Some of you might be thinking, why? Well, I think it’s about time. MCSE’s, VB Programmers, and techies have been using Windows for years, and I think it’s about time Windows moves to the desktop for ordinary people.
Notice: This article is sort of a satire of another article. Some of the abbreviations/acronyms are purposely wrong on purpose. It’s just for fun and not meant to hurt anybody’s feelings.
We’ve heard it year after year after year: “This is the year Windows is for the masses on the desktop.” Well, then another version comes out and still “Joe Longkneck” can’t use it. I would love to see Windows on the desktop for the newbie. It’s just it’s going to take some effort.
First off is, “Why?” Well, here’s why:
1. It supports not only those common win32 apps, but also those many dos and OS/2 programs now. What other operating system can run OS/2 software? Heck, there’s even a few Java VM’s for it.
2. Price. Have you ever tried to buy a mainframe OS? We’re often talking Hundred’s of Thousands of dollars. $199 for XP per head is almost free.
3. Stability. Netcraft has announced that Windows 2000 server has finally gone for over 2 years without a reboot.
4. Security. Bill Gates is really trying here. And security is only getting better. Soon, you won’t have to worry about your ATM not functioning because of some SQL worm. I want that amount of security on my desktop!
5. Updating. In case you haven’t updated some of your software, I believe MS now will do Automatic updates on your computer if you agree to their EULA for Windows Media player. Also, they’ll even let you know if your XP key isn’t a valid one. How would you like to be running what you thought was a valid Windows XP key, but it was actually a pirated key? Well, no problem, SP1 will let you know.
6. Signed drivers. Let’s say there are many drivers for one device, but only one official driver. Now, that official driver may not be the best, but you still should use it so that you can tell the company about it. If it were not for signed drivers, you might use an older or different driver that does not have all the bugs, and then how are you supposed to report the bugs if you’re using a good driver? Nobody will know about them and they’ll never get updated.
7. User interface. Look, XP has the best colors on any OS I’ve ever seen. Why would you use an OS with inferior colors?
8. Customization. You have an amazing amount of control over how you can customize your background. Believe it or not, you can scan ANY picture with you scanner and save it as your background. It’s time to upgrade if you’re using DOS. Have you ever had a background other than that Old-fashioned (but still cool in my opinion, I’m not knocking the background of command.com and cmd.exe) black command prompt wallpaper?
9. Dev tools. Student versions of VB start at like $100. Try developing something on VMS without spending $60,000, and then try to make application without taking a class or reading book. VB has a WIZARD to create an app. And, if you want the enterprise level, you’ll never have to spend more that $1000 for you PC to get all the dev tools.
10. Freedom. You can use the inter net with Windows XP. It’s built in.
Okay, there’s the why’s, but now the HOW’s. Yes, there are still some MAJOR hurdles we need to cross before Windows is ready for the “Joe Sixpack” user. Let’s look at how we’re going to accomplish this.
First of all, the USER INTERFACE is just way to scary. I’ve seen new users go up to a machine, and the screen is in power save. Immediately, they say “It’s not on”. Some of them hit the power button and turn off the computer. This needs to be fixed. When the monitor is in Power Save mode, but the computer is on, the monitor should display something like “The Computer is on, but this monitor is in powersave mode. Hit any key to continue or move the mouse”.
Secondly of all, is the mouse. This needs a complete re-arrange. I’ve seen users click when they should double-click, double-click when they should click once, and click twice when they should double click. This is even confusing trying to write in an opinion piece. Let’s explain better. Instead of double clicking, they’re too slow and end up editing the name of the icon most of the time. This is horrible. So many people panic and don’t want to try windows anymore. Don’t tell me RTFM, that doesn’t help these users. This needs to be better. Yes, I know you can set windows so you have to only single click on icons, but I still see people double clicking in webpages. This needs to be fixed. Microsoft makes all these mice anyways. Why not make a mouse that cannot double-click and make everything a single click.
Now, the filesystem. This needs to be completely changed. Boot.ini does not belong in the root directory. This does not make any sense. I’ve seen users delete this file. I know if you are running NTFS, you can make this read only for a new user. However, how is a new user supposed to know how to do this? This is like a warning label of “For external use only” on Acne cream. If somebody is stupid enough to ingest acne cream, they’re not going to be smart enough to know what external means. Hopefully if they buy a computer with XP preinstalled it will be like this, but what if they just want to install XP on a new computer? Perhaps there should be like /boot directory or something. Or even better a “Don’t touch” directory.
That leads to the install itself. Yes, windows installing has gotten 100 times better since the days of DOS. Finally, users don’t have to type “a:/setup” or “a:/install” anymore. And thank God “Sys c:” is history. And for the sake of all that is holy, good riddance to “format c: /s”. But there’s one thing that has always bothered me: What if I want to do a Clean Install and still have all my applications that I installed on let’s say Win98? Here’s what you can do: You can do a clean install beside Win98, but you won’t have all your applications on XP. You can also upgrade win98 and most of your applications, if not all will move to XP. However, what if there is an application that I NEED that won’t run on XP. Or what if XP dies. Then I have no Win98. I’d like to see an upgrade feature that let’s me keep my existing Win98 installation as WELL as upgrade Windows 98 to XP at the same time. Until this happens, Windows is just not ready.
Next thing. Applications. When I pay $199 for XP per computer, I really expected for things to be a little more robust. I mean, their cd recording software is pretty slim. Now I know there’s a lot of you that say I can always buy another version. I shouldn’t have to. The full version of whatever I want should be there. It should just work.
Next up comes installing new software, since this is what I will have to do to get a fully functioning computer. This is our weakest spot here. There just is no standard way to install software. Yes, I know of the Windows Installer and please. Let’s use three examples. Let’s say I want to install this freeware game. It comes in a .zip. Great. So I double click it. What do I get? A dialogue. I don’t want a dialogue box. I want to install it. I don’t want to have to choose c:\Program Files\freegame directory. Why Ask me? That’s what the programmer should decide. Now, there’s some of you 31337 that are going to say RTMF. Or, WTF, WWF, or OMG. That doesn’t help. All it does for the newbie is turn them off WINDOWS. Some of you are decent enough to say, well, if there is not enough room on the c drive this let’s you choose another partition. Well, I think Windows should be advanced enough to automatically create a ram drive, store current hard disk image in ram drive, lowlevel format the HD so it will hold more data (after all, newer drives are about the same physical size as older, smaller capacity drives; the only difference is in the low level format), reinstall the image from the RAM drive and just install the software? How difficult is that? C’mon. I just thought of that off the top of my head and no XP genius can figure this out? Please. Now, for the sake of fairness, let’s say Windows cannot re-lowlevel format the HD because it voids the manufacturer’s warranty. Fine, at least Windows can decide which partition has the most amount of space and install the program there. And to top it off, it then asks me, “C:\Program Files\freegame does not exist, do you want to create it?” Well, DUH!!!
Example #2: How many times have you installed a program and it does not show up in the Add-Remove Programs Control Panel applet? That GAIN software does that to me all the time.
Example #3: There are always some programmers who do not follow the correct standards and guidelines. If their installer does not conform the Microsoft ideal, then Windows should prevent it from being installed. Plain and Simple. Or, if it does get installed somehow, (there’s always some security exploit), then Windows should cause the program to crash. This will teach newbies not to run bad software. Or even better, all software should be pre-approved by Microsoft. Perhaps the bios will have a database of certificates that all software must have in order to run. This will make sure newbies only run Microsoft approved, quality software. How good could a program be if Microsoft has never heard of it?
Now that we’ve gone through the horrors of installation, let’s talk about fileformats. Some of you real h4cksaws out there have come up to this. What happens if you made a document in Works, and try to open it in Word. It doesn’t work all the time. You have to download the converter from MS’ site which is pretty well hidden. Thanks a lot guys. Now, granted, these are Two different Program suites. But the fact is you can’t open up a Word File in Excel. Absolutely unforgivable. How are we supposed to win the desktop when 2 programs that come in the same suite can’t open each others files? C’mon people. And no, spouting FRTM will not help a new user.
Now I know I may have hurt some feelings here. But I want to see Windows succeed. I don’t want Windows to be only for the 31173. Yes, we’ve come a long way from all those security holes, virii, and cryptic commands like “Edit textfile.txt” (what in the hell is that supposed to mean?). However, we still have a long way to go. I know Bill is working on it. He releases patches every day. I feel this could be the year Windows catches everybody’s attention. We’re really close, BMW is even using Windows in some cars. Once the bugs are worked out, I would love to have Windows in my Chevy Nova.