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JorgeA

Windows 8 - Deeper Impressions

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JorgeA    607

Now for more bad news (but a ray of hope) for Windows RT:

As currently conceived, Windows RT is a lemon, and users are avoiding it in droves.

But I'm not sure it has to be that way. With a few small changes, Windows RT could make sense, just perhaps not the way Microsoft intended.

Although I've argued on these pages that Microsoft should provide an official method for installing arbitrary apps, including desktop apps, on Windows RT, I think it's clear that there are some markets where the lock down isn't a hindrance, but rather a feature. Corporate desktops and kiosk machines, for example, can both make good use of these restrictions—often they're the kind of restrictions that administrators will impose anyway.

(emphasis in original)

The writer also suggests including Outlook among the applications that can be installed on the crippled RT desktop mode. As we know, however, MSFT is making a big push for cloud computing, so allowing a full-blown, local version of Outlook on these devices would mean changing course for them. Not that that would be such a bad idea...

--JorgeA

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JorgeA    607

How about a little discussed venture: the retiring of Hotmail and rolling the assets into Outlook.com? Even if it is objectively better, why destroy the legendary Hotmail branding? It's amazing how strong Hotmail continued to be given how each of the last half dozen interface revisions was worse than what proceeded it. Microsoft's "hide the buttons" flat look seen in Office 2013 started here.

That was an interesting post, thanks!

I can only guess that the idea is that users want to do LESS with their e-mail rather than MORE :wacko: , "therefore" there's no point in leaving visible more buttons, menus and other function options.

Outlook.com looks like yet another Hotmail interface revision, so why the rename? It's not like Outlook is well known outside of business, especially since the killing of Outlook Express in 2006, and both Outlook and OE, where known, are strongly associated with local software. Outlook.com looks like neither but bears a striking resemblance to what Hotmail has become the past few years.

Microsoft's naming policies seem to run in overlapping cycles. First there's an explosion of different names for every service, then they try to bring everything together under one umbrella (remember Windows Live?), meanwhile other areas are sprouting new names and then they try to lasso all of those. It's hard to keep track of all the changes back and forth. Wish they would leave it alone already.

Maybe at least they'll fix it so that the delete button doesn't move around depending on which folder you're in. It's been years and I still can't find it without effort. In fact, pretty much all the buttons rearrange with each different view.

I have no experience with their cloud e-mail services, so I didn't know about this. Unbelievable!

As the article mentions, it's likely that Gmail was able to catch up by forcing Gmail registration on Android devices. Gmail is also a popular authentication mechanism. It's probably more prevalent in this area than Passport and OpenID. Facebook is an even bigger authenticator, though.

Wow, that's the first time I've heard of Passport in years. Had no idea it was still around.

Matter of fact, back when MSFT first tried to implement this was the first time I considered weaning myself off Windows and dual-booting Linux. Never did get around to it (although at the time I did buy a boxed SuSE Linux to install alongside my Windows 98 machine). It sounded to me like a move to control/manage commercial transactions on the Internet. No, thank you!!

--JorgeA

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Wow, that's the first time I've heard of Passport in years. Had no idea it was still around.

It is, but my terminology is old. Same with MSN Messenger. It's been Live Messenger for years but I still call it MSN messenger. I had to look it up. Apparently it's called "Microsoft account" (lowercase 'a'), which is new to me, and previously "Windows Live ID" which I do recall. The infrastructure is still used for XBox Live and I think the Windows Phone store and was used for Zune, which I think uses the same basic store structure.

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JorgeA    607

Yes, that's a pretty good piece, even if I don't agree with all of his points (the XP Start Menu has never made sense to me, and I find the ways that Vista handles Windows Updates, both manual and automatic, to be much more intuitive). And going Mac is somewhat puzzling if the idea is to maintain maximum flexibility in your computing; I'd much sooner go Linux.

Needless to say, I do totally agree with his view of Windows 8. :puke:

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA

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jaclaz    944

Once again (and again, as we've said here before), the OEM shows that it has a better handle than does MSFT on end users' needs and preferences, by including its own Start Menu replacement. :thumbup

The issue here is greater than you may think, i.e. you just found the tip of the iceberg.

As I see it, we have (had) an "unified" approach since win95's times.

If you had at home a Windows 95 PC and got to work and found a NT4 or 2K or XP machine, you could still start the programs the same way.

If you went to another person's office/home and needed to use his/her PC you would have needed NOT to learn anything "new", you would be before a "same" or "very similar to" interface to the one you are familiar with.

Kids getting out of school would find in the office, at their first job an interface very similarly looking to the one they have used during their studies.

Within limits the changes introduced with Vista :ph34r: and 7 were very marginal.

The good Linux guys with the KDE and to a much bigger extent with the (terrible IMHO) Gnome desktops did - possibly in the attempt to facilitate the use of Linux by the "MS customers" - simply mocked up a fake XP interface (BTW dumping the actual good and innovative interfaces they had and still have but that represent a minority).

A not-so-old (say) Ubuntu version looks a lot like an XP, most recent ones have increased the toyish look and changed look to resemble more closely the Mac's.

And there are distro's that even try/tied to replicate exactly the XP or Vista :ph34r: looks, like ylmf/StartOS:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StartOS

So, if every OEM will make his own "new Start menu" they will effectively create a number of different interfaces, and the above seen continuity of usage paradigm will be broken anyway.

Please note how the idea of the good MS guys (though completely flawed in practice) was actually to assure a (new) same interface/usage paradigm on any device. :whistle:

jaclaz

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Linux has its own tiling window managers reminiscent of Windows 1 or 8:

xmonad

coding-session-xmonad.png

ion

ion3-working.png

dwm

dwm_tiled.png

I think this is why some Linux users seem to like Windows 8 more than previous versions.

Linux has been attempting to gain users by imitating the Windows interface since the 90s:

fvwm95

slw7fvwm95start.gif

Before this there was CDE, a commercial product of Sun, HP, IBM, and USL (Bell Labs), which, due to IBM's influence, imitated the Windows 2.x / OS/2 Workplace Shell interface:

CDE 1.x

cde.gif

KDE licensing politics aside, GNOME basically originated as a replacement for fvwm95 and imitated Windows down to the blue background:

GNOME 1.0

gnome-1-0.gif

Edit: image embedding isn't exactly graceful. I suggest right-clicking and selecting "view image in new tab/window" or a similarly labeled option in your browser.

Edited by HalloweenDocument12

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JorgeA    607

Ouch!

Life in the Windows Phone 8 shanty town

Switching from Android to Windows Phone 8 seems just about the worst decision that I have ever made in my entire tech life. It's sort of like trading a boring but solid marriage for a great one-night stand that has turned into a bad relationship not much further down the road.

--JorgeA

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JorgeA    607

Linux has its own tiling window managers reminiscent of Windows 1 or 8:

That was an extremely cool rundown, thanks!

My favorite (not surprisingly) would be fvwm95. What's the closest to it nowadays in the Linux world? I'm talking of course about a Windows-like Linux start menu.

I've been flirting with Zorin OS, which seeks to emulate the Windows look-and-feel, but I am not altogether happy with the grainy appearance of the menu, window frames, and other elements where there are extensive blank areas. There's a Windows 7-style window theme available, but at best it mimics the crude Aero Basic look rather than Aero Glass. Under Windows, the same kinds of areas usually look very sharp. This graininess seems to hold for every flavor of Linux I've tried except for Netrunner, which also has sharp-looking graphics.

--JorgeA

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JorgeA    607

We saw similar headlines last week, but this article provides some additional interesting points:

Four months in: Windows 8 adoption is almost at a standstill

Windows 8′s nonexistent growth is mirrored by the Windows 8 Store, where the number of apps — as tracked by MetroStore Scanner — now sits at 44,650. This is up by around 4,000 since the beginning of February — and a similar gain of around 4,000 was seen in January. A 10% growth rate might sound all right, but it’s very worrying that it isn’t accelerating. If the Windows 8 Store grows by 4,000 apps per month, then we’ll be well into 2014 before the 100,000 threshold is crossed.
At this point, it isn’t entirely clear how Microsoft intends to spur the adoption of Windows 8. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but Windows Vista actually enjoyed faster growth than Windows 8 — and we know all too well how the Vista story played out. Despite selling Windows 8 at a massively discounted price of $40 for three months (it’s now $200), and sales boosts from Black Friday and Christmas, it’s clear that Windows 8 has failed to take off.

--JorgeA

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JorgeA    607

The headline says it all:

Microsoft's Windows 8 turning off PC buyers

I'm not sure that we linked to this one before.

Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 was supposed to spark an increase in personal computer sales. Instead, the PC industry is poised to contract for the second year in a row. And Windows 8 actually could be hurting PC sales.
"The problem (with touch-screen PCs) is the price points are high," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell told IBD. "And Microsoft has created the impression that you have to have touch (to use Windows 8)."

That's led to a scenario where consumers don't want to buy Windows 8 PCs without touch-screens and are waiting for the machines with touch to come down in price. So, in the end, consumers stick with the PCs they already have, O'Donnell says.

And the people who do buy the non-touch Windows 8 PCs often are disappointed with the experience.

Microsoft might decide to add the option to boot right to the traditional desktop with its first set of Win 8 software updates this fall. "It would be very smart of them to make that option available," O'Donnell said.

It likely will be easier for Microsoft to backtrack on the Win 8 interface now that the executive responsible for it, Steven Sinofsky, is no longer working at the company. Sinofsky was forced out in November, two weeks after Windows 8 was released.

--JorgeA

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JorgeA    607

The issue here is greater than you may think, i.e. you just found the tip of the iceberg.

You're right, the problems run much deeper. And it is ironic that by trying to create a unified experience, Microsoft is ending up creating more of a fragmented, discombobulated experience. The root of the problem IMO is that they already did have a unified experience for a certain type of machine, but then they tried to create a new one that would extend to different kinds of machines. Sorry Steve B., but a motorcycle just isn't the same as a car, although they do operate on the same basic idea.

--JorgeA

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jaclaz    944

The issue here is greater than you may think, i.e. you just found the tip of the iceberg.

You're right, the problems run much deeper. And it is ironic that by trying to create a unified experience, Microsoft is ending up creating more of a fragmented, discombobulated experience. The root of the problem IMO is that they already did have a unified experience for a certain type of machine, but then they tried to create a new one that would extend to different kinds of machines. Sorry Steve B., but a motorcycle just isn't the same as a car, although they do operate on the same basic idea.

--JorgeA

Yes and no.

I see it more about the endless attempts to change the QWERTY (or AZERTY) keyboard layout.

As you might know there are several (mostly anecdotal) explanations why you have before you a keyboard with letters set in what seems (and partially is) assembled casually with keys in a "random" order.

As well there are even more vague "proofs" about the Dvorak layout being more efficient or faster.

There were also some attempts - pointed out as an example in the book I earlier cited - The psychology of everyday things - to put keys in alphabetic order (that obviously failed).

If you ever used a GUI like blackbox, you would see how it represents (as I see it) an evolution, while you still have (if you want) the program bar at the bottom, and even the start button, you do not need to travel with the mouse to lower left corner to "start" something, you instead right-click *anywhere* and get the same menu/choices.

But still,it never took.

Rolling up windows are a much faster (and practical) way to work with more than one window in several cases, yet AFAIK the feature never went "upstream".

Example:

http://www.actualtools.com/windowmanager/help/features/rollup.php

If you want (or need to run) quickly a command line app/command, there is nothing (still IMHO) as useful as the mis-known (and actually still in development) Winqconsole:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/winqconsole/

or Windows Quake Console, if you think at the usage paradigm it is "natural" and "obvious", since you are going to use the keyboard anyway, to open it through the keyboard and to not close it but rather toggle it with the same keys combo into "rolled up" mode.

But please consider how these all represent "added" features to the "same" base actions that *every* desktop has in common, and not "replacements", just like a keyboard with the added "multimedia" buttons or the "windows" keys mantain the same exact QWERTY placement keys and adds a few keys.

jaclaz

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