posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Apr 2010 23:34 UTC
IconSo, we have Microsoft slowly but surely trying to be a better citizen in the computing world - with the emphasis on trying. After years of dragging their feet, the company is finally implementing web standards in Internet Explorer, there's a boatload of interoperability information now, that sort of stuff. And then, just when you think they're starting to get it - they go behind our backs to do something incredibly insipid. It's small, you'll barely notice it, but dear lord, it's really, really annoying.

In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced an incredibly handy pop-up dialog that allows you to easily manage multiple display output. Pressing win+p allows you to use the dialog to cycle through the different output options (clone, extend, second only, first only). This eliminates the need for vendor-specific tools to achieve the same goal. Great little feature.

A lot of laptops have a key to switch between displays - it more or less achieves the same goal via the keyboard controller, WMI, or ACPI. In Linux, these events are all turned into a KEY_SWITCHVIDEOMODE which makes it easy to create standardised behaviour. The clever cookies among you probably know by now what Microsoft is doing.

Microsoft is recommending this:

So, the end result is bug reports like this one. Laptop vendors are following Microsoft's recommendation, and new laptops now map the display switch key to win+p. Older laptops sometimes receive a firmware update to achieve the same goal. This means that users who used to be able to switch display outputs in Linux by pressing the display switch key are now confronted with a "p" being registered.

"So, if your display switch button now just makes the letter 'P' appear, say thanks to Microsoft," Matthew Garrett writes on his blog, "There's a range of ways we can fix this, although none of them are straightforward and those of you who currently use left-Windows-p as a keyboard shortcut are going to be sad. I would say that I feel your pain, but my current plan is to spend the immediate future getting drunk enough that I stop caring."

It are little things like this that make Microsoft so incredibly hateable. This is Microsoft still assuming, after al these years and all these antitrust cases, that they are alone in this world. They still cannot imagine someone would be running anything other than Windows on their machines.

It's a tiny little thing, but it's so illustrative. Microsoft, you suck.

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