Friday, August 05, 2005


Windows isn't ready for the desktop

Here's another story about how Linux isn't for the desktop.

All the points he raises are, in my opinion, valid. The typical Linux distribution is not a great OS for the average user. But is Windows ready for the desktop? No, really? Of those "average users", for whom Windows is supposedly such a great platform, how many of them actually think that Windows is a great platform? When I talk to people who use computers because they have to, not because they want to, I've never heard anybody talk about how easy Windows is. I've never heard anybody talk about how everything is simple and clear, and nothing ever goes wrong, and life is good.

You know why? 'cause it's not. Computers are not easy to use. I don't care if you wrap it in a GUI, I don't care if you have a "desktop metaphor", I don't care if you've got tooltips, I don't care if you have a talking paper clip, computers are not easy to use. Period. We don't life in a perfect, happy world where people who's never used a computer before can sit down at a GUI and start clicking, draging and droping within minutes, his face aglow with magic of it all. Sorry, doesn't happen. Please stop telling me that Windows makes it easy for people with no training to use some of the most complex machines ever made. It doesn't, and pretending it does doesn't fix anything.

Of course, all this is just whining. If Windows, isn't good enough, what is? And if "nothing" isn't a good enough answer, then what do we do? I see people struggling to use their computers and I wish it were easier for them. I wish they could just do what they wanted simply and easily and not spend hours trying to fix something that they, and a fundamental level, don't care about. Of course, I'm selfish, so mostly I just wish they would stop having to call me with their problems. I don't know what a good user interface looks like. But I'm fairly convinced it isn't Windows, or anything else that I've seen.

I think a good next step lies in pen based interfaces. Which unfortunately means the computers have to be smart enough to determine what you meant so until AI can reason we're just stuck.
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