sábado, 6 de julio de 2013

A Letter to Windows 8.1 from a non-technical Linux user

Disclaimer:  This is my reaction after trying Windows 8.1.  It's in no way meant to be read as a technical review.

Hello, Windows 8.1

I am a non-technical Linux user.  But wait!  Before you turn away in denial (yes, we exist), let me tell you that I once was a long time Windows user.  In fact, I started my relationship with your family when I met your great-grand parent, Windows 3.11.  95 and I worked side by side, and 98 also drew me closer to your family.  Then I learned how to install OSs myself and thus became a good friend of ME, to whom I painfully had to let go when XP came along.

Can I call you "Blue"?

Well, it's true that my dealings with your family became tense thanks to XP, but I forgave him for all of his uncontrollable RAM cravings and constant infections.  I made myself like him as everybody else did.  He was a popular guy. 

Blue, your cousin Vista came one day and told me that I had to forget about XP.  Vista made me dislike your family intensely.  That's when I became a Linux user, you see?

No, Seven did not mend things.  He has Vista blood after all.

When your brother 8 came around, I jokingly nicknamed him "Ultraman Mebius", the rookie Ultraman that always got battered by every enemy in sight and, sometimes, even by his own Ultra-brothers.  This is the thing: Microsoft used Ultraseven, one of my childhood heroes, to promote 7.  You pronounce Mӧbius "mebius" (メビウス)  in Japanese.  Have you noticed that a Mӧbius strip is like the number 8 that has fallen and is lying on the ground? Just like Windows 8.
This is my intended Windows 8.1 desktop wallpaper

Please, do not think that I hate you because I use Linux.  In fact, I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt.  So, I downloaded you to see if the strong criticism against 8 is justified and if you can fix things for the many disgruntled Windows users out there.

After seeing you in action, I must be honest: it seems to me that you are in trouble.

The Windows 8.1 installer running on a VM (Mageia 3 host)
Although I was impressed by your simple installer (anyone can handle that process) and your overall speed, I believe that the experience that you deliver is not up to the expectations of many Windows users.  They neither want to learn new things nor they want to "fiddle" with the system to make it work.

Remember?  Those were the words that your family used to badmouth Linux.  Charm bars that activate on hidden spots?  The army of Microsoft trolls dismissed the idea saying that such is the way of the KDE Penguin Geeks!

New "menu" after fixing the start button to get rid of the tiles
The Windows users around me want a start button, a REAL one.  What you are offering reminds me of the ROSA launcher that got Mandriva 2011 in trouble, only that yours comes with smaller icons that look way too juvenile.
The other option that you offer is worse: the infamous desktop/metro amalgamation.  Listen, it's hideously impractical.   As a Linux user, I have been exposed to all kinds of desktop environments and configurations and, let me tell you, nothing is less intuitive than what you want to deliver.

I'll be blunt.  I do not see any of my Windows-loving colleagues using any of the two choices you bring with pleasure.  Many of them simply cling to XP and haven't even bothered to take a look at 7.  I do not think that you can manage to change their minds because, as I said before, they do not want to learn new things.  Some of them complain about "not being able to format a document with LibreOffice"... despite the fact that they can customize the toolbars or use the menus! 

Hence, the best you can aim at is converting dissatisfied 8 users into a-bit-less-grumpy Blue users... which is not a great feat, really.  Let's see the numbers.  After 8 (what a magical number!) months out and having the benefit of holiday sales, all that your brother has achieved is 5% market share.  It's four months before you go out.  By then, how much more market share he can get? Let's be positive and say that he can double in four months what he has done so far in eight: 10%.

You will probably get that in no time.  The thing is, can you get more? I've read some generously optimistic predictions for you.  Yet, I think they are not seeing the obvious: you are also 8.  The public does not want Windows 8.  What is the catchy phrase to promote you?  "Windows 8.1, attempting to fix Microsoft's OS mess"?  The public knows already that 8 is the number to avoid.  OEMs, in shame, have removed street billboards featuring pictures and the name of your brother hoping to sell more computers.

Microsoft should have called you Windows Mebius instead.

Temporary local account.  Get a Microsoft account or else...!
Don't think it's personal.  Well, maybe it is; it's all "personal": the death of the PC (Personal Computer).  You also have your mind on the clouds.  Why can't I simply keep a local account?  You promise a better experience with a Microsoft account and an Internet connection.  What's next?  "Always on", like the butchered original XBox One?  Spying?  Unauthorized reading of my Windows Journal by default?

Not everything is lost, however.  At least your fish is cute.  And the Japanese IME works great (unless you type on the write pad). 
Japanese IME on Writepad
Your Japanese text after saving it
Japanese IME working as it should on Windows Journal
The cute fish at the beginning of the installation

Unfortunately, besides all the privacy concerns, that's pretty much what you can offer me: and expensive Japanese IME and a bubble-blowing fish...

I promise I will visit you occasionally until Microsoft decides to put an end to our friendly encounters.  I will wish you good luck and forget about you afterwards because I am staying with my Linux friends.  I hope you understand.

Until next time, Blue.

3 comentarios:

  1. What can I say? Windows fanboys won't like it, but Windows 8 is indeed an obstacle to productivity. While I see myself becoming able to use it, I simply cannot picture non-technical XP or Vista/7 users learning to use 8 efficiently (or happily.) This OS seems to get in the way for every single task...and it's not because it's different; it is because it seems actually designed to make simple tasks more obtuse. These are some true experiments with regular users (XP proficient, non-technical) that I exposed to 8.1:

    a- Opening the calculator: 5 minutes (without success)
    b- Closing opened apps: 4 minutes (success)
    c- Shutting the system down: 5 minutes (without success)

    You can't possibly call this OS "intuitive"!

  2. Classic shell solves mostly everything. My Win8 is made to run like LXDE. I'm also a Linux user.

  3. @Megatototo,
    Yes, your experiments validate the complaints...What was MS thinking?

    I bet, but you confirm my point when you say that "your Win8 is made" or that you also use Linux.

    You see, there are lots of Windows-only users that are scared to death when they have to "tinker" with the system. For example, one young woman revealed to me last week that she did not know that you can change the sounds in Windows! One cannot seriously expect this group of users to tweak the system or embrace the new interface with a grin.