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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My take on his suggestions
by Drumhellar on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 20:55 UTC
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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 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.

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