Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Aug 2009 19:08 UTC
Linux A complaint you hear quite often is that the Linux desktop environments, which mostly refers to KDE and GNOME, are trying too hard to be like Windows and Mac OS X. Now, even James Bottomley, Distinguished Engineer at Novell, Director of the Linux Foundation, and Chair of its Technical Advisory Board (put that on your business card) states in an interview that he believes the Linux desktop is too much like Windows and Mac.
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RE: Yeah...
by Kroc on Thu 27th Aug 2009 19:25 UTC in reply to "Yeah..."
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

I don‘t think that’s true. The iPhone OS is nothing like a desktop system and people handle it fine. Microsoft tried replicating the desktop on the phone and it’s a disaster.

The fact is that the current general desktop metaphor is confusing for regular users, has been since 1984 and continues to be so even today when I deal with customers buying new computers. Computers are simply difficult to operate.

You don‘t get in your car and expect it to operate like your desktop computer, or phone, or television?

A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Yeah...
by FooBarWidget on Thu 27th Aug 2009 20:21 in reply to "RE: Yeah..."
FooBarWidget Member since:
2005-11-11

That's because the iPhone isn't a desktop or laptop, so users don't have the expectation that it should work like one. If Apple ever ports iPhone OS to desktops or laptops then people would go all "how do I install MS Office?" on it.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[2]: Yeah...
by Doc Pain on Thu 27th Aug 2009 20:22 in reply to "RE: Yeah..."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

The fact is that the current general desktop metaphor is confusing for regular users, has been since 1984 and continues to be so even today when I deal with customers buying new computers. Computers are simply difficult to operate.


You say it. Computers aren't easy, or at least they are not as easy as advertisement wants them to be. You often see this even in our "modern" time where users who operate PCs for several years cannot tell the difference from the PC ("modem") and the screen ("TV"), or the speakers ("brain").

You don‘t get in your car and expect it to operate like your desktop computer, or phone, or television?


People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk. This applies in a similar way to desktop environments. Due to specific "education" people got in their career, they expect the desktop to behave in a certain way. This of course differs from user to user. Those who grew up with CDE often find things ununderstandable in "Windows", and those who are familiar with using the keyboard as the primary input device -- we remember now that few decades ago PCs were operated by ordinary people through a keyboard where they pressed keys in order to communicate their "wishes" to the system -- may find problems in KDE or Gnome.

In order to operate a car, a phone or a PC, you need some basic knowledge. Without this knowledge, you will run into problems, sooner or later. All OSes and DEs seem to have this in common.

Following some standardization among all the different DEs often is a lot of help. On the other hand, it often limits functionality and productivity. Things like "focus follows mouse" and "focus doesn't imply foreground", as well as combining mouse and keyboard support come into mind. But finally, it's possible to admit that those things doesn't belong to the primary interests of the home users who seem to make up the main target group.

A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.


We can still wait (or hope) for it.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Yeah...
by Peter Besenbruch on Thu 27th Aug 2009 21:25 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk.


The worst experience I ever had driving was when I rented a Ford Mondeo in England this Summer. The rental company gave me a manual diesel. Not only was it a struggle to drive such a hulking car with poor visibility on the wrong side of the too narrow road, I was also expected to shift the blasted thing left handed.

If only the English would give us a proper driving interface. ;)

In order to operate a car, a phone or a PC, you need some basic knowledge. Without this knowledge, you will run into problems, sooner or later. All OSes and DEs seem to have this in common.


There is a fair bit in common when using a point and click interface, partly because it wasn't developed by anyone who is still a player today. The point and click interface was developed by Xerox in the late 70s. Each later implementation shares certain basic assumptions. It's almost a language of movement. Hence, I can use Windows, the various Linux/Unix desktop environments, or Macs. I may not always use them gracefully, but I can get by.

"A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.


We can still wait (or hope) for it.
"

I'm still waiting for Apple to improve its interface some more. The underlying OS isn't bad, but Apple could sure improve OS X's interface by making it more like KDE 3.5, or something. Using Apple is as bad a driving in England. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Yeah...
by setec_astronomy on Thu 27th Aug 2009 22:45 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk.


There is something about this whole "using car analogies for computer related scenarios" that I always thought of as kind of odd:

What is the equivalent of the driving license in relation to computers in this picture?

I don't know about the situation in different countries, but where I live taking (and passing) theoretical and practical courses is mandatory in order to receive a driving license. This courses include a very brief introduction to the inner workings of a car, (e.g. ignoring the oil pressure warning light while you drive is not exactly a good idea, how to roughly evaluate the safeness of your cars breaking system, which type of fuel is for which engine, how to estimate the necessary time and distance for (emergency) breaks, etc.) a laughable short first aid course and of course a rather detailed introduction to the topic of traffic rules.

In the 12 years since I got my driving license, I had to deal with at least six different ways to shift into the reverse gear (VWs try-to-push-the-gear-stick-down-and-then-select-the-first-gear method proved difficult to figure out the first time using the schematic on the gear sticks head while standing downhill rather close to a concrete wall, for example). And just don't get me started on the airplane-like cockpits of contemporary tractors and harvesters.

My theory: With minimal - and proper - training, people can adapt to the surprisingly large number of variations that occur in the operation of vehicles.

Edited 2009-08-27 22:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Yeah...
by axilmar on Fri 28th Aug 2009 09:36 in reply to "RE: Yeah..."
axilmar Member since:
2006-03-20

Computers are simply difficult to operate


That's because the technology used to program them is outdated. The model of processes/filesystems/files/folders holds the development of more interesting software back.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Yeah...
by boldingd on Tue 1st Sep 2009 19:18 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I could believe that the idea of exposing these models to casual end-users is outdated, but I highly doubt these things are going to stop being fundamental to the operation of (software on a) Desktop machine anytime soon, or that there's a superior metaphor just waiting to replace them. I'm all for making the computer my parents will use as brain-dead simple and intuitive as possible, but there's also a certain minimum amount of understanding of what the computer's doing that you can reasonably expect from users. You really can't expect to get away with putting absolutely no effort into learning how your computer works and what it's doing, and still being able to be reasonably productive with the thing.

As a note, my Mom doesn't understand what the file-system is; she thinks the save-dialogs for applications are "where" the files reside. If you ask her where she saved her Word document, she'll say, "in Word," meaning "in the MS Word save dialog." Her refusal to learn what a file system is causes her no end of trouble. But it's also the best way to do the job (of storing arbitrary data in a persistent and randomly-accessable and manipulatable form); the problem, in this case, is her unwillingness to learn, not that the file-system metaphor is failing her.

Sorry to ramble.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Yeah...
by kaiwai on Fri 28th Aug 2009 11:10 in reply to "RE: Yeah..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I don‘t think that’s true. The iPhone OS is nothing like a desktop system and people handle it fine. Microsoft tried replicating the desktop on the phone and it’s a disaster.

The fact is that the current general desktop metaphor is confusing for regular users, has been since 1984 and continues to be so even today when I deal with customers buying new computers. Computers are simply difficult to operate.

You don‘t get in your car and expect it to operate like your desktop computer, or phone, or television?

A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.


Just to play devils advocate; I would hardly call what Apple did as something revolutionary given that Sharp did something very similar using Qtopia.

The reason it worked is because it s a completely different device; it is a completely different device then the end user will have no expectations on how it *should* behave. If they have no expectations on how it *should* behave then they come to using the device with an open mind. The accept the basic premise of "new device, new way of doing things".

The problem is that people are used to laptops and desktops operating in a certain way - when you change the way they operate; they've already got a set of expectations and they're unwilling to change what their expectations are; no matter how good the alternative you provide. When people for example purchase a netbook, laptop or desktop, they expect it to operate in a certain way - the same reason why people are hesitant with using Mac OS X; they have an expectation from Windows, Mac OS X doesn't operate like that expectation, so they assume the device 'isn't for me'.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot you can do about those sorts of people - who regretfully make up the majority of end users.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Yeah...
by boldingd on Tue 1st Sep 2009 19:22 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Well, as Tess said in one of the podcasts, the iPhone OS would make a terrible desktop OS (for many of the same reasons that you can't use an iPhone as a netbook replacement: try writing code, or a paper, or even a long e-mail on an iPhone). The reason that the iPhone O.S. can get away with being very different is that it's running in a very different environment, for which it has been specialized, not because people are being tricked into abandoning their preconceptions.

Reply Parent Score: 1