Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:06 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes Taking a break from reporting on the latest netbook or phone rumours, Engadget posted an article yesterday about several elements in desktop operating systems writer Paul Miller finds outdated. While there's some interesting stuff in there, there's also a lot to discuss.
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Disappointed
by jackflap on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:22 UTC
jackflap
Member since:
2008-11-04

Very disappointed that Ubuntu wasn't mentioned in '5. No unified notification tray'.

The new ubuntu notification daemon is one of the key innovations since Ubuntu 9.04. It's a shame they looked over it completely.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Disappointed
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:24 UTC in reply to "Disappointed"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It's not an innovation. It's a copy of Growl, but a hell of a lot more broken (i.e., no configurability AT ALL).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Disappointed
by saucerful on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 21:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Disappointed"
saucerful Member since:
2008-06-12

Ubuntu's notify-osd is just a fancier (read: supports transparency) implementation of the libnotify/notification daemon framework, which according to the release history was at version 0.3.4 in February 2006 (http://www.galago-project.org/news/index.php). I'm having a hard time figuring out when Growl was first released... but a few different news items lead me to believe 2005. I think they are both copies (perhaps improvements upon) of the windows bubble notifications, anyhow.

The point is Growl is not an innovation either.

As for the lack configurability, if its even true, then it's a shortcoming of Ubuntu's implementation in notify-osd, not the libnotify framework. For example, the implementation in the Awesome window manager is very customizable. It's also very powerful. For example, with a couple lines of scripting I can set it up to monitor any file (since this is unix, that means anything happening at all) on my system (e.g. a log file) and print any new lines to the notification system.

Reply Score: 1

Two points
by boldingd on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:23 UTC
boldingd
Member since:
2009-02-19

Two quick points: the more modern XFCE also has a mode where the desktop icons represent minimized windows (albeit it stops displaying the contents of ~/Desktop when you do that). It's a neat trick, but I find it easier to have the contents of ~/Desktop displayed on my desktop, and to manage windows with the panels.

Also, several applications do have functionality akin to card-mode now -- with most of them being media players. XMMS will do this now, for instance, and I think either Banshee or Rhythmbox -- I can't remember which -- also has a minimum interface mode, which is pretty much card mode. I'd wager a large part of the reason that most applications don't have card modes now is that, for many types of applications, card mode isn't a practical way to interact with the program. Think about it: what would a sane card-mode for any of FireFox, OpenOffice/MS Office or Team Fortress 2 (or any other game) look like, and would you ever use it? (Realize that, for a web browser or document editor, you're either going to have the page/document shrunk down to a tiny, probably unreadable size, or have scroll bars on the sides of the view, and have to scroll it around to use it)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Two points
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:25 UTC in reply to "Two points"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I mean at an optional third state. Since I regularly deal with loads of different Word/PDF documents open, having some of them presented as if they were displayed on an iPhone (basic, focus on text) on my desktop would be VERY handy.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Two points
by joekiser on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 18:16 UTC in reply to "Two points"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

There are some modern implementations of minimize to desktop that show the application as a miniature "preview" as opposed to an icon. For Windows, there is miniMIZE (http://aquaria.za.net/content/view/133/32/) that works perfectly in Win7, so long as you run the program in XP compatibility mode. There is also Thumbwin (http://www.ghacks.net/2007/11/20/thumbwin-minimize-windows-to-thumb...) but it's in Japanese and isn't compatible with 64-bit Windows yet.

For UNIX, there are several crude FVWM scripts that allow this same function, using ImageMagick to draw the program. It would be nice if KDE picked up this feature as well.

BTW, "the idea of pushing an app completely off the desktop and out of mind" that the author attributes to smartphones is already available, and it's called Virtual Desktops. Also, minor nitpick, browser speed dial first appeared in Opera.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Two points
by djame on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Two points"
djame Member since:
2005-07-08

There are some modern implementations of minimize to desktop that show the application as a miniature "preview" as opposed to an icon. For Windows, there is miniMIZE (http://aquaria.za.net/content/view/133/32/) that works perfectly in Win7, so long as you run the program in XP compatibility mode. There is also Thumbwin (http://www.ghacks.net/2007/11/20/thumbwin-minimize-windows-to-thumb...) but it's in Japanese and isn't compatible with 64-bit Windows yet.

For UNIX, there are several crude FVWM scripts that allow this same function, using ImageMagick to draw the program. It would be nice if KDE picked up this feature as well."



About that, it's worth noting that Enlightnment has been offering this feature at least since 1998 and E13.. you could even move the windows in the small icons views and see them moving in the same time. E16 is for me the best WM ever. E17 lost its way, but I used E16 for years and years before switching to osx and to its lame WM.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Two points - Enlightenment
by jabbotts on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:06 UTC in reply to "Two points"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

For minimized applications, Enlightenment is still my benchmark. The app reduced to an icon but into an easily configurable segment of the screen. Where available, program icons would be a reduced screenshot rather than icon image.

Warf from top right corner down to middle screen. Four desktop panes (pager) in bottom right corner. Icon area between the two. Warf and icon space in single column the width of the pager. All space on the left for open applications.

My KDE with Conky setup comes closest but it means the ever present taskbar along one edge. I'm happy with the setup including frequently used apps icons and such but it's still not like E16 was.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Two points
by helf on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 21:01 UTC in reply to "Two points"
helf Member since:
2005-07-06

NEXTSTEP and later OpenSTEP have supported minimizing apps to icons from the get-go ... ~1988. Very handy ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Two points
by BallmerKnowsBest on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Two points"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

NEXTSTEP and later OpenSTEP have supported minimizing apps to icons from the get-go ... ~1988. Very handy ;)


Windows 3.0 and later 3.1 supported minimizing applications to the desktop since 1990.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Two points
by tylerdurden on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 21:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Two points"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Most early GUIs by Xerox et al had the minimizing of apps into the desktop as the default behavior.

The only major GUI from the 80s that I can think of which did not do exactly that was the System Finder from MacOS.

Reply Score: 1

Going to add a few of my own ...
by WorknMan on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 18:17 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I've got a few gripes of my own. These may be specific only to windows, but whatever:

1. Developers trying to cater to iTards by adding custom skins on their apps so that the interface on most of them looks like a huge catastrophe of ass. And this is only going to get worse with things like WPF, where they can make widgets sing and dance if they want to. I guess the concept of having a unified look and feel across the OS doesn't compute with these people. It also sucks because I can't use scripting to control programatically a lot of the non-standard GUI controls that they use.

2. Lack of portability. Why the hell are developers still using the Windows registry? What purpose does that serve, exactly? Why not just have the config files in the program directory, so I can copy it to a USB stick and use it on whatever computer I happen to be working on? Makes backups easier too. And oh yeah, stop charging for USB-friendly versions, you greedy f**ks.

3. There needs to be a unified system that all apps use to announce that there's an update, so I can have ONE notification alert every week or so to let me know that some of my programs need updating. Right now, I've got all kinds of apps (legitimate ones) trying to start up 'update agents' at system startup and displaying balloons in the system tray all the time. It's madness.

Reply Score: 12

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Developers trying to cater to iTards by adding custom skins


Oh god yes, please make skinning die. No people, you can't fix your applications fundamentally broken UI by adding skinning.

Why not just have the config files in the program directory


Because you wouldn't want any Joe user write to the program directory. There's no reason this config file can't be stored in the user profile though. Registry must die.

There needs to be a unified system that all apps use to announce that there's an update, so I can have ONE notification alert every week or so to let me know that some of my programs need updating.


Dude, you're on Windows. Bite the bullet ;)

Reply Score: 3

rainman Member since:
2007-05-22

"Why not just have the config files in the program directory


Because you wouldn't want any Joe user write to the program directory.
"

Putting the config files in the program directory would not require the entire directory to be world-writable; only the config file itself would need to be writable. Or, if you want users to be able to add/remove config files then you could have a writable config sub-directory within the read-only program directory.

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

2. Lack of portability. Why the hell are developers still using the Windows registry? What purpose does that serve, exactly? Why not just have the config files in the program directory, so I can copy it to a USB stick and use it on whatever computer I happen to be working on?


As for the registry, I agree it has to go. Config files do nicely, just have a look at OS X to see a very well organized system of config files (Plists). Much cleaner than the registry. As for why they aren't in the program directory however, that one is easy to answer. Windows, just like most other desktop oses today, is multi-user. It therefore needs to put configuration files for each user separately, and the obvious place to do this is in the user's data folder. I think, perhaps, the best of both worlds could be achieved whereby the app looks in the user data folder first and, if nothing is found there, loads the same config files from its own directory instead. That'd mean you could easily copy the default configuration of your choice to the app and take it wherever you go, and yet it would still work properly in a multi-user environment. *NIX systems do something like this, except global config files are loaded from /etc when the user-specific conf files aren't found. Loading them from /etc is no good for USB portability, but the idea is essentially the same.

Reply Score: 2

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I do agree with SoulBender's last point: I find it somewhat amusing that the OP's last two points -- or, rather, the optimal solution to those problems -- are basically how unix-like OS's work now. For the last one, when I read that, I said to myself, "congratulations, you just invented apt." (Well, part of it's function, anyway.)

Edited 2010-01-22 20:28 UTC

Reply Score: 3

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I do agree with SoulBender's last point: I find it somewhat amusing that the OP's last two points -- or, rather, the optimal solution to those problems -- are basically how unix-like OS's work now. For the last one, when I read that, I said to myself, "congratulations, you just invented apt." (Well, part of it's function, anyway.)


I'm talking about something a little different than apt. I don't really have time to get into it, but my idea is to have sort of a 'software and update center' that doesn't require humans to package apps, and could alert you when updates are available (and even push them to you in real-time if you want), configurable on a per-application basis. Think of it as RSS for applications ;)

There are some apps I'd like to have updated the same day that a new version is released, some apps I NEVER want to update, and some apps to update immediately, but only if there's a security-related issue. And still there are others that I want to be able to put on a list that will only update when I go check. I don't want to be stuck with a system where I'm waiting for some dude to update my app on the repository whenever he gets around to it. And I sure as hell don't want some process updating every app on my system in one go.

Reply Score: 3

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

You are trying to reinvent the wheel.

Apt, yum, et al all support the behavior you just listed. It takes a couple extra configuration steps, granted you still have to deal with dependencies which force updating... but that is something you can't get around unless your RSS can magically add pixie dust to make dynamic libraries irrelevant for the apps linked against them.

Reply Score: 1

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Apt, yum, et al all support the behavior you just listed. It takes a couple extra configuration steps


Maybe they can, but what I'm talking about is a scenario where a developer puts a new version of their app online, updates an RSS feed, and then you could have the new version immediately. You wouldn't have to wait for humans to package it up and put it on your distro's repository.

Of course, I am told this would never work on Linux systems because of the different package managers and ways they are set up (something I'm sure could be overcome if distros were committed to working together and solve the problem), but it would definitely work on Windows. Many applications already have the ability to auto-update themselves, so it's not like dependency checking would be a problem that isn't already being addressed by these apps.

What I'm talking about is making this functionality a part of the core OS, so all apps use the same set of APIs and it could be managed centrally.

Reply Score: 2

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Maybe they can, but what I'm talking about is a scenario where a developer puts a new version of their app online, updates an RSS feed, and then you could have the new version immediately. You wouldn't have to wait for humans to package it up and put it on your distro's repository.

Of course, I am told this would never work on Linux systems because of the different package managers and ways they are set up (something I'm sure could be overcome if distros were committed to working together and solve the problem), but it would definitely work on Windows. Many applications already have the ability to auto-update themselves, so it's not like dependency checking would be a problem that isn't already being addressed by these apps.

What I'm talking about is making this functionality a part of the core OS, so all apps use the same set of APIs and it could be managed centrally.


I think I'm missing something here. Some human at some point always has to package software for distribution: that step just can't be removed. Even on Windows, somebody has to take the step of actually building (and verifying) a specific distribution of any given software package.

Not to give a common answer, I suppose, but, if your biggest gripe is that "I'm tired of waiting for my distributor to catch up to the newest version up-stream when I use Linux..." well, there are ways around that now. An obvious one is to get a distro that packages newer software ("new and cutting-edge" and "debian" are antithetical); you might also see if the software's authors have their own, third-party repository (WINE, for instance, maintaints their own repos for a number of distributions, which typically have much newer versions than what's in the distribution's repos, usually).

Actually, note from that example, that, with Apt now (as well as YUM et al, I believe), you can already do what I think you're talking out: you can add repositories for specific projects you'd like to track to the update mechanism, and it will use that information to make newer versions of software available than what are provided by the distribution authors.

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I think I'm missing something here. Some human at some point always has to package software for distribution: that step just can't be removed. Even on Windows, somebody has to take the step of actually building (and verifying) a specific distribution of any given software package.


Many developers are already doing that, as a lot of apps I run already have auto-uptdate capabilities. The only thing I'm suggesting is to move these into a central location so that you have one 'update agent' that runs in the background instead of 9 million different apps trying to roll their own.

Not to give a common answer, I suppose, but, if your biggest gripe is that "I'm tired of waiting for my distributor to catch up to the newest version up-stream when I use Linux..."


Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. Sure, you can jump through hoops to either lessen this problem or make it go away entirely, but the whole point to a package manager I feel is so that you DON'T have to work to keep your apps up to date. At the end of the day, if I have to spend time searching for 3rd party repositories so I don't have to wait for the Distro Gods to make packages for me (or just rolling my own), I'm really no better off than I am on Windows. Of course, both systems have their ups and downs and I can appreciate what apt and its ilk do; it just gets old to hear people talking about package managers like they're the cure for cancer.

In truth, Linux is far more along the path to Package Nirvana than Windows is; it's just too bad that so many people think the Linux way is already perfect and doesn't need any more improvement. For whatever reason, folks like to think that having every single distro re-inventing the wheel is a good thing.

Reply Score: 2

sj87 Member since:
2007-12-16

Windows, just like most other desktop oses today, is multi-user. It therefore needs to put configuration files for each user separately, and the obvious place to do this is in the user's data folder. I think, perhaps, the best of both worlds could be achieved whereby the app looks in the user data folder first and, if nothing is found there, loads the same config files from its own directory instead.


Windows has had an "All users" directory for this sorts of things since XP. It's pretty much used only with some desktop and "start menu" icons then, dunno how Vista and Seven are different.

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

All users wouldn't be appropriate in the situation I'm thinking of, it would specifically need to be the program's directory if you wish to move it from computer to computer which was the point. Of course, none of the Windows software vendors nor Microsoft themselves want this to happen.

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Windows has had an "All users" directory for this sorts of things since XP. It's pretty much used only with some desktop and "start menu" icons then, dunno how Vista and Seven are different.


Problem is, you can't take a program with all of its settings and throw it on a USB stick, if the settings themselves are in a separate location as the program itself.

A better way would be to let the USER decide where the config files go. In regard to multiple users, all you have to do is, if the settings are stored in the program's own directory, just have a 'config' directory with a separate folder for each user's profile.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The are good complaints but mostly due to use of Windows.

1. back in the day when I first chose Enlightenment due to it's fantastic theming, themable applications would have been bliss. These days I feel the same as use; even Aero is wasted on me. I want some aesthetic appeal but if I wanted a 3D video game, I'd be playing a game. I don't need my desktop to look like 14 year old's design of a gaming interface anymore. If programs must have a theme framework, at least include a plain native widget for when I disable theming. This need to put bubble gum interfaces on applications isn't unique to Windows either though.

2. The irony is that Windows applications where nice and portable when they stuck with .INI files in the program directory tree. I suspect a big motivation is that it did make programs so easily portable. Now you either need someone with some regedit skills or the original install media to move the app from one machine to another. I think it would be a step forward to go back to .INI or program directory hosted reg databases. Other platforms manage the programs differently with varying levels of portability. In the few cases where I've had something on Backtrack or another distribution that I couldn't live without, I've been able to simply copy the binary over to my Debian and go with it. (eg. aircrack related scripts, an odd binary or two) Apple is probably easiest as it's pretty much just a drag and drop the program icon; uninstall sucks though.

3. unified program managers are the norm on other platforms. Microsoft only includes drivers and MS product updates. I'd love to see third party installs and updates also available through Windows Update but it's not likely to happen what with the need to maximize barriers to competition. Apple's updater covers more but Apple's base platform also covers more. Outside of a new iTunes update nearly weekly, I haven't seen much else coming in though. On my Debian boxes, a single command between logging in and starting my GUI updates everything. Of course, starting the GUI automatically is the norm and there is an updates notice in the icon bar for those who prefer it.

I shure wouldn't complain if MS dared to provide a more portable config storage framework and more repository style software delivery. (be nice if the default wasn't for applications to steel focus on the screen too)

Reply Score: 2

merkoth Member since:
2006-09-22

Yes, the registry sucks for the user but, truth be told, it is much faster than any config file. It doesn't seem like much nowadays, with the average PC being equipped with CPUs running @ 1+ Ghz, but back in the 133 Mhz times it was relevant. Specially for apps like Office with a bazillion configuration options.

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well. It might be faster as far as an API goes, but these days you can do the same thing just as quickly with XML. Gconf on Linux, as well as OS X Plists, are XML files and both have APIs that are simple like that of the registry. At this point, the registry has become a complicated rat's nest and is being used for too many things. I hate trying to remove some unwanted ad-ware and having to go into a registry path such as:
HKEY Classes Root\CLSID\0xa2d9ff48\001a4dd3... etc etc. Ridiculous, and pointless to boot. It wouldn't be so bad if legitimate programs used the registry in a sane fashion, but they don't. At least with OS X Plists and Gconf the legitimate keys and folders have sane names, anything odd sticks out immediately.

Reply Score: 3

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20

Funny that you recommend complex, convoluted, and hard-to-parse-for-humans solution (XML) to overcome complex, convoluted, and hard-to-parse-for-humans solution (Registry). Oh well.

Reply Score: 1

merkoth Member since:
2006-09-22

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well.


Guess what, every part of the OS is composed of files.

It might be faster as far as an API goes, but these days you can do the same thing just as quickly with XML. Gconf on Linux, as well as OS X Plists, are XML files and both have APIs that are simple like that of the registry. At this point, the registry has become a complicated rat's nest and is being used for too many things. I hate trying to remove some unwanted ad-ware and having to go into a registry path such as:
HKEY Classes Root\CLSID\0xa2d9ff48\001a4dd3... etc etc. Ridiculous, and pointless to boot. It wouldn't be so bad if legitimate programs used the registry in a sane fashion, but they don't. At least with OS X Plists and Gconf the legitimate keys and folders have sane names, anything odd sticks out immediately.


I don't know anything about OSX's internals, but gconf is just as ugly as the Windows Registry. The fact that is stored in plain textfiles doesn't make it any more understandable than browsing regedit. On the bright side, you can edit it even from text mode.

In any case, I never stated that the registry was any better than other configuration methods. I only tried to give one of the reasons Windows developers actually used the registry in the first place. Why do they keep using it today is something I don't understand at all.

Reply Score: 2

computeruser Member since:
2009-07-21

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well.

One system registry file and one registry file per user. The entire thing can be loaded once and kept in memory. No need to load some other file and then parse it when starting an application.

Reply Score: 1

license_2_blather Member since:
2006-02-05

I'm not sure I buy performance as the reason for the registry, or a monolithic binary configuration store like it. Unix ran on those same slow platforms and managed to get by with text config files, as it mostly still does. VMS did, too, IIRC.

I suspect something more sinister was afoot....

Or maybe just stupid.

I don't like the XML trend these days, but even XML, like other text files, has one thing that the Registry does not: Comments.

Edited 2010-01-23 03:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

funny_irony Member since:
2007-03-07

1) There is a myth that putting all the configuration files into one windows registry will make things faster. However, they never expect registry to grow to hundreds of megabytes and take up system resources.

2) A corrupted windows registry will cause boot up failure.

3) It is easier to launch Malwares with windows registry since it didn't have any good protection. Registry is the weakest link in system security.
Malware attack your registry and your system will not boot up.

4) Uninstaller usually forgot to remove the entries in the registry and force people to use registry cleaner to clean up.

5) People use to copy the aplication to a folder just to install the application (no installer required). Registry make installation complicate.

Reply Score: 2

Bending Unit Member since:
2005-07-06


1) There is a myth that putting all the configuration files into one windows registry will make things faster. However, they never expect registry to grow to hundreds of megabytes and take up system resources.

It's probably a tiny bit faster but it hardly matters nowadays. Your point is however irrelevant as ini-files will take up much more space. No other relevant system resource is involved here.


2) A corrupted windows registry will cause boot up failure.

Not inherent to the registry. Could as well be due to corrupted/missing/hacked ini-files.


3) It is easier to launch Malwares with windows registry since it didn't have any good protection. Registry is the weakest link in system security.
Malware attack your registry and your system will not boot up.

Not inherent to the registry. A software running with admin privileges can do anything.


4) Uninstaller usually forgot to remove the entries in the registry and force people to use registry cleaner to clean up.

Not inherent to the registry. This is an issue on every system. They don't know if you want to keep the configuration or not so they often choose to leave it. And using a registry cleaner is never a good idea. Unused entries do no harm.


5) People use to copy the aplication to a folder just to install the application (no installer required). Registry make installation complicate.

Not inherent to the registry. Installers are another issue. Uncompressing and copying an application to a suitable folder is an unthinkable scenario for most users. That is partly why installers exist.

Reply Score: 2

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The windows registry has nothing to do with performance..

It is convoluted by design, the last thing Microsoft and other software vendors in the windows ecosystem want portable applications. "Portable" in the sense of moving one app to another windows system freely. The registry provides a hacked up way of tying a copy of an app to a single system. And that is exactly how Microsoft et al want it.

Furthermore, the registry is microsoft's implementation of as similar unified configuration framework that VMS used. NT was developed by a team which had been greatly influenced by the design and implementation of VMS (since most of the initial research team for NT inside microsoft had come directly from the VMS team at DIGITAL). Of course, in typical microsoft fashion they took a mildly good idea and botched it beyond recognition.

The registry add absolutely no performance improvement of any significance (in the 133MHz days, as well as in the multi GHz days, when dealing with configuration files... the bottleneck is the disk I/O and a monolithic hard to parse file is no more efficient than multiple simpler files). As it stands, with its design, the registry in windows is a liability. Since a corruption in a single file can lead to a catastrophic system failure.

Reply Score: 2

Minimize Windows
by Soulbender on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 18:45 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

Seriously, in this day and age what is minimize windows good for? With all the neat features we have to today for displaying all Windows in an easy overview (KWin's Present, Compiz has something similar and probably also Windows 7 and OSX) what purpose does minimize serve? None.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Minimize Windows
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 19:06 UTC in reply to "Minimize Windows"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Minimize window is still good when you have your screen set up with the windows in the configuration you want, but want to remove a window from your current view, with out closing it. Its a "get out of my way, but don't close" option. Its useful.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Minimize Windows
by Soulbender on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Minimize Windows"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

but want to remove a window from your current view, with out closing it


Just switch to another window, that neatly gets the window out of your way. Or maybe there could just be a feature like "Send to back" that sends the window to the back of the window stack.
I dunno, maybe it's just me but it's been years since I found minimize to be actually useful. In fact, I find it annoying and it's one of the first things I try to disable.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Minimize Windows
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Minimize Windows"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

You don't understand the situation I was describing. Sometimes I arrange terminal windows into a grid pattern, with no overlapping. Sometimes one of them is running a long process with lots of output dumped to the screen. Its sorta distracting, so I want to hide it. There is no window its overlapping (other windows are on other virtual desktops). I want all other windows to stay exactly where they are. There isn't anything better for this situation other than minimize.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Minimize Windows
by btrimby on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 00:26 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Minimize Windows"
btrimby Member since:
2009-09-30

Window shading would work for your example as well.

At least, I think it's called shading, where it "rolls up" to show only the title bar.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Minimize Windows
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 08:12 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Minimize Windows"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Sounds like a variant of minimizing, if you ask me. They both satisfy the "Make this a smaller size" or "hide the window contents from me" command. I'd be ok with just "shading", I think I'd have to play with it a bit.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Minimize Windows
by csixty4 on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 16:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Minimize Windows"
csixty4 Member since:
2007-10-08

I like having a little "white space" around my windows. Having other windows open behind them is just noise pulling my attention away from the task I'm working on.

I tend to use OSX's "hide" feature more than minimizing, though.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Minimize Windows - minimize helps
by jabbotts on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:25 UTC in reply to "Minimize Windows"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

As the other poster mentioned "get out of my way, but don't close".

With Enlightenment, I was all about window-shades; the app window sliding up into the task bar leaving just the narrow title bar visible. I could have three shell windows open but not taking more than three title tiles of desktop space.

KDE has both window-shade and minimized states. It even gives me a nice un-tile automatically when I hover over the title. Having tried both, minimizing a program I want on that desktop but not currently in view has won out over shrinking it up into a title bar slat.

Reply Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Ah shading, something I never understood what it was useful for.
I just don't see why you'd want to minimize stuff, especially to the desktop. The only time I see my desktop is when I log in, after than it's almost always covered by, usually maximized, windows. This is also why I totally fail to see the point of desktop widgets. Or fancy wallpapers for that matter.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

With E, I had the right side of the screen kept clear so icons in that area where always accessible. E's warf and pager ended up nice and small due to the effect of growing screen resolutions. I don't think I can remember an app that required full screen versus maximized within the majority of the screen.

With KDE, desktop icons would be useless. You need the taskbar type segment to slide in and out of view. The way programs are layed out along with the DE layout suites a true full screen app rather than maximized within the majority of the screen.

With shaded windows, it was having multiple title bars in view. Program updates to the title bar still came through without a mouse-over on an icon. I could see five different shell title bars and which where running versus waiting for my attention. X was more of a way to run multiple rxvt shells and display graphic content rather than for the pointy-clicky interaction. This was at the time when tabbed browsing was rare so multiple windows holding web pages open also.

These days with most of my programs at 80% screen (leaves Conky visible) or 100% full screen, shaded windows don't help me much. I appreciate the function remaining available and the unshade on hover is nice for skimming through the stack. It's not something one can't live without though.

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

The only time I see my desktop is when I log in, after than it's almost always covered by, usually maximized, windows. This is also why I totally fail to see the point of desktop widgets. Or fancy wallpapers for that matter.


IMO that's one of the biggest advantages of virtual desktops. I can get a unobstructed view of the desktop's contents just by switching to an empty desktop - without having to minimize or juggle currently-open apps/windows.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Minimize Windows
by MamiyaOtaru on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 14:09 UTC in reply to "Minimize Windows"
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

people minimize windows to.. show the desktop? A lot of people use the desktop as a storage area for files (ugh), a temporary inbox for files, or a shortcut icon container. They don't even have to think about it in those terms; it's just the place where things go.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Minimize Windows
by WereCatf on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 17:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Minimize Windows"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

people minimize windows to.. show the desktop? A lot of people use the desktop as a storage area for files (ugh), a temporary inbox for files, or a shortcut icon container. They don't even have to think about it in those terms; it's just the place where things go.

I personally often temporarily store the files I download on my desktop for quick access, especially if I have to use the files in multiple applications then it's just easier to drag and drop the files than use the open file dialog.

Also, I like to place my most-needed application shortcuts there for quick access, and use taskbar for exactly that; tasks. I'd hate to have all my apps minimized to the desktop as icons and not have a task bar though. Task bar is more readily accessible, and takes less space compared to the "minimize to desktop" the more applications you're running.

Reply Score: 2

Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

My dad taught me to drive on his old Fiat when I was 14.

On the other hand, my Nissan Titan is an automatic. I once drove a manual pickup truck for plowing, let me tell you that shifting while making plow adjustments is a royal pain in the ass.

Automatics suit trucks. Manuals for everything else.

As far as OS paradigms go... I am flexible. I'll try different things (for example I actually like Moblin's interface - which isn't really a huge change but...) after all I started my career on VT52's and VT100's.

Reply Score: 2

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I should add that driving a truck with a manual in the kind of traffic you get in LA, Boston, NYC and Phoenix is a bear. The bright side is tho', that your left leg becomes very muscular and shapely. LOL!

Reply Score: 2

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I should add that driving a truck with a manual in the kind of traffic you get in LA, Boston, NYC and Phoenix is a bear. The bright side is tho', that your left leg becomes very muscular and shapely. LOL!


The trick is to start in 2nd, then go to 4th. Any reasonably powerful diesel should be just fine with that. Shifting through all the short gears on a truck is a pain I agree.

Reply Score: 2

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Diesels tend to have higher torque profiles than petrol engines, putting all that torque into the second gear for a stationary axel is a wonderful way of severely reducing the lifespan of your tranny.

Reply Score: 1

license_2_blather Member since:
2006-02-05

A manual is great with a smaller engine, which typically has a narrower powerband and benefits from more gears and a sophisticated neural-network shift controller (i.e., the driver). When I had a 2-liter turbo Mitsubishi I loved its stick, and keeping the turbo spooled up would have been less than fun with an auto tranny. I'm guessing Thom's car is not more than 3 liters displacement, as are most cars in Europe.

My 5.3-liter pickup truck engine, however, is fine with its automatic. The powerband is about as wide as the Atlantic, so four gears shifted by a microprocessor is sufficient and convenient.

And as you mentioned, I much prefer the auto in Houston, TX traffic (~4M people last time I checked).

My apologies in going beyond the precise user control metaphor intended in the article, but I just wanted to point out that automation, in transmissions as elsewhere, sometimes has its uses.

P.S. I'm not one of the men here who would say "automatics are for girls". I'm not even sure where that came from. Was there a poll taken one time to capture male readers' opinions on this topic?

Edited 2010-01-23 03:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

Even 2.0l is considered a big engine for a consumer car in most european countries. Also, if your truck had manual, it wouldn't need 5,3l engine. You could probably get the same practical abilities with a 3,5.

You are right a that a car with large engine doesn't need manual, but a manuel saves you from buying a large expensive and thirsty engine.

Reply Score: 1

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Most big rigs and commercial trucks are manual, and they have power bands which are far larger than the average pickup truck.


The reason why most Euros (and basically anyone else outside of the USA) drive manual is due mostly to a very simple reason: fuel economy. Most automatic transmissions can't match the fuel consumption of the same engine paired with a manual transmission. And when fuel is 2x or 3x as expensive as it is in the USA, that is a very important consideration...

Edited 2010-01-23 21:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

I am one of those people who FREAKS OUT if anyone touches my screen... if there is a smudge, I get the windex out and spend minutes cleaning my screen. My wife's iPhone is always all smudgy from the kids grabbing it and playing games on it and stuff...

I WILL GO INSANE if I have to touch my screen to get stuff done. So... can we invent another method of manipulating our data? I don't know, blue tooth gloves that record and transmit gestures? Anything? Something?

Hey, maybe that is it. Maybe I could make my millions by inventing blue tooth gloves and a virtual, holographic keyboard!

Reply Score: 3

Yagami Member since:
2006-07-15

finally , i know i am not alone in the world about that ;)

how many "funny" moments i had when my boss and co workers try to point things at my laptop screen , and i just push the laptop away slowly ;)

Reply Score: 1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

You and me both!

Reply Score: 2

Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

I agree totally. I use my screen for graphics and video, I don't want smears and smudges hiding any detail.

I can live with it at work, even though the screens are a total mess, but I don't want that at home.

Reply Score: 2

my 2cents, random unorganized thoughts
by eksasol on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 19:44 UTC
eksasol
Member since:
2009-04-05

I'm not savvy enough to talk about this as I'm fine with taskbar/panel. I don't care too much for graphical gimmicks. In the long run, it seem the graphical gimmicks only serve to lower productivity. I actually disable workspace/virtualdesktop immediately after installing Ubuntu as it annoy me. I don't like iconized taskbar nor grouping of tabs.

To actually be productive, whatever it is, it have to be fast and to the point while providing necessary info on what the actual fullscreen windows contain because I am a human being and I read. The icon itself isn't enough for me.

Some fast and to the point examples are AeroSnap. The Mac people laugh at the first video introducing it, but it turns out to be damn useful. Or the Ubuntu/Gnome panel where you can place your cursor on it and scroll your mouse wheel and it switches between windows.

Apple already have the best combination I think. The dockbar (I neither love nor hate it) and Expose, then add AeroSnap to it and maybe your idea of WebOS would complete the package.

My prediction is whatever these features are, they will benefit greatly from the idea of touchscreen/screen grabbing. Even if you don't have a touch screen monitor, you should be able to scroll through things by holding the mouse button. Such as the Firefox addon "Grab and Drag", now I can't use another browser without that feature.

PS. There is an Expose clone for Windows called Switcher. I think this software works so well I don't know why Microsoft haven't copied and implement it or just buy the software. I don't know if Apple have patent the Expose idea as well preventing others from copying it. Here's a video of Switcher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwcd5vzOvMg

Edited 2010-01-22 19:55 UTC

Reply Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Multiple desktops (my standard is 4) becomes very handy to the point that not having them on Windows drives me a little crazy. My first config change is to set my key command to switch desktops. After that, it's internet stuff on one, admin shells on another.. no single desktop with several layers of unrelated programs displayed.

(edit): I'm noticing more mouse drivers coming with a sticky scroll. I hit the middle mouse button and a white circle with up and down arrows appears. The scrollable window under it moves up and down based on how far away from middle my mouse is. You may be able to get the middle button scrolling through the mouse driver rather than a touchscreen or OS function.

Edited 2010-01-22 20:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

(edit): I'm noticing more mouse drivers coming with a sticky scroll. I hit the middle mouse button and a white circle with up and down arrows appears. The scrollable window under it moves up and down based on how far away from middle my mouse is. You may be able to get the middle button scrolling through the mouse driver rather than a touchscreen or OS function.


Now THAT's cool. I remember an old DOS space shooter that let you steer your ship that way (the further the mouse cursor was from 0 on the either the X or Y axis, the faster you turned in that direction).

Reply Score: 2

Command-line
by darrelljon on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:33 UTC
darrelljon
Member since:
2008-05-29

How about a command-line with a decent learning curve.

Reply Score: 1

"automatics are for girls"
by WereCatf on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:47 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

The comment "automatics are for girls" is both uncalled and pretty darn offensive, especially in this context. It's like you were saying that computers aren't for girls. Newsflash: you're atleast not helping the situation. And I have a pretty sizeable urge to tell you two words, starting with "F" and "U".

Reply Score: 4

RE: "automatics are for girls"
by righard on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 21:39 UTC in reply to ""automatics are for girls""
righard Member since:
2007-12-26

Though you're right, swearing too is both uncalled for and offensive. Try not to get so angry about it, if I have to become angry each time I hear a generalisation about men there would be no time left to be happy.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "automatics are for girls"
by Drumhellar on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 23:03 UTC in reply to ""automatics are for girls""
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Which "U" word are you speaking of?

.... I can think of a "Y" word.

Reply Score: 3

yawn
by nt_jerkface on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 08:31 UTC in reply to ""automatics are for girls""
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Women are more likely than men to prefer automatics, sorry if reality bothers you.

Funny thing about feminist offense to generalizations is that feminists are fine with with demeaning generalizations about men. Men being pigs, insensitive lots, etc. So I see no reason to be politically correct when there are such obvious double standards.

Edited 2010-01-23 08:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: "automatics are for girls"
by cerbie on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 10:34 UTC in reply to ""automatics are for girls""
cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

Here in the US, automatics are for almost anyone not custom ordering a vehicle ;) . Worse, buying used, people that really like manuals tend to snatch them up quickly (I'm not adamant either way, but I'd take a manual, for better mileage, given the choice).

...and, IIRC, he's not inaccurate about the tendency for girls to go with autos.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "automatics are for girls"
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 21:45 UTC in reply to ""automatics are for girls""
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

The comment "automatics are for girls" is both uncalled and pretty darn offensive, especially in this context.


That comment struck me as rather silly too, given that the most ardent advocate of manual transmissions that I know is my mother (personally, I don't care just as long as it has cruise control).

Although she favours manual transmissions mainly for the practical advantages, since she spends a lot of time driving on unpaved roads in an area with bad winters (and swears that the extra control has saved her, on numerous occasions, from accidents or getting stuck).

But if someone said to me "I drive a manual transmission because automatics are for girls," my brain would just automatically translate that to "I do things the hard way for no good reason, just because I think it makes me hardcore/l33t."

Reply Score: 3

My take on his suggestions
by Drumhellar on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:55 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Almost all of his solutions are "solved" by mobile phones. If that's the case, why doesn't he ditch his laptop/desktop? Probably because phones are useless for the type of stuff you do a desktop.

1. Problem: Desktop window management. Solution: Tiny screen, tiny apps.
Okay. Not really, but, he says, "Everybody (my mom) always says that the best way to keep a room clean is to have places for everything and never let it get messy."
You can emulate the physical world by not leaving each and every window open. Of course, in a physical room, your phone is out and available to use, so is the alarm clock, calendar, pen cup, writing surface, etc etc. They have a place, but they are not hidden. Desktop OS's have a similar method of leaving stuff put away but still out: Task bars, docks, etc etc. To me, alt-tab is easier than turning my head and reaching for something. Personally, I don't have a problem managing my windows, especially now that modern operating systems have live thumbnails and other goodies to make it easier.

2. Problem: Touch interfaces. Solution: A touch interface, or something that was only demoed and doesn't do anything useful yet.

As somebody else mentioned, large touch interfaces are tiring. Also, I point at what is in front of me frequently, and I'm not just talking about my iPod. Possibly, a dual-screen touch interface, with one screen taking the place of the keyboard, would be useful (think LCARS), but that gets expensive. Also, that would eliminate tactile feedback, which is very important for typing accuracy.

3. Problem: Lack of web integration (for web apps, no less). Solution: Buzzwords.

Okay, he may have a point, but relying on cloud storage is stupid. It's a bad idea to be dependent on a third party for storage of your data, and worse, be dependent on multiple third parties to store your scattered data. There are plenty of ways, both free and for pay, that let you access your data on your computer from anywhere. Also, I find it very easy to find programs that integrate with web apps. For example, instead of going to gmail.com whenever I need to check my email, I open outlook. This is neither new, nor revolutionary. The reason why the iPod/iPhone have such well done apps to integrate with web services it the lack of screen real-estate. Facebook is designed for higher resolutions than the iPhone provides, hence the fairly nice custom app. On a real computer, this is a non-issue.

4. Problem: Ease of power management. Solution: More information.

He has really good points here, but, I suspect this is more of a nitpick than a real issue. I could be wrong, but in my smallish experience with mobile devices, battery life has never been an issue. (except my laptop, with it's broken battery only giving me ~25 minutes of life). I suppose turning off WiFi on my iPod is a bit more complicated than it needs to be, as is turning off blutooth on my phone, but they consume so little power when not being actively used that it's use is insignificant.

5. Problem: Notification Trays. Solution: Notification trays.

I can't say much about this. I use Windows, and notifications work just fine. They mainly stay out of the way. This is something insignificant, at least for Windows.

6. Lack of a standard gaming platform. Solution: Consoles.

This is both a benefit and a failing of PC gaming, and there is already a solution. Consoles provide a fixed target for development, and users know what to expect. However, consoles have a much longer life cycle, and are quickly outdated. A mitigating factor of this in the PC world is standardized APIs. There is always the lowest common denominator hardware for PC games, too, and it is often still newer than consoles.

7. Problem: Cost. Solution: Give me more for less.

Of course you want more for less. To not want a better deal is, well, stupid. He mentions people wanting Apple netbooks. I don't think there is a market for that. What people want is dirt-cheap netbooks that run MacOS X. There is a difference. They want the premium goods without the premium price. Waah waah waah.

8. Problem: Too much clicking. Solution: Search.

This is his best idea in the article, one that I whole-heartedly agree with. Windows Vista and onward has done this a lot. Search the help, and you get help on how to do things plus help on where to do it at. Very useful.

9. Problem: I have to use a telephone to make telephone calls. Solution: Google Voice.

Hey. Google Voice does this stuff. Personally, I would hate to have my laptop be my phone, too. People are already pissed enough when I use the phone in a movie theater. Imagine if I was holding a laptop up to my ear.

If you find your phone service unreliable, switch carriers. My service is extremely reliable (More reliable than my cheap-o wireless router from 15 feet away). I always have a signal, and in the 7 years I've had a phone on my hip, I've dropped a total of 5 calls. It is always other people with inferior service that lose their calls.

10. Problem: I'm bored. Solution: ????

Personally, I get excited about my OS in the same way I get excited about a new set of tires for my car. I don't view an OS as a status symbol, and it doesn't help me get laid. It's a tool, much like a hammer. If you are disappointed about the lack of excitement your OS gives you, you need to take a look at your life and figure out why you depend on a piece of software for fulfillment.



I bet this guy wrote this article in a coffee shop so other people could watch him write it.

Reply Score: 6

lists of outdated things are outdated
by l3v1 on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 21:00 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Windows management / Solution: webOS? - Really? Always funny when people come up from the darkness of some twittered facebook theirspace and can't fathom how a computer and a network link can be put of good use besides posting live updates of their frogs' farting habits.

"Inappropriate use of touch" - Well, NC-17 night at the movies people :]

"What has my desktop OS done for me lately? [...] they also became boring [...] Solution: Try harder" - An OS shouldn't be an entertainment show. True, change's been slow in recent years, but there are other reasons besides laziness of developers or lack of visionaries in the labs: "good enough" works. If a desktop OS is good enough to enable people to work and get around, then "revolutionary" becomes disrupting. If one's focus is not just on spending time by waiting for their OS to "entertain" themselves, then "boring" can be "good". Conferences usually host a number of really nice ideas, a few of which will eventually prove to be usable (just look around on the web, ideas never stop coming). Progress doesn't stop. Change will come eventually, a lot of decent research and work is being done in HMI and UI areas. But hurrying a paradigm change because one is bored is just senseless.

Reply Score: 4

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

"What has my desktop OS done for me lately? [...] they also became boring [...] Solution: Try harder" - An OS shouldn't be an entertainment show.


Yeah, that was only missing some line about how desktop OSes have "jumped the shark." Next thing you know, we'll be seeing OS reviews by Stacy London.

Conferences usually host a number of really nice ideas, a few of which will eventually prove to be usable (just look around on the web, ideas never stop coming).


Or CES. We've been hearing predictions of the "death of the desktop" for, what, 15 years now?

Reply Score: 2

ple_mono
Member since:
2005-07-26

I'm waiting for a tiled WM for the masses. Not that i hate floating windows. I use OS X (and gnome to some extent), so i have no choice, but i do prefer tiling my windows. The sad thing is no mainstream window manager even has got just a little bit of "tiling" functions built in. Well, you can snap windows to either side in Windows 7, but that is as basic as it gets.
It would be nice to have the option to tile or float windows built right in from the start.

Maybe that new "iTablet" OS will usher in a new way of interacting with window management on a desktop (rather than mobile screen) level? Who knows.

Preferably, i would like to partition my screen, and then have buttons in the window title bar (as well as keybaord shortcuts, of course!) to stack apps to either of the right/left or top/bottom partitions. Maybe even a list with applications that should (or shouldn't) start in tiled mode. I guess there's lots more i would like to be able to to with modern window management, but this would at least be a start.

Reply Score: 3

Eh... Not so sure
by deathshadow on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 22:48 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

First off - Thom; From what it sounds like, apart from the card state you must really love Windows 3.1!

That said, onto the article being quoted. Let's go down Paul Miller's list.

1) Windows Management

For me personally, I found Windows 98 to be the PINNACLE of window management, and everything since to be goofball crap that often gets in the way... But then I consider the 'taskbar' to be the be-all end-all of what I need for window management, especially if you drag it over to one side or the other on a widescreen. I also turn off all the 'new' crap that makes it LESS useful like 'personalized menus' (the point of a menu is to show me ALL the options, not just the ones I've HAPPENED to have used) and 'group by program' (I want to see WINDOWS, not applications!)

Honestly, I think OS have spent too much time dicking with trying to find cutesy new ways to handle window management - Win98 got it right, everything since is eye-candy bullshit. If my 80 year old grandmother can figure out how to use Win98, you're **** DONE futzing with the UI - and if you STOP messing with it everyone will eventually learn how it works, end of problem. Would beat the crap out of changing how it works every year or two.

Of course, he mentions touch here, which IMHO is a waste of time since in a comfortable seated position you shouldn't even be able to REACH the screen. (in fact at my desk I am unable to reach any of my displays without pushing in my keyboard tray)

2) Misuse of touch

"cute and trendy" But for practical day to day use? Unless you're talking a handheld, a tablet or building a desk (given I rarely see the surface of my desk...) Not so much. Even the picture he has as an example I don't even want to THINK about the back strain using that for a day would cause.

3) Lack of browser integration

Because nobody complained about IE being built into the OS... Oh wait, that's EXACTLY what we're talking about... I'll laugh if in a decade or so people start bitching about ChromeOS being too tightly tied to the browser ;)

Honestly, MOST of this 'web application' CRAP feels like rinky toys compared to native applications (much like linux compared to windows on the desktop). Unless you absolutely need that collaboration, google docs is slow, buggy and a royal pain (mind you, this is a Opera user talking and we're automatically treated as second class citizens by Google) - frankly I'm still trying to wrap my head around the IDEA of chromeOS on less powerful things like netbooks, where running all your crapplications as javascript is going to be like driving with the parking brake on. Welcome to having your multi-core ARM-9 run it's applications like a 486/66 running windows 3.1 native apps.

I don't want browser integration - it's the OPPOSITE of efficiency.

4) Power management

Wait, you mean like the buttons on my six year old HP NC8000 where I can flip on/off wireless? You mean like the buttons on my crappy little MSI Wind U123 where I can flip on/off wireless and bluetooth? You mean like EVERY laptop since 1997 where you have buttons or fn+keys to turn brightness up and down? This **** is here, it's in hardware.


5) Unified notification tray

Well, you'll NEVER see this on linsux where you can't even get the clipboard to work together right across WM's - but the idea of the OS having a notification API is a damned good one. Growl is just a start - it would be nice to see something a bit more robust for programs like trillian or pidgin to use instead of their current half-assed approach of 'everybody do your own thing'...

Funny part is, in a way windows had that - it was called messenger and back at WFW 3.11 and NT 3.5 many programs could use it that way. See how well THAT worked out in the long term (blaster).

6) Lack of standardized hardware for gaming

Unfortunately that would stifle innovation and competition, so NONE of the hardware vendors are going to go for it. Standardize the API, not the hardware. Asking for that to happen is like telling Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft that their next generation game consoles all need to be 100% compatible with each-other - it's not gonna happen.

I personally love the idea of software independance with scaleability - so you can run the newest game on old hardware while turning off some options while having the FREEDOM to choose to buy more hardware if I want to, or to continue using the system as is. I'm not given that choice when I have my old X-Box and want to play an X-Box 360 game. (Choice - the REAL meaning of freedom)

Seriously, X-Box 360 came out in 2005. The original X-Box is 2001. Let's take the 2006 game Oblivion - there is no X-Box version and you are forced to buy a 360 to run it. On the PC? My 2002 Barton 2500 with a Radeon 9500 pro (that a friend is using as their primary desktop right now) WILL RUN THE GAME. Sure, you have to turn it down to 800x600 and not do anything shader related and nebfer the shadows, but it's completely playable. Sure it won't play crysis, but is that the fault of the OS or the fault of it being a fat bloated pig that feels a hell of a lot less impressive graphically compared to the much more lightweight Far Cry 2 and Arkham Asylum. (which is BAD when two newer games are more impressive with lower requirements AND more impressive on kick-ass machines)

7) Cost.

Honestly, in running the RC of win7 last year, I came to an interesting conclusion; This is SO much better than the alternatives that I'm willing to pay MONEY for it.

God forbid you spend $50 so people who went to WORK to do WORK writing software gets PAID FOR THEIR LABOR!!! AAAH, NOT THAT. BACK EVIL CORPORATIONS - NOT

8) Complexity

I want to disagree, but more realtime search is a good thing. Windows 7 has this too in it's control panel, opera and firefox have search on their about:config pages - we need to see more of this.

9) Independance from mobile phones

It's called Skype and a bluetooth headset. I actually cancelled all my landlines, cell phone plans, etc and now am completely wireless interent tied using skype and other programs. The newest versions of skype (and the newest trillian) let you be logged in from multiple machines/locations anyhow. At my workstation, I can answer and use the speakers and desktop mic... on the laptop I have my bluetooth headset... on the road I have a crappy little windows mobile HTC touch that if I'm near a open wireless connection I've got access to all that as well.

This IMHO has nothing to do with 'desktop operating systems' and is the province of what runs on operating systems - software. It's too easy to start bolting on things like this to build them into the OS - only to have everybody piss and moan about it later as unneccesary bloat or 'nonsensical' - again, see Internet Explorer.

10) Lack of purpose and excitement.

I'll be honest, I don't want the Love boat treatment (exciting and new)- I'm not even wild about new features. In a way it's a bit like every time some jackass gets it in his head to redesign something like chairs or keyboards; you end up with form factors that cause more pain than they prevent - who'd have thought that decades or even centuries of layout sensibilities could outweigh some crappy little three week study group?

To me an operating system is there to sit between the programs I want to use and the hardware, and as such should in normal operation NOT get my attention or get me excited. It should be there, in the background, quietely doing what NEEDS to be done. It seems like a lot of OS makers have forgotten that simple truth of it.

Edited 2010-01-22 23:06 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Eh... Not so sure
by Soulbender on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 17:27 UTC in reply to "Eh... Not so sure"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

(much like linux compared to windows on the desktop)

It is so adorable how you just can't help yourself from taking cheap digs at Linux.

Well, you'll NEVER see this on linsux


Sorry to rain on your parade but Linux is way, WAY ahead of your beloved Windows 7 in this area. For one, there actually is a unified API for it.
Btw, "linsux"? Cute. Stupid but cute.
I'm a bit unfair since I agree with a lot in your post but these cheap digs make you seem a bit, well, bitter.

God forbid you spend $50 so people who went to WORK to do WORK writing software gets PAID FOR THEIR LABOR!!!


Well, it seems the author is part of the entitled generation. You know, the ones who thinks they're entitled to everything without making any effort whatsoever.

Reply Score: 3

The OS exists to launch applications
by nt_jerkface on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 09:08 UTC
nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

Reaching the "good enough" plane has taken decades and there is still a lot of work to be done in the areas of security and power efficiency.

You're not supposed to be entertained by the OS, that's the job of the application.

His solution: Try harder. Add some dancing monkeys or something. Entertain me damn it!

I thought his complaint about Windows starter being $50 was lame as well. A freaking Wii game costs $50.

He is right about how pc gaming hardware should be standardized but that should have happened 10 years ago. It's too late now anyways, the typical game development company could care less about your 1.21 jigawatt gaming pc with flashing LED dragon lights. There's more money in consoles and igpu friendly pc games.

Reply Score: 3

"It's a far cry from a decade ago"
by Dave_K on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 10:21 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

Around a decade ago I was using Windows 2000 and BeOS, five years before that I was using OPENSTEP and OS/2. Two decades ago I was using RISC OS, and still prefer its UI to Windows.

All multitasking, all pretty stable/reliable and easy to use. I think it's disappointing just how little real mainstream progress there's been over the last decade. Nothing wrong with Windows 7 and OS X, but the added eye-candy and internet integration don't do much to impress me.

As for the author's suggestions, I can't say that I find any of them very exciting either. Mostly either impractical, or little tweaks to the existing system rather than anything radical, and pretty vague on the details of how most would be implemented.

I agree with Thom about touch on the desktop, I think it's something that seems neat, but just isn't practical in day to day use. Touchscreens are fine for phones and kiosks, but on a desktop computer, running most applications, touchscreens are virtually useless. Not significantly faster than using a mouse, and you just end up with an aching arm and greasy smears on your screen. No matter how advanced, I can't imagine multitouch screens becoming a real alternative to a mouse.

It's a shame how many recent UI developments seem to be more style than substance...

Reply Score: 3

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree with Thom about touch on the desktop, I think it's something that seems neat, but just isn't practical in day to day use. Touchscreens are fine for phones and kiosks, but on a desktop computer, running most applications, touchscreens are virtually useless. Not significantly faster than using a mouse, and you just end up with an aching arm and greasy smears on your screen. No matter how advanced, I can't imagine multitouch screens becoming a real alternative to a mouse.


Agreed, for the most part. Before the mouse was invented, there was a fair amount of research into the use of "light pens" as an input device - and they were found to cause a large amount of arm strain. With current "TV-style" desktop monitors, you'd run into the exact some problems using touch for any significant amount of time.

To make touch feasible on the desktop, as the primary input method, we'd need displays that were basically a hybrid between a drafting table and Surface.

But in the shorter term, I think it's more likely that we'll see smaller, secondary touch-capable displays (things like the Wacom Cintiq)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Netfun81
by Netfun81 on Sat 23rd Jan 2010 19:25 UTC
Netfun81
Member since:
2008-03-25

i think the desktop os is fine as-is. Lets not waste time on old technology. Give me a cell phone computer with a fold out screen, glasses that make it look 17", holograms, or built in projector to show on any wall. That way i am always with my computer. Laptops are also obsolete...the battery still only lasts a couple hours. They are heavy and obnoxious to carry around. even netbooks aren't small enough. Lets work on making a real readable screen for small devices and make them more powerful at the same time.

Reply Score: 1

Eh, things evolve
by hurdboy on Sun 24th Jan 2010 05:16 UTC
hurdboy
Member since:
2005-09-02

I'm still very partial to the old MacOS task switcher in the upper right hand corner of the menubar. Click, choose the open app you want from the dropdown menu. I make do with my auto-hidden dock on the left side of my desktop, but it's still not as convenient. At least Apple had the sense to keep the unified top-of-the-screen menu, and not adopt the NeXT paradigm. While I can see why they did it that way, it's woefully inefficient space-wise. And nothing is nearly as bad as the ribbon....

As for automatic transmission, I live in the US, and much prefer manual. That said, my SO doesn't know how to drive one, so my next vehicle will likely be an automatic. ;) You're hard-pressed to find one these days, but the main reason for it is simple: manufacturing simplicity. Find me a vehicle with something other than a neutral color interior (tan/grey/black). It's damn near impossible these days. That, more than anything else, is why automatic transmission is so pervasive. And, considering that real soon now a good portion of autos will have a direct electric drive, there's no need/reason for a manual then. Any direct electric drive won't need a transmission at all. Any petrol generator in that vehicle will simply run at optimal generating speed, and not be attached to the drivetrain at all, just like in a locomotive or ship.

Reply Score: 1

When OS gain fluid animation.
by ParadoxUncreated on Mon 25th Jan 2010 15:47 UTC
ParadoxUncreated
Member since:
2009-12-05

If you look at computers through time, you will always find that computers capable of fluid animation, have always been the ones popular with enthusiasts. If one keeps putting out 50 frames/sec of animation, it simply becomes a different experience. Such as the c64 and Amiga, who both also provided decent sound. That was also the reason for the popularity of the arcademachines for a while, and also why these machines were thought superior to newer technology, for a long time, since these technologies, failed short of delivering this experience, even though, the computing power, was greater.

Reply Score: 1

The problem with OSs
by Almafeta on Mon 25th Jan 2010 17:50 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

It sounds to me like his main problem with operating systems are that they're not his shiny new Android phone.

Reply Score: 2

What he didn't mention
by sorpigal on Mon 25th Jan 2010 22:02 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

The thing I was looking for that I didn't see:

11) The Desktop

The desktop metaphor, with icons for folders, icons for files and icons for applications all sitting uselessly on a slab *behind* the windows I'm actually using to get work done. Can we just own up to the fact that this was never a very good idea and get rid of it?

Even Apple, that One True Authority on what is Usable, essentially bypassed the desktop with its dock when OS X was released. Sure they still *support* it, but the preferred form of interaction with a Mac involves very little desktop use. If it weren't the default download location and if devices would appear in a doc menu instead you could easily kill it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What he didn't mention
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 25th Jan 2010 22:33 UTC in reply to "What he didn't mention"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Even Apple, that One True Authority on what is Usable, essentially bypassed the desktop with its dock when OS X was released. Sure they still *support* it, but the preferred form of interaction with a Mac involves very little desktop use. If it weren't the default download location and if devices would appear in a doc menu instead you could easily kill it.


IIRC, some of the early developer preview releases of OS X lacked the ability to put files on the desktop (as was the case with NeXTSTEP - also IIRC). But it was added after there was sufficient outcry from the "OS 9 greybeards."

Reply Score: 2

RE: What he didn't mention
by WereCatf on Mon 25th Jan 2010 22:55 UTC in reply to "What he didn't mention"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

The desktop metaphor, with icons for folders, icons for files and icons for applications all sitting uselessly on a slab *behind* the windows I'm actually using to get work done. Can we just own up to the fact that this was never a very good idea and get rid of it?

And what would you replace it with then? Pray tell, I'm actually interested in hearing. The problem is, the screen itself doesn't change size depending on the content shown, so the content much then change size according to the screen. As such, you always have to have something to cover up the black screen with, and thus it's good if the covering area can be used for something.

Reply Score: 2