Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 21:04 UTC
Editorial Like many of you, I've been watching the big changes in user interfaces over the past few years, trying to make sense of them all. Is there a common explanation for the controversies surrounding the Windows 8 UI and Unity? Where do GNOME 3, KDE, Cinnamon, and MATE fit in? This article offers one view.
Thread beginning with comment 566512
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Your Reality Check Bounced
by Gaius_Maximus on Sun 7th Jul 2013 02:11 UTC
Gaius_Maximus
Member since:
2012-08-31

All that writing, but the main point never even gets addressed: It's the keyboard, stupid!

Decades of trial and error honed desktop UIs into the wonderful tools the are ... well ... were. And the keyboard reigned supreme.

I had to admire Windows from the start: On my old laptops (back in the 1990s, before touchpads and isopointers) I could leave the mouse at home, and use everything in Windows with only the keyboard. And that carried over to just about all the applications, too. Even today, I hardly ever have to reach for the pointer other than to move it out of my way. They keyboard is just that much faster, not to mention easier on my joints. Unity was giving me tennis elbow. And the HUD was a step back to the old command-prompt computers of my youth (Commodore 64, Atari XL, DOS, etc.) What were they thinking?

I mean, you'd think, wouldn't you, that these smart people would have noticed that the Chinese use the Roman alphabet to teach Chinese to their young because of its superiority to things like logograms, or their modern, western iteration, the 'icon', which was, by the way, only ever meant as a way to let the myriad software providers push their logos into our faces in order to get them on board Windows, and give up on DOS.

But the devices scaring desktop OS makers so badly today are still evolving a UI model to work on their necessarily hobbled devices as well as one can reasonably expect. And that should have been the major clue to Ballmer, Shuttleworth, et al.: They sell in spite of the UI, not because of it. And that points directly to their form-factor. That's why they sell. What moron would ever think that any of us would want such a crippled UI on our PCs?

This is where you did get it right. Having seen how their dominance on the desktop paved the way for them into the server-room, and desperate to make inroads into the pocket, M$ thought they could go the other way, too, if only they started by getting PC users accustomed to M$'s phone UI. They were wrong, for the reason detailed above, plus one more: Microsoft is hated for its reputation as a bad actor. Even casual users are well aware of it. If people have any reasonable alternative, they will choose it over Microsoft. Besides, it really doesn't matter to anyone that their phone has the same OS or UI as their PC. It's not like they're going to want to work on the same spreadsheets on both their phones and their desktops.

So, now, we have just about all our OS providers jumping on the finger-pointer bandwagon, even as they ostensibly retain the 'traditional' desktop because they've all lost their minds, along with any sense of perspective, as they chase marketshare (or mindshare). Gnome, for example, started adding finger UI elements to its once useful gedit text editor. A TEXT EDITOR! Just about the last place on earth that anyone would want or need a finger UI, and just about the last application anyone would want to run on a phone.

And all these players think themselves so smart that they don't even need to test the waters first before they drop bombs like this on us, their users. And if you try to tell them what you want, you get the run-around, the okidoke, or even ridicule that you must be some kind of Philistine for failing to recognize the superiority of their way over yours.

They get what they deserve.

And you can tell them for me, that I will never touch my PC's screen. And any OS and/or its bundled utilities, programs, etc., that too often force me to reach for my mouse for want of a reasonably usable keyboard shortcut will be off my machine as soon as there's any better alternative, including simply not upgrading.

In fact, so outraged am I at all this insanity, as well as their arrogant refusal to take corrective action (Don't be fooled. Their 'improvements' are nothing more than pacifiers to keep you engaged until you get used to the new way they want you to work.), that I'm on the brink of a permanent career change.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Your Reality Check Bounced
by 3arn0wl on Sun 7th Jul 2013 08:41 in reply to "Your Reality Check Bounced"
3arn0wl Member since:
2013-07-03

I have to say I've always used a mouse or trackpad and clicked on icons, but even in the week that Douglas Engelbart died, I think you have a point(er!) - there is something to be said for keeping sticky, greasy mits well away from a screen. A physical keyboard (of the correct size) is preferable to an on-screen version too, which reduces the size of the window you're using. It's hard to deny that when a screen acts as both Input and Output device, it compromises both functions. Even with regard to smartphones, I guess that's the reason their optimum proportions appears to've been difficult to determine.

The more natural Input option for a phone is surely aural, but although there're good apps for that, it doesn't seem popular - at least not yet...

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Your Reality Check Bounced
by zima on Tue 9th Jul 2013 22:11 in reply to "Your Reality Check Bounced"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Have you even used Unity? It's quite search- hence keyboard-oriented...

BTW, it's largely an illusion that the keyboard is faster: http://plan9.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/mouse_vs._keyboard/

Reply Parent Score: 2