Yes, the times sure are changing. Today I even found myself largely agreeing with a Paul Thurrott article:
Since the euphoria of PDC 2003, Microsoft’s handling of Windows Vista has been abysmal. Promises have been made and dismissed, again and again. Features have come and gone. Heck, the entire project was literally restarted from scratch after it became obvious that the initial code base was a teetering, technological house of cards. Windows Vista, in other words, has been an utter disaster. And it’s not even out yet.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like the ill-fated Copland project?
Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided – or, through lack of leadership – failed to guide the development of Microsoft’s most prized asset.
Perhaps Microsoft’s most serious mistake, retrospectively, was that Gates and Ballmer were too compatible. Ballmer should have driven Gates out of the company in the 80s, then Gates should have matured elsewhere, only to return triumphantly in the 90s with new, cool technology, in the nick of time to save the company that was going broke after Ballmer in turn had been pushed out… sounds familiar, too?
Now here’s another interesting part:
Here’s what you have to go through to actually delete those files in Windows Vista. First, you get a File Access Denied dialog (Figure) explaining that you don’t, in fact, have permission to delete a … shortcut?? To an application you just installed??? Seriously?
…What if you’re doing something a bit more complicated? Well, lucky you, the dialogs stack right up, one after the other, in a seemingly never-ending display of stupidity. Indeed, sometimes you’ll find yourself unable to do certain things for no good reason, and you click Allow buttons until you’re blue in the face. It will never stop bothering you, unless you agree to stop your silliness and leave that file on the desktop where it belongs. Mark my words, this will happen to you. And you will hate it.
This is exactly what happened to me when I, a few months ago, had to install Windows XP for my wife’s business (to run a proprietary vertical app, if you must know). I tried to set up an admin account for myself and a normal user account for the receptionist. This being the first time I’d ever seen XP, I did them in the wrong order… and then tried to organize the desktop and taskbars. In the end I had to wipe and reinstall everything. It seems Vista won’t be any better, sadly.
Thurrott goes on to complain about glass windows and the Media Center UI, which I can’t comment on myself. But, here’s a thought:
One of the “stealth” features of Apple products is that more and more people are being subconsciously educated as to what constitutes good design.
We certainly aren’t that used to columnists criticizing details of the Windows UI; specialists like Don Norman, sure, but not mainstream columnists. Personally, I’d about given up commenting on bad UI to Windows users… they either just emit a blank “huh?” or say somewhat ruefully “well, that’s what computers are like, you know”. Not that the Mac UI is itself perfect – it’s still a work in progress – but at least we developers, and many people inside Apple, deeply care about producing good UI. (Here’s one example among hundreds.) If that attitude is now leaking out to the general public, so much the better.
Thanks to John C. Randolph for pointing out that article.