Windows

Windows 8 and Linux: The perception of change

Jack Wallen sees the changes in Windows 8 and wonders if the Microsoft community will react with the same displeasure that visited the open source community when GNOME 3 and Unity came on the scene.
Change: to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

This past week, I played around with Windows 8. One overriding thought forced its way to the front of my consciousness. How would the Windows users react to the drastic change?

Change is a topic that has been much maligned and very heated over the last couple of years in technology. What brought this about? Within the framework of 2011 and 2012, the subject became a hotbed thanks to Ubuntu Unity and GNOME 3. Both desktops were drastically different than what users had grown accustomed to. What really surprised me was that the desktop metaphor had gone with little to no changes since the release of Windows 95. That's quite a long time with little marked evolution. Both GNOME and KDE followed what Microsoft had declared the standard, and even both the open source heavy-hitters played along for quite some time. It wasn't until the release of GNOME 2 and KDE 4 that noticeable change was on the way. When GNOME split its panels into two pieces, there was a little guff, but nothing more than a few ripples were heard. When KDE 4 came out, the Linux community was turned up on its head. But then, when Unity and GNOME 3 were released, one would have thought the Four Horsemen were about to make their apocalyptic appearances.

But now, a change is coming to the Windows desktop that is nearly as drastic as was from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3 or from Classic GNOME to Ubuntu Unity. Windows 8 begins a new era with the adoption of what looks like part Windows 7 and part Windows Mobile (and inspired by open source designs).

Now, it's not my intent to comment on my impressions of the new Windows desktop. Instead, I just want to know if the same community that disparaged the Linux desktop developers (for making change "where change was not needed") will do the same to Microsoft. Or, will they give them a pass simply because they are Microsoft. Will those same naysayers stand up and proclaim "Brilliant!" to a design that is clearly borrowed from other technologies? Or will they put the same kibosh on the Windows 8 design as they did with GNOME 3 or KDE 4?

My guess is this. Unlike Ubuntu Unity or GNOME 3, Microsoft has the power of the all mighty PR dollar behind it and is just as good at Apple at convincing consumers that their product is exactly what they want and need. Microsoft could easily drum up excitement and wide-spread acceptance for Windows 8, where GNOME and Canonical struggled mightily to gain any momentum. But even with that innate ability to convince the consumer, I hope Microsoft can't hold sway over those same people that proclaimed the Linux desktop dead, simply because the designers decided to breathe life into a stale and ancient design.

I'll admit my opinion of Ubuntu Unity hasn't always been the best. That opinion wasn't because of change, but of execution. Recent iterations of Unity have made some major improvements to the desktop. And GNOME 3 is now my default desktop. And it's clear Canonical made the switch to Unity for the sake of tablets (let's hope they follow through with that in the very near future). Windows 8 -- clearly designed with tablets in mind.

I understand fully that most users do not like change. But sometimes change is an inevitability. Yes, when such major change as Unity and GNOME 3 are brought to the table, the user has to take some time to get accustomed to the new way of working (And Windows users better be prepared for a major overhaul of how they work.) But that doesn't mean change isn't a good thing. Once KDE 4 was given a chance, the KDE faithful realized the changes were actually positive steps forward. The GNOME community is slowly coming around to seeing the same light. And, as with anything else, the Windows community will eventually get used to Windows 8.

But please detractors -- give the changes coming with Windows 8 the same vitriol that was used with GNOME 3 and Unity. Why? Because it's change. And apparently, people don't like change. So, hate fairly, naysayers.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

60 comments
PCDoc90
PCDoc90

I had dabbled with Linux starting with Slackware in 1996 or 97 then didn't play with it anymore until XP came along and I messed around with SuSe. But when Vista hit I said screw MS and their stupidity and left my XP SP2 system operating as was. I got a LiveCD of Dapper Drake in '06 and then got another LiveCD With Gutsy Gibbon in '07. That was when I put my first PC on Linux full fledged. With the release of Hardy Heron in '08, I dual booted my laptop running XP on one side and Hardy Heron on the other. Now my preference was and has been Linux. My challenge has been this garbage of courting the Darkside to look Metro like the iPhone and the Windows Phone. If I wanted that look I would buy one of those phones. I want my desktop to look like a desktop, not an idiot box going "Huhh! I push da button and it give me pretty picture, Huh!". If the technologically challenged want to dumb themselves down even more by not even being required to read, let them go the way of the dinosaur. I say leave the technology and design to the techies and keep the artsy-fartsy queers away from our OSes.

lsatenstein
lsatenstein

When no-one had internet and computers, the mentioned interfaces would have probably been most welcome. However, public school, high school, junior college, in fact, all educational institutions, public libraries and whatever else you can think of, have grown up with the conventional menus, with the tree of sub-menus having associated topics. This means that the world will have to change. The world is more than just a group of tablet users, for whom menus are not practical. But with 22 inch monitors, who needs the menu-less interfaces.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...a UI that requires a touch screen monitor is simply a return to the light pen method. The light pen was very precise, and on a vertical screen, very tiring (at least for the neophyte). Trackballs and mice became preferred. To return to the light pen without precision (of even the mouse) seems more like change for the sake of change.

oneoar51
oneoar51

I see a lot of change for the sake of change in our industry, and I understand that some of it is an improvement. For those of us that amuse ourselves or troubleshoot for a living (me) it is easy to speculate. I work with a lot of people who do not want to learn a new way. They get their emails, do their invoices, check their Facebooks, and go on with their lives. They are over dedicating time to learning a new second language. I clearly see the Microsoft and Apple models as generating income through planned obsolescence, and they need to make a profit to stay in business... I commend the Open Source community for their excellent contributions to computing (I use Ubuntu and Knoppix). I think users would be a happier lot if they could choose when to go to the "new" whatever, even at the expense of some perceived functionality.

walks.in2.trees
walks.in2.trees

Microsoft is switching to a UI that is ALREADY tested... as you yourself point out it's a very similar UI to those used on mobile devices, and primarily BECAUSE it's already used on mobile devices. is this good or bad? I have't tried the consumer preview yet but I did check out the puff-piece for it... and honestly I don't like the huge icon UI... on both Windows and linux Mint, I like a mostly empty desktop, and put all of my most common launchers on a toolbar and everything else in the Menu... Reason being that the running application should fill the desktop, while at the same time I should have easy access to switch to or launch other apps. on Linux Mint, I love the multiple desktop switching and the split-pane windows. I also love the ability to MAKE custom toolbars. I've been using Word Perfect since before Corel acquired it (early 90's), but when they did and they changed the entire UI I LOVED it... I can make any of the toolbars in the UI suit my needs, and THAT's how an OS's UI should be as well. Corel's UI hasn't changed much since then except to expand the possibilities of what can be customized. Then again, I also don't like touch-screens, which is what the Windows 8 UI is based around...

advant
advant

keep changing until your market goes away --- I will be 100% Linux when MS kills XP --- I deleted Ubuntu installs when unity installed and I couldn't turn off the equipment --- My customer base gathered while resolving Windows issues have purchased Apples so I haven't installed Windows 7 purchased 2 years ago--- I may look at supporting Linux servers if it doesn't interfere with my next life in music -- .

britnat
britnat

Random thoughts: what is so "new" about touch screens? HP first tried to introduce them decades ago. With huge fanfare - the end of the keyboard and mouse was imminent. There was momentary interest - and then life went on as before. I often use the illustration of music instruments. The piano keyboard has been around for over 2 centuries, virtually unchanged. There have been attempts to introduce radical new versions (curved, multiple) - which failed miserably. The plain fact is - a good design, once settled, is unbeatable. If you're not into music - think of the wheel. It's been around for thousands of years. Anyone offering a viable alternative? Yes - there are - water transport, and air. But how many ships include wheels? Or cars with wings? The point is - there are 3 different mediums - and we prefer the best performer in its own medium. Which is why i believe Windows 8 will fail - it is neither fish nor fowl. Trying to be all things to everyone ends up satisfying none. If it had been really well designed, it would be able to "morph" into the appropriate interface as required, but evidently Microsoft can't quite make up their minds on this. And I don't think the wolrd is going to wait around while they experiment. It is also evident that Microsoft is a company at war with itself. This it not new - but it is now becoming a critical issue. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Metro will impact on the NET framework - and all the other software development tools. After 17 years developing for windows, we are now looking at every other alternative. We simply don't trust the direction Microsoft is going in, anymore. And when trust fails, things don't hold together. All of which adds up to a HUGE opportunity for Linux. Microsoft is (unintentionally) surrendering control of the business software arena - to try fight it out with Apple in the mass consumer market. I for one would love to see that day: business running purely on Linux / OS-X, and "Windows" becomes a bit player in the smartphone industry.

Stovies
Stovies

Hello Jack and Co. I choke when trying to speak the names MS and MAC as they are fathered by two quite horrid individuals, with the same greedy gene. But then quite a lot of greedy genes are at large in the computing world; they want to be like Gates or Jobs. My problem with the Open Source Community is that it is crammed with people who know what they are doing with code etc. It's a pity that there are no really good value teaching aids on, say, Ubuntu. By Good Value I mean not written by a writer of code who cannot write English, not even American English (now here is an example of inappropriate change). I prefer Ubuntu 10.04 to 11.10 because of the Desktop and only because I cannot get the 11.10 desktop to do anything I want it to do. One example will suffice: I Open gmail and use it then I try to put it into the silly bit at the left side so that next time I can click on it to open it. Wrong glue; it does not stick and is lost forever. Now I have spent a 'fair amount of time' try to work out ways of getting this to work; without any success. There is not a lot wrong with my logic. Open Source cannot advance unless people like me, I'm retired, 73 and I help my fellow citizens keep their computers working and supplied with software. I would be forever running around trying to keep these people compute with Ubuntu 11.10 for the reason given. Someone who writes good code, get together with someone who writes good English and has the explanations and reasons for the code explained to them; then there is a chance of a book that covers all the basic problems that I find with people trying to get into Open source. It is not change that is the problem; but change that does not work or is hard to figure out how to get it to work. MS sufferers will probably find W8 a pain, but they will not complain as they have been anaesthetized by the shock of the cost of their software and the lack of real support (free) from MS.

faithingod1970
faithingod1970

the only thing that stays the same is change. If things did not change then computers would still be the size of rooms. I think that changes that brought about Windows 8 may or may not be good but without testing them I can not make an opinion.

Cheval
Cheval

Everyone one is actually complaining (flat UI, where are the colours?, start button?, etc.), I mean everyone, but why not demanding less change? MS says "Win8 is for touch". That's it. Everyone wants, no needs, touch and if MS could get tactile feedback and siri-like interface squeezed in, the complaints, grumbles and even murmurs would disappear as well and total cognitive dissonance would reign supreme! Love to Hate it! ...Now how do I find the recycle bin?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I just want to know if the same community that disparaged the Linux desktop developers ... will do the same to Microsoft." How much overlap is there between Linux and Windows users communities? I submit that those who criticized the Linux desktop changes may take the same attitude toward W8, but that most users of previous Windows versions haven't seen a Gnome, KDE, or Unity and don't have an opinion of them, good or bad, old versions or new.

opensourcepcs
opensourcepcs

I know, I know, you're supposed to try it 1st before commenting but this is Steve Balmer and Microsoft we're talking about. Vista's motto should have been "The Ow Begins Now" I will be surprised it they pull any truly positive innovations out of their hats. At best, it will be a bad clone of something better. Yes, I clung to my KDE 3.5 till just 3 months ago but the KDE 4 team took a while to work out some of their bugs, and to be honest I'm still a little ticked that they decided to demote Konqueror to being a web browser from the excellent file manager it's always been. That said I'm glad they they included the restricted extras and they've done a good job with the widgets. I doubt Windoze can ever add that kind of innovation, they've just become way too stagnant.

willda
willda

"For example, people have rightly said that the interface feels more at home on a tablet, but that's because they haven't experienced a Kinect" Okay I'll byte...... Why in God's name do I want that in a production environment? MS needs to wake up.....business time is not "play" time. And why do I want to spend more of my nearly non-existent budget on toys? "People said the same thing about the ribbon bar before they got used to it." Been using it since 2007.....I still hate it and prefer the Office 2000/LibreOffice taskbar

TNT
TNT

I'm being a little dramatic, I know, but I have yet to read an opinion here that aligns with reality. Myth #1: Windows 8 was designed only for tablets/People will downgrade to Win 7 Its has a similar desktop OS to Win7 underneath which will comfort users resistant to change, but it primarily changes the underpinning of the OS to accept newer technologies and inputs. For example, people have rightly said that the interface feels more at home on a tablet, but that's because they haven't experienced a Kinect interface design. MS has released a desktop version of Kinect for Windows that I think may remove at least half of ones need for a mouse. It will make navigating the desktop equally intuitive to navigating a tablet. Myth #2: Win8 is a response to iOS Win8 is not inspired by iOS, it is an extension of a direction Microsoft has been moving in since 2006. Remember the "ribbon bar" introduction in Office 2007? This is part of that design direction. Myth #3: Its change for the sake of change This is the most frequently espoused nonsense in relation to Win8. The OS is dramatically different not just on the outside, but on the inside. WinRT is the new kernel that will replace Explorer. Explorer is still there for compatibility, but WinRT is the future of the Windows interface and does the heavy lifting. Without a new kernel Windows will be limited in what it can do down the road. This change is for the future of the platform, not just to be "different". Myth #4: The change is counterproductive People said the same thing about the ribbon bar before they got used to it. Once one learns the ribbon it is far more productive than menu's ever were, especially when used in conjunction with keyboard shortcuts. Just because one cannot see how the final product will be used does not mean the final product will be less productive. Microsoft wants you to be more productive on its platform. The more productive you are, the more copies of their software they will sell. What's counterproductive isn't the product but people's willingness to learn a new way of getting things done. Myth #5: I am a Microsoft fanboy I've mentioned numerous times in comments to Jack's articles that I am an avid Ubuntu user and appreciate the new Unity interface. I use both Linux and Windows systems every day and honestly have no preference of one over another.

willda
willda

Obviously, Jack hasn't been following the build8 website (not that I would expect him to as it is Windows after all and not Linux). The defecation has been hitting the spinning device for months. I personally hate it. My impression is this: if you are a 20 -30 something that lives for Facebook, then you'll most likely like/love it. If you're under 50 or so, you'll probably can take it or leave it. If you're, over 50 (this includes me) or administrating a domain (also includes me), then you probably won't care for it. I work in a library in SE Ohio, where grandma & grandpa are just getting used to Win7, and I can see this as a HUGE problem in what they can do with a pc. They have to learn all over again. Now I am not above learning, every time something new comes along there is a learning curve, that's life. But I don't see this as necessary, forcing Metro on us doesn't make sense (to me). MS is going to cause a lot of hard feelings over being force fed Metro Dan

joelswanson
joelswanson

For me, and I suspect a large number of the dissatisfied people out there, the issue is usability. Most people who migrate away from windows do so because they like the freedom to modify the operating system to suit their needs. The people who stay with windows are the people who don't really care about the operating system. They just want something that works with a minimum of fuss. As such, if windows 8 is able to function moderately well, most windows users will remain loyal. What choice do they have. But Linux users are not windows users. We are used to configurability and that is exactly what Unity took away. Canonical turned its back on its loyal customers and their desires. They did so for the hope of a future where they dominate the tablet market. They introduced Unity with a Gnome fallback. Then when most people took the fallback they removed it. Then when users started moving to Kubuntu they removed support for that also. It is hard to understand the desire to force something on people that they do not want. Windows users will knuckle under and take it because they have no choice. There may be grumbling, but there will be no outcry as happened with Unity and Gnome. Linux users will simply move on to another flavor of Linux. (I hear bodhi is quite nice. Ubuntu without Unity or Gnome.)

jgmsys@yahoo.com
jgmsys@yahoo.com

As I have now had the opportunity to load Windows 8 into a virtual under Ubuntu and play around a little with it, and being well-versed with various windows interfaces over its history, I would have to think that the average Windows user will find it to be more or less a form of culture shock. The Metro "tabletized" main screen is so far away from anything resembling Windows that unless the user has a little experience with tablet computing, they'll wonder where everything is. Power users, who would probably be able to find their way around the interface (eventually) will find this new approach to the Windows desktop to be a bane to productivity. I would expect that enterprise customers will have to figure out a way to roll out Windows 8 in Desktop mode so as not to cause too much upheaval in the workplace. If I'm an enterprise customer, I'd not move to Windows 8, and speaking for myself personally, Windows 7 will likely be the last version of Windows I expect to use regularly. I would rather go to Linux full-time than put up with the Playskool-like look and feel of Metro. I realize Microsoft needs to distinguish the Windows tablet interface from Android and iOS, but making it look cheap and silly can't be the way to do it. And that's just the Metro part. My first reaction to the Desktop was one of, "Where's the start button?!?!? How do I shut this down?" Well, a little playing around resulted in the realization that I had to exit back out (ctrl-esc) to the Metro interface and then do some more exploring to find the shutdown function. Not efficient. Fortunately, I noticed someone recently posted a blog on putting the start button back into the Desktop interface. As I haven't actually read the blog yet, I can only hope that such allows for shutting down directly from there. The much-ballyhooed ribbon, oddly enough, makes more sense in the OS interface than it does in Office, and actually does make certain tasks easier. I suppose I could get used to that, even though I've always hated the feature in Office. That's about as far as time allowed me to explore in Windows 8. But so far, I can see millions finding themselves late for the door out of the Windows world.

mitchloftus
mitchloftus

The main thing that disturbs me is that this seems to be a change just for the sake of making a change. Win 8 (I've played with it a bit) seems to be definitely targeted toward touch screen devices. Touch screen devices aren't very useful for anything that requires keyboard input. So, why change the entire system specifically to work better on a device that most people don't have? Does anyone think laptop and desktop computers are going away anytime soon? Or keyboards in the office? I certainly don't. I agree that the touch screen desktop should be an alternate desktop that can be selected if needed. Kind of like you can load both KDE and GNOME on your system and load up whichever you feel like working with when you log in.

kismert
kismert

Remember Vista? Under-performing, lots of annoyances, no real added value. Businesses stayed away from it in droves. And Microsoft felt the pressure. Windows 8 could easily get the same cold shoulder if it is perceived as having the same negatives. If that happens, any amount of marketing won't change that.

anthonie
anthonie

As a user of Windows that runs solely in a VM setting, I don't really have a problem with those changes. As far as my clients go, I only care about whether or not they are able to do their work with their machines. If they like it, I have no reason to tell them otherwise. Most of the time the only reason for me to be sitting behind a Windows machine is to troubleshoot. As long as this new "desktop-metaphor" does not stand in the way of doing that, I see zero reason to approach Microsoft with the same wrath as I would to Ubuntu Unity or Gnome3.

rindi1
rindi1

A couple of weeks ago a user tried the beta of windows 8 on his Asus netbook which includes a touchscreen, and he wasn't happy with it. So to me it looks as if there will be plenty of scepsis with windows 8. Apart from that he was using it on a PC that is meant for that OS. For non tablet like PC users I don't think the OS will get a lot of followers. I expect the same type of downgrade to Windows 7 that happened with Vista and XP. Many who buy PC's with a pre-installed Windows 8 will want to downgrade...

nik.sargeant
nik.sargeant

I can recommend installing Cinnamon as a way of restoring the usability of the interface on Gnome 3. It also has the added benefit of putting back the performance that I lost.

rpollard
rpollard

You're a funny one. Not only is the "four horses comment absolutely funny, but it's sadly true. You would think that we all were hearing the pounding of hooves for a while. For my part, I think the Windows fanboys should be fair but I don't think they will be. Although I have seen some pretty upset people on other blogs, the verdict is still out on this one. I haven't seen Windows 8 with the exception of pictures but it appears for the most part all they did was to pull the Start menu out onto the desktop in the form of tiles (whatever that brings us). Woohoo, let's throw a party for the Start menu. I for one am glad it's gone. Going to the Start menu to Shutdown is just bad interface. Bring on the negative votes...

rasharpe
rasharpe

I have no intention on going back to Windows, very very happy with my conversion to OSX.

Dyalect
Dyalect

Stable, works well, does the job. IT staff don't want to reinvent the wheel all over again to "catch-up" with tablet market. Windows 8 should be tablet add-on. Not a cash grab.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I agree with what you stated over 100%. While there are a many good Open Source developers - and I applaud them for the effort they put into it - are on to the next revision (or bug fixes) or project to keep apace. Clear, concise documentation requires as much effort (often more) than actually writing the code. That documentation effort, when done by the developers, will take a back seat to what implementation has to be done next. When it comes to Linux, I see two problems: 1. Unless you have a large company that is really behind the Open Source effort that can afford to hire Technical Writers to produce the documentation (and that will probably have a cost), it is always going to be an "after-thought" by the developer. 2. Since Linux is based on Unix, it drags along a lot of the Unix short-comings and one of them is documentation. Yes, there are some good "man" documents, but most are as "cryptic" as command-line commands. Mainframe documentation, while not always ideal, is at least an order of magnitude better. Of course, the large mainframe companies hire technical writers to produce the documentation (working with the developers, of course). Of course, you have those who write books to explain things (and make a nice income), but those books don't come cheap and by the time they are released, the are often outdated. I remember one of the first Ubuntu books I saw was on 6.04 (if I recall correctly) and I had already installed 8.04. Now there are a ton of Unix books that have been written over the years and I use them whenever I encounter a problem - but more often than not they may offer some insight, but don't solve the problem. Of course, people like Jack, working for Tech Republic, help to provide some additional needed insight. As implied above, top-notch documentation, and timeliness, is tough.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Odd, I seem to be getting along just fine without it. "...Now how do I find the recycle bin?" Look around you; perhaps you've already found it?

apotheon
apotheon

I really don't see where the Metro UI is trying to clone anything anyone else did. I don't think anyone else of note in the OS UI design market would have done that bad a job of designing something they expected people to use on desktop systems.

rindi1
rindi1

Whether Unity or subway (metro), if you are using a mouse and keyboard, it just isn't intuitive. It takes at least 100 more clicks to get to the same place you can with the standard Windows 7 or Gnome or KDE interface. I don't want to use a PC like a TV. I want to get to the option I want directly, and that is normally not the case on a TV, there you have to invest at least 15 minutes until you have found the option to fine tune a channel or something similar. In a Normal OS you can normally reach such options within seconds...

andrew232006
andrew232006

As someone who has used the kinect, it has its place in games but it is a horrible UI. Navigating simple menus in games is tedious and requires far too much attention for what should be extremely simple tasks. (Is the room bright enough? Am I in the right place? Am I on the right button? No, too low? too high? ok now I'll just hold this position for 2 seconds to confirm my choice.).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't see many businesses rushing out to replace cheap mice with $150 Kinect devices. I don't see workplace users waving their arms around all day; certainly not power users who already complain about how far the mouse takes their fingers away from the keyboard.

apotheon
apotheon

Myth A: Saying Win8 was designed for tablets is the same as saying it was designed only for tablets, and predicting that people will favor Win7 over Win8 is a sign the speaker is an idiot. QUOTE: Myth #1: Windows 8 was designed only for tablets/People will downgrade to Win 7 Win8 was obviously not designed only for tablets, but it appears so far to be designed primarily for tablets, to the extent that getting at the desktop-oriented functionality of the system had become just a little bit more difficult. Just as Vista users went back to the comfort of XP, it is likely that some Win8 users will go back to Win7 to escape UI paradigm issues with Win8. The question that arises is not whether people will choose Win7 over Win8, but how many. Myth B: Calling Win8 a response to iOS is a sign the speaker is an idiot. QUOTE: Myth #2: Win8 is a response to iOS To a significant degree, any tablet-oriented initiative (including the obvious tablet-oriented features included in the UI paradigm built into Win8) is a response to iOS, because of the tremendous popularity of devices running iOS. To pretend these things occur in a vacuum is silly. The ribbon itself was an attempt to control feature complexity and mitigate information overload for users of MS Office, which is bigger than many modern operating systems and many times as complex. While there do appear to be some lessons learned from development of the ribbon in the Metro UI, I do not think the Metro UI is as much an obvious evolution of the ribbon's direction as you appear to think. Yes, the UI is being simplified and contextualized in some ways, but that is only a small part of the complete philosophy evident in a UI that looks like Metro. Myth C: Calling something change for the sake of change is a sign the speaker is an idiot. QUOTE: Myth #3: Its change for the sake of change Of course it's not change for the sake of change -- but it sure as heck looks like it to a lot of people whose use cases and usage models are in no way served by these changes. The appearance of "change for the sake of change" is only enhanced by the way developers and vendors try to "force" people to accept a whole new UI paradigm whether it's to their advantage to do so or not, too. Myth D: The fact one person likes the change means nobody else will find it counterproductive, and the fact one person liked a previous change similarly means a new change will be all roses and puppy dogs. QUOTE: Myth #4: The change is counterproductive The ribbon actually is counterproductive for some users, and your apparent inability to recognize that a lot of people are not very much like you in their preferences and needs with regard to computing environments seems to blind you to that fact. Furthermore, the biggest problem with the ribbon is not the ribbon itself -- it's the underlying problem of unneeded, compounded complexity in the MS Office suite that raised the need for a solution like the ribbon in the first place. The ribbon is tantamount to a band-aid over a sucking chest wound. If a new UI does not actually make the working conditions of users more efficient, it is counterproductive. Worst-case scenario: people waste time unproductively by learning the new UI, and in the end find that everything is still less efficient than it was before, resulting in gross loss of productivity for the entire life of the UI. Mediocre-case scenario: people spend the time to learn the new UI, then end up with something that does not appreciably alter the efficiency of what they do once they're used to it, resulting in a limited period of significant productivity loss that is never recovered over the entire life of the UI. Middling-case scenario: people invest time to learn the new UI, and end up with something that increases efficiency for them, resulting in an increase of productivity once they've gotten used to it that just manages to break even with the initial lost productivity when the vendor in question pushes a new UI that makes everyone go back to step 1 again. Best-case scenario: people invest time to learn the new UI, end up with something that increases efficiency once they've learned it sufficiently well, and have enough time to not only make up for initial lost time, but actually go on to get greater gains than the losses incurred by the initial investment. In every single case, there is at least a limited period of counterproductive consequences of change. While that counterproductivity may eventually be overcome in the long run by enhanced productivity, at least for some people, there is no guarantee that such enhanced productivity will apply to everyone, or even to most people. Measuring the return on investment in learning a new UI is often difficult to do before people have had time to actually make that investment, especially in cases where productivity really matters substantially. Myth E: People know who you are. QUOTE: Myth #5: I am a Microsoft fanboy Is that really a pervasive myth at all? I don't even know who you are, despite the fact it seems I live about an hour's drive away from you and have been a regular at TR for a decade or so.

mark.cooper
mark.cooper

I don't see most county agencies picking up on W8. Heck, most of the agency computers are still XP. In my experience, county agencies are totally dependent on their software vendors. I did a new install in February of last year, 2011. The software vendor certified their program to work on Windows 2003 R2 Servers and WIndows XP Pro workstations. They were using SQL Server 2005. Early this year they finally upgraded their software to work with Windows 7. I'm sure I'll be able to get a W8 workstation to work, but the first one will probably be a real pain.

rindi1
rindi1

That's right , Bodhi is nice (e17 is my favorite desktop currently). But it is takes more effort to get working the way you want, and for Linux newcomers it is probably too complicated. For those I think Mint is currently the best OS available.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

To be fair to Canonical, they're at the mercy of the GNOME team (as are other distros). Sure, they came out with Unity to have something that fits tablets & smartphones, but they were likely also motivated by the imminent demise of the GNOME 2 we all know & love. That wasn't Canonical's decision, though, it was the GNOME team that "turned its back on its loyal customers". And they had reasons ("outdated technology" is often cited). That leaves Unity and GNOME 3... It's hard to blame Canonical when they don't pre-install GNOME 3 -- for two reasons: One, it's a direct competitor with Unity (a desktop-or-tablet UI), and two, it's still in a state of flux as it matures. Things are changing... I've been using GNOME 3 in Ubuntu (when I'm not running 'Natty' & GNOME 2) -- it's usable, and I know this isn't "all there is" to it (given its extensibility). And though I like it, I'll still keep an eye on what Unity evolves into, just as I'm hoping GNOME 3 evolves into an better UI. Things are changing...

apotheon
apotheon

Win2k was, at the time, the best MS Windows release yet. For reasons related to marketing and user inertia, though, it was not as big a success as it should probably have been at the time. While WinME was a horrid mess that Microsoft does not even want to admit existed these days. It was released in a hurry to try to capture the home user market that had not felt a burning need to buy anything from Microsoft for a few years (still using Win98, skipping Win2k because they didn't understand it). WinXP slathered a Fisher-Price interface across Win2k, cut out some minor pieces of basic functionality that actually helped make it so good, and oriented it more toward end users who like big, primary-color buttons, flashing lights, and exciting noises (i.e. infants and toddlers). Until the arrival of Service Pack 2, Win2k was still the better bet for serious "power users"; during the SP2 transition, things were a disaster area; after the dust settled, SP2 made WinXP into a heavily-supported OS without which Win2k users were increasingly being discarded by Microsoft along with the OS itself. Now, compare with more recent OSes: Vista was rushed out to capture a home user maker that had not felt a burning need to buy anything new from MS Windows at the time, and has already largely been swept into the dustbin of history apart from unfortunate cases where people feel "stuck" with it. It is very quickly becoming the new WinME. Win7 was a better release -- something of a workhorse OS, and definitely the best MS Windows offering in the post-WinXP world, so far. Win8 is starting to look like a Fisher-Price (or as you put it, Playskool) widget set pasted over Win7, removing or obscuring some minor bits of functionality that helped make Win7 useful. The timelines don't exactly match up, but there definitely seems to be something of a three-point pattern emerging. I'm curious to see how it plays out.

mark.cooper
mark.cooper

I have the Iconia Tab W500 with W8CP installed. With the tablet docked to it's keyboard and a wireless mouse connected I found myself using all 3 input methods. Sometimes moving my hand from the mouse to the touch screen was quicker than using the mouse alone. When I went back to my W7 laptop I found myself wanting to touch the screen to provide input.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: Does anyone think laptop and desktop computers are going away anytime soon? Yes -- some people do think that. Really. It boggles my mind.

wolfgangs
wolfgangs

I think you have hit the nail on the head here. It seems to me that both Microsoft and Canonical are aiming mostly at the home user market, where a significant number of people will use or change to table-style devices. And on those devices Unity or Windows8 will (one day) shine. On normal office equipment, geared for high productivity via keyboard and mouse, they just get in the way. What I do not understand is why the various companies (or, in the case of *nix distros, communities) aren't more flexible in providing alternatives. Give the user a choice when they install or upgrade. Let them decide whether they want to use a touch-screen technology or a something else. And make it so that users can change their minds later on. Most Linux distros have this ability (I am a Debian user and I try out different desktops all the time), so it can't be that hard to implement.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I have tried Cinnamon and a number of other Desktops. I usually end up using Classic Gnome or XFCE. For one thing, I use the panels and they are supported (better) under those 2 desktops. I do miss the "cabinet drawer" where I could keep less used app launchers out of the way. Those 2 Desktops are a lot closer to Gnome 2 functionality than Cinnamon.

egmccann
egmccann

... seen windows 8 "with the exception of pictures," don't make assumptions. There's a big usability difference, and many of us find it to our detriment. Grab the public beta... er, "preview," stick it in a VM or on a test machine, and try it for yourself. I complain about it because I *have* been trying to use it. I'm past the initial "Wait, woah, this is new" phase and still basically have to force myself to use the Win8 machine. It is, to me, an unpleasant experience and a decided step backward in usablilty on a standard mouse-and-keyboard setup. I haven't tried it on a tablet and can see where it would be useful there, true - but not on my plain old desktop.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Nothing about any version of Windows is 'intuitive'. I think what you mean is that Metro doesn't conform to the behaviors you used in previous versions of Windows. Those behaviors had to be learned; the problem is W8 requires a different set of behaviors we haven't learned yet (and shouldn't have to).

rindi1
rindi1

Waving your arms around all day of course keeps you fit. So at the end of the day you won't have to go to the fitness studio or keep tabs on what you eat. I think there is great potential here on keeping the users healthy...

rindi1
rindi1

I think Mint is one of those distro's that does the best of this. It uses gnome 3 but adds it's own interface to make it usable on standard PC's. No wonder it is top of the list on distrowatch, and I think it'll stay there for some time.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I too will try different Desktops. Currently, I prefer Gnome Classic and XFCE. However, the typical home user with a PC will not be thrilled with a tablet I/F and won't know enough to install a different Desktop (in case of Linux - probably no readily obvious choice for Win. 8). Since I have not been able to get either the Developer Preview nor the Consumer Preview of Win. 9 to install in VirtualBox (on a Win. 7 machine), I can't comment on how easy it is to switch back to "classic" and "restore" the Start button. If it isn't satisfactory, someone will eventually develop a "Desktop replacement".

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: Most Linux distros have this ability (I am a Debian user and I try out different desktops all the time), so it can't be that hard to implement. It's easy with the X Window System. It's not as easy with a monolithic UI environment like the one built into MS Windows.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"We connecting everyone to the network printer farthest from you. This will both encourage exercise and discourage unnecessary printing. Those requiring color printers will be connected to ones in other facilities." :D

apotheon
apotheon

It'd be nice if Microsoft could learn from the example of the biblical Saint Peter, and become a fisher of men. Instead, it regards them all as having a price, and tries to buy them.