Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Nov 2011 22:55 UTC
Microsoft "Steve Ballmer had a dilemma. He had two groups at Microsoft pursuing competing visions for tablet computers. One group, led by Xbox godfather J Allard, was pushing for a sleek, two-screen tablet called the Courier that users controlled with their finger or a pen. But it had a problem: it was running a modified version of Windows. That ran headlong into the vision of tablet computing laid out by Steven Sinofsky, the head of Microsoft's Windows division. Sinofsky was wary of any product - let alone one from inside Microsoft's walls - that threatened the foundation of Microsoft's flagship operating system. But Sinofsky's tablet-friendly version of Windows was more than two years away." I'm still mad at Microsoft for this one.
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Hah. That's the funniest thing I've read yet.

And ... that's different from today's smartphone/tablet OSes how exactly? Android, iOS, WebOS, etc are chock full of interactive widgets, multi-finger gestures, long presses, hardware buttons, software buttons, non-uniform UIs, etc. And none of them come with manuals that explain what anything does. It's a usability nightmare.

I can't speak about iOS, but there is more consistency with Android (I'm sure it's true for iOS as well given Apples strict policies).

Granted there's some apps that break things, but generally a button looks like a button. things that scroll look like lists. List items are traditionally "clickable" - this behavior doesn't really change from app to app.

There's a standard set of objects which consists of menus, buttons, progress bars, message boxes, and so on. Notifications are all kept in one place. App launchers are all stored in one place. You even have 'hardware' buttons that roughly perform the same functions in every app (eg menu, home screen, back, search).

I'm not in any way saying smart phones have got things perfect and I do agree with you that a lot of functionality is hidden away behind unintuitive interactions. However, for the most part, it's all pretty straightforward.

However after watching all of the Courier promos, I still hadn't a clue how most of the functions were run. The thing tried too hard to function like an old fashion diary while being modern and interactive. On this occasion, MS managed to create something needlessly complicated by merging the worst of two worlds together.

And none of the knowledge learned on one OS is transferable to another OS

To a degree, that's true for any OS: on desktop, server or mobile platforms.

In fact, what drives people to one OS over another is generally the differences (ie I prefer the way xyz does something) rather than the similarities.

Plus companies would probably get their product banned in the "free markets" of half the developed world -due silly to patent laws- if they did try to implement transferable skills into their OSs ;)

Edited 2011-11-02 21:37 UTC

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