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Microsoft’s GUI Suicide

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 3:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper clip

Summary: Innovator of Clippy and Talking Dog shatters the “familiarity” myth to pieces

IN last night's show we talked about Vista 8 — the imaginary operating system which has fake ‘leaks’ promoting its existence. The main ‘feature’ about it, as marketed by Microsoft, is that it has radical UI changes. This is counter-productive to Microsoft’s monoculture as it creates a sort of ‘fragmentation’ among users of different versions of Windows. As Mr. Pogson outs it, Windows “Becomes More Like the Bazaar”:

This shows that the world of that other OS is becoming more like GNU/Linux and FLOSS in that suppliers sometimes produce a product that users don’t love like doing away with desktops, icons or whatever in the interests of “efficiency”. Re-learning a UI for the sake of change is not efficient for users and there are many thousands of users for every developer. That’s a lot of inefficiency. It does provoke making real choices by customers and that’s good. The monopoly continues to weaken.

Back in the days, Microsoft tried to absorb users of mobile phones by mimicking its Windows desktop environment and putting that on phones This is no longer the case, so familiarity with Windows no longer counts as a strength of Vista Phony 7 and Radu Georgescu, the CEO of GECAD (big Romanian IT group according to a reader), is openly blasting Vista Phony 7 right now. From the automated translation:

How do well to human cheek, I said not to use only the iPhone and Android, but to give him a chance and MS. Conclusion: Never ever. Not even once.

We had a lot more to say on the subject in last night's show. Microsoft may be better off just giving up on Vista Phony 7. What’s the future of Microsoft then? Licensing “ribbon” patents?

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  1. mcinsand said,

    April 5, 2011 at 7:14 am


    What friggin’ kills me is that people will use familiarity as the main reason to stick with MS’ shoddyware, while MS breaks familiarity constantly. Users have a choice that they refuse to see: 1) learn something new and go to an operating system that is secure, reliable, and with many choices or 2) learn something new and help to keep the Internet a dangerous place.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Rain is depressing, but it’s “familiar”.

  2. twitter said,

    April 5, 2011 at 10:15 am


    Microsoft has always had the least consistent interfaced of any major software and most non free software will have this problem. Free desktops are far more consistent and less confusing, despite tremendous diversity. That anyone thinks the opposite is true is a feat of ignorance and perception management. Windows is an OS for the kind of people who like to sleep on a bed of nails or broken glass. Every small move is painful and the most comfortable thing to do is sit still and quietly bleed until a planned failure drags you to the next bed. Free software users are blissfully unaware of these problems. The more you learn, the worse it gets.

    In the first place, Windows is an inconsistent mess which can hardly be considered “familiar”. Windows IT people not only have to know how to stumble through the different desktop versions, they also have to know the server versions, each of which has completely unnecessary UI changes. The front ends to SMB sits in a variety of confusing locations, as does printer management and other vital services. This inconsistency makes the simple text configuration of /etc and file permissions look wonderful. Users and admins alike are plagued with vendor promotion in the their program menu and must remember company names to find applications they want to run. Windows paths are still a disaster and I don’t think they’ve implemented a decent help system yet, so you can’t just remember the first letter of a program and tab complete discover it like you can in the GNU/Linux world. Long time Windows desktop users vainly set their desktops to “Classic” in an attempt to keep the look of Windows 95, but they can’t avoid the pain of feature location shifts and the churn of the upgrade train.

    Second, non free software OS vendors do not have the resources to keep up important tools so other vendors must be relied and this multiplies the OS problems. File archiving is a great example. GNU/Linux provides find, tar and rsync and several good GUI front ends for backup and these provide a UI that’s been stable for decades. Microsoft is famous for having bought out all of the makers of backup software for Windows and then replacing them with their own software that never worked. Ask any Windows guy what they think of all the nasty little tape backup programs provided by vendors like Dell and HP. Newer Windows archiving vendors get around these problems by running of gnu/linux boot CDs. There are dozens of other basic tasks like pdf document viewing, file sharing, browsing and email that Windows users don’t get out of the OS itself. Each of these programs creates a break point that makes OS changes that much more painful. The combination is brittle in a way that free software users can’t imagine and mostly want to forget. OSX has many of the same problems despite their more aggressive use of free software and tighter control of UI issues.

    KDE, Gnome and other free software desktops are stable, familiar and serene. The switch between KDE 3 and 4 is about as traumatic as it gets, but is less of a jolt than any of the far more frequent Windows “upgrades”. The most basic command line tools have not changed and the overall organization of the desktop has actually improved as have many of the more important utilities like wifi management. Package management is unchanged, so it’s still easy for users to find the software they want or need. Users are not constantly assaulted with popups and brand names demanding recognition and money. They don’t have to worry that their software is keylogging and indexing their every move for an encrypted transmission back to several corporate and criminal overlords.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    In the first place, Windows is an inconsistent mess which can hardly be considered “familiar”.

    Apple does a better job at that.

    twitter Reply:

    That’s true, but the toolset is still limited. Secure shell, for example, is an add on. KDE by contrast has taken “sftp:/” as a url for the better part of a decade. OSX asks the user to download a third party client. With enough add ons, OSX becomes brittle and hard to upgrade. Better than Windows, that’s for sure, but not as easy as free software. Free software works together because it can. Non free developers are divided and helpless just like their users.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Mac OS X targets users whose mind and usage are largely below fish:// and sftp. I recently posted a link to a post from a highly-respected developer who explained why OS x is unsuitable for development (or web development).

    twitter Reply:

    No one’s mind is below privacy, though many have been conditioned to think of it as something dirty and incriminating. KDE makes encryption in browsing, file sharing and email about as easy as not having it. Freedom box will close the gap for everyone.

    I saw and enjoyed that link, thanks.

  3. David Gerard said,

    April 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm


    People aren’t sticking with Windows. They’re sticking with XP. Businesses buy new PCs, Microsoft credits it as a 7 sale but they then put XP and MS Office on them.

    Consider the model for disruption from below: the disruptor is (a) cheap (b) does some important thing better than the incumbent, or that the incumbent can’t do at all for some reason.

    This is why Linux has taken over everything outside the desktop. Your servers, your phone, your television run Linux. This is why Firefox got popular.

    So: how can Linux be a better upgrade from XP than 7 is? For people who are not the typical TechRights reader – they don’t care about software freedom, but in a timeless manner about the object in front of them right this second which someone else has paid for anyway.

    This is trickier than it looks. Experienced MS Office users tend to hate OpenOffice. (LibreOffice is getting nicer, but this isn’t a goal yet.) Endless attempts have been made on Outlook, all failed.

    Outlook and Excel are the apps to target, as these are uniquely the apps actually used by the people who sign the cheques. What can we do for these people that Outlook/Excel can’t or won’t? What are those apps doing to annoy people that MS can’t or won’t fix, the way Firefox got popularity?

    First goal: LibreOffice and/or OpenOffice needs to seriously research how to get Excel users. Heck, Oracle could take that on as a meaningful goal – their entire business is selling software to executives, use of OpenOffice in the corner office will trickle down the organisation.

    David Gerard Reply:

    (Please feel free to fix the broken italicisation :-) )

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Done. :-)

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    People aren’t sticking with Windows. They’re sticking with XP. Businesses buy new PCs, Microsoft credits it as a 7 sale but they then put XP and MS Office on them.

    I think they use double-dipping tricks.


    twitter Reply:

    You give Microsoft way too much credit. Most of what you say was valid ten years ago but has long ceased to be true. Free software has vastly improved and Microsoft has shot themselves in the foot over and over. As a long time free software desktop user, I absolutely hate using Windows and see Microsoft generated files as nothing but trouble. People who want an upgrade from XP are better off with GNU/Linux and VirtualBox under almost all circumstances.

    Office and Outlook are good examples of how far free software has come and how behind Microsoft has fallen. Experienced Office hate the new Office and it’s ribbon interface that obliterated their muscle memory by changing all the shortcuts. Open Office and KOffice users can smile at how consistent their applications have been and developers can take pride at how well both now work. People who really publish still use LaTex editors, Scribus and other excellent software. People who really do math are better off with specialty software which is abundant in free software repositories. Casual users are better off with Google services, which lends itself to sharing or Gnumeric, which is nimble. Excel was a killer application ten years ago like Hypercard and “multimedia” was almost twenty years ago. There are nice free software flash card programs if you want them. Kontact and Evolution are both much better than Outlook for both features and stability. If you want a computer that works the way computers did in 1998, you want Windows XP. If you want to get your work done, you want free software.

    The pinch points are still unfriendly devices, like iHype, and very specific software that a user might be forced to use at work. Outlook can fall into this category if a place of work is dumb enough to use a Microsoft mail server. The solution for people who care about freedom is to avoid Apple and other unfriendly hardware. Android is coming to the rescue of those who don’t care so much about freedom but want their gadgets to perform and talk to their other computers. VirtualBox is another help for desktop users. XP performs as well or better there than it does on actual hardware and it is a lot easier to maintain, network and exchange information with a virtual machine too.

    David Gerard Reply:

    You do not in any way think like an office worker, which is what I was talking about regarding people who aren’t like TechRights readers.

    Assume everything you’re saying is true. However, companies who squeeze every penny until it squeaks observably still don’t go for it. You need a theory that explains this, rather than just declaiming it as stupid and not making sense. We know it’s stupid and doesn’t make sense, but declaring that and stopping there doesn’t fix the problem.

    Now, then. Do you have suggestions that will address the fact that they observably still don’t go for it and will work in terms of what’s in their heads already? I’m suggesting standard technology disruption as a vector; perhaps you can think of others.

    twitter Reply:

    Of course I think like an office worker, I am one.

    Many companies have made the jump, concentration of wealth, propaganda and observable corruption can explain the rest. Chrysler, Lowes, Auto Zone and many others were on SCO’s hit list way back in 2003. These are large companies who can demand what they want from vendors. Smaller companies are stuck with whatever is dished out by vendors that robotically “recommend Vista”. Techrights documented Microsoft’s attack on Walmart and Asus when they dared to do anything else. Techrights has also documented the successful slogs against Yahoo and Nokia which will force users of those popular services to chose between Windows and the services. Less well documented is how Bill Gates can simply buy board members to insure companies use and recommend Windows at various monopoly services like electric utilities. He can afford to lose a lot of money buying and selling stock when large portions of the target company’s money will go to Microsoft as a result. People who don’t know any better will accept the result of this anti-competitive behavior and Microsoft propaganda at face value. Despite all of that, small business use of gnu/linux has continued to rise all around the world, even in wealthy English speaking countries. As PJ puts it, people are not a dumb as Microsoft needs them to be.

    Continued adoption of gnu/linux by competent and successful firms is doing what needs to be done to Microsoft propaganda. Android, now the number one US cell phone, is finally delivering on the promise of easy to use, general purpose computing devices. It is impossible for Microsoft to say that GNU/Linux is somehow unprofitable, difficult to use and all of that. The only thing they can claim, if they are so foolish, is that Windows won’t work with it. All that remains is to watch out for stupid laws and make sure that people understand that freedom is what makes Android and GNU/Linux work, not corporate sponsorship.

    ‘m guardedly optimistic that society will move in that direction rather than continue towards a digital dark age, oligarchy, global warming and public health disaster. With software and network freedom, there’s a chance of ending petroleum, agricultural and pharmaceutical fraud, taxing the rich and other good stuff.

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