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Windows Software Ugly, Boring & Uninspired 924

Posted by Zonk
from the i-didn't-say-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CPU magazine has written a very straight-to-the-point editorial on the lack of quality and innovation in software for the mainstream OS. They compare it to the Mac, which is found in a much different light. Where has all the innovation gone?" From the article: "There's too much coal and not enough diamonds within the sphere of downloads. The greatest pieces of software are plagued by unintelligent design, and very few rise to the level of ubiquity. Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging; there's no user community rallying around the platform. We use the computer, certainly, or is the computer using us?"
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Windows Software Ugly, Boring & Uninspired

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  • Garbage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nokilli (759129) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:33PM (#12975220)
    So if it's so ugly, boring & uninspired, there should be a ton of examples as to how, say, Mac OS X is so much more beautiful, exciting and uplifting? Yet, he's only able to give us one:
    With Apple's release of Tiger, widgets--desktop applets that each serve one purpose--have jumped to the forefront of everybody's imagination. Why? Because they look slicker than snot!
    Excuse me, but Widgets are easily the most retarded thing out of Apple since the Dock.

    There isn't one of them that gives you functionality that your browser doesn't already afford. Sure, they're pretty, but what's going to happen is that as people amass more and more of these widgets, the dashboard becomes cluttered and slow (it already is painfully slow on my MDD 1.25GHz G4, and that's just with the stock widgets, with the default set active only). Then there's going to be the question as to how to organize them all... the faux dock at the bottom is already insufficient. I know, let's stick a menu in there! Great idea!

    Why not call it the Widgets Menu? And when you choose a widget from the menu, up comes the widget! Just like if you had chosen a bookmark from the Bookmarks menu from your favorite browser: up comes the web page containing the info you sought!

    Or, we could create a page of little Widgets links, and then the user could click on the link and up pops the widget! Just as if it were a web page full of links, each leading to a separate page with different and useful functionality!

    So my question is, why not just use the browser? IT ALREADY DOES THESE THINGS!

    Not as pretty? Find a web page that has a decent designer/artist behind it. Between CSS and the GiMP, there's no excuse for ugly web pages anymore.

    If you want to throw stones, throw them at a target that deserves to get hit: the Desktop Metaphor. Menus and windows with scrollbars and dialog boxes and lions and tigers and bears. The same constraints that Windows suffers under are also felt by Mac OS X, Gnome and KDE users too.

    The branding has nothing to do with it.

    BTW, Chris Pirillo, the guy who wrote this, he's the one who couldn't make the cut as a TechTV ScreenSaver, isn't that right?
    • Re:Garbage (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sgant (178166) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:37PM (#12975237) Homepage Journal
      Wow, there's one web page out there that allows a browser to do all the things that a widget does...at a glance? I mean, you go to the widgets and BAM you see everything on one desktop all in one place and at a glance you see or can use specific things.

      Didn't know an ordinary browser does this too! Which one? Where do I find that feature at? Again, which browser/web page has all this stuff all at the same time? You seem to know! Tell us oh wise one!
    • Re:Garbage (Score:4, Insightful)

      by itistoday (602304) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#12975261) Homepage
      There isn't one of them that gives you functionality that your browser doesn't already afford. Sure, they're pretty, but what's going to happen is that as people amass more and more of these widgets, the dashboard becomes cluttered and slow (it already is painfully slow on my MDD 1.25GHz G4, and that's just with the stock widgets, with the default set active only). Then there's going to be the question as to how to organize them all... the faux dock at the bottom is already insufficient. I know, let's stick a menu in there! Great idea!
      Widgets take up very little memory and all of the default ones take up 0% of the CPU most of the time (check with top if you don't believe me). You've got something else going on there if you say it's sluggish.

      Your "Widget Menu" is coming though, and although it's already available in the form of many third-party tools [versiontracker.com], Apple will be releasing one built into the Dashboard in their upcoming update: 10.4.2 [thinksecret.com]

      As for the rest of your post, you clearly seem to have a very poor understanding of OS X. I suggest reading up on it [apple.com] to find out "a ton of examples as to how, say, Mac OS X is so much more beautiful, exciting and uplifting?".
      • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Informative)

        by wavedeform (561378) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @09:00PM (#12976711)
        Widgets take up very little memory and all of the default ones take up 0% of the CPU most of the time (check with top if you don't believe me). You've got something else going on there if you say it's sluggish.

        Actually, in my experience Widgets take a fair amount of memory. Each Widget seems to take around 150 Meg ov VM, and use several Megs of real memory. They also seem to leak real memory. This is after about four days:
        Real Mem Virt Mem NAME
        27.33 MB 159.59 MB Weather DashboardClient
        11.51 MB 144.20 MB Stickies DashboardClient
        10.85 MB 147.11 MB Oblique DashboardClient
        9.13 MB 154.76 MB Unit Converter DashboardClient
        9.11 MB 144.05 MB Calendar DashboardClient
        8.79 MB 151.12 MB Dictionary DashboardClient
        8.65 MB 144.61 MB World Clock DashboardClient
        6.20 MB 126.45 MB Calculator DashboardClient

        This adds up to about 90 Meg of real memory, and over a gig of virtual memory, for about eight widgets. Desk accessories the world over are hanging their head in shame.

        • Re:Garbage (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          I found Dashboard to be approximately useful if you enabled the debug mode. Now, the Dashboard becomes a shelf, and you drag widgets onto the desktop when you actually want to use them (i.e. it is no longer modal *shudder*).

          I did notice, however, that my machine was quite a lot slower after installing Tiger. I poked around, and found the reason was that it was swapping a lot more. The Dashboard widgets were using around 50MB of real memory doing nothing - it seems they don't even get completely swapped

    • Re:Garbage (Score:3, Insightful)

      by itistoday (602304)

      So my question is, why not just use the browser? IT ALREADY DOES THESE THINGS!

      Sorry, a web browser cannot do all the things as quickly and conveniently as Dashboard. Say I'd like to leave a note for myself with a list of groceries, while I'm not sure how you'd do with with a web browser, you can easily use the built-in "sticky note" widget to jot down several items.

      What if you want to know the 5 day forcast for this week? You could launch up firefox and go to an easily memorizable website like weather

      • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Informative)

        by nokilli (759129) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:59PM (#12975357)
        First off, any widget that requires an internet connection isn't going to work when the connection is down.

        Secondly, I guess I could have been clearer, but I'm talking about the browser together with the stock desk-accessories that ALL of these OS's have... calculator, notepad. And games too.

        Want to know the 5-day forecast for the week? Well, of course your browser is already open, so you're not waiting for it to load. And of course you've already bookmarked the exact place where that forecast is available, so basically, you're clicking on a link.

        So let me rephrase that...

        Want to know the 5-day forcecast for the week? Click on a link.

        Given that you're only loading the page for that one link, and not potentially dozens of pages like you are when activating Dashboard, it's much faster.
        • Much faster than... pressing F12? Sorry, grabbing the weather and using world clock to find out what time it is back home on the other side of the planet are two things I do *every morning*. Under 10.3, it took 30 seconds from opening the laptop, to switching to the browser, and hitting the bookmark for the Tokyo wather page [yahoo.co.jp] at Yahoo Japan. With dashboard it's more like 5 seconds. A few seconds doesn't seem like much, but the small convenience of having to hit one button as I'm rushing out the door in t
      • Re:Garbage (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rufo (126104) <rufo.rufosanchez@com> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:08PM (#12975424)
        I agree with the grandparent - Dashboard is neat, but it's way too slow to be used much of the time. I use Quicksilver and in combination with a few bookmarks it does just about everything I need it to.

        Weather w/Quicksilver: Cmd-Space, W-E-A-T, enter, Safari pops up and loads my weatherunderground.com bookmark.
        Dashboard: F12.... wait... wait... wait... wait... oh, here it is. I need more information... double-click... wait... Safari comes up.
        I actually often use Meterologist, which is even faster then both Dashboard and my bookmark.

        Calculations: Cmd-Space, 4+4, tab, C-A-L-C, enter, result pops up. Or, if I want the kick-ass full Apple calculator, Cmd-Space, C-A-L-C, enter, up it pops.
        Dashboard: F12... wait... wait... click... wait... type calculation.
        As an added bonus, I can do as fancy calculations as I want with QS, complete with parenthesis and layered calculations.

        Games: Cmd-Space, POP (or BEJ or SCU or...), enter.
        Dashboard: F12... wait... wait... click... wait... (as an unfortunate bonus, you only get to play in a little window. :-()

        I'm not saying Quicksilver is the end-all be all, but even when I don't use it cmd-tabbing to Safari and clicking my Weather bookmark takes less time then Dashboard. My computer isn't horrible either - things should not be this slow on a Dual 1Ghz G4 with 1GB of RAM and a fast Seagate 7200.8 300GB drive.

        In Dashboard's defense, some of the widgets are genuinely fantastic, and once I activate it for the session (read: once every few hours) it usually isn't too bad to use... but the few times it is sluggish, it makes me wonder why I use the thing.
      • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pherthyl (445706) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:14PM (#12975465)
        Why don't we take this to extremes?

        Want to work on your report? Why wait for your word processor to load when you can just press F12 and it's RIGHT THERE!

        What if you want to watch a movie? Just press F12 and there's your movie player! Wow!

        Dashboard is only a way to keep applications loaded in memory and display a certain subset of them at a keypress, this is absolutely nothing new. So I want to do a quick calculation, I hit the shortcut key I bound to my calculator and there it is. When I'm done with it I close it and it doesn't suck up memory. I see absolutely no value in keeping these applications running all the time when you're barely ever using them and could just pull them up on demand anyway.

        The original author of this article seems bored by his functional applications. That's ok, some people like flash over functionality.
        I've used OS X a fair bit and didn't see anything that I was particularly impressed by. It sure looks nice, but I'm not more productive or happy with it than any other platform.
      • Re:Garbage (Score:3, Informative)

        by rekenner (849871)
        I'll admit this is just a nitpick, but why Google FOR a calculator, when Google IS a calculator?
    • Re:Garbage (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lav-chan (815252)

      Excuse me, but Widgets are easily the most retarded thing out of Apple since the Dock.

      Not to mention, they're available for Windows, and if you count things like Samurize and DesktopX, they have been available for ages, much much longer than they have for OS X. Maybe they aren't as tied into the operating system as they can be in Dashboard, but they're pretty close.

    • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Funny)

      by eno2001 (527078) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:52PM (#12975677) Homepage Journal
      Simple:

      1. Windows = Yugo (w/Automatic Transmission and Power Steering)
      2. Mac OS X = DeLorean
      3. GNOME = Kit Car
      4. KDE = Yugo (w/Manual Transmission and Manual Steering + DeLorean cardboard facade option)

      That about sums up the state of GUIs in this day and age. Let the flames begin! :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:35PM (#12975228)
    Does it work? Does it make me more productive? That's what I want to know. Everything else is secondary, especially how "inspired" and "exciting" it is.
    • Does it work? Does it make me more productive? That's what I want to know. Everything else is secondary, especially how "inspired" and "exciting" it is.

      Inspired and exciting design makes people more productive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:36PM (#12975229)
    They'll be creative and innovative any day now; as soon as they find a creative, innovative company to buy...
  • Windows... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sapgau (413511) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:36PM (#12975230) Journal
    Would not change until strong economic incentives force microsoft to innovate.

    Monopolies are strange that way.
  • What does he mean? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:36PM (#12975233) Journal
    Not sure I can see any examples of what he's talking about?

    Yes, a lot of programs are ugly, but that's usually because developers aren't educated in human/computer interaction etc, but just in e.g. C++. This applies to Windows applications as well as Linux applications that I've seen. Can't speak of Apple developers' apps because I have no experience of that platform.

    As for his other claims -- boring and uninspired. What is he asking for? Is he asking for more bells & whistles? What makes a software "boring"? More innovation? What is he looking for a Windows software to do but can't find?
    • by daniil (775990)
      It's also because most of the metaphors used (file, directory/folder, copy-paste, desktop, etc) originate from business environments (accounting and archives). The software written today still uses the same old (old enough to have grown a long grey beard) concepts -- and is, as a result, ugly and boring. More importantly, it can sometimes be a pain to use, as these metaphors used do not apply to all situations the software is used in.
      • by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:20PM (#12975499) Journal
        If every developer innovated new metaphors for common tasks, the tools would quickly become terribly confusing IMHO. I think it's good with standarized terms for common tasks. Boring isn't exactly the word I'd choose here. Besides, he seem to complain about Windows software in particular, and many of these terms aren't specific to Windows.
    • by Decaff (42676) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:54PM (#12975327)
      As for his other claims -- boring and uninspired. What is he asking for? Is he asking for more bells & whistles? What makes a software "boring"? More innovation? What is he looking for a Windows software to do but can't find?

      It is about design skills. The Mac has always employed good designers, both for the user interface and the computer design. Maybe it is just me, but after nearly 30 years of using computers, there is something about sitting down in front of the latest Mac computers and operating systems that makes me want to use them. They look good - they are attractive. I have never felt this about any version of Windows (and I have used them all).
  • Just an idea, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcitech (798381) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:38PM (#12975247)
    This is just an idea, but has anybody considered that maybe our computers are designed around our personalities?

    Think about it, who do you think of when you think of a mac user? Granted, there are many out there, but when I think of a hardcore mac user I think of somebody who is into designing music, movies, graphics editing, etc. They are designed to cater to a group of people who are more creative and right brained.

    How about your average PC user? Picture an office cubicle. You'r accountant, lawyer, and doctor all use a PC.

    Let us never forget that pretty software does not automatically mean functional software, and please God let us never make well structured code and functionality less of a priority than UI "prettyness".
    • Re:Just an idea, but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by packetbasher (136771) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:52PM (#12975311)
      Actually when I think of the hardcore mac user I think of people attending XML conferences, Next hackers, people at the MIT doing OS research, etc.

      A friend of my once said that OSX is the 21st century Sun workstation.

      Maybe I just think that because I dig having a unix box that can also run microsoft word at the same time.

    • Re:Just an idea, but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) * on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:57PM (#12975344)
      Think about it, who do you think of when you think of a mac user? Granted, there are many out there, but when I think of a hardcore mac user I think of somebody who is into designing music, movies, graphics editing, etc. They are designed to cater to a group of people who are more creative and right brained.

      Really? I work for a huge company known for its big iron and most popular unix operating system and a silly coffee-related programming language and a CEO that has been ranked at the bottom of several CEO lists in terms of performance the last few years.

      And do you know what most of the developers and engineers I know around here have with them? Their PowerBook.
      • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:45PM (#12975637)
        Do you know what the engineers around me use? IBMs and HPs. IBMs because they are durable and have nice keyboards, and HPs because many of them work for HP (HP is a large employer in my city - nearly 6500 employees).

        The only reason Sun employees are running around with PowerBooks is the fact that Sun doesn't have a decent notebook (at least not one that's reasonably priced with good battery life) and the fact that everyone else is seen as a competitor to Sun. HP, IBM, and Dell all have server lines that compete with Sun directly. Apple is seen as a non-threat.

        It's the same reason that HP is selling the iPod. HP doesn't see Apple as a threat, so it's "OK" to partner with them.

        That's why you have PowerBooks. Corporate politics.
    • Most software sucks. Most software is designed poorly, is uninspired, and just plain sucks.

      This is partly because design is not an easy process when writing software. Many of my early attempts at writing software suck too. Sometimes I chose the wrong technology to work with, and sometimes, I just made braindead choices. Sometimes, even, I relied on kludges because I didn't know the languages I was using well enough to do things right.

      So the bast majority of software on all platforms sucks... Now my
  • by GeekDork (194851) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:40PM (#12975254)

    If something looks bland, that probably means that it's finally being used for something other than just being decorative? I mean, it's not like the average can opener had variable transparency and a shitload of useless LEDs stuck to it... One of the best applications I use in Windows (other than games) is Daemon Tools which is basically a system tray icon, a standard MFC load widget and some configuration scerens. Best. Interface. Ever.

    I can appreciate a certain blandness, it allows me to actually see what I'm doing. Damn, my pencil is playing Amazing Grace again.

    • I don't want my canopener to have a bunch of LEDs on it, but I like the ones with the cool looking rubberizied handles rather than the plain old metal. In other words, making something look cool does not have to mean adding extraneous stuff or interfering with functionality.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#12975260) Homepage
    With rapid development environments like Visual Basic around for the Windows OS, it's not surprising that there is a lot more crap out there for Windows, verses other OS that don't have these easy to pick up IDEs. It simply takes a more developed skill set to write apps for MAC and *nix. I think that when (not if) a high quality and easy to learn development platform for Linux comes along, we'll start to see mountains of shit for it, too. Indeed, think about all the crappy web apps and dynamic web sites, written in your scripting language de Jour, this is what we have to look forward to.
    • by gregmac (629064) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:43PM (#12975620) Homepage
      With rapid development environments like Visual Basic around for the Windows OS, it's not surprising that there is a lot more crap out there for Windows, verses other OS that don't have these easy to pick up IDEs. It simply takes a more developed skill set to write apps for MAC and *nix.

      While this contributes to the problem, there are a ton of of ugly apps for *nix (can't speak for Mac since I don't own one). There are a lot of apps that don't even have GUIs, and are also very hard to use on the command line (cdrecord, for example). These apps are still very useful and work very well, they're just ugly in the sense that you can't "just use" them. You need to specify tons of switches, spending time reading the man page, or they require a front-end application that builds the switches for you.

      You imply that a skilled developer == someone who is good at developing interfaces, while really, it's a totally different skill set. You can tell when programmers design web pages, and think that because they know HTML, CSS, javascript and photoshop very well, that they're incredibly talented graphic designers.

      I think that when (not if) a high quality and easy to learn development platform for Linux comes along, we'll start to see mountains of shit for it, too.

      I think you're right here too. Making it easier to develop apps will mean that more developers will come in, and they probably will also lack basic design skills, which means you get more ugly AND poorly-written code. Just don't confuse the issue and think that it's only unskilled developers that write ugly interfaces.
    • It simply takes a more developed skill set to write apps for MAC and *nix.

      I'm sure I don't know what you mean. Have you even heard of Xcode [apple.com]? It's like Visual Basic, except it's free, a little more intuitive (to me, at least), and it can import make files like they were project files.
      • But to get anything done with it, you have to use Objective C (which is a wretched syntax abomination), or struggle with horribly incomplete Java documentation, or use the old procedural Carbon API's.

        So yes, great tools, but what a mess of languages and choices behind it. I'm not saying Visual Basic is even *good*, but it is *simple* (painfully so at times). And that's coming from a 15 year Mac developer.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:52PM (#12975313)
    I sure some of this is due to market-share issues. A developer targeting Windows knows there's 200 million new PC shipped each year (and probably a billion PCs installed). They figure that their software only needs to be good enough to snag only 1% of users to sell 2,000,000 copies a year and gain a 5 million user install base. In contrast, the Mac developer looks at Apple's 3% market-share (say 6 million Macs/year) and thinks that they need to attract 33% of the user base to reach the same target sales figure.

    The result is that only the most dedicated and talented Mac developers survive whereas any idiot with a C-compiler can create a PC software title and be assured of some sales (just convince 1-in-10,000 PC users to spend $29 and you gross $600k per year). Given the huge market-share disparity, Mac software must be 30X as good as PC software to survive in its small marketplace. (OK, its a bit more complicated due to dilution by competing vendors, but I'm sure its much harder on the Mac side to attract an economically viable user-base for software package.)
  • Picassa (Score:4, Insightful)

    by David Horn (772985) <{david} {at} {pocketgamer.org}> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:53PM (#12975315) Homepage
    Google's Picassa is the first piece of really inspired interface design I've seen in a long time. If only Windows / Mac / Linux was this easy to use and looked as good.
  • Shell Integration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanielMarkham (765899) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @04:57PM (#12975341) Homepage
    One of the things that few companies do is integrated into the Windows Shell. Windows provides ample opportunities for an application to just dissapear and become part of the operating system. For instance, in a chat program, your chat buddies could appear as icons in a folder right alongside your other files --- dragging and dropping a file onto your friend's icon would start transferring the file. There are a lot of other examples, but part of the problem I think is pride (and not just in windows development) Everybody wants to do something a little differently. If you have a standardized skinnable shell and plug in your apps around that it would do a lot for the appeal of the product.
    And don't even get started on annoying popups and those freaking MS Office icons like the paperclip guy. [whattofix.com]
    To me, a big part of design is noticability: if I take my time to notice it, it's getting in the way of the work I want to do.
    • by EMIce (30092) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @08:47PM (#12976655) Homepage
      Most users I've noticed are perplexed with explorer and its interface. They know specific hierarchies like My Documents and Program Files, but as soon as you drop them into an unfamiliar shell hierarchy, they aren't sure "what to click on" or what in general is possible.

      A new interface based in windows shell may be organized the same as others but is functionally different, and people end up looking for things that they are "allowed" to click, like they might an exe in Program Files, or a doc in My Documents. It is far from intuitive, as these custom hierarchies don't necessarily order things intuitively and even when they do, functionality varies from object to object whether you click, double click, or drag and drop.

      Functionality of different actions should be implicit in the design, so they can be inferred by those unfamiliar with what actions are possible in a particular application context. Now if windows made it standard that right clicking on an object should not only bring up object-specific options, but also describe simply what drag and click operations are available with respect to that object, then these interfaces might not be such a mystery.

      People aren't that dumb, they'll learn given context sensitive documentation like this. Finding their way to documentation is otherwise too frustrating, as it is often mired in a web of unfamiliar material. The frustration the average joe faces at a PC is enough to make him learn, if given a more accessible way to find the immediately relevant sources. He doesn't need to understand why the whole damn system works to find one particular solution, he'll generalize that with enough access to particular solutions.
  • -Shudder- (Score:5, Insightful)

    Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging; there's no user community rallying around the platform.

    That's a feature, not a bug. I HATE the "belonging" aspect of the Mac community. I just want to own the freaking hammer, I don't want to join a hammer cult.

    • I just want to own the freaking hammer, I don't want to join a hammer cult.

      I joined a hammer cult, with cool candy-apple red toolboxes and lifetime guarantees on tools and stores that were great places to buy hammers and guys working there who were veritable gurus of how to join things together, make holes in them, and finish them off.

      I've bought Sears Craftsman tools that I've never used, because they were so cool. I've got a screwdriver here with 32 unique security tips. I've never had to use a securit
    • by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe AT joe-baldwin DOT net> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @08:31PM (#12976587) Homepage Journal
      Hands up whoever read this comment and instantly thought of Pink Floyd's The Wall.

      *raises hand*

      I need a life.
  • by tentimestwenty (693290) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:11PM (#12975439)
    Sure it's Sunday but how does this half page article buy some guy represent any kind of real news? I'm getting really tired of editors green-lighting these obviously unresearched, entirely too short analyses. I read Slashdot for the NEWS THAT MATTERS!
  • by sootman (158191) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:19PM (#12975494) Homepage Journal
    So, yet another Generation Y-er (OMG! 3 'no carrier' jokes in the first paragraph! U R TEH FUNNYMAN!!!!!11one) posts yet another mindless rant about how Windows sucks. We hear how great his PSP is, how well Apple is doing with the iPod (thank you, Captain Obvious!) and how OS X apps are infinitely superior to Windows apps.

    The twin barbs of his attack: Dashboard (which has already been discussed to death; let's just say that as many people hate it as love it) and an application called "Comic Life", which this grizzled veteran of computing (look at the picture) thinks "is likely to drive even the most die-hard Windows user to switch to OS X." Yeah: I'm gonna dump my whole platform to make my digital pictures cuter. Uh-huh. I'm surprised he didn't sneak a 'BSOD' joke into his rant or spell Windows with 'BL' or a dollar sign.

    One mark in his favor: clearly, he is an expert in boring and uninspired. A lame blog post about Windows software sucking? Wow. Next.
    • Sorry, Comic Life is totally amazing. It's one of those apps that as soon as you start using it, you realize you intuitively know what to do, and you are delighted at the results. In fact, you realize you never before were able to do these things, and you love doing it. I've had lots of fun amazing friends and relatives with it. "How did you do that?!"

      Not a productivity app? Too bad. It's too much fun for me to care. That creative energy is what later enables me to be more productive elsewhere when

    • OK, kill the messenger, fine - it was an extremely lame critique of Windows. But it doesn't change the fact that Windows really is boring, ugly and uninspired :)

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:20PM (#12975496)
    Zonk... seriously, this stuff is getting old. I'm as much a Mac fan as the next guy, but this kind of stuff getting posted on a daily basis is just asking for a flame war. There are far better places to post this kind of Mac evangelism than here.

    Unless I'm mistaken, most of us here expect to discuss topics of actual intelligence, rather than repeatedly beating each other over the head with such pointless debates like Mac vs PC.

    I'm not suggesting that all Mac-related articles are bad. If Apple manages to do something truly revolutionary for the computing industry, I'm sure we'd like to know about it. But please, for the love of God, stop polluting Slashdot with this kind of nonsense to satisify your own personal biases.

    Thank you.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:27PM (#12975546) Homepage
    But I gotta say "Comic Life from Plasq" looks like it raises the art of home slideshow torture to previously unimagined levels of pain and suffering.

    Watching home movies makes me want to be exceptionally rude to the host.

    Having to read Comic Life home comics would force me to gouge my eyes out with my ragged fingernails.
  • who is this nerd? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delong (125205) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:42PM (#12975611)
    Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging; there's no user community rallying around the platform. We use the computer, certainly, or is the computer using us?"

    That is one of the dumbest things I have read all week. Normal folks use computers as a means to an end. Just because the author gets a hardon over extraneous features and eye candy that add nothing to productivity, and is apparently thirteen and in need of being part of a group, doesn't mean the rest of us give a flying shit.

  • Choice quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @05:55PM (#12975693) Homepage Journal
    We use the computer, certainly, or is the computer using us?

    I'd like to thank the submitter for including that quote. It prevented me from wasting my time reading the article. I would have thanked them even more for not bothering submitting such a worthless article in the first place.

    Dan East
  • by geekee (591277) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:06PM (#12975779)
    Seriously, people shouldn't even waste their time reading the front page blurb on this one.
  • by TwistedSpring (594284) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:08PM (#12975786) Homepage
    This article is pretty much correct. There are simply too many applications written for Windows where some enterprising young bastard has done away with the familiar and practical Windows widgets in favour of some overcomplex (or often over simplified) toolkit or skinning system. Most of these applications are therefore not compatible with accessibility features like tooltips and scalable fonts, international fonts, keyboard shortcuts, or even proper copy and pasting.

    There is too much of this bad innovation that's spurred by the fact that MFC/WTL isn't terribly exciting and doesn't have enough pictures of naked animé girls. As you might have guessed, I hate skins. I think they're a prime example of a breakdown between function and form. So-called "innovative" interfaces break away from the Windows look and feel and clutter the desktop. If I have my desktop themed the way I want it, I resent applications that do not follow that theme. I resent crappy software that makes the text in the titlebar huge, italic Times New Roman, for example. I resent Quicktime Player. I would (and pretty much do) resent Winamp but I let it off the hook because by default it's a good example of skins done right. There's no useless bloat there (see Windows Media Player for the other side of the coin). My basic rule is: if you have to break away from the standard set of windowing controls presented to you by WTL because you feel your interface is not ergonomic, this is a failure state.

    There are some special cases where it's not possible to use standard Windows controls, such as cross-platform software. But even here, suites like wxWidgets exist to allow you to keep the standard look-and-feel of the target OS.

    I guess what I'm arguing for is for my desktop to be consistent across applications. It may be fair to say that Windows does not satisfy interface designers because it doesn't allow them to customize as freely as they may want to, but I believe that some restrictions are good. I am more than certain that I prefer Microsoft's idea of what a basic user interface should look like (well, Microsoft's pre-XP idea anyway) to what a 15-year-old manga fanatic or an overly arrogant designer thinks would be a totally awesome interface. Microsoft's is generally clean and simple, as it should be.

    Some notes before I go:
    Yes, I know that Office 2003 totally deviates from the typical style of Windows, but Office products tend to give hints about which way Microsoft would like the general look and feel of the interface to go. It also still works like a standard Windows interface with all accessibility, tab order, and customisation and hotkey features available.

    I also fully understand that Windows may not be the best interface out there, and that MFC/WTL/ATL/STL totally sucks dude lollers! It's pretty good and consistent though.

    Maybe I'm getting old, but I just want something that fits elegantly into my desktop paradigm, accepts my chosen font sizes and theme, and doesn't look like a pile of ass compared to all my other apps. Longhorn does not look like it's going to help me much in this regard. I just hope they don't make everything look like WMP.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:11PM (#12975822) Homepage
    Best possible case if your company innovates on the Windows platform is that they get bought by Microsoft, who will then sit on your product and let it stagnate until someone else invents the same thing, at which point they'll release your old version of it skinned to have a consistent MS look to it, and then they'll rapidly go through about 3 development cycles to get it to the point where it's actually useable again, only it'll be integrated with the OS and Office.

    This pretty much explains the lack of innovation in the MSverse.

    Also, instead of innovation, they're working on making software stable and secure. They're pretty good on stability now, and in a few more years they may even have security done. At that point, they'll be free to innovate on features and functionality again.
  • by StarManta.Mini (860897) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:43PM (#12976012)
    I've played with the different Windows programs Google offers (Picasa, Google Earth) and I must say I am damn impressed. In a world of ugly widgets and blaring blue start bars, those programs are *beautiful* - I normally use OS X, and they'd be beautiful even by Mac standards. They're amazing programs to boot (well, GE is, Picasa is only "pretty good").

    And that's why Google is not yet evil ^^ although they have copyrighted the world....
  • by Carcass666 (539381) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:59PM (#12976108)

    The media would have you believe 80% of the women are ugly, boring and uninspired based upon what they hold up as a reference model (heroin-addict thin, vapeous, self-absorbed, etc.) This does not make most women less productive than their "beautiful" counterparts in Hollywood movies or New York runways. In fact, most succesful families and productive careers are spearheaded by women who look nothing like Paris Hilton.

    Likewise, there are a bunch of ugly Windows applications doing a lot of work. Like it or not, Microsoft made it possible for mediocre programmers to make boring apps that get a lot of work done. These programs may not be innovative with pretty UI gimmicks that suck up CPU cycles, they tend to use more resources than they ought to, and they are fraught with spaghetti and bugs, but they get the work done.

    The lack of innovation may help minimize training when teaching new apps. Teaching new paradigms is expensive and time consuming.

    Like it or not, ugly is what most work is getting done on.

  • No shit Sherlock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by springMute (873579) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:21PM (#12976233)
    Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging; there's no user community rallying around the platform

    In other news, there's no 'user community' rallying about around the world. I don't see people running around and screaming "HELL YEAH EARTH FOR TEH WIN!" at least.

    When something's so big and so vast and there's no majority to keep oppressing you, there's no "user community rallying". People just accept it how it is. If Mac was the dominant platform, if the niche feeling was lost, there would be no 'macintosh user community' feel anymore.
  • Huh?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@@@gmail...com> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @09:08PM (#12976739) Homepage
    Lets look at some statistics.

    Marketshare for Desktop OS

    Windows ~90%
    MacOS ~5%
    Linux ~3%

    That means that for every great app, there is likely to be nearly 100x more terrible apps for Windows than for the other operating systems. Its like the Playstation. Because Sony has the greater market, they also have the larger number of terrible games. An operating system does not make an application good or bad, regardless of whether pretty widgets are in the toolbar. Personally there are quite a few Windows applications that I could not live without that do not have any sort of linux equivalent good enough to allow me to switch.

    Here are a few:

    Mp3tag (Best tagger out there)
    Photoshop
    Illustrator
    Reason
    Ableton Live
    Reaktor
    Sound Forge
    Picasa2
    CDex
    Alcohol 120%
    GAMES GAMES GAMES GAMES

    I could go on, but the fact of the matter is that at the very least Linux needs to start getting some serious sound applications for me to make the switch. I used to dual boot, but in the end it was such a pain anytime I wanted to play a game or work on some music that I gave up and stuck with the one environment that has all of my needs satisfied. MacOS is kind of interesting and has all the audio software I would ever need, but at what cost? More expensive hardware and about 0 games I'd be interested in. For what I didn't have to pay for my copy of windows, I'd be awfully hard pressed to start paying apple for an OS update every 6 months.

    My point is that its not the platform that it is the problem its just that a lot of lazy and piss poor developers tend to flock to the platform that is the most popular. To be perfectly honest, if you want a great example of a platform that has a lot of god awful software, just take a look at linux and the bazillion apps that never got past their second alpha prerelease.

    Hell, just look at how many system tools are included in distributions that are not even version 1 yet. Granted I've had very few problems with a lot of the console tools I've used, but after a while you start to realize that a little bit of polish goes an awful long ways. For instance, apt-get:

    aptluna:~# apt-get -version
    apt 0.5.28.6 for linux i386 compiled on Mar 22 2005 07:17:03

    Granted apt is about as solid as a console tool can get, but version .5? Why not just make it version 1 and clean up any nagging bugs? Unless, of course, they plan on adding more features on their roadmap.

    I love how when I look for linux apps in sourceforge, a great deal of what I find that would be interesting to use is at version .01 and such. Not even a tenth of a final version. Granted I know that open source projects move slowly, but why even bother advertising your project when it isn't even 1/10th of the way done?

    I know people here resent it being called open sores software, but in too many cases, calling it open sores would almost be a compliment.
  • by DaCool42 (525559) on Monday July 04, 2005 @01:36AM (#12977812) Homepage
    I've learned that there really is something powerful about combining several generalized apps (like in bash with pipes and such). Apple seems to be catching on to this idea more with their "Automator" in the newest OSX. Windows still doesn't let you combine things in this way, so the solution to most problems is to download (or write) another specialized program.
  • What a load of BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by master_p (608214) on Monday July 04, 2005 @07:39AM (#12978842)

    Software for Windows is generally uninspired

    Computers are tools, not literature. If there is a need for a specific program, someone will make it.

    generically cloned

    It's called UI consistency...which the lack of is a major complain with Unix.

    and overwhelmingly wrought with lackluster (read: lousy) user interfaces

    Putting aside the fact that the basic elements of a GUI app are the same no matter what the platform, how's that the fault of the O/S? Why aren't app vendors blamed?

    Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging

    I did not know I had to belong to somewhere to write letters and edit my taxes. Where do I register??? :-)

    there's no user community rallying around the platform

    Yeap, the millions of programs for Windows is the result of the ...non existent community.

    One application that typifies the creative elegance that you can find on systems outside of Windows is Comic Life from Plasq (plasq.com). Be forewarned: It's likely to drive even the most die-hard Windows user to switch to OS X.

    So port it to Windows then, and I'll buy it.

    It runs well, looks amazing,

    Kudos to the developers. What has Windows got to do with it though?

    and does something so incredibly unique you'll find yourself wanting to take more digital pictures just to make another comic strip out of 'em.

    I my entire life, it is the first time that I see an operating system being blamed for not having a 3rd party application that another O/S has. It's crazy!

    Again, we come back to the concept that Windows software developers rarely develop any kind of pleasant UI.

    Millions of happy MS Office users would disagree here.

    There may be hope with Kapsules (kapsules.shellscape.org), although it suffers from a lack of useable widgets. Konfabulator (www.konfabulator.com) has an OS X and Windows version of its rendering engine with an extensive collection of sweet-smelling widgets

    So now the problem is that Windows icons are not as beautiful as Mac OS X's are? Hire better artists then. Or download a better looking theme. It's absurd to blame an O/S for that, though.

    Although I read /. a few years now, I've never seen such a lame column related to computers making /. headlines. There has to be a line somewhere on blaming Microsoft and Windows; after all, Windows is being used in millions of computers around the globe; they certainly can't be sooo bad!

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