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Thursday, July 30th, 2015 technology  research  practice

  • Practice

 

Windows 10?  Yawn.

If nothing else, the imminent launch of the new Windows OS gives us opportunity again to wonder why the Powers-That-Be at Microsoft continue to fail to grasp the obvious:

In terms of user interface, they got it right – with Windows XP.  Its been mostly downhill from there.

XP set the gold standard for user satisfaction.  That seminal OS would probably still have many millions of added, happy home and office users if the company hadn’t eliminated support for it a bit more than a year ago.

At its front-end, Windows 7 represented fairly lateral change from its predecessors, but Windows 8 and 8.1 were functional and marketing disasters. For many, the inevitable, reluctant change to Windows 8 came only with new computer purchases, and was followed by an equally inevitable scramble to find add-ons, including start menu hacks, that made Windows 8 function mostly like Windows 7 and XP.

While I am sure there have been many improvements along the way in the back end of these post-XP operating systems, from a strictly function-based analysis, I can’t think of a single thing I do on my Windows 8 computers that I couldn’t do on my Windows XP computers – or mostly, for that matter, on my Windows 95 computers that came before.

I’m hardly a casual computer user. It says a lot, then, that these fancy new operating systems mean so little in terms of the quality of my digital life.

So now, Windows 10 is about to arrive, a free download for many, and like most (I suspect), I will eventually make the change out of curiosity, if nothing else.

I fully expect that I will continue to ignore whatever this version does with its “Metro” apps, as I do on Windows 8.1. If there are additional, unpleasant quirks in 10 that fundamentally change my desktop experience, I will find workarounds to allow me continue to work in the comfort of an XP-like environment that’s as familiar as possible.

It was never broke, and now they are fixing it again, down at Microsoft.

For my part, I do not want my Windows experience to be like my iPad experience. I typically use my desktop and laptop for heavy lifting – concentrated and extensive law-related and creative tasks.

In my view, the iPhone and iPad are adequate or better for just about everything else – emails, documents, web-surfing, and social media, included.

I don’t want a dumbed-down environment for laptops and desktops that tries to emulate the simplicity of a tablet. The desktop and laptop cannot survive as products by trying to be as tablet-like as possible.  Windows products are still genuinely better for certain things. Its complexity makes it so.

Microsoft would be well advised to pay closer attention to why and when people actively choose to use their Windows-based computers, rather than reaching for their readily accessible phones and tablets.  If only Microsoft would just make it easier for users to do those things, and forget about the bells and whistles so few actually use…

Not gonna happen.  I know.

So change and Windows 10 are now upon us.

We will adjust.  Most of us will take whatever steps are necessary to make Windows 10 feel like Windows 7 or XP, and life will go on until Microsoft finally gets it – or Windows products become truly obsolete (whichever comes first).

Rant complete.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)