Windows optimize

Microsoft could lose the techies in their bid to win over consumers

Microsoft is obviously going "all in" to win over consumers with Windows 8, but will that drive the tech savvy away?

Microsoft is obviously going "all in" to win over consumers with Windows 8 for the tablet/laptop/desktop and with the evolving iterations of Windows Phone. Next week, I'll focus more on the former since by that time millions of people are expected to download the consumer preview that's reportedly being released on February 29. This week, I'll focus a little more on Windows Phone and the newly announced Nokia Lumia 610 that's being shown at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona this week.

What both have in common is a target audience that I've heard some refer to as the "lowest common denominator" -- consumers who prize simplicity above all else. That simplification of a previously more complex user interface can be seen in the Metro tile-based UI on which Microsoft is betting the farm for all the company's operating systems (even, to an extent, the server products).

Keep it simple, stupid

We've all heard (and probably said) that phrase. Making things more complicated than they need to be is a design mistake that frustrates users, and Microsoft has certainly been guilty of doing that at times in the past. How many times have we tromped through a long list of steps, sometimes involving several different configuration interfaces, to accomplish something that should be a simple task?

Users of Apple products have long touted "simplicity" as one of the primary reasons they made that choice. For a long time, Microsoft could safely ignore Apple's advantage in that respect because the Mac's historical market share (well under 10%) indicated that simplicity simply wasn't all that important to most people.

Then along came the iPhone, and later the iPad, and it seemed simplicity's time had come. When I asked my friends why they bought iDevices -- particularly when those devices were more expensive than competing products -- the most common answer was "It's so easy to use."

And it is. When I initially got an iPad, I was impressed. There was very little learning curve; setting up an email account was (unlike with many desktop email clients) quick and simple; it just worked. It was only after I used it for a few months that its limitations began to loom larger until I realized that it was just too simple to do the things that I wanted and expected to be able to do with a computer -- which, after all, is what a tablet really is.

Keeping it simple inevitably, to some degree, also keeps it stupid.

What we sacrifice for simplicity

For most ordinary consumers -- people who don't have much in the way of technical skills and don't want to have to develop any -- that works fine. But for the techie crowd -- those who like to "fiddle," those who flirt with building their own systems, those who want to fine-tune the look and behaviors of their computers to fit their own preferences -- not so much. For them, the inability to do something as basic as setting a custom graphic for the home screen background or changing the color scheme to something other than a handful of (frankly unattractive) colors is maddening.

Techies (or nerds or geeks or whatever you want to call them) are independent sorts. We don't like being told what to do, and we don't like being dictated to. We hate having our choices limited for what seems like arbitrary reasons. And we especially hate it when something that we already had is taken away from us.

We've had a love/hate relationship with Windows for a long time. Sure, we hate blue screens of death and enigmatic error messages and features that work fine on one machine but not on another (or fine today but not tomorrow on the same machine). But we love all the flexibility that we have, to do things our way. And Windows' market share on the desktop indicates that those who use desktop computers (increasingly the more technically minded computer users) are more than willing to sacrifice simplicity for freedom of choice.

Is this the future?

I've been looking forward to this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) to see what's coming up in the world of smartphones in general and to find out what's in the pike from Nokia, in particular. I've liked the Windows Phone OS since it debuted two years ago at MWC 2010. But I've been waiting (and waiting) for someone to come out with a Windows Phone that would give me enough of what I want and already have with Android to make me switch.

When Microsoft announced their partnership with Nokia a year ago (February 2011), I had high hopes. I admired Nokia's high-end Symbian smartphones like the N95 and N8, and I thought the two companies could do great things together. When Nokia released their first Windows Phone models last October, they looked promising. The sleek, slim, squared design of the Lumia 710 and 800 and the vibrant colors of the handsets blew the iPhone right out of the water in the looks department.

However, they didn't have all the features I wanted and have come to depend on in my smartphone, such as a dual-core processor, a high-resolution display, a really big screen, and, perhaps most importantly, 4G LTE connectivity). A comparison of the specs and features of the Lumia 800 with those of the Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S, and Droid RAZR shows the Windows Phone lagging behind in many respects. It was a good start, but it wasn't enough to get my business.

When I saw the Lumia 900 at CES, I got even more excited. It sported the over-four-inches big screen I wanted (previously only available in the HTC Titan), with about the same amount of actual screen real estate as the Galaxy Nexus (whose virtual buttons eat up some of its 4.65-inch display). Although it still doesn't measure up to top Androids like the Nexus in terms of processor (single core 1.4GHz vs. dual core 1.2GHz), RAM (512MB vs. 1GB), and storage (16GB vs. 32GB), it's a very nice phone. It moves Windows Phone in the right direction.

So when WMC 2012 opened this week, I was ready for Nokia to wow me.

I wasn't wowed

Instead of a powerful Lumia 1000 with all the bells and whistles, Nokia led with the Lumia 610 -- a "more affordable" (read: cheap, low-end) Windows Phone. With 8GB of storage (and no expansion option), 256MB of RAM, and a 3.7-inch 800x480 screen, it's pretty underwhelming. Some folks over at eWeek think, and I agree, that this is a big gamble.

Oh, I get that Microsoft and Nokia want to compete with the low-end Android phones that are helping that OS gain a large percentage of the phone market share. Going after that market makes sense. I'm just disappointed that we still don't have anything that competes effectively with the Droids on the other end of the scale. Because if that doesn't happen, Microsoft will lose the loyalty of all those techie-type people who used Windows Mobile for years -- for good. I guess the real question is: Do they care?

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About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

56 comments
James-SantaBarbara
James-SantaBarbara

Isn't this the same song that is always sung with any Microsoft release? Only to find that there are magical ways to access the innards easily.

Stephen Townsley
Stephen Townsley

The problem with smartphones is that too often they do complicated things really well and simple things really badly - like sending a contact via bluetooth (for example). Try that with an iphone. Sometimes you just want to make a decent phone call and 3g, 4g and dual core doesn't matter. Most smartphones connect to wifi and if you really want to hit the data consumption button then connect to a hotspot. If you have money to burn on 4g then go for it.

michaellashinsky
michaellashinsky

"Techies (or nerds or geeks or whatever you want to call them) are independent sorts. We don???t like being told what to do, and we don???t like being dictated to. We hate having our choices limited for what seems like arbitrary reasons. And we especially hate it when something that we already had is taken away from us." Just for the record, we also don't like being bullied, getting nuggies and wedgies, or being stuffed into lockers. Thankyouverymuch!

dflitton02
dflitton02

What I think is missing is that MOST people with opt for the KISS method, especially for items like cell phones and pads, but when it comes to desktops and tools (where pads also come in the picture) individually tweaking that important tool IS the name of the game. If everything is boiled down to the simple, the simple no longer gets the job done.

RipVan
RipVan

Someone might be an idiot to say "I agree with them all" because some contradict others, but there were valid points in every post. I enjoyed reading all of the comments. Sorry, I can't vote from my work computer, but thank you for the discussion.

Ponyboy924
Ponyboy924

I've been repairing computer devices for a long time now and I can definitely say that the KISS principle is great for my repair business. Consumers today are so dumb that they not only don't know what to do about any problem they might have....they DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW how to deal with a problem. Most consumers are so stupid when it comes to anything computer oriented that they shouldn't even be allowed in the same building with a computer. They think knowing where the on/off switch is should be the only thing they need to know which as I noted is wonderful for someone like me who repairs IT devices. On the other hand, for my personal use I refuse to allow Microsoft or any other company to dictate how and in what manner I'm going to use the equipment that was paid for with MY money. This constantly changing interface issue to make things "simpler" for the consumer while sacrificing flexibility and useability is ridiculous. SImple is fine but I don't purchase an operating system or device for the pretty (or not so pretty) pictures on the screen. If you want to keep shelling out cash to run to Geek Squad or the equivalent every time you have a problem or want to change something be my guest....my cash register loves you. If you are too willfully ignorant to learn at least something besides how to turn your device on and off maybe you should consider not using a smartphone or computer at all.

danbi
danbi

Most of those "techies" will do a favor for themselves to discover there is life outside Windows.

stykat
stykat

Most of the things you can do on Linux OS's you can't on Windows simply because it's a proprietary operating system and not open source. It was never too hard to change desktop icons or other small settings, because since i had Windows 98 there was always a wizard application for this and that. And i doubt windows does want more and more techies to start a dissection on their products, they rather want people to use them and care less about how to hack them for example. Besides, the enthusiasts that would go beyond the borders represent a small percentage of the consumers, most of the consumers just want to use it and not to learn too much about it.

EKovar
EKovar

I was very unhappy when Windows was becoming dominant because I couldn't see what was going on. Despite always focusing on the end user when doing design work, knowing they just wanted to get the job done, this time I didn't get it. (I was also a snob: Windows was for wimps.) Eventually an end user - my father, as it turned out - whacked me upside the head when I was grumbling: Windows made it vastly easier for him to get his work done. Abruptly I understood what I operate on to this day: except for a minority of people a computer is a tool, the same way a screwdriver is. You don't care how or why an inclined plane works, just that it does. (This applies to both Windows and Macintosh.) Fast forward to today: a summation of the comments is that almost all of us, including the technically savvy, consider our phones tools. If it happens to be Windows-based and gets easier to use, all the more reason to stay with it.

Kameir
Kameir

Lets be honest first and foremost. Several comments were made that I do agree with, at least partially. Techies do work for consumers, however though lets assess why techies work for consumers. Its because we have learned devices, systems, products in and out, to the point that we can support/know them better than most of the vendor support staff can. Techies probably do account for about 10% in the grand scheme of things, however its that 10% that makes the world's computer systems work. Its only by having the ability to actually explore a given system, work at the "root" level of a system that gives us the understanding and knowledge we need to construct creative solutions for the consumers, corporations, etc. to meet their needs or desires. As far as Android vs Windows vs Apple, I would take either of the "A's" over Windows. Both Apple's and Android's operating system, use a scaled down version of *nix. that being said it immediately opens it up for a multitude of opportunities to those who are willing. No to mention, Windows on a phone..... I perfer to answer my phone not look at a BOSD. Microsoft has not once been able to put up a competitive product in the Mobil market, and it survive. I say this though all however with a skewed approach. I'm an MCSA, who uses a Macbook, an Ubuntu workstation and a Motorola Razr to manage a multi-billion dollar hybrid windows-*nix network. It all works like a charm, but it techies like myself that by exploring opportunities, can receive a phone call from the CIO explaining a problem with the files server while hiking up a mountain at 5000 ft elevation and resolve the problem with a few touches on the Razr. Its a techy's job to figure out how to get the most out of the simplest things.

john.ballantyne
john.ballantyne

I have to admit, I don't look to a computer, any computer for anything that resembles simplicity. But if I have any attraction to A%%LE its because of what a friend (and A%%LE convert) keeps reminding me - it just works! I may feel a thrill of conquest when I finally get that printer working after multiple downloads and discussion boards, but how much better when I just plug it in out of the box and it just works. My wife's iMac beats the pants off my brand new Dell Windows 7 machine when it comes to Youtube videos, etc. While my Windows machine with its 3.1 GHz processor is wasting it all, contemplating each data packet and the viruses it may contain, and the Windows partners that may wish to spam me based on its content, the iMac with a slower processor has already marched its progress bar quickly and smoothly down to the R.H. margin and wife can click anywhere on the video to pick up any arbitrary section of the song. It just works.

jimtravis
jimtravis

Was a huge Windows Mobile fan bordering on evangelist. Classic WM did more of the tasks I need out of the box than any other mobile OS. When Microsoft abandoned the mobile power user with WP7, I switched to Android, and have not looked back. Switching to iOS was not an option since iOS is just as restricted as WP7. On the desktop I will try Windows 8 when released, but if it is too simplified even with Classic mode, will go back to Windows 7. I have Linux machines, but my daily driver is Windows based on application availability, and peripheral device support / drivers.

info
info

There are more of 'the masses' than there are of 'us'. If I vote to have a chocolate cake, and three others vote for vanilla, it's a pretty fair bet we'll get the vanilla one. And for those that rebel against it? Like was said earlier, they were probably taking a good look at Linux anyway. Something that jkameleon said caught my eye, though. Since most network users are pretty much 'told' how their desktop looks and acts through policies, all they need is the metro tiles to perform their functions. Just so long as we get a slightly more detailed interface on the back-end, this may actually turn out to be advantageous for those that do user support.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

If you want an endlessly tweakable operating system on a phone-form-factor, Android/CyanogenMod is available. As far as marketshare is concerned, what's the market penetration of CM? I have no data, but I assume less than 1%. How many users root their Android devices or jailbreak their iOS devices? I believe that it's possible to run Linux or Android on an iPhone. How many users are actually doing that? Maybe one-in-ten thousand? One-in-one hundred thousand? This simply is not a large enough market to pay attention to. It exists at the fringe of the fringe. What do I want the users I support doing? I'd prefer that they do their jobs. That's what I'm paid to do and that's what they are paid to do. Anything else is strictly on your own time and on your own, unsupported devices.

sullivanjc
sullivanjc

I think a lot of the techies have already migrated to Android for phones (and tablets) and this won't bring them back. Some have gone to Linux on the desktop, too and I don't think this will bring them back either.

jkameleon
jkameleon

The standing type: http://www.profimedia.si/photo/man-with-clipboard-talking-to-woman-in/profimedia-0081805909.jpg That's the kind of user Microsoft is actually after. People on the move, casual users. The sitting type: http://www.officemuseum.com/IMagesWWW/Early_1920s_Veterans_Bureau_Calculating_WWI_Vet_Bonuses_LOC.JPG People that use computers professionally, sitting behind desk- office workers, writers, programmers, accountants, etc. Windows 8 will pretty much leave them behind. It doesn't really matter whether users are computer geeks or not. What matters is the amount of typing and clicking they are doing, the amount of information they produce and put into computer. The market share of "information producers" is much smaller than the share of "information consumers". From the marketing standpoint, "producers" can therefore safely be neglected. The "standing" UI has to be finger friendly, with small number of large screen elements, and large number of intuitively organized and easily accessible screens. The requirements for the "sitting" UI are exactly the opposite: Large number of smaller elements, intuitively placed on small number of screens. "Sitting" UI also has to be keyboard friendly. The only system capable of satisfying both requirements I'm aware of is KDE Plasma, thanks to its extreme flexibility.

adornoe
adornoe

Techies and developers don't do their work for themselves. They work for the consumer and for the enterprise. So, with the "boss" being the consumer and the business sector, guess what the developers will be doing? That's right!!! They'll be doing their development with the consumer and the enterprise in mind. KISS matters, and the consumer dictates what they want. If simple is too easy for the developer, then they have no business developing for the consumer, who wants their devices, OSes, and applications as simple as possible. No developer is going to turn down the opportunity to develop for the largest ecosystem in the world. I've been in IT for longer than most people in this site, and no doubt for longer than you, and the single most important idea in the back of my mind was, KISS, because, I wasn't developing with "me, myself, and I, and my fellow developers" in mind. Oftentimes, it's best to develop with the expectation that, many or most of the people you're targeting, want simplicity and "obvious" above all other things, and thus, making products and services (and computing) "foolproof" is the most important consideration for designers/developers. Foolproof also means that, whatever the consumer purchases, also works well enough to satisfy them. Easy or simple is not the same as "lacking features" or skimping on quality.

Gromanon
Gromanon

What we see is that technology is evolving so quick and reaches out so far that average computer user would have to know far too much in order to be up to date. Being a techie is either a full-time job or a hobby. I believe that common daily tasks and situations where people use technology has to become as simple and as headache free as possible. Mainly because in this information overload world people should be more focused on the actual tasks rather than on tools that help them to accomplish that task. And I think the company that understands this the best is Apple, so does Microsoft now, they just don't use all the fancy magical glitter that Apple does, yet the concept remains the same. I think Microsoft is on the right track!

Gisabun
Gisabun

I don't think techies will be jumping ship any time soon. Unlike some consumers, I believe most techies "settle" in one camp. Excluding it's issues, you could of said the same thing when Windows XP came out. It becamne the replacement of Win 2000 and yet it was consumered enough for consumers to dump Win 9x and the dreaded ME. In this case, 11 years later, Vista is the dreaded ME and instead of Win 9x, you have Win XP and Win 7. Those working on domains won't get the same consumerised options like the consumer users.

adornoe
adornoe

Simple does not mean the same as incapable. Simple means, not complicated. Most tasks or jobs that can be done on a computer, can be designed with simplicity in mind, even if it takes several more steps than with the more complicated design. KISS is not just about making things simple, it's also about making sure that, the job gets done as per specifications, while making the interface and job flow as intuitive as possible. If an application is designed where an individual needs to "tweak" in order to get his/her job done, then it wasn't designed with the end user in mind. Mind you that, the end user I'm referring to is the user at home and those in the work place who are not technically inclined. The techies might not mind having to "tweak" their applications, but even there, they won't be as productive as with a product which simplifies their functions. Individuality should never enter into the design and development of a project which is intended to be used by the masses or more than one person.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

"for my personal use I refuse to allow Microsoft or any other company to dictate how and in what manner I'm going to use the equipment that was paid for with MY money" Does that apply to your car, your furnace, water heater, television, toaster, oven, microwave or other household appliances? If so, let me know where you live... I'd like to be around for the explosions...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that life outside Windows is pretty small, Lots of the backend infrastructure may be something else, but everything that connects to it has a Windows logo.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

What exactly can you do on Linux, being open source, that you can't do on Windows? I mean, specifically. Since this article was on Windows Phone, what does this have to do with anything? iOS is closed-source as well, doesn't seem to keep people from being productive on it. People are also productive on Android, which is nominally open source. Who here has actually downloaded and examined the source code?

adornoe
adornoe

Look, while it's true that the techies make things "just work", it's the consumer that decides which one of those things that "just work" they prefer. So, a techie might have a preferred way to get things done, and while it might work to specifications, there might be some other techie that creates a similar application, but that second techie took the application to a whole new level, and made it work a lot more simply for the consumer, while still meeting the specs. Guess which one the consumer is going to prefer? In essence, the techie cannot dictate to the consumer which way an application or a computer WILL work; not if there are competing options out there. In the end, the one who understands the consumer best, is the more "employable" and most marketable and the most used system/application. The consumer decides between the winners and losers, and the loser will end up being the techie who thumbs his nose at the "less tech-savvy" consumer. The boss, is ultimately, the consumer. Ever hear of the saying: "the consumer is always right"? While not always true, the product merchant had better be listening to the "ultimate boss", that being the user/consumer.

danbi
danbi

What is more important is those people do not depend on Microsoft, or Apple or whomever. They will do their thing no matter what. Therefore, Microsoft (or anyone else) does not need to spend resources "supporting" them.

jkameleon
jkameleon

UI can either be "finger/touchscreen friendly", or "keyboard/mouse friendly". It can't be both. It's a matter of body physics & ergonomics, not computer science. Nobody uses clipboard behind a desk. Being too finger friendly, Windows 8 could alienate desktop users without gaining new users from the Android world.

dogknees
dogknees

While I do development, I probably spend 70% of my time doing things no one else in the organisation is able to do. I use a lot of tools to accomplish this, and often use the "obscure" features as it's the most efficient way to accomplish the task. These tasks often involve converting data from one form into another, cleaning and validating data, performing complex analysis of data and providing reports to management. Mathematical modelling is another favourite. Even when developing for others, the tools I use are complex and have rich interfaces. If Windows changes to the extent some are saying, how might I do what I do. Staying on an old OS just so my development tools works isn't really an option when support expires for that OS. What is Visual Studio going to be like in a "Metro" world? One thing that disappointed me about the latest news on Win8 is that third party apps will apparently not be supported on the mobile platform. I've been looking at a tablet to use for processing "raw" digital images when I'm away from my desktop. I'd kind of settled on a Win tablet and existing rich apps to do this job, but it's looking like I'm going to be out of luck.

dogknees
dogknees

... is not simpler, it's more complex. It's that simple. More steps means you don't know where the options you are after live, you have to go back and forth through the steps to find them. It's like Wizards, they are the greatest sin in interface design in decades and should be banned in all applications. Give me a dialog/toolbar/... that shows all the options in one place. At worst, use a dialog with several tabs.

danbi
danbi

Windows, for decades has been "GUI on top of DOS" -- initially as a concept and implementation, recently mostly as a concept. In essence this means that software for Windows is designed in such a way, that it is largely independent form the OS -- that is, the OS just has to "load" it, and provide basic file system services -- this is exactly what an DOS does. (and before everyone jumps on this: DOS stands for Disk Operating System). This is all good when you start with an OS, because you leave all the burden to implement various APIs to the application programmers, but it quickly becomes complete mess, with incompatible APIs (DLLs in Windows speak) that implement about the same thing, but.. sometimes even crash when used together etc. In mean time, other operating systems have learned what API is, and so did their programmers. This brings not only better productivity, but also more consistent UI and behavior. If your computer system will not be performing an simple task (such as editing office documents) this is what users actually want. Those who have seen it already on other non-Windows system demand it too. All this also makes the life of the programmer so much simpler, because they do not have to implement APIs that the OS already has. I am really impressed that after so many years of ignoring this simple issue, Microsoft has finally got the courage to admit they got it all wrong and are about to fix it. Let's hope they are capable of this.... My favorite example is Apple. They used to have their homegrown OS. What was worth of it was the GUI and the APIs. So Apple (or, perhaps Steve Jobs, actually) realized that they need not fight a lost batter and went trough the pains of junk their homegrown OS for UNIX. With UNIX, they could have one OS and as many APIs as they need. They even kept their original APIs to ease software transition. Now, Apple has one OS with two sets of APIs: OS X and iOS. Much better position than Microsoft can dream to achieve in few years from now. The problem for Microsoft here? There are several: - They are not the first. Someone else (Apple, and all the UNIX variants) have already demonstrated how these things are done. Microsoft will be following, not leading. - At the times Apple did their transition, they were in their worst times, ever. All they could ask their customers was "trust us" and few did trust them, but not that many really. When they did have the new product, many chose Apple. For the mobile variation of their OS, a lot of people chose Apple. Not to forget, a while lot of developers chose Apple. Microsoft... they take huge risk. First, because in order to not bankrupt, they must support two completely different and incompatible platforms. Then, they will have very hard time, explaining to the Enterprise what their options are and what the chances are, if any to continue the current Windows OS line. Trouble is, most of the things the Enterprise uses Windows for, can be done in almost any other OS (of the UNIX flavor). Microsoft will also have to convince the developers, that they know what they are doing with the new WinRT/Metro thing as developers might not be very willing to waste their resources. Interesting times ahead. :)

adornoe
adornoe

The data is important, of course, and it's perhaps more important than the applications themselves. But, when it comes to the development process, even the data has to presented in a form which the consumer/user finds easy to understand. So, even at the data level, KISS applies. That's where the development process has to understand the needs or wants of the people who will be using that data. Development is about presenting the data in easily understood and easily used fashions. Thus, the whole development process, including the massaging and presentation of the data, needs to understand what that data is and it's meaning to the user/consumer. But, all of it requires keeping it as simple as possible.

adornoe
adornoe

when it comes to Metro and the idea behind Microsoft using it for its multiple platforms, they're doing it to try to, again, "simplify" life for the end user, with all of the UIs looking more or less the same throughout the Microsoft ecosystem. I'm not enamored with the look of Metro, with it's ugly greens and other dark colors, and boxy applications, but, to me, the idea is what matters. The idea is to unify and simplify and people won't be having to learn a new system every time they purchase another form-factor. It's like, driving a small compact car, and then stepping into a huge SUV, and not having to learn how to drive the bigger vehicle. They're both "user friendly" and simple, as far as the controls go. Regarding Apple, I'm not the one saying that Apple's way is simpler; I'm just re-stating what the Apple fans like to say about their platforms, which, according to many of them, is "simple" to use. BTW, I don't have the view, which you ascribed to me, about "things being complicated in their nature". There really are many things that are complicated, but, it's according to the perspective of the user. Some people will quickly take to the most intricate workings of human DNA, while others will immediately throw up their hands and say that it's not for them. But, even many of those complicated things can be made simpler for the everyday person to understand, even if they don't become biologists or mathematicians or cosmologists. However, when it comes to something that is intended for the everyday user, then we're not talking about black holes or higher mathematics or the causes of cancer. We're talking about systems for the end user, who "needs" the application for their work or entertainment. At that point, we need to make applications as simple as can be.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

that we both have the same ideology on customer service and agree that technology needs to -and can be- simpler. My argument is simply the way MS has continually implemented this change. It is one that surfaces more so with every new OS. MS has a long history of changing things for the sake of change and doing so without listening to the larger contingency of their users. This is especially true with Bill Gates' departure from the company. If you are implementing any flavor of MS products then you can not tell me you haven't experienced the multitude of ridiculous changes I speak of. Some good; many however, fly in the face of reason. On the subject of Apple, and as a user of both operating systems, I think you miss the point Apple users make about their products. That point being that they tend to do what they are made to do with less problems than their alternatives. MS has far outpaced Apple in simplicity of use with their OS. Apple, when one considers the power of the Unix OS has done a remarkable job in scaling the OS to a point where using the system does not require the depth of knowledge that most unix flavored OS's require. Yet, the advanced features available to a skilled user are still there for them. I believe that change is necessary to stay alive in this business. That simplicity combined with function will dictate the vote people make with their money. I, for one do NOT want my desktop to look nor do I want it to act like my phone. It is my fervent belief that MS is headed down the wrong path with Metro. I have been wrong about a number of things in my life and this may very well be another of that long chain. That said, seeing as how I support MS products in my livelihood, there is no doubt that I will be supporting Metro as well. On a final note, I too agree with you in putting the end user first and that irrespective of anyone's job security. Even my own sometimes. Unlike yourself however, I do not have the prevailing belief that things are complicated in their nature -on the level of hardware and software development- just to ensure job security. Technology on the whole has traversed a wide chasm to get where it is today. There is a way to effectively make these changes toward simplicity without jumping on the fad bandwagon and leaving large portions of your end users out in the dust. Simplicity is a relative term one might choose to examine a bit. After all, if you believe that Autocad or Photoshop are complicated, try doing what they do on paper. Then welcome their simplicity.

adornoe
adornoe

The KISS "principle" is not my "invention", nor did all of my work always adhere to it. I sometimes had to do the job according to specifications which I didn't write, but I still tried to simplify the procedures as I proceeded, but, only after consultation with supervisory and management staff. My statements have nothing to do with Windows phone nor Metro nor Windows 8. KISS can be applied on all hardware and software platforms. So, why is it that, there are so many Apple fanatics swearing by the "simplicity" which Apple brings to all or most of their hardware/software? If it's good enough for Apple, it's good enough for everyone else. I have no preference for any smartphone or tablet or laptop/desktop. Make them do the work efficiently, cost-effectively, and simply, and I'll purchase whatever is put in front of me that meets those specs. It's not about Apple nor Google nor Microsoft, nor any other company. It's about not making life any more difficult than it needs to be. So, exactly what is it that you disagree with when it comes to my support of the KISS ideas? Making software and hardware more difficult can make for job security in many walks of life, but, I will always try to put the end user first, regardless of how many people lose their job security.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

in your insistence that no one other than yourself truly has a grasp of what is going on with this KISS you speak of. Other than the few people here in this forum who claim to like the Windows phone, I have not encountered a single person who is anything less than irritated to no end that it is the only phone they have to use. As for these applications and their KISS-ableness, I have yet to encounter any who are very excited about it. Yet you seem to be just bubblicious with enthusiasm. I have to wonder how much of that enthusiasm is directly related to your coding skills?

adornoe
adornoe

If an application is being made more complicated with additional steps, then the developer and designer are not paying attention to the KISS method. Unnecessary work can make applications more cumbersome. But, I'm not talking about just making more work by including more steps. If an application is already simple enough with just a few steps, adding steps can create more work and more complexity. There are tradeoffs that a developer needs to make. You "dialogs/toolbars" example are sometimes, nightmares, and the functionality within those screen items can be confusing. In order to use them, you first have to learn or discover their meanings and usage. Now, there are certain items which most people, after some experience, will automatically understand, like cut/copy and paste, and exit, but, there are applications with interminable items on the toolbars and in dialogs, and there is no simplicity or intuitiveness in that. Take an everyday example of what I'm talking about, which many end users have taken advantage of. That's the online tax preparation programs that can be found, for free or as paid options, depending upon the tax form to be used. I used H&R block this year to file my sister's tax return. She uses the simple form, and sure enough, H&R block kept it very simple, even with the many steps involved in order to fill out what would otherwise be a simple form on paper. It is a step by step process with explanations all along the way, and with each step indicating what employer and bank forms to find the items in, and which boxes within those forms where being asked for at each line of the screens. It can't be made more simple than that, and it's the same for the more complicated tax returns, and, each of the screens presented is a step, but, each step is very simple to understand, and actually, intuitive. I could go a few steps further than H&R block did, but, for the most part, what they've done is quite simple, and most end users should have enough common sense to get their tax returns done online without first having to read the IRS instructions to fill out their returns. I used H&R block to file my tax return too, and, I didn't have to place the return in an envelope in order to send to the IRS, because, the filing was done online, and my tax refund arrived 8 days later. Nice and simple. Even with what seemed to be so many steps to fill out a 2 page form. Like I said, it could still be made simpler, but, it's adequate enough for most users, without sacrificing functionality. I've done the same kind of thing in my work experience, and believe me, it has always been appreciated, especially when productivity increased.

adornoe
adornoe

There is always room for improvement, and there are many applications which can still be made simpler without sacrificing functionality, and that includes Photoshop and GIMP. You just have to think like an end user in order to design for that end user.

dogknees
dogknees

Photoshop/GIMP are already at the point where making the interface simpler would require a reduction in the functionality and more steps to accomplish it.

adornoe
adornoe

of most consumers out there, who don't want to do battle with their APIs and their app flows and their whole PC/software experience. If you design according to your stated idea above, chances are that, you won't be as successful as another developer who will make things as simple as possible, while still achieving the expected functionality. The best software out there is the kind that, can take anything complicated, and make it seem as simple and as intuitive as possible, without sacrificing functionality.

dogknees
dogknees

I am a "consumer" when not developing, and I don't want less complexity, I want more. More information on screen at a time, not less. Richer options and processes not simpler ones.

adornoe
adornoe

which is, that, what Microsoft is putting out with Windows 8 is an entire system/subsystems ecosystem, which will facilitate the creation of "consumer" directed applications. Basically, what MS has done is to make things look a lot simpler to the user, and for that to happen, they had to redesign/redefine the ecosystem know previously as Windows for desktops and laptops. Now, it's a system for consumers, where, whatever the applications, they had better seem seamless to the user/consumer/enterprise. Basically, Windows 8 and the whole subsystem, are intended to make the whole set of hardware/OS/software work with simplicity in mind. KISS if the primary intention, while Windows everywhere is the implementation of the whole idea into all form factors.

adornoe
adornoe

consider the 98 % or 99% of people who are not like you, where you don't mind "complicated" applications. When a product or service is going to be used by more than the 1% or 2% or even 10% of people who might be technically inclined, then the design has to be done with that other 90% or 98% of people in mind. However, even as a techie, I've always preferred to have a product or service to be as simple to use as possible. To me, it's about productivity, and not having to spend hours or days or weeks learning or re-learning how to get things done.

dogknees
dogknees

I don't find it a struggle to learn new things. I like it, it's one of the most satisfying things in life. I like all the options in one place, even if that means a toolbar with 100+ items. I understand that others may not enjoy these things, but I can speak only for myself. I'm not about to restrict what others can do, or suggest they should take more steps to do it, because I don't want that, or I can't understand the need for these functions. Yes, the user should decide what they need. If there are users that want a feature it should be in the app. Any user! If only 2% of users need a particular operation, it should still be there. I don't understand why ignoring the bits you don't need seems to be so hard.

adornoe
adornoe

difficult than it needs to be. Now, you didn't really have anything to contribute, other than to try to chastise me for my way of thinking about design and development. I value the lessons I've learned in my IT career, and I try to use them whenever possible. I look out for the end user more than for the designer/developer, because, the end user is the one that pays the bills. Now, I'd hate to be in your shoes as an IT person, because, no doubt, your work will leave a lot to be desired.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

rainy day in your world? Is the sky even blue on the planet you inhabit? Send us some photos please! We here on Earth are eager to see them. Geeeesh dude.

adornoe
adornoe

correctly. I'm not suggesting that vendors and developers tell us how applications should work or tell us what we need in those applications. On the contrary, I'm asking that the developers and vendors give the people what the people want and need. To give the people what they wish and to make it as simple as possible, is in no way suggesting that functionality has to be sacrificed. The problem with many developers and designers is that, they see a need and want to develop for that need, but, they're failing to take into consideration what the user really needs, and the user ends up having to struggle to learn an application before he/she can become productive using it. An application that is not intuitive and simple in flow, will require more time to learn, and people would rather be productive immediately, than to have to spend weeks learning how to use an application. I'd rather hit the ground running than to have to spend, not only in the purchase of an application, but in training, which makes the application that much more expensive. Training can, and often does, cost more than the purchase of the application. But, productivity that isn't there immediately, also means more costs to a corporation if that application is for the enterprise. What I'm pointing at is a problem which can be found in a real world example, with Linux. People don't want to spend hours or weeks learning or re-learning how to use an OS. Don't get me wrong; Linux is quite capable and could serve as an alternative to Windows or any other OS, but, it's lacking in the area of familiarity and simplicity. People shouldn't have to dig through menus of apps in order to download them and sometimes need to compile them before installing. That's the same for developers as well as end users. Oftentimes, it's hard to determine what an application's purpose is when reading through the available app lists, and developers are simply throwing together that list with meaningless descriptions of those apps. I could probably determine what an application is intended to accomplish, but not the regular user out there. Now, when it comes to specialized applications, like Photoshop or GIMP, I would never suggest that, functionality has to be thrown out the window in order to simplify its use. We can have both. KISS without sacrificing functionality. Even if we end up with several extra steps in the application in order to get a particular task done. Sometimes, a few extra steps can lead to more productivity than having to struggle with an application, or having to refer to a manual to find and to understand the "hidden" features. Sure enough, and like I stated earlier, there are applications which might require specialized training in order to become productive with using it, but, perhaps a lot of that training wouldn't be required if the application wasn't made so complicated to begin with. There are always tradeoffs, but, the end user should be the one dictating how an application operates and what it will include. It's up to the developer/designer to accommodate the end user as much as possible.

dogknees
dogknees

As a person who uses all the types of applications I mentioned in my own time for my own purposes, and who has not required any training to do so, I simply don't accept your statements. I know several others who have also learned these applications by themselves. We are part of the general market and should not be ignored. If the "end user" is am artist or a musician, they already know much of what is needed to make use of the really rich applications, or accept that part of the investment they make is in learning how to use the applications they need. If you can deliver at least the same functionality, and preferably more, as Photoshop or GIMP with the same or less steps to produce the same results, I'm all for it. But I won't support removing functionality or a process with more steps in the applications I and others use. We don't live, and have not lived in a one-size-fits-all world for a long time now. Rather than trying to put us all in boxes and tell us what we need, vendors and developers should be using technology to meet the full range of needs of ALL users of software. I simply don't agree that these apps are hard to use/learn, and it isn't the experience of people I know.

adornoe
adornoe

but, while there are still applications which won't lend themselves to being designed to be foolproof, or entirely intuitive, the fact remains that, even the more savvy consumers, such as those you mentioned, would appreciate not having to struggle with an application in order to get their work done. The fact is that, there are far too many applications that are not designed with the end user in mind, and oftentimes, what the developer has created is an application that "just gets the job done" and then needs to include a 300 to 500 page manual in order so that the user can discover the "secrets" to using that "wonderful" application that he/she designed/developed. For the applications you mentioned above, most people need to get specialized training in order to learn their craft and to use their tools, including the computer hardware and software. Those are unique, but, they still don't have to be as complicated as most appear to be. People know what photoshop is and they can learn to use it, but, with a lot of training, and the same goes for Gimp, which, while it's nice to know that it's "free", there is still a huge learning curve before one learns how to use it. Intuitive and simple means that, the learning curves, if any, are minimal.

dogknees
dogknees

There are applications that need complex functionality to be useful. Some that come to mind are natural media painting, music production, 3D design, photo processing, CAD/CAM, and others. Are the people that use these sort of apps simply going to be ignored and told they/we cannot do these things on their PCs any more? You might say these are "niche" apps, but there are a lot of niches adding up to a lot of people.

adornoe
adornoe

user friendly applications, with easy to understand APIs and app flow. In the end, the whole scope of Windows 8 is to enable the KISS principle for both, the developer and the consumer. Designing and developing don't have to be difficult. The easier life is made for the programmer, the more productive he/she will be. KISS applies to the consumer end, as well as the development end.

dogknees
dogknees

I'm not talking about the "product" created by the developer, but the process of development. The apps I use when developing is what I'm concerned about. I see no reason they should be made less complex or present less information on the screen, Generally, I want more information and less "fluff" like banners, giant buttons with pictures,...