The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it

jojo69

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https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/05/opinion_column_modern_os_desktop/

The sight of a former executive laying into their old company is rarely less than delicious. And when that company is Microsoft, the exec is head of user experience, and the complaint is about the solid slab of sadness that is the Windows 11 Start menu? This calls for not just regular salted popcorn, but truffle-oil popcorn on a silver platter carried in by a butler.


Yet ex-Rex of UX Jensen Harris, who also confesses to being the murderer of the Windows startup sound, is, if anything, far too sparing in his regal condemnations. In the 20 years since the Start menu first appeared, it has changed many times, but arguably to little user benefit. It isn't hard to find videos of youngsters barely older than the button reacting with growing pleasure as they click around the Windows 95 desktop.


That's because the desktop metaphor was basically done. By the time it came out, Windows 95 was the beneficiary of 20 years of evolution in graphical user interfaces, first introduced in the Xerox Alto of 1973. That supplemented – but did not replace – the text terminal, which would be familiar to teletype operators of the 1920s. Teletypes themselves were inheritors of the QWERTY keyboard of 1873. Some 150 years later, as you compose your emails or write your jeremiad against Windows, that's basically what you're using. Stability in UX is not a bad thing
Constantly messing around with UX is a bad thing, however. All you need is for it to find resources, start software, control your computer, and arrange things to your liking. Windows 95 did that perfectly well, as did Apple's System 7. By rights the GUI should have settled down then, like every UI before it.


So what went wrong? ...
 

cdabc123

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Phone os are way worse.

My desktop runs esxi and windows 2019 server, as well as an occatinal linux VM. That's leaps and bounds better then the mobile "options" you get and I'm pretty satisfied with it.

Windows 10 and 11 have their annoyances but honestly nothing to terrible else people would just run something else.
 

cdabc123

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I haven't read the article, and I don't know anything about 11's interface, yet, but it's hard to be worse than windows 10 without classic shell.
Slightly worse then 10 is the general impression. Always a step in the wrong direction.

10 is usable enough right out the box
 

ZodaEX

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Slightly worse then 10 is the general impression. Always a step in the wrong direction.

10 is usable enough right out the box

Are you kidding me? Combining folders in the taskbar is the worst. Nothing slows me and my colleagues more than this in out of the box Windows 10.
 

duronboy

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10 is usable enough right out the box
I couldn't figure out how to customize it. Searches led me to install classic shell. It's not quite what windows 7 let me do, but it's better than stock 8 or 10 and I don't have damned ads in my start menu, now. That I can see.
 

Axman

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JoliOS had the best UI I've ever had the pleasure of using. No one knows about it.

Second place is Windows Vista, and everyone has misconceptions about it to this day. Truth is that it was the best version of Windows that we're still kind of using right now. It was closer to XP and 2000 that we vaunt, and worked like the Windows we're more than accustomed to today.

Also it had a Start Menu and the search bar just worked.
 

cdabc123

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I couldn't figure out how to customize it. Searches led me to install classic shell. It's not quite what windows 7 let me do, but it's better than stock 8 or 10 and I don't have damned ads in my start menu, now. That I can see.
Thats why I like 2019 and 2022 server. No adds, search isn't retarded, local user is easy to setup, no cortana, ect. Its like 10 with all the compatibility, and the correct choices made for design features. Same ui as 10 which honestly works just fine.

As a note it is possible to mod windows 10 to be very similar to the server os in all these regards
 

ThatITGuy

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Windows 10 at least let me embed folders as a toolbar into the taskbar, so that i could click the toolbar, it would expand the list of files in the folder, and i could click that to launch the program. I do not like a desktop covered in icons and i dislike the Windows start menu.
 

duronboy

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From 8 on, if you weren't seeing ads, on legitimate RTM/retail installs, I don't know what to tell ya. I feel like I'm getting cunningham'd here.
 

ZodaEX

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There are ads for Netflix, MS Office, I think Spotify too. All sorts of services like that in the Win10 start menu by default. That's part of why I still use Windows 7.
 

Kardonxt

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They aren't really ads, just stupid app store apps the MS downloads in the background after a fresh install. For a while Spotify was even set to launch on startup.

I agree 100% they shouldn't be there, but calling them ads makes be think of legit billboards or banner style ads, which Windows does not have (yet).
 

cdabc123

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They aren't really ads, just stupid app store apps the MS downloads in the background after a fresh install. For a while Spotify was even set to launch on startup.

I agree 100% they shouldn't be there, but calling them ads makes be think of legit billboards or banner style ads, which Windows does not have (yet).
They have that for their office and onedrive stuff.
 

michalrz

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I admit I haven't read the article, only the quoted part OP inserted.

I do feel I should say something, though. I'm speaking both as an individual who first played with computers on Windows 3.11, and as a (recently former) IT person for a few dozen people doing various things, mostly office work on desktop PCs.
Unwanted pushed UI changes in various programs were merely a source of annoyance and wasting time: specific task-oriented people had their stuff down to muscle memory and each change served only to disrupt that.

As I'm getting older myself, Microsoft feels like a hostile entity to me. That is my subjective approach in response to nearly whatever they do. I no longer feel the need or want to explore their new offerings or tweaks, every update makes me frown. I don't even trust the OS on a lower level. I know that nowadays they don't aim to make money off of OS sales, and instead make me the product.

I have my grudges with many other companies, including google and Mozilla, but I admit I'm just disenchanted overall with how things have been going for the last 10 years.
As I was typing the above paragraph, FF literally capitalized Mozilla automatically and left google alone, lol.

All that said I switched back to one of the popular Linux distros and keep 10 in a VM for MS Office (because I think Libre can't cut it for the work I do). I expect changes as the EOL of this one comes - in 2025. It's nice to have peace of mind that I can focus solely on work.
 

SmokeRngs

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The pinnacle of UI setup and layout for MS was Win2k. Everything else has been downhill from there. Win7 Aero may have been pretty but it was several steps backward in UI design and usability.
 

Meeho

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I admit I haven't read the article, only the quoted part OP inserted.

I do feel I should say something, though. I'm speaking both as an individual who first played with computers on Windows 3.11, and as a (recently former) IT person for a few dozen people doing various things, mostly office work on desktop PCs.
Unwanted pushed UI changes in various programs were merely a source of annoyance and wasting time: specific task-oriented people had their stuff down to muscle memory and each change served only to disrupt that.

As I'm getting older myself, Microsoft feels like a hostile entity to me. That is my subjective approach in response to nearly whatever they do. I no longer feel the need or want to explore their new offerings or tweaks, every update makes me frown. I don't even trust the OS on a lower level. I know that nowadays they don't aim to make money off of OS sales, and instead make me the product.

I have my grudges with many other companies, including google and Mozilla, but I admit I'm just disenchanted overall with how things have been going for the last 10 years.
As I was typing the above paragraph, FF literally capitalized Mozilla automatically and left google alone, lol.

All that said I switched back to one of the popular Linux distros and keep 10 in a VM for MS Office (because I think Libre can't cut it for the work I do). I expect changes as the EOL of this one comes - in 2025. It's nice to have peace of mind that I can focus solely on work.
Have I drunk registered and posted this?! I feel like I'm reading my notes.
 

ZodaEX

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If they had a 64-bit version of Windows 2000 I'd be in heaven.
 
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Axman

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I thought they did make a 64-bit Win2K...

*search*

Yep, it was a thing for a little bit.
 

rhkcommander959

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10 is serviceable, 11 is crap so I had to use a shell to set it to Windows 7 style for folders and start menu, peak productivity in my opinion.
 

jojo69

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The article is really quite short, and well written in my opinion, well worth the jump guys.
 

cdabc123

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The article is really quite short, and well written in my opinion, well worth the jump guys.
I'm going to have to disagree, the article is sensationalized with a focus exclusively on creative writing style and "ui bad". This discussion just as relevant with many people not reading it as there is so little substance presented in the writing. The theme of os and ui change is better discussed by the explicit examples of change presented in this thread then the article offers.

It's a creative writing piece which is fine and offers some interesting styles which are not often presented in tech writing. Perhaps for a good reason, as it struck me as opposing to the value of a tech writing piece.
 

jojo69

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Fine, let's try putting the steering wheel in the back seat to differentiate ourselves in the market. 🙄
 

cdabc123

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Fine, let's try putting the steering wheel in the back seat to differentiate ourselves in the market. 🙄
And then let us pull carrots and zealously, but lightly, toss them at the nearest occupied mule in order to muster enough horsepower to prevent opponents from raising concern about market manipulation. Provided, both the carrot farmer and mule are familiar with the nostalgic remembrance of our beloved 64bit w2k.
 

jardows

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I found the article to be an entertaining rant, but it has little value over that. His arguments against UI change have some valid points, but his "set it and forget it" approach when it comes to UI assumes that Win95 was the pinnacle of UI design (IMO, it was not). Different people will have different concepts of what is optimal UI, and that is fine.
 

jojo69

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... his "set it and forget it" approach when it comes to UI assumes that Win95 was the pinnacle of UI design (IMO, it was not). Different people will have different concepts of what is optimal UI, and that is fine.

Different styles are fine, extensibility is fine – providing it's standard and portable.
 
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