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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Eh... Not so sure
by deathshadow on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 22:48 UTC
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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

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