Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 17th Mar 2003 22:49 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces So many operating systems and so many graphical desktop environments... This article is a comparison of the UI and usability of several Desktop Environments (DEs), that have been widely used, admired and reviled: Windows XP Luna, BeOS 6 (Dano/Zeta), Mac OS X Aqua and Unix's KDE and Gnome. Read on which one got our best score on our long term test and usage.
Permalink for comment
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
by Strider on Tue 18th Mar 2003 18:22 UTC

I simply found this "Comparison" to be one of the badly written articles I have EVER seen at OSness I appreciate what Eugenia was trying to do but the lack of evaluation consistency, repete falure of understanding, and total lack of what consititues gui consistency are blaringly obviously to anyone but the most inept readers. Just to go thru the list:

Look and feel:

First this entire catagory is ALMOST ENTIRELY subjective. I am just talking about button size either accustom usage is NOT the same thing as correct usage. Anyone will get used to the way a UI does things given enough time and experience. Yet most of the review basis its decisions (in this catagory) on subjective UI usage.

The only things that can really be evaluated (in this catagory) is Look & Feel configurability, system clearity, and widget usage complience (i.e. does the UI take full advantage of screen "hot zones" and do widget elements remain consistent.) Yet there is virutally no mention of these few useful "Look & Feel" topics in the review.

When we are finished what we finally end up with is a review of which OS UI is the "prettiest", according to the reviewer, based on its default settings (unless we are talking about Windows XP.) Even if the reviewer was not trying to do this... this is effectly how it Look & Feel was reviewed.


Finally a useful review topic. This is where the review decied to place the look and feel elements the could have been useful. I.E making the first catagory ENTIRELY WORTHLESS! No problem., at least it was included.

But wait.... this section takes minimal amount of time actually looking at usability standards and universally accepted usability principals and spends most of its time commenting on personal preferenced. So we are left with almost the same thing that was reviewed int the "Look & Feel" section.

What little "good" this section actually reviewed (i.e. complexity, multiple input navigation, and consistency) are reviewed INCONSISTENTLY accross the systems. Not to mention the duplication of review. Why are we taling about UI consistency in usability if we are gonna REVIEW consistency in the next UI section. Ok well Windows XP has good tooltips and keyboard navigation.... but do we mention that in BeOS or KDE or GNOME? These lack of consisten review makes the final eveluation basically a "Which on I find easiest to use."

Consistency, Integration, Flexibility:

OMG this is the worst of ALL of them.

There is cusory mention of consistency of previous versions of windows... but NO mention of other toolkits... say mozilla, java, dephi, or even dos.. Fine.. no problem... as long as these reviews are consistent. But Hey they review KDE based on NON KDE toolkits, Gnome based on non gnome toolkits, BeOS on JUST THE CURRENT version of its toolkit, and then totally ignores in inconsistency of OSX's three different CURRENT toolkits! (i.e burshed metal vs Aqua.)

Integration is glossed over by totally ignoring the some aspects of one UI and going in depth with others. Sure you can do anythng in the Windows GUI that the Windows GUI will let you do but what about the hundreds of things that you cannot do in Windows because Windows doesn't want you to do them. Then there is no consideration for the differences of what distrobutions allow you to do for Windows but the author spends half a paragraph talking about the lack of integration as a detrament to Unix (i.e. Windows Advanced Server gives you more integration to the network than Windows XP Home does, or multiprocessor configuration, or server configuration; sense most of us run some kind of server on our home machines now.)

Then the reviewer starts spouting off random technical thoughts that are simply untrue. Things like: "non-optimized X11", "Gnome and KDE don't offer tools to change the native resolution of X", "a GUI to load/unload/install/uninstall drivers on the fly", and "no tools to configure internet connections" are simply ignorant statements.

Then Flexability??? WTF... how can mac (which has almost NO options for changing the gui either via skins or system UI options) compare with Luna (which is entirely skinable and has many many system level UI choices) ... Again the review falls back to "Which one I hear is the most flexable." This is even more frusterating because the review actually says that 9in the Look and Feel section) that Windows XP is more flexable than OSX.

Speed, Stability and Bugs;

Speed has already been killed by several ppl so far.. I will not repeat the total lack of "review" that the speed statements are.

Please give use some numbers to support stability... even your own numbers would be nice. What you give use for stability and bugs is (AFAIK) entirely subjective. I have not had KDE crash on me yet... but I cannot go a day without Windows XP crashing. We are left with nothing but a vague sense of how YOU felt the stability of the systems where. Again another "Which one I hear is the most stable."

Technology, Programming Framework, Conclusion:

This part almost made me want to cry. "X11 Technology, Programming Framework, Conclusion" as a statement in the same sentance network transparency got blow off is so rediculas. The review make NO attempt to compare USEFUL technology as opposed to "eye candy" technology. Can MacOS log in as three different users to three different GUI's at the same time? Can OSX run its gui on a machine other than the one its connected to? Can Jaguar run indiviual applications on different computers over a network? Sure it can! When you INSTALL X11! But hey, you can always make your GUI nice a pretty! That obviously makes it superior technology. Just because someone doesn't use the technology available in network transparency does not make the feature worthless! NO comparision is actually make between the toolkit technologies! etc.. etc.. etc..

Statements like, " like the API of Cocoa", "I find the Windows API to have a steep learning curve", and "I dislike GTK+ and C" are really the only insite we have to good API's vs bad API's. "Which one I find better." is again ringing in my ears. In this case its even worse because the reviewer only skims over what "good" is in his/her definition.

A review is suppost to compare and evaluate (on as equal footing as possible) products based on common criteria. This "review" was a total faure in that respect. Trying out all the products does not turn an OpEd piece into a review.