prevent them from becoming the next Microsoft. Desperately.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:01 PM on February 15, 2010


Super! Another S-M-R-T phone that sucks!
posted by clvrmnky at 1:05 PM on February 15, 2010


Echoing rye bread, I'd like to tell you the story of my windows mobile (6) phone. I'm well aware that this is an anecdote and relates only tangentially to the subject of this post.

I was given this phone by a friend, and was moderately satisfied because it had a keyboard. Then I went to install a ringtone.

I took the mp3 I wanted, cut it down to like 10 seconds or something, and plugged my phone in over USB. It wouldn't mount on my linux box, so I copied the file over to my windows box and plugged the phone in there. It asked if I wanted to install the drivers. I said OK. Apparently by "install the drivers" they meant "install ActiveSync, which will take ten minutes and require a reboot of the PC." I hadn't anticipated this, but was basically OK with it. I sure as shit don't use outlook, but I want my goddamn ringtone and if this is what it takes, so be it.

So finally I transfer the file and unmount the phone so it will see it. Go to set the file as my ringtone and am met with an error message: "Ringtones must be a maximum of 200kB in size." This strikes me immediately as arbitrary and capricious bullshit, since the phone's packing >2GB, so I google for like five minutes looking for a workaround and eventually find one: "The maximum size of ringtones is specified in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<a ton of bullshit>\MaxRintoneSize. Download <windows mobile registry editor> to edit this value."

At this point, I'm at a loss as to which of the following is more retarded:

1) The fact that the maximum size of my ringtone is specified totally arbitrarily in software, without regard to any obvious limitations of the hardware or any other apparent reasonability requirements.

2) The fact that my phone has a fucking windows registry to keep track of shit like this.

3) The fact that WM doesn't provide a system tool wherewith to edit (2) in order to address (1), and that I must instead download and install a third-party component.

but probably (2). Anyway, so I download <windows mobile registry editor> and install it to the phone. I find the offending key and promptly delete it. Go to set the ringtone again and am again met with "Ringtones must be a maximum of 200kB in size." OK, the change didn't take, so I reboot the phone. It takes several minutes for the little fucker to come back up. Convinced I'm finally done (after what has now been a half hour process to set my fucking ringtone), I go back to the options screen and select the file.

"Ringtones must be a maximum of 0kB in size."

MOTHERFUCKER.

Of course, I had deleted the key, and didn't remember what it was called. I spend another five minutes going through my browser history looking for the one forum post (out of many) that had actually addressed my problem. Finally find it, reenter the key, and set its value to as many nines as I can type before the goddamn key falls off. Reboot phone again, navigate to settings menu again, and am FINALLY met with the pleasure of listening to the Hell March from C&C Red Alert when people call me.

So yeah, fuck windows mobile.
posted by 7segment at 1:11 PM on February 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


Since we're trading stories, I was given a T-Mobile Wing running Windows to test a few years ago, and I didn't last 10 minutes before I just put that turd back in the box and shelved it.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on February 15, 2010


How does a corporation this size, with a product this size, not notice that it's launching on "Holiday 2010"? As in, "Results 1 - 10 of about 48,200 for microsoft phone "holiday 2010"."??
posted by gum at 1:20 PM on February 15, 2010


Perhaps the iPhone looks cartoony by comparison, but do you know what? I know what to tap on, where to type.

Windows phone doesn't seem to have apps per se and seem to have use that to highlight certain aspects of the interface, based on what they think is important. The UI is very much THERE, as opposed to the iPhone, which has is just a punch of icons on grid, which you can rearrange to suit your needs.

Interesting difference in the design philosophies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2010


"Simple flowchart for evaluating a new phone:

Is the device based on a large, multi-touch screen?"


I can't even begin to describe how much I despise touch screens. I gave my iPhone to my boss after four days of sheer torture trying to use it. And I'm sure I'm not the only one out there, as I still see a lot of full-qwerty-keyboard devices on the market (thank FSM).
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:26 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still see a lot of full-qwerty-keyboard devices on the market

Like the Droid?
posted by Turd Ferguson at 1:31 PM on February 15, 2010


I love my iPhone for websurfing, email etc. but the user experience for using it as a phone is pretty poor IMO. I know I'm not the only person who's accidentally called someone while trying to listen to a voicemail or add their details to contacts.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:33 PM on February 15, 2010


How does a corporation this size, with a product this size, not notice that it's launching on "Holiday 2010"? As in, "Results 1 - 10 of about 48,200 for microsoft phone "holiday 2010"."??

What's the problem? It's just using "holiday" instead of "1Q" or what-not. Financial jargon in press releases isn't actually English.
posted by smackfu at 1:44 PM on February 15, 2010


You can't write an app that relies on multi-touch on android, unfortunately.

I have the sneaking suspicion that "Android doesn't do multi-touch" is the new "Mac doesn't do right-click." Which is to say: For a time, it didn't. Then it did, but not fully. Then it did fully (Android will get there right around the time they take the G1 back behind the barn, I suspect), but people like the trope too much to let it go.

Sidenote: Mac OS has supported right-clicking since July 1997. When was the last time you heard someone make a "macs don't right-click" remark? For me, it was last week.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:47 PM on February 15, 2010


How about hearing it again right now? Mac laptops don't do right click unless you plug a competent mouse into them.
posted by gum at 1:49 PM on February 15, 2010


gum: two-finger tap on the pad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:02 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Booger-smearing "gestures" don't count as right clicking.
posted by gum at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2010


You can set any corner of the pad to ctrl-click.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:08 PM on February 15, 2010


Sure this will alter Microsoft's profit profile.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:14 PM on February 15, 2010


"Microsoft has done what would have been unthinkable for the company just a few years ago: started from scratch."

By porting the best bits of the iPhone's UI on top of Zune's, on top of Windows Mobile 6... which will require more expensive hardware to run at anything approximating a robust speed.

Meanwhile, the iPhone's custom circuitry will only get smaller and faster, delivering more bang per buck and making it possible to lower prices even further. If I were Apple, I would simply use this OS as an excuse to release *some* kind of mobile device on Verizon and Sprint within the next year, which would suck up all the oxygen and leave MSFT choking on the fumes.

"These phones, they squirt?"

Oh great... now I'll have to change the sheets every time I answer the phone in bed.

(I don't care what Steve Ballmer says. It still smells like pee.)
posted by markkraft at 2:25 PM on February 15, 2010


If Apple PR posted on here, I wouldn't be able to tell.
posted by smackfu at 2:36 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


>Mac laptops don't do right click unless you plug a competent mouse into them.

i have a unibody macbook with the clickable trackpad. it right clicks because the NATIVE SOFTWARE allows you to enable that. it works great.
posted by hollisimo at 2:38 PM on February 15, 2010


Well I couldn't have asked for that to play out any better!
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:40 PM on February 15, 2010


Silverlight required. Bye.
NEXT.
posted by Ratio at 2:42 PM on February 15, 2010


i have a unibody macbook with the clickable trackpad. it right clicks because the NATIVE SOFTWARE allows you to enable that. it works great.

I'm glad this works for you, but you still do not have a right mouse button. Apple has concocted some admirable workarounds to make its mittens better, but it still does not have gloves.
posted by gum at 2:44 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about hearing it again right now? Mac laptops don't do right click unless you plug a competent mouse into them.

From my new MacBook with both a left and right clickable trackpad, I'd say you have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by Hiker at 2:44 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


OK, Microsoft, you want me to restart my browser after installing your shitty proprietary Silverfish plugin? Do you want anyone to buy your shitty proprietary phones or not?
posted by Ratio at 2:47 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apple has concocted some admirable workarounds to make its mittens better, but it still does not have gloves.

It is shipped with a checkbox to turn on the feature in System Preferences (as a lot of Mac users don't want the feature). I don't understand how building it into your operating system is a workaround. There aren't two separate buttons because it's a multitouch device.

I also admire the fact that my "mittens" aren't attached to a body prone to seizures and with an atrocious immune system.
posted by Hiker at 2:48 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


>...but you still do not have a right mouse button.

ok, but what difference does having a physical button make when the functionality is exactly the same? if the logic behind your argument is that it's not exactly the same in form factor as a PC laptop, that's a bit specious.
posted by hollisimo at 2:49 PM on February 15, 2010


Great, a derail about a fucking mac right-mouse-button. I hope you are happy, Rob.
posted by smackfu at 2:52 PM on February 15, 2010


I'm glad this works for you, but you still do not have a right mouse button.

I have a right-mouse button, and I use a desktop Mac with an Apple mouse, and a laptop with an Apple trackpad. All I have to do is put a checkmark in a system preference, telling the operating system which side of the touch-sensitive mouse or how many touches on the trackpad to treat as a right-click operation.

If you mean my Apple mouse doesn't have a 1960s mechanical-click mouse, I'll happily cop to that, but then my technology is in the 21st Century, where mechanical switches are inflexible and ancient.

If Windows users want to brag about using clunky mid-20th Century technology, they are welcome to, but thankfully that's not a reflection on users of other operating systems and equipment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:10 PM on February 15, 2010


I don't know about Rob, but I'm thrilled.

I keed. I keed. this derail is stupid and sucks.
posted by shmegegge at 3:10 PM on February 15, 2010


7segment: "My phone has a fucking windows registry to keep track of shit like this."

The registry is just a centralised, hierarchical arrangement of mainly key-value pairs used for system configs. You'd prefer all your config settings were held in individual directories so you had to go hunting for them?

This anecdote is really more about your initial unfamiliarity with a specific system's config parameters, and of initial nonpossession of a config editor tool. And also apparently an inability to simply copy your audio file onto a memory card and slip it into the phone. Or to browse your phone's network neighbourhood to simply copy the file OTA.

One thing I like about WM is that if I want to edit the config, I can. I don't need exploits to gain access to the OS operation. When I wanted to activate untraceable tethering, a simple registry key deletion did that. When I wanted to double my upload speeds on EVDO 3G, a simple couple of registry tweaks did that. When I wanted to turn my phone into a router and to redistribute my 3G connection to multiple devices using WiFi, well, that was more than a few key-value tweaks, but someone was kind enough to create a batch file to do that for me.
posted by meehawl at 3:23 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is where I can complain that MacBooks don't have TrackPoint pointers like ThinkPads do?
posted by octothorpe at 3:28 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a Linux guy now, and I've got little love left for Microsoft. But I saw this and I thought, "Ok, I'll give it a chance. Don't write it off just because it's Microsoft. I'll look at their site, and see what they've got." Great job guys.
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2010


How dumb is that? You can't fit February or Wednesday on the main display?

To be fair, most of what you're seeing are probably Photoshop mockups. The final product will probably include a service pack to help fix these sorts of things.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:36 PM on February 15, 2010


It's working fine for me Who_Am_I.
posted by smackfu at 3:42 PM on February 15, 2010


(On a Mac, with Silverlight.)
posted by smackfu at 3:43 PM on February 15, 2010


God, mac users, anything not to admit Apple was wrong over the rightbutton thing...
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


in fairness, they're avoiding rightness wrongness and just pointing out that nowadays right clicking on the mac is possible out of the box (after changing a system preference.) which is true.
posted by shmegegge at 4:07 PM on February 15, 2010


Sort-of right-clicking, via a workaround, as a solution to the problem of apple being too pig headed to do an obvious and needed thing. TBH that's almost worse.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2010


Sort-of right-clicking, via a workaround, as a solution to the problem of apple being too pig headed to do an obvious and needed thing. TBH that's almost worse.

No, it keeps devs from assuming that the user will have a multibutton mouse, which avoided the confusing use of the right button that was endemic in early Win versions. (MS eventually emulated the Mac's Ctrl-click/right button approach, to their credit.)

Also, two buttons on a trackpad is the suck.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:34 PM on February 15, 2010


but then my technology is in the 21st Century, where mechanical switches are inflexible and ancient.

How do you turn your lights on and off?
posted by MikeMc at 4:35 PM on February 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


the iPhone does what I need it to do and it does so fucking simply

The RAZR does what I need it to do and it does so fucking simply so why would I want to drop three grand on an iPhone, 2 year voice+data contract, apps and accessories? I swear some of you people are waaaaay too emotionally invested in your gadgets.
posted by MikeMc at 4:43 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


In other mobile news, today Intel and Nokia merged their Linux distros (Moblin and Maemo) to create a new platform called MeeGo.
posted by finite at 4:48 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll bet dollars to donuts that there are studies that show most people don't have any idea how to use a right-click, and indeed that most people have no idea what it is even used for. Which would tend to indicate that Apple was right to go with a single-button mouse.

Apple tends to have thoughtful design. Microsoft? Monkeys flinging poo is the analogy that comes to my mind.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:48 PM on February 15, 2010


Ah man, you guys making Busted interface design arguments from 1992... It's cute. Just wait till you catch up with scrollwheels, it's going to blow your minds...
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on February 15, 2010


I'll bet dollars to donuts that there are studies that show most people don't have any idea how to use a right-click, and indeed that most people have no idea what it is even used for.

You can't be serious. Are you really saying that one of the tenets of Apple's "thoughtful design" is that people are too stupid to be able to use more than one button? What does that say about their customer base?
posted by MikeMc at 5:03 PM on February 15, 2010


I don't have much of an opinion on the interface, but like many people upthread, previous versions of WinMo have tainted its name for all eternity. However, if there's anything that WinMo 7 will compete with, it will be Android and Palm.

That said, I am absolutely CHEERING that they're being restrictive on the specs of this device, as well as OS skinning. It causes real splintering in the app space. It's something previous versions of WinMo had a problem with, and it's something Android already has a problem with, a little over a year after the Dream came out. There's many different Android devices out, all with different screen sizes, resolutions and speeds, and just about every manufacturer has their own UI thrown on top of it (ie BLUR and Sense). Every time a software update for it comes out, these companies have to scramble to get their UI working on the latest version, and oftentimes they don't seem to bother. I've never owned an Android device myself, however I work with a couple of people that have the HTC Hero and they're currently stuck on 1.5, which means about half of the apps on the Android Marketplace just won't run on their phones.

I've thought about getting an Android device once my AT&T contract is up (depending on what the next iPhone is going to be like), and at this point I will really only go with a phone that's been made in partnership with Google, which at this point is only the Dream and the Nexus One.
posted by booticon at 5:06 PM on February 15, 2010


It says that their customer base is going to remain very small for two decades, in part due to this kind of inflexibility and silliness, and that as a result they are going to reach around like crazy for reasons that the opposition is "cheating".
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on February 15, 2010


I am serious. You are, in comparison to the vast majority of computer users, an extremely sophisticated computer user. Understanding context-clicking, and how it differs from ordinary clicking, is beyond many people's native understanding. This is why there are college courses on basic computer use: people don't understand this stuff.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:15 PM on February 15, 2010


I'll bet dollars to donuts that there are studies that show most people don't have any idea how to use a right-click, and indeed that most people have no idea what it is even used for.

You do know that 90% of the computing world uses Windows every day? Right? Somehow we all manage to get work done without Mac's super-duper user interface. It's not actually that hard.
posted by octothorpe at 5:16 PM on February 15, 2010


This quote Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz surprised me:

"I'm sorry, Cupertino, but Microsoft has nailed it. Windows Phone 7 feels like an iPhone from the future. The UI has the simplicity and elegance of Apple's industrial design, while the iPhone's UI still feels like a colorized Palm Pilot."

I feel like there's been a rip in the fabric of the universe and I'm viewing bizzaro Gizmodo.
posted by MikeMc at 5:35 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting video from the phone intro
posted by smackfu at 5:43 PM on February 15, 2010


I'll bet dollars to donuts that there are studies that show most people don't have any idea how to use a right-click, and indeed that most people have no idea what it is even used for. Which would tend to indicate that Apple was right to go with a single-button mouse.
Wow, a made-up fact! Do you have any imaginary statistics that will further support your assertion?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:48 PM on February 15, 2010


And of the 90% that use Windows every day, 99% don't use right-clicks. The right mouse buttons confuses and frustrates them.

Out of the box, the Apple UI design is meant to make it as easy as possible for new users to be productive and not confused. If/when the user becomes proficient, they will undoubtedly want to purchase a multi-button mouse. But for a great number of people, they will never be competent. The stock one-button mouse forces software UI designers to accommodate those users.

Apple did a huge amount of research on user interaction. They made their choices based on that research. For the goals they have set, these are the correct decisions. That you are not a member of their target population does not make the design wrong — and, indeed, they have accommodated your greater skill and understanding by building multi-button support right into the OS, so that you can easily plug in a nice mouse and get what you want.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


7Yr, I've trawled the web trying to dig up the research papers, but there's a shitload of SEO crap fucking up the search results. If you've got some hints as to how to better compose a search term along the lines of "mouse click usability -seo," I'm all ears.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2010


By porting the best bits of the iPhone's UI on top of Zune's, on top of Windows Mobile 6... which will require more expensive hardware to run at anything approximating a robust speed.

That's not how these things work, you know. It's not like there are actual layers upon layers - there's an OS, and a shell. There's no reason to expect this to run slower than an iPhone, and it will almost certainly have more processing power (and multitasking - the ability to use said power) than the current iPhone 3.x.

But it's really just too late for WinMo, I think. I've been using it for years, and for most of those years was pretty happy with it. But that happiness was predicated on finding an actual good, reliable WM phone, which was fairly difficult - I've had four or five, and two of those were just unreliable. I had very good luck with the Samsung phones, but I missed the giant Omnia debacle - that was a piece of crap, as far as I could tell. But once you found a reliable phone, the WM 5 and 6 phones were as good as anything else out there. Then the iPhone came along, and changed many things for the better: finger navigation, browsing, and an easy way to get apps. It just took TOO LONG for MS to catch up, much less move ahead.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:06 PM on February 15, 2010


All I know is that during my stint as a telephone support technician to nontechnical end users -- admittedly some years ago -- I dealt with many people who could not grasp the concept of the various buttons on their mouse having different functions. This made my life difficult on a fairly frequent basis because I was telling people how to perform Windows tasks, many of which simply can't be done until the user jumps this mental hurdle purely because the UI assumes the user can make the connection between "two different buttons" and "two different things happen." And many people I spoke to hadn't grasped this concept yet.

Anyway, I personally find a single mouse button to be slightly annoying, but I find bad software design more annoying. So I'm okay with the Apple perspective even if I don't fully agree with it.

Having participated fully in the pointless derail, I feel it's important now to make a contribution of some actual value. I propose that we of the Internet community refer to this new Microsoft software as "Februa". It won't be as hilarious a Sidetalkin' was as product derision goes, since it lacks the possibility for visual gags, but it's still appropriate.

Force me a meme, people! Go!
posted by majick at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2010


I don't know, I think there is a lot of space in the market for a flashy phone. When the iPhone came out, it was that phone, but now it's become just an iPhone. Everyone has one. No one goes "wow" when they see an iPhone.
posted by smackfu at 6:13 PM on February 15, 2010


There's no reason to expect this to run slower than an iPhone, and it will almost certainly have more processing power (and multitasking - the ability to use said power) than the current iPhone 3.x.

Not so fast.
posted by booticon at 6:20 PM on February 15, 2010


Guys, this isn't 1994, we don't need this argument anymore.

Right clicking is programmer/designer laziness. Windows users utterly CANNOT understand that not defaulting right-clicking. Using a mac is completely different and ridiculously usable with only one mouse button. The fact that you *need* a 3-button mouse doesn't mean everyone else does.

Multiple mouse-button hurts on two points: The first we've already mentioned, is that users get confused — if this is a point of contention, we cannot continue this discussion. The second is much more important, and that is of discovorability. Knowing what has a right-click menu and what might be in it is incredibly opaque in windows. The solution on the mac is to have a clear guide in the menu bar or obvious buttons. Knowing that there are options is incredibly clear. Windows tends to love right-click menus for everything, and that's because the program wanted features, but didn't consider that there is an ordered flow to any action. Throwing menu items is lazy. Forcing the app to be usable without right-clicking (System Pref enabling and ctrl+click doesn't count) forces the application designer to make the application's actions/configurations discoverable and obvious.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:29 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I use my phone to wake me up in the morning, and infrequently to make telephone calls. A more boring piece of kit I could not imagine, and that's just fine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:39 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you'd find papers from back in the day on why users would never ever want colour as well...
posted by Artw at 6:40 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one goes "wow" when they see an iPhone.

True, iPhone is so...2007. That being said I was trying to tweak a co-worker's Touch Pro2 the other day and boy did that suck, even HTC's Sense skin can't do a whole hell of a lot for WinMo 6. There's no way someone like her (smart - yes, geeky - no) was going to attempt to sideload .cab files and tweak the registry (I didn't want to start geeking out and accidentally brick her new phone so I left the registry alone). And the need to do shit like that is part of what's been wrong with WinMo. That and those crappy resistive touchscreens.
posted by MikeMc at 6:41 PM on February 15, 2010


Orthogonal to the number-of-buttons thwappery above, but:

Apple's mouse first appeared on the Lisa. If we had been designing the Lisa for power users, we may have provided at least two buttons. But 99%+ of our target customers were new to mouse use at that time... We also speculated that other pointing devices would emerge in the future which could have only one button, e.g., a pen whose switch was built into the tip. (One button mouse)
posted by ~ at 6:43 PM on February 15, 2010


The solution on the mac is to have a clear guide in the menu bar or obvious buttons. Knowing that there are options is incredibly clear.

Eh, I don't really notice a difference. I use a Mac for all my home use, and a PC for work, and they both seem to be quite reliant on right clicking.

For instance, if I misspell a word in this entry box in Safari, it gets a red underline. That's a pretty obvious signal, but I can't find any intuitive thing to do about that with my left button. Hover, click, double-click, nothing works. Perhaps the goal on the Mac is to be usable with the left mouse button only, but I feel they may have strayed a bit from that.
posted by smackfu at 6:47 PM on February 15, 2010


No one goes "wow" when they see an iPhone.

Well, less so these days, yeah. But it's still setting the top bar of wow-worthyness. Not sure the Win 7 dmeo really does that... seems better thought out and more interesting than the droid stuff... but the whole "people" concept with the unified dahsboard for each problem? Sounds horribly like a bunch of Windows Live stuff that already exists and no bugger uses...
posted by Artw at 6:54 PM on February 15, 2010


And of the 90% that use Windows every day, 99% don't use right-clicks. The right mouse buttons confuses and frustrates them.

If this is true then the same people must be fucking utterly baffled by multitouch interfaces and standard keyboards. How could Apple possibly trumpet multitouch to an amateur audience who can't even use a second finger to press another button?
posted by juiceCake at 6:56 PM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry about starting the mouse button derail. Look, I'll take a 2009 Mac over a 1999 PC any day -- everything I dislike about it will be powerfully overcome by everything that is awesome about it. I would accept having to punch myself in the right ear to select contextual options if there were no alternative, because all new hardware is infinitely more terrific than a manual typewriter.

And I'm glad that people who are confused by choosing between more than one thing have at their disposal the option to use a Mac (though given their handicap, how do they actually make that choice?).

But it is simply a fact that you will not find two mouse buttons on an Apple laptop. You heard it in 1994, you heard it last week, you heard it today, and it is still true. That is all.
posted by gum at 7:00 PM on February 15, 2010


"Okay, now click on the Start button."
"Left click or right click?"
"Left click. Now, click on Control Panel."
"Left click or right click?"
"Left click."
posted by booticon at 7:01 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


well hang on a second. the problem is not "how many fingers am I using." if the right click thing is true (and this is the first i've heard it, but i'm not ui expert), it's almost certainly because of a couple of factors.

-unless you're already used to it, there is no way to know what a right click will do until you do it, or that it does anything at all.
-context menus don't always present themselves in any way that makes immediate sense. often enough, they're just collections of things that are (or sometimes are not) located elsewhere that you can do through a context menu because they're located in a context menu.
-there isn't really a use for the right click except the context menu. i'm specifically speaking of OS stuff, though, not usage in apps like final cut, maya, photoshop, etc...

it's really not about being able to click a button. now, I'm a fan of the right click and I believe it's silly for the mac to have taken as long as it did to start having it by default, especially now when it still requires turning it on before it'll work. but if most people don't even use it, there's a decent reason why. (also, the argument that apple is forcing devs to make things work without right clicking is silly. all apps use command-click, and that's all a right click is on OS X. command click totally counts.)
posted by shmegegge at 7:08 PM on February 15, 2010


Is this where I get to say that for me the peak of Mac UI usability was the "classic" OS7/8/9 Finder and that the current Next-derived slotmachine-like interrogation file selector makes my brain hurt? Ironically Gnome and Windows and KDE have a more "Mac"-like UI now than the current Macs. People who say that Apple's UI choices are based on impeccable "research" are basically pissing into the wind with imaginary, subjective data. Apple has made and abandoned so many "principles" of UI along the way, and bolted and then abandoned some truly awful skins and confusing, unclear colour choices onto its keystone apps over the years as to make a joke of its argument that it somehow represents the One True Way of UI design. It would be nice if we could operate things as complex as multitasking, networked PCs with only one selection action, but the plain fact of the matter is that we cannot. Efforts to force people to use a single selector means that you're either exploding choices on the screen into a kind of OS/2 tabbed screen free-for-all, or you're sampling in time and forcing people to hold their selections temporally to reveal more potential actions. That's used in mobiles a lot for editing functions, but really only works best with touchscreens and not mice. And of course, your final option is to add modifier keys to the selector action, a path both Microsoft and Apple have gone down. Microsoft tends to apportion its modifiers equally to its dual selector buttons, while Apple overloads the primary selector and uses time sampling and screen real estate to avoid overloading the secondary selector. But both approaches are basically kludges with no compelling reason to favour one over the other.
posted by meehawl at 7:20 PM on February 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I get a real futuristic-OS-9-only-brown vibe from Ubuntu, that's one of the reasons I like it.

Interetsing point about the screen estate thing - could be one of the reasons why Apple don't believe in laptops under 13'.

And do people really like the OS X Finder? I mean, familiarity counts for a lot but whenever called upon to use it I find it a total pig.
posted by Artw at 8:15 PM on February 15, 2010


But it is simply a fact that you will not find two mouse buttons on an Apple laptop

You are still confused. A mechanical switch is not a requirement for a mouse button in 2010.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:19 PM on February 15, 2010


Holy shit, enough with the buttons already! Everybody knows that Amiga kicked Mac and WinTel ass all day, every day and if it doesn't say Amiga it's derivative crap. When the Amiga phone comes out you all are going to be exposed for the pack of trend hopping lamers you are. Why yes, I do still have an Amiga. Why do you ask?
posted by MikeMc at 8:19 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


A mechanical switch is not a requirement for a mouse button in 2010.

Somebody bought a Magic Mouse.
posted by MikeMc at 8:20 PM on February 15, 2010


(I'm really not that keen on the Taskbar eiother - which means whenever I get Win7 one of the first things I'm going to be figuring out how to do is get all the MacOS like taskbar stuff the hell out of there.)

Hey, can anyone answer m e thins - back when I used to play FPS's on Mac what on earth was I doing for secondry fire? I assume it was shift or something but I can't remember for the life of me.
posted by Artw at 8:21 PM on February 15, 2010


Amiga people are still the best people.

DEATH TO ATARI ST!
posted by Artw at 8:21 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are still confused. A mechanical switch is not a requirement for a mouse button in 2010.

I prefer mechanical switches for abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz and also for left-click and for right-click. If you like smearing around a trackpad to get your keystrokes, I'm cheering you on, but you're playing a different sport.
posted by gum at 8:26 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just wait till you catch up with scrollwheels, it's going to blow your minds...

I don't have a scroll wheel. I put two fingers on my trackpad and move my fingers up and down and it scrolls for me. I'm not sure how a scroll wheel would work on a laptop. Would the laptop be thicker to account for the scroll nub or would it just rub the screen when I close it?
posted by Talez at 8:37 PM on February 15, 2010


I'm guessing it kinda sucks, like all other trackpad scrollwheel substitutes?
posted by Artw at 9:02 PM on February 15, 2010


If you like smearing around a trackpad to get your keystrokes, I'm cheering you on, but you're playing a different sport.

holy fuck, dude, it has two corners that depress and click when you press them. they are two buttons, and they click.

jesus.
posted by shmegegge at 9:05 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


fuck, dude, it has two corners that depress and click when you press them.

I agree. But they are not mouse buttons, and they are more awkward than mouse buttons, and they slow me down, make me feel stupid, and make me feel like I'm wearing mittens.

That doesn't happen for you, and I sincerely think that's great.

But it happens for me, and for a lot of other people who have as much as a quarter-century of experience using a real mouse and being exasperated that Apple can't admit that its one-mouse decision in the early 1980s was stupid.
posted by gum at 9:23 PM on February 15, 2010


button
posted by gum at 9:25 PM on February 15, 2010


But they are not mouse buttons

Yes, they are. You are confused.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 PM on February 15, 2010


OK. People who do not use Apple computers are confused. Unless they use PCs, in which case they are confused by more than one mouse button. So everyone is confused. I agree.
posted by gum at 9:36 PM on February 15, 2010


I can use the keyboard embedded pointing stick ambidextrously. Trackpads are for sissies.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on February 15, 2010


My phone doesn't even have a mouse.
posted by scottreynen at 9:43 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, smartphones. Right.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 PM on February 15, 2010


I hate you all.
posted by BaxterG4 at 9:45 PM on February 15, 2010


OK. People who do not use Apple computers are confused. Unless they use PCs, in which case they are confused by more than one mouse button.

I admit I am not 100% certain what this statement means to you. But the fact still remains that Apple computers have had more than one mouse button for some time.

What you are arguing is that a mouse button requires a mechanical switch to be called a button. You seem unable, perhaps, to divorce the 1960s physical representation of the idea of a button as implemented in the first prototype mouse from the abstract idea of a button.

Ultimately, there is nothing about a mouse button in itself that especially requires this kind of implementation. A web page button is still a web page button, for example, even though it is an abstract representation of a button on a screen, ultimately a series of ones and zeros that reside in volatile memory. No one would be taken seriously who argues that a web page button is not a web page button because it does not possess a mechanical switch embedded in the display somewhere, which requires your tactile depression to trigger.

I suspect you are further confused by not having actually used a desktop or portable Apple computer, in that I would argue that you appear to demonstrate that you are not familiar with these items and would therefore not realize that the technology being used in these items has progressed somewhat substantially in the last five years or so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on February 15, 2010


Here's a nice screenshot comparison of iPhone and Windows Phone 7 Series that was making the rounds today

This one is a more straightforward comparison.
posted by BaxterG4 at 9:51 PM on February 15, 2010


I think the Mighty Mouse was sent by Apple to test the faithful. Only a true believer could look at it and not see it as utterly ridiculous.

Here's one thing I find interetsing about the position Apple is in right now - they've had a great run of it lately, what with the iPod and dominating the high end laptop market, and to do it they've really hidden away the, pardonmy french, mac-doucheyness.

That's right, people who will argue that right buttons, you're actually kind of a marketing negative, and Apple would prefer people to beleive that their users are actually more carefree, fun people like you see in iPod commercials. No way would those people be arguing on some stupid messageboard about the merits of the mighty mouse, they probably wouldn't know what the heck it was if you asked them about it by name.

People who for-reals get uptight about rightbuttons or used to argue in favour of the inherent superiority of the Power PC chip are basically dinosaurs, a liability. And it sure as hell wasn't you that bought the iPhone. I mean, you did, but you weren't the real market, and hell, you'll buy anything they make anyway. It was normal folks, or at least fasirly well of normal folks who like nice phones and being connected to the internet a lot.

Which make the recent resurgence of high profile mac-doucheyness in the form of this war-on-flash thing rather interesting. That's highly mac-douchey, and the arguments have the definate flavour of the no-right-buttons thing, and it's going to be something people notice as flash starts cropping up on other phones and they get a look at an iPad, where the little blue lego bricks will seem so much more significant.

And on a lesser scale there's the swipe at netbooks, which as I've said before, people kind of like and find cheap and convenient in exactly the same way they don't the MacBook Air and soon the iPad.

So it's all looking rather rocky.

Of course, none of this is ever going to be a problem for Microsoft, who weren't cool to begin with, look hideous whenever they try to be cool, and certainly have no chance of ever having the problem of loosing the hipster zietgeist these days, because god knows they'll never find it. Still, they'll keep grinding along. And at the end of the day they're exactly the same thing as Apple - a company.
posted by Artw at 9:56 PM on February 15, 2010


And at the end of the day they're exactly the same thing as Apple - a company.

It would be amusing to have some kind of reality TV show à la Wife Swap (or whatever the hell they call that crap) where Jobs and Ballmer switched roles for two weeks. Well, maybe it wouldn't be amusing but it might be interesting. Maybe.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 PM on February 15, 2010


What you are arguing is that a mouse button requires a mechanical switch to be called a button.

I can't believe I'm still participating in this. But are you really saying that you're looking forward to the day when you have no mechanical switches on you laptop and you have to smear-choose letters and numbers as well as left-clicks and right-clicks? Because good luck with that.
posted by gum at 10:07 PM on February 15, 2010


A different kind of ignoring UX factors, perhaps. There's an appealing slickness to it, but it is absolutely not going to succeed in the market. Why? Because you cannot just pick it up and know how to use it.
Man, the apple fanboyism is really thick. I mean, you guys seem to think if a product isn't made by apple, it's impossible to use.
I have the sneaking suspicion that "Android doesn't do multi-touch" is the new "Mac doesn't do right-click." Which is to say: For a time, it didn't. Then it did, but not fully. Then it did fully (Android will get there right around the time they take the G1 back behind the barn, I suspect), but people like the trope too much to let it go.
I didn't say "Android can't do multi-touch" just that if you want to make an app that runs OK on everyone's phone, you have to make sure it still works with single touch. Obviously, if a user buys a multi-touch phone it will be fine from their perspective.
Meanwhile, the iPhone's custom circuitry will only get smaller and faster, delivering more bang per buck and making it possible to lower prices even further.
Yes, because not only does Apple have the best UI designers, they also have the best chip designers and any chips made by any other companies will totally suck just like any UIs from any other companies will also totally suck.
How do you turn your lights on and off?
Touch sensitive panels. You press once to turn them on, and press while holding the ⌘-key to turn them off.
posted by delmoi at 10:12 PM on February 15, 2010


We have Clappers installed in every room, and also Bluetooth Clappers for our phones.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:14 PM on February 15, 2010


I can't believe I'm still participating in this.

I think the matter had died down after your initial derail had been factually refuted, at which point you raised the issue again. I cannot speculate as to your motivations for doing so.

But are you really saying that you're looking forward to the day when you have no mechanical switches on you laptop and you have to smear-choose letters and numbers as well as left-clicks and right-clicks?

That day is already here, with the Apple iPhone. Further, you will likely find that Google phones and whatever this particular piece of Microsoft demoware ends up becoming as a final product will — by virtue of having no two-mechanical-button mouse attached to its touchscreen — end up employing the very same user interface you are decrying in your comments.

Even further, as devices more exclusively employ haptic interfaces to provide an intuitive interface, the very notion of discrete mechanical buttons as a design requirement will fade into the distant past, like leaded gasoline or iceboxes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


If lack of well supported and properly done multitouch doesn't kill Android it's certainly going to be a big factor. Unlike trackpads and mice surfaces multitouch really counts for a lot on screens.
posted by Artw at 10:21 PM on February 15, 2010


As devices more exclusively employ haptic interfaces to provide an intuitive interface, the very notion of discrete mechanical buttons as a design requirement will fade into the distant past, like leaded gasoline or iceboxes.

Then we understand each other, and I agree that things like McDonald's cash registers will increasingly adopt the design principles you describe and embrace. But people who have larger goals than recording the purchase of a Big Mac will demand more of their interfaces, and increasingly they're going to find the resources to pursue their goals in places other than Cupertino.
posted by gum at 10:26 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


are you really saying that you're looking forward to the day when you have no mechanical switches on you laptop and you have to smear-choose letters and numbers as well as left-clicks and right-clicks?

I'm looking forward to the day when my interaction with digital objects isn't generally mediated by input devices or any other metaphors, but rather happens (or at least feels like it's happening) directly with the objects themselves. I do expect this will be a somewhat awkward transition, but less so than the transition from the direct interaction with the non-digital world, which makes up the bulk of human experience, and the current norm of indirect interaction with the digital world, which increasingly feels like a stop-gap.
posted by scottreynen at 10:29 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


But people who have larger goals than recording the purchase of a Big Mac will demand more of their interfaces, and increasingly they're going to find the resources to pursue their goals in places other than Cupertino.

It is fascinating and somewhat humorous to behold a common stereotype of Apple, once hailed as selling a "one-button-mouse" to society's elitists, watching that stereotype regress very quickly — within the space of several minutes — to hawking Big Macs to the dregs of that same society.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 PM on February 15, 2010


??
posted by gum at 10:35 PM on February 15, 2010


Gum, I am making a comment about the stereotypical tropes roped into these sorts of discussions, including yours, and how quickly they glide from one humorous extreme to another.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2010


For fuck's sake, you fanboys. I worked at Apple for five years. It pains me to know that even our most ardent enthusiasts are still caught up in the stupid mouse button debate. We made so many neat new things, but still, you argue about the buttons. *sigh*
posted by ryanrs at 10:43 PM on February 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is this the first version of Windows without any windows?
posted by scottreynen at 10:52 PM on February 15, 2010


I have an O2 Xda Guide running Windows Mobile 6.5 and it works surprisingly well, maybe because HTC bolted a nicer UI onto it. But I can't wait to see MeeGo making it's way onto phones - Linux and Qt based, with a good UI, responsible open source policies, and not controlled by Google? Hell yeah.
posted by cmonkey at 11:43 PM on February 15, 2010


Despite my grumpy old device-luddite comment above, I found the a lot of the stuff on this long promo video pretty neat.

But I don't much care for the whole social networking thing (more old mannery), so that's a bit of a wash for me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:57 PM on February 15, 2010


I used to have an iPhone and now I have a nexus one. Let me tell you. The nexus one. MUCH better phone.
posted by seanyboy at 12:28 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like nachos.

(They don't work well with touch screens, though)
posted by dirigibleman at 1:24 AM on February 16, 2010


For fuck's sake, you fanboys. I worked at Apple for five years. It pains me to know that even our most ardent enthusiasts are still caught up in the stupid mouse button debate. We made so many neat new things, but still, you argue about the buttons. *sigh*

But...but...someone is wrong on the internet.
posted by Hiker at 3:45 AM on February 16, 2010


Even further, as devices more exclusively employ haptic interfaces to provide an intuitive interface, the very notion of discrete mechanical buttons as a design requirement will fade into the distant past, like leaded gasoline or iceboxes.

I hadn't realized that there were now haptic keyboard apps for the iPhone, thank goodness, as that should make soft keyboards almost halfway usable.

You'll convince me that touch screen interfaces have successfully replaced discrete mechanical buttons when I can type someone's contact information into the phone while talking to that person, maintaining eye contact, and not looking at the device.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:49 AM on February 16, 2010


Amiga people are still the best people. DEATH TO ATARI ST!

Let's see you plug your MIDI keyboard into your stock consumer model and make music, then!

MIDI ports > King Tut.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:41 AM on February 16, 2010


Pah. MIDI ports.

/shakes fist at the MIDI ports.
posted by Artw at 7:11 AM on February 16, 2010


Fuck, I am so, so sorry.

I brought up the comparison to Apple's right-clicking because it was a nice little parallel to the current state of Android. New Android (2.X) supports multi-touch, but old (1.X) does not. As such, if you want to make an app 100% compatible, no MT. Much in the same way as programming something to 100% compatible on a Mac in 1997 meant no use of right-click, because OS 8 supported it, but <8 did not.

THAT was the point.

The point was *not* "HEY LET'S HAVE A FUCKING DEBATE ABOUT A DESIGN ISSUE THAT MAC CONCEDED TO 13 YEARS AGO, SOFTWARE-WISE, EVEN IF THEY'RE NOT EQUIVALENT TO PCS, HARDWARE-WISE."

Why? Because there's nothing to say of any value on this subject, I think. You can point to it as a "Macs suck, see?" thing if you hate Macs, or as a "Macs are ahead of their time, see?" thing if you love them, but otherwise, it's really not worth discussing, IMHO.

So: Very, very sorry about the derail, and no, I'm not happy. My whole thing was that it's a topic not worth discussing, but by saying so, apparently people decided it was time to start discussing it. This thread is much, much more interesting than that.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:21 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Real mice have 3 buttons. (Clickable scroll-wheel is acceptable.)
posted by kmz at 9:31 AM on February 16, 2010


Side buttons and side-to-side movement of scrollwheel are just silly though.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on February 16, 2010


Real mice have stealth thumb buttons and are USB rechargable. Eat me.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on February 16, 2010


Side buttons and side-to-side movement of scrollwheel are just silly though.

Side buttons for me are reload and switch weapons.

My mouse doesn't have side-to-side movement, but if it did, I'd map it to lean.

Not the most important uses of technology, I'll admit.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:57 AM on February 16, 2010


What? Weapons changing should be the clickwheel! What kind of freak are you? You'll be using something other than WASD next!
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2010


Why is it that the douchiest people always find themselves in these Apple debates? I'm not talking Apple fanboys, I'm talking people who insist that EVERYBODY who likes Apple is a fanboy/retarded/evil/corporateoverlord/not my friend anymore. I mean, I use a Mac, I own an iPod, but I'm still willing to discuss other systems. Like, I think that there is no good Linux GUI, and that's why I don't use Linux. Or I think that Windows OS's don't have the focus on usability that their Mac counterparts do, and I wish Microsoft would do something about that. But Windows 7 was an improvement! So when I switch over to play games, I don't hate it. It's still nowhere near in the same league as where Snow Leopard is in terms of casual usability, but it's good.

See? We can have a rational discussion. We can talk the art of interface design, and hardware/software symbiosis, and have a fun time talking tech things. But no, we can't, because HAVEN'T YOU FORGOTTEN APPLE HATES ITS USERS/MAKES THINGS FOR STUPID PEOPLE ONLY ONE MOUSE OVERPRICED THE IPAD IS A STUPID NAME HURRRRRR.

Right-click let for a lot of shitty design. It's not justifiable. The fact that people defending multiple buttons are all gamers goes to prove the point: A niche audience needs extra buttons, and they have them readily available. That doesn't mean it ought to be a default part of any design. In fact, it should be deliberately marginalized so that designers don't fuck users over as much.

Apple's already revealed what they want to do next, and it's not "single mouse button". It's "NO mouse button." It's multitouch and tapping a screen, which, despite one of the comments here, is a lot simpler than right clicking, because there's no abstraction in how it works. When I click a right mouse button, never having used a computer before, I'm just touching a part of a weird plastic mouse. I don't know why right acts differently from left. There's a LOT of discovery necessary to discover some pretty basic things about how computers work.

With multitouch, users are NOT confused, and there've been studies confirming this. Also videos of one-year-olds figuring this shit out. If I want to move down a page, I flick it down. If I want to rotate a photo, I rotate the photo. The only issues I've had family members come across (everybody in my immediate family's got an iPod touch/iPhone, for online Scrabble if nothing else) are ones where they're intimidated into expecting something harder. Like, my mom couldn't figure out how to copy and paste, because she didn't realize it would just be selecting text with your fingers. She was looking for an extra button, because she's been trained to expect things to be unnecessarily complex.

I mean, Apple's not mysterious about this. And personally I think what they're doing makes a lot of sense. If you disagree with it, then it's totally possible for you to disagree WITHOUT making it into a "this company thinks I'm a retard" or "I think you're a retard" or, fuck, I don't know. There's such a negative attitude here aimed at fuckall. I know that nerds have reputations for not understanding basic social interactions and courtesy and whatnot, but how about we try and be somewhat better than the stereotypes?

(Personally I'm happy Microsoft is aiming at something simpler, and I'd be excited if their phones turn out to be halfway decent. I'm not going to use it, but I like them doing something new.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:59 AM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Artw : You'll be using something other than WASD next!

When I still gamed on my PC, I always used ESDF; I could index it in the dark by the F key, and it gave me W, Q, and A to map to different functions. It worked really well, I'm actually surprised more people don't use it.
posted by quin at 12:13 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's because we're not fucking HEATHENS.
posted by shmegegge at 12:18 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


WASD? I just move the mouse to the left and use the actual arrow keys. But then I'm left-handed.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2010


Right-click let for a lot of shitty design. It's not justifiable. The fact that people defending multiple buttons are all gamers goes to prove the point.

I'm not a gamer. Who is "defending" it? I don't see anyone insisting that there should be one, only that they wouldn't mind or prefer to have one. I think it's perfectly justifiable and not all at niche. The argument that it confuses people that haven't used a computer before fails to account for the fact that in many situations people who haven't done something before might be, get this, confused... For example. Back in the day I had to teach people how to turn on Macs because the power button was on the keyboard. They were confused. They learnt. They were no longer confused. You could argue the same thing for multitouch. Fortunately, those that are confused simply don't have to use it as it isn't mandatory outside 3D animation and the like programs.

As for platformism. I agree. It's horrible, as are "fanboy"arguments. I was recently labelled a Flash fanboy despite the fact I was arguing against it's use, but apparently allowing for the option made me a fanboy. Hilarious.

Why is it that the douchiest people always find themselves in these Apple debates? I'm not talking Apple fanboys, I'm talking people who insist that EVERYBODY who likes Apple is a fanboy/retarded/evil/corporateoverlord/not my friend anymore.

Such douchiest people are in the extreme minority on this forum and in this thread. I can't think of a single one who is still active.

It's perfectly reasonable to be baffled by the argument of confusion by years and years of anecdotal experience. Why are their keyboard shortcuts (again not mandatory) on the Mac if they are potentially confusing? These days I think the feeling comes more from the argument that iPhone users will be confused by the availability of a map application that might replace the default one. Just because someone disagrees with the philosophy behind it doesn't mean they hate Macs, Mac users, or love Windows.

Frankly, the computer and OS you use says little if anything about your identity or the kind of person you are. it's unfortunate, that like t-shirts and shoes, some people think it defines them.
posted by juiceCake at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2010


My trackball-trained hands laugh kinesmatically at this Mouse Civil War. This is but one of my trackballs, almost 20 years old this year and still going strong. The blue roller ball is around the width of my hand. Until you've used one of these, you haven't really experienced a UI properly. Note also the number of buttons.

CDI Trackball.

Disclaimer: I also have a Nintendo Powerglove which I got in the 1980s, along with a serial interface for it. Now *that* has a serious amount of buttons available. It's so bad.
posted by meehawl at 1:39 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought only people with rotator cuff injuries used trackballs.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2010


Guy sitting down the way from me uses a billiard ball as his trackball.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2010


(clowntroller there is pretty awesome BTW)
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on February 16, 2010


As ANY FULE KNO, the only real mouse is the Cytek Cyborg.
posted by subbes at 6:52 PM on February 16, 2010


I thought only people with rotator cuff injuries used trackballs.

I have a 10 year old kensington trackball that I use for everything. The value of having a quality trackball (quality basically meaning "it is large and has enough weight that the ball doesn't slip or roll when you take your hand off of it") is huge. For precision graphics work, nothing beats it.
posted by shmegegge at 7:50 PM on February 16, 2010


For precision graphics work, nothing beats it.

Better than Wacom's Intuos XL or Cintiq? I'm not an artist, but I'm curious about it.

As for right click, the big advantage for me is that even in an application that I've never seen before I can often depend on it to bring up the most used options for that context. No need to read manuals or find keyboard shortcuts. I don't know that it is THE ONE TRUE WAY or anything, having little experience with Macs; which may be more 'intuitive' than linux / windows / etc... but are by no means easy to become proficient with.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:58 AM on February 17, 2010


As for right click, the big advantage for me is that even in an application that I've never seen before I can often depend on it to bring up the most used options for that context.

That's exactly how it works on a Mac, (and has for over a decade (or two?) now.) Early on (in PC world,) though, there was no standard convention on what that other button could do.

I'm curious as to where the contextual menu idea originated.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:32 AM on February 17, 2010


Xerox came up with them, like everything else.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on February 17, 2010


Xerox came up with them, like everything else.

[citation needed]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:18 AM on February 17, 2010


Like most WIMP conventions the pop-up menu first emerged as part of the Xerox Parc Smalltalk GUI, more here. Though it sounds like NeXT refined it into something clsoe to what we have today: "The NEXTSTEP operating system further developed the idea, incorporating a feature whereby the right or middle mouse button brought the main menu (which was vertical and automatically changed depending on context) to the location of the mouse, thereby eliminating the need to move the mouse pointer all the way across the large (for the time) NextStep screen." - Implying the Parc pop ups were not all that contextual.
posted by Artw at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2010


Huh. That's as interesting as I thought it would be. (Xerox execs should be retroactively beheaded.)

Apple embraced the contextual-menu-as-shortcuts-only idea a long while back. Win did the same at roughly the same time. I now wonder which 'standardized' it first.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:49 AM on February 17, 2010


MS standardised it with Cairo/Windows 95... interestingly this UI report really downplays the context menus. Wikipedia has Crtrl Click being introduced for context menus on Mac in OS 8 (1997). The concept had been around for a lot longer than that though and standardised on some of the operating systems you don't hear a lot about today (Like Risc OS, NeXtSTEP (which should be familiar to OS X users) and later versions of Amiga OS).
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on February 17, 2010


Gah, dropped a link for the Windows 95 UI Case study.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on February 17, 2010


Better than Wacom's Intuos XL or Cintiq? I'm not an artist, but I'm curious about it.

I'm not an illustrator, so the last time I used a wacom tablet was years ago in my 3d modeling days in school. This may be out of date, but my feeling about wacom tablets is that they're always best used in specific circumstances, but that you can't QUITE abandon your mouse for them.

A professor of mine, who began his career as a painter/sculptor/installation artist and who made the move into digital work uses a wacom for even his OS level mouse work because it helps him with his carpal tunnel syndrome. (He was trained in Asian calligraphy and holds the tablet pen in the grip of that technique, which relieves his wrist strain tremendously.)

for myself, the tablet was outstanding for organic work, anything that needs smooth lines or believably organic jaggedness, etc... what I didn't like it for was pixel-level adjustments. the trackballs ability to sit still when you're not touching it and to remain on precisely the pixel you left it at when you move your hand on or off it is invaluable at that point.
posted by shmegegge at 10:27 AM on February 17, 2010


Artw, fascinating link.

Shmegegge, tablets are for specific uses (and CTS may be one of them) but they're not so good for general use. Apple realized that (OK, belatedly (I tried to love my Newton)) early on, hence the iPhone/Pad UI.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:49 AM on February 17, 2010


Last night I poked my laptop screen, trying to get the video window to maximize. D-oh! Next thing you know, I'll be trying to right-click my iPod's touchscreen. That's sure to be equally "fail."
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2010


Most artists I know seem to stick with the pen for everything, since they've got it in hand already. But that could be more convenience than anything else.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on February 17, 2010


These phones, they squirt?
Sure, it will flaunt standards, but any phone likely to be embraced by the adult film industry will be a winner as surely as other technologies before it.
posted by nimmpau at 12:13 PM on February 17, 2010


Most artists I know seem to stick with the pen for everything, since they've got it in hand already. But that could be more convenience than anything else.

Yeah, that's almost certainly it. If I sit down to use a tablet, I'll use the pen for OS tasks. But if I sit down to do anything else, I'm not reaching for the tablet. The mouse/touchpad is much better for that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:28 PM on February 18, 2010


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