Windows XP unveiled...
February 14, 2001 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Windows XP unveiled... why does it look so bloopy? And all those bright colors and rounded edges! It's like Fisher Price OS! (via K10K.)
posted by wiremommy (42 comments total)
It looks bloopy because Aqua looks bloopy, of course.
posted by kindall at 5:20 PM on February 14, 2001

"Windows® XP, built on the dependable Windows engine, features..."

Ha. hahahahaha. AAAAHHhahahahahahaha.
posted by Neale at 5:25 PM on February 14, 2001

LOL, it makes Aqua look clean and professional. Nice work.

/me crawls into a hole and cries for the future of personal computing
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:31 PM on February 14, 2001

Aw, leave Aqua alone -- I use it on "profesional mode", which makes things grey rather than blue, and it's fine.

XP, on the other hand, just looks gross.
posted by jragon at 5:35 PM on February 14, 2001

Ungh! That is an ugly, ugly GUI. Good golly.
posted by hijinx at 5:55 PM on February 14, 2001

Shouldn't progress be making the OS less obtrusive? Using WinXP will be like driving a plaid friggin' minivan. And they wonder why people are switching to Linux!
posted by jpoulos at 5:56 PM on February 14, 2001

The thing looks rough. Isn't this the point at which you make the comps as whiz-bang as possible -- whether you're going to deliver on it or not -- just so your user-base has something to drool over?
posted by leo at 6:13 PM on February 14, 2001

What the fuck is Microsoft thinking?

If this is adopted by business, isn't having the username in plain sight a security issue? You know my username, how about you guess my password.
posted by Zool at 6:19 PM on February 14, 2001

We (insert name of globe dominating corp. here) have been assured by Microsloth that the Whistler GUI will be optional and is, in fact, intended for consumer users not business users. The reaction that I've seen in the rags is akin to the reaction in this thread, so I expect to see some retooling similar to Apple's tweaking of Aqua after that first Public Beta shipped.
posted by m.polo at 6:33 PM on February 14, 2001

polo is right, you'll be able to change the look of XP to whatever you like. hopefully they'll have a good theme manager that will allow you to change anything and everything.

but those pictures definitely look disgusting...
posted by physics at 7:13 PM on February 14, 2001

What disgusts me about Windows XP is how all the media outlets are pimping for it. I mean, CNN Headline News had this as their second or third story a couple of days ago. Please, allow me to puke. All kinds of real problems going on in the world and they're worried about f**ckin Windows!
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:33 PM on February 14, 2001

yeah, I think it looks fine for the market which it's intended.
win2k is for business
winME is for most of us, the average I guess
and winXP LOOKS like it's going to be for the AOL-type
I mean, it's not like none of us saw this coming with MSN Mars. Also, these are the first screenshots, I'm sure it will be customizable to go beyond that. If it isn't though...
*crawls in the hole with mars*
posted by starduck at 7:45 PM on February 14, 2001

They want to rent me an operating system, as if I only use it occasionally, and all I get is this?
posted by vanderwal at 8:20 PM on February 14, 2001

What's so bad about it again? That it's soft and pretty instead of cold and industrial?
posted by rodii at 8:24 PM on February 14, 2001

This has nothing to do with XP, but did anyone catch the print ad for Windows 2000? A picture of the blue Windows 9x crash screen, captioned "Tired of seeing this? Then upgrade to Windows 2000!"

Degrading your old products to push your new ones? That's pretty ridiculous. "Tired of your Firestone X400 tires blowing out? Then try our new X401 models!"
posted by skwm at 8:30 PM on February 14, 2001

Coupla things:

(1) The biggest market for this interface are the great unwashed masses. We can all hit little tiny buttons with a mouse on a 1024x768 screen. Don't any of you remember trying to teach your moms to hit the start button and having her cruise past it all the way to the corner of the screen?

(2) You can change the skins. The documentation says that they won't be providing a skin editor, but people have already hacked together replacements and this thing's not even in beta two. You can even turn all that stuff off and go back to classic mode.

(3) And yeah, Windows 2000 (which is the basis for XP) is reliable. Ask anybody who uses it day-to-day. No, it's not the equal of Linux, but then again it's a lot easier for a normal human to use.

What ceaselessly amazes me about religious OS debates is that people forget how hard things like making the mouse go to a particular point on the screen, or transferring an image from a digital camera (who's Twain?) or just finding a file they saved the day before, can be for someone who's new to computers.

Here's a tip: Don't ask people who know how to use layers in Photoshop, or who know how to install a new program, or even people who know how to copy a file from one folder to another. Those aren't the people this is for; Those aren't even the majority of computer users.
posted by anildash at 8:44 PM on February 14, 2001

Degrading your old products to push your new ones? That's pretty ridiculous.

Microsoft has had some pretty weird ad campaigns. They advertised Windows 95 in Germany using Max and Moritz, which seems to say to me "look, our operating system is one big practical joke!"
posted by dagnyscott at 8:56 PM on February 14, 2001

Looks good to me. And from what I understand, it will have built in skinnability, so alternate UIs will not be hard to implement.
posted by Calebos at 9:01 PM on February 14, 2001

Yes, Windows XP is aimed at the computer-as-collection-of-applications set, and an interface like this is clearly better for those requirements. However, there are two real dangers here. The first is that Microsoft often far overestimates the stability and capability of their own low-level software, and makes more powerful administrative functions impossible or at least inconvenient to access before doing so is appropriate in the lifetime of the system. Conspiracy theorists tend to say this trend is designed to artificially inflate the value of "paper expertise" like the MCSE. I apply Hanlon's Razor and explain it away as simple hubris.

Second, a system that is entirely dumbed down to be easy for novices to learn quickly outlives its usefulness. Humans, by their own nature, become experts at things they experience daily. Overuse of novice guiding techniques (like shiny attention grabbing chromish things) becomes interactive noise, and an impediment to the natural development of the userbase toward expertise. (Systems like Eazel's Nautilus try to guide users toward expertise through multiple "levels", but I haven't seen enough of it to tell how good a job they're doing.) Designers of these interfaces generally seem to think that vi is the canonical example of a useless interface, without even considering how incredibly quick and powerful it is in the proper hands.

Hopefully Windows XP will have allowances designed in to allow the development of expertise. Skinnability is not enough; if it doesn't extend to the level of changing functional interaction between user and system, it's useless for anything other than making your desktop look "1337".
posted by Vetinari at 9:05 PM on February 14, 2001

"Windows XP, the OS your mom can use, and deserves"

Seriously...stop talking about my mother like that...
posted by Hackworth at 9:14 PM on February 14, 2001

That is great that it has built in skinning abilities; that way, I can have dozens of poorly-designed interfaces instead of just one...
posted by donkeymon at 9:40 PM on February 14, 2001

May I introduce another contender in the OS wars?
Development is still ongoing but the system is allegedly stable enough to install at this point.
posted by davidgentle at 11:20 PM on February 14, 2001

1. WinXP is based on Win2K - very stable, especially for MS.

2. WinXP is being covered because 90% of the computing world uses it.

3. WinXP's interface is going to be easy to use. AOL's interface is easy to use. AOL is the largest and most successful ISP ever. See the correlation? (Linux and co could learn from this if they want to win on the desktop)
posted by owillis at 11:30 PM on February 14, 2001

*bangs head on table*

hehe.. os debates.. they're always the same.. (at least there are a couple people in this thread who seem to be thinking SOMEWHAT logically.. ;)
posted by Dn at 11:50 PM on February 14, 2001

By the time they get to Win YQ they'll have to "invent" virtual desktops just so users can access the whole start menu. That thing is fucking HUGE! Actually I guess they'll just slap 3 rows of confusing tabs on the top of it...
posted by eth0 at 12:03 AM on February 15, 2001

I'm surprised no one commented on the desktop picture in the screenshots being a desert. Seems appropriate...
posted by tregoweth at 4:42 AM on February 15, 2001

Windows XP will allow you to choose the old (9X style) interface, for those who prefer the devil they know.
posted by harmful at 6:32 AM on February 15, 2001

Seriously...stop talking about my mother like that...

Yeah, really. My mother helped design a brand new computer system for the finance and tax department of a major city. She deserves much better than WinXP.

She retires at the end of this year and plans to set about travelling; I'm thinking that my gift to her may be one of those ultraspiff titanium Powerbooks.
posted by Dreama at 7:29 AM on February 15, 2001

I've played with the earlier incarnations of Whistler/XP -- not the "bloopified" Luna UI, but something pretty similar -- and I surprised myself by being impressed with the way that MS has cleaned up some of the biggest irritations and illogicalities in the Windows interface. (Fortunately, the Linux zealot in me gets to say: "took them long enough", but it's not as if Linux has a GUI to compete with it.)

But yeah, give it a whirl first. I'll promise you that before too long, you'll say to yourself: "oh, that finally works the way I wanted it to back in 95..."
posted by holgate at 7:31 AM on February 15, 2001

Man, that CNet article catches a brilliant point: the increasing digital divide simply between computer-using simpletons [the target audience for XP, according to this thread], and savvy computer users who understand Microsoft's full array of software and initiatives [e.g. the .Net program, Dynamic Setup, Passport, and so on]. How many people are going to be first-time computer users with XP? I feel like the research still shows that certain "basic" technologies aren't readily available to certain people. But generally speaking, those who can afford computers are buying them, have bought them already [with Win95/98/ME], and will continue to buy them as the market insists that new is best.

We know Microsoft is willing to build various OSes geared toward different abilities and needs, offering ME, XP, and NT all at once. What I'm saying is, I think XP's purported 90% market share "of all desktop computer users" is a highly inflated statistic. The need for purely cosmetic changes which serve to dumb down these vague esoteric tasks like "getting online" has plateaued out. Instead of educating prior OS users beyond the scope of what they already know, Microsoft spends the next decade rehashing essentially the same OS with a trendy face every couple years. That is the flaw with Windows XP's intent.

As for their design, who comes up with this stuff? It looks like how puke smells: a Royal Caribbean advertisement, with some inarticulate clouds to give us a sense of inner tranquility, while our computer performs one million REGEDIT commands behind the scenes, completely redefining the hard drive's terrain for the sake of user-friendliness.
posted by legibility at 7:44 AM on February 15, 2001

Anything that makes a PC easier to use for the average health care employee is fine with me. I deal with people whose job requires that they use a PC for eight hours a day, yet every day is a challenge for them. When they got comfortable with Windows 3.1, we gave them Windows 95. When they got comfortable with Windows 95 we gave them NT. Soon they'll be getting Win 2K. People who are good with PCs tend to underestimate just how much a simple thing like changing a login screen (say, changing the word "server" to "domain") can really mess with someone's world and put them into a fetal position.

Now Windows XP is going to change their world again. Super. Can we just find something that works and stick with it?

Also, I tend to doubt Microsoft when they claim something is going to be easier to use. All the engineers in the world can't make something easier for a "user". Those "smart menus" on Office 2K have done nothing but increase the amount of people who call the Help Desk because something on their menu "disappeared."

I like Windows 98. I use it at home. It's fairly stable and it does whatever I need it to do. I've dabbled with Linux too and anyone who thinks Linux is on the level of Windows 98 needs to spend some time in the trenches. Sure, it's great if you're a programmer or a hacker but it's certainly not ready for the average corporate desktop.

Maybe Fisher Price should get into the OS business...

posted by bondcliff at 8:23 AM on February 15, 2001

behind all the hype & kiddy crap interface is a dark insidious scheme...

posted by blackholebrain at 9:34 AM on February 15, 2001

Not to sound like a MacOS whiner, but ...

much of what MS is showing of this "innovative" user interface is directly ripped off from the Mac OS (both 9 and Aqua)! Hell, two of the icons (the flower and the rubber ducky)in the multiple users logon screen ARE THE SAME ICONS that OS 9 uses. Not similar, the SAME.

That said, if XP truly represents the leap from 98/ME that Win95 was from 3.1, more power and money to Redmond.
posted by russh at 9:41 AM on February 15, 2001

I think it's fairly clear that Windows has been market-driven from day one. Not to say that Microsoft was always able to deliver what the market wanted, but the features they added in each version were always carefully chosen. The market demanded easier configuration and more stability, and they wanted that before they got a better interface, or at least that's what Microsoft concluded. So Microsoft has incrementally worked at improving both the ease of adding peripherals (Plug and Play now works pretty well) and will now move their entire customer base to the NT/2000 kernel, which by now is pretty solid. With those issues more or less out of the way they're now beginning to address the UI. Personally I think the UI should have been a much higher priority from the beginning (I heard a story, possibly apocryphal, that they didn't even hire a graphic designer for Windows until 3.0) but I can't argue with the success of their estimation of what the market really wants.
posted by kindall at 10:18 AM on February 15, 2001

All I want is something that works and can run all the cool stuff I like that won't cost me an arm and a leg and won't feel like I'm making a deal with the devil. *sob*
posted by Hackworth at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2001

Did they fire the designer for Win3.1?

posted by legibility at 10:36 AM on February 15, 2001

I don't particularly care for the new Luna interface, although some touches are nice (it appears that the Start menu and the taskbar go all the way to the bottom of the screen, which may mean that you can just throw your mouse to the corner and click instead of slowing down so as not to overshoot... Tog would appreciate that). The best feature of XP seems to be the ability to log out of the console without closing programs(!). This looks like a step to making Windows a truly multi-user OS. Unix has been doing this forever and it's one of the things that most annoys me about Windows. Now, can I connect to that desktop from any PC in the world? (Presumably you could... MS has been working on Terminal Services for a while.)
posted by daveadams at 12:01 PM on February 15, 2001

AAAH! It's ugly! What happened to the oh-so-fine, elegant, subtle improvements of Windows Whistler's interface? They can't be doing it all wrong again!
posted by sja at 12:16 PM on February 15, 2001

now if I could install XP without a destop or window maganer, just to get the new kenel, and install blackbox instead, then sure, i'd use it ;D
posted by Hackworth at 3:28 PM on February 15, 2001

For all those pondering what "XP" stands for, wonder no longer. It dosen't stand for anything... It's an emoticon! Just like ":)" See, tilt your head to the left...

All is explained.
posted by emt at 1:33 AM on February 16, 2001

sja: exactly what I was thinking. I like the GUI on the version of Whistler I'm testing (pre-beta 2, build 2146); it's clean and smart-looking and pretty intuitive. (And actually quite zippy on my creaky old 1997 box.) Luna smacks of a slightly panicked attempt to incorporate OS X-isms into XP: from the rumours, it wasn't widely tested outside MS (warning bells) and was released in a hurry. Let's just hope that "Whistler Classic" is one of the skins on offer.
posted by holgate at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2001

what "XP" stands for, wonder no longer. It dosen't stand for anything... It's an emoticon!

What, a dead cyclops? ;)
posted by daveadams at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2001

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