Looks like I may depart from Windows (after all)

Microsoft is planning to make the Windows 8 look overall flat just like the ugly Metro stuff. Bye bye Aero. Nothing learned from the feedback about Visual Studio 11 Beta, it seems.

This means one probably will need special glasses to be able to handle the GUI, not to mention endurance with the arms when having to use the touch screen 40 cm in front of you everyday and all day long. Windows 2000 was – for me – the ideal user experience. Whenever I installed Windows XP or Windows 2003, I changed all settings to be as close to the default Windows 2000 experience as possible.

Then came Vista. And while Aero was more pleasing on the eye than the bubblegum look of Windows XP’s default, the start menu became a pain. They had decided to remove backward compatibility and offer only something that was for the most practical purposes completely unusable. It took me ages and the unfortunate fact that my new hardware had no driver support for XP to be “convinced” to switch. Luckily I found ClassicShell, which mitigated the biggest shortcoming: the all-wrong start menu of Vista.

Then came Windows 7. The Quick Launch got (almost) dropped, the task bar got crippled and the start menu got slightly improved over Windows Vista, but hardly worth mentioning. And let’s not forget that the calculator in Windows 7 is a pain, too. Luckily it was still possible to replace the start menu with that from ClassicShell and even change other behavior in Windows Explorer (although I never did that, because I use an alternative file manager). The Quick Launch took quite some effort to come back, as pinning to the task bar is functionally only a subset of the Quick Launch. If you are a programmer, try pinning your documentation (MSDN etc) to the task bar. And yes, I can live with a visually pleasing Aero look, although it means bigger window frames.

The only true innovation that was usable to me was that one could sort stuff in the task bar notification area (TNA, often wrongly called “system tray”), because that meant one could hide unimportant stuff while being able to keep important stuff visible in the TNA.

And now comes Windows 8. If you have ever tried it on a desktop, you probably have some hairs less. I for one was pulling out my hair over the start screen. Does Microsoft have any decent GUI designers these days?

I’m working on a desktop for f**k’s sake! I don’t want the functionality that is inspired by and very clearly designed only for touch screens – or to be more precise: tablets. I get it, everyone is converging on certain assumptions about how “people” work, forgetting that “people” can be quite different in needs and habits. Frankly, I don’t want the Metro crud at all. I’d gladly take any option that offers me to leave it out and speed up my Windows in the process. It’s unlikely to happen, because you, Microsoft, need to have an app store to compete with Apple and Google.

Offer Windows 8 with the proper driver support, a task bar such as Windows 7 (plus a revived Quick Launch) and I’ll be happy for another few years. Continue on the path to the complete loss of usability and I’ll simply switch. Yes, none of the Linux distros can completely replace Windows and MacOS X is just a walled garden I won’t enter, but for all Windows needs I can still run a Windows banned into a VM. Hopefully VMware’s Unity will work this way, I need to test that. The only major thing that is missing in VMware for this are truly shared folders, the way one would expect them to behave.

// Oliver

PS: too true, that.

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One Response to Looks like I may depart from Windows (after all)

  1. Christian Wimmer says:

    Viel SCHLIMMER !


    Lustig. Es scheint so, als ob Microsoft durch Metro den Desktopcomputer verschrotten will, da Metro ziemlich nutzlos für Desktops ist. Aber vergessen wir nicht, dass Windows nur deshalb überhaupt existiert, weil eben Desktopcomputer so beliebt sind (bzw. bald “war”). D.h. entweder werden viele Freeware Win8 Anwendungen, die Windows wirklich nutzbar machen, wegfallen oder wir bekommen bald separate SDKs für die “light” Versionen von VS ala JEDI API für Delphi.

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