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What's Different About Vista's GUI? 444

Posted by Zonk
from the now-with-more-goo dept.
jcatcw writes "Paul McFedries, author of Windows Vista Unveiled, thinks that an operating system should be thought of as more than just its user interface, but then again that interface should work well for the user. He thinks the Vista interface rates 'pretty darned good.' The Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) results in positive changes for both developers and users. Developers can do 2-D, 3-D, animation, imaging, video, audio, special effects and text rendering using a single API. The use of vector graphics and offloading work to the GPU result in better animations, improved scaling, transparency, and smooth motion."
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What's Different About Vista's GUI?

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  • by nizo (81281) * on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:00PM (#16522387) Homepage Journal

    Better and more useful animations. Microsoft realized a few years ago that some sort of animation effects were necessary, particularly for novice users. For example, new Windows users are often surprised at the abrupt disappearance of a window when they click the Minimize button.


    I hope they have a nice animation for when the machine is infected with a virus, like clippy catching fire and then running around in circles screaming. At least then the users will be prepared for what will happen to him/her when they bring their laptop in to have me work on it and I find out they have been surfing porn sites with their virus scanner disabled.

    • by atani (514575) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:04PM (#16522447)

      like clippy catching fire and then running around in circles screaming
      I would expect a different animation if clippy gets infected from a porn site.
    • by Gracenotes (1001843) <wikigracenotes@gma i l . com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:10PM (#16522527)
      I hope they have a nice animation for when the machine is infected with a virus, like clippy catching fire and then running around in circles screaming.
      Dare you attempt sacrilege against Clippy? I'm sure that malicious, libelous fan fiction abounds about him. All those copyright infringements and bad jokes about his simple eagerness to help have hurt the potential millions, in profit, of whoever invented him. Don't you dare insinuate that the software engineer who created Clippy is penniless.

      Clippy's long career will end when Vista comes out in favor of a "better" help system. We shall mourn his loss. Undoubtedly not much change in the GUI, eh?
    • by Kamots (321174) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:18PM (#16522649)
      "I hope they have a nice animation for when the machine is infected with a virus, like clippy catching fire and then running around in circles screaming."

      I'd be infecting my computer on purpose if that was the result!
    • by x_MeRLiN_x (935994) * on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:58PM (#16523163) Homepage

      For example, new Windows users are often surprised at the abrupt disappearance of a window when they click the Minimize button.

      Who has to explain to these new users that a 3D accelerator is required for these new animations to work? How do these users feel when they find out the person trying to sell them said hardware merely needed to point out how to use the taskbar? Call me a pessimist, but people who don't understand how windows are minimised even after having it explained to them shouldn't be using computers. Don't get me wrong, I like the new GUI additions and everyone who I have shown 'Flip 3D' has been impressed, but I don't agree that they can be justified in that way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by creepynut (933825)
        Any new computer system released after Vista should support all the eye candy. That will certainly be where most of the Vista installations come from, new computers.

        Even the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) series of shared-RAM chips supports the Vista eye candy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by snilloc (470200)
        I can't be the only person who turns off almost all animations, right? I don't want Windows sucking even minimal performance out of my system. Animations are a pain when frequently switching programs, or when trying to use the UI when another program is taxing the system.
        • by bob65 (590395) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:18PM (#16524029)
          That's for improperly implemented animations. Properly implemented, animations can not only improve usability of a system, but also increase the aesthetic attractiveness of the GUI. And it's well known - even in usability groups who are typically focussed on quantitatively measurable aspects of UIs - that "attractive things work better". A pleasing interface can make the user overlook minor usability flaws, and who's to say that attractiveness has no value?
        • by x2A (858210) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:36PM (#16524197)
          I do too... I'm a fast user, and things like that just slow me down. I don't want menus to fade/slide in, same with dropdown boxes, tooltips etc.

          However; MS have done rather well with Vista. The fades/etc are done with transparencies, using the graphics card -not- the main system, and so makes it look/feel nicer, without slowing me down at all. I'm not a big fan of MS's stuff in the slightest; I develop server software and refuse to touch windows for that (i develop on linux), but credit where credit's due, preconceptions aside, I was quite impressed, it is a really nice gui.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:35PM (#16523627)
      No fire, but Clippy will change its name to "Drippy", with appropriate animation. (Ewwww!)
  • by thedbp (443047) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:05PM (#16522455)
    Not to troll, and its nice that Windows users are getting these features, but how come no one ever calls MS out on the fact that Vista is basically still playing catch up to OS X, doesn't do it as well, and is probably going to be left in the dust when Leopard comes out?

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2674791799 339834706 [google.com]

    Here's hoping MS uses the competition to better Windows. The more secure it gets and the easier it gets to use, the better for everyone, even those of us who don't use Windows.
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:15PM (#16522605) Homepage Journal
      how come no one ever calls MS out on the fact that Vista is basically still playing catch up to OS X

      I'm pretty sure someone does that every time a Windows Vista story comes up. Case in point...

      • by thedbp (443047) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:24PM (#16522713)
        I meant in the articles themselves. Surely these tech-literate pundits have heard of and used the competition's operating system, right? I mean, you know, so they can have a frame of reference?
        • by Ash Vince (602485) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:35PM (#16522863) Journal
          Because your average technical journo who writes the articles in question is too hooked on the freebies MS provide him with in the way of free booze to risk fucking that up.

          Everyone knows there have been better OSes out there than windows since OS2 warp but the competion has never bribed these people with enough free stuff for them to write about it. To get a glowing review of an OS you have to install it on a brand new laptop and then give said laptop away for free to enough journos so that some actually use it.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:37PM (#16522879)
      You forgot that OS X does it on a third of the hardware.(except ram then only half)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      , but how come no one ever calls MS out on the fact that Vista is basically still playing catch up to OS X

      Because, as has been demonstrated in every Microsoft windows release since the first, no one cares that Microsoft Windows $foo is playing catch up to Mac OS $bar.

      Plus, its old news. Its like every article that mentions the Earth having to point out that the Earth is roughly spherical. Yeah, there was a time when that was news to people and interesting, but now its just a given.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      Not to troll, and its nice that Windows users are getting these features, but how come no one ever calls MS out on the fact that Vista is basically still playing catch up to OS X, doesn't do it as well, and is probably going to be left in the dust when Leopard comes out?

      Because anyone who has been in the industry for more than a few years and isn't a blathering fanboy (and they do enough "calling out" to make up for everyone else ten times over) knows that everyone "copies" everyone else, everyone reguarl

  • by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16522465) Homepage Journal
    "an operating system should be thought of as more than just its user interface, but then again that interface should work well for the user."

    Vista can apparently be represented in a significant way by either Mac OS X, or XP with modifications. It's mostly a vehicle for DRM, including PVP, which will require you to buy a PVP compliant digital monitor. Vista's enhancements won't even work on many powerful systems you are buying these days - if they have "Vista Capable" stickers. In an age where we should be looking for energy savings, what's the benefit of making a system more complicated than XP, and requires more horsepower than a rather darn good OS Microsoft released in 2000?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ruie (30480)
      a rather darn good OS Microsoft released in 2000?

      I believe you are mistaken, MS never sold any OS but Windows..

    • by phatvw (996438) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:02PM (#16523197)
      In an age where we should be looking for energy savings, what's the benefit of making a system more complicated than XP, and requires more horsepower than a rather darn good OS Microsoft released in 2000

      The answer is simple: Games. Just wait till the new DirectX10 titles start coming out - that is going to be the driving sales force for Vista!

      Also, Vista is quite aggressive in its power management so even though the CPU and GPU peak energy consumption might be a lot higher than a typical Windows XP machine, the OS is quite intelligent about turning off bits that aren't being used - especially on laptops. I reckon the energy requirements will be about the same overall.
    • It must just be anti-MS groupthink, because anybody who has done even a bit of research on Vista knows far better.

      • UAC: Vista can raise (and presumably lower) program permissions while running. This is seriously a good thing; aside from running sans-admin priveleges for the most part (and the abiliy to gain admin privs in things like Defender without needing to re-start the program from the menu via RunAs) the IE7 Protected Mode sandbox is, quite literally, the way all browsers should run. Super-low permissions, until it need to do something like load an outside pogram or save a file to disc. Then it asks for permission. Explorer works fairly similarly, elevating permsissions only when doing things that require admin privs (modifying Windows files or other users' directories, for example). Neither OS X nor XP (nor Linux) are this good at permissions control.
      • Address Space Layout Randomization [wikipedia.org]: together with the no-execute (NX) protection provided by essentially all modern OSes, this provides excellent protection against buffer overflow exploits. (NX is completely ineffective against overwriting the return address to some linked library, for example, the classic return-to-libc exploit.)Neither XP nor OS X support ASLR natively. I think it's part of SELinux, which is included with a few distros.
      • DirectX 10. I don't think this is going to be backported, and if MS is even 25% correct in their claims of increased performance (up to 70% improvement), it will make a big splash in the gaming world. OpenGL is awesome, but it doesn't have this level of performance. Oh, and anybody who says OpenGL is unsupported in Vista is ignorant/full of it; I've run OpenGL apps without any problem at all.
      • Volume Shadow Copies: SO useful! I've used it for everything from reverting files I'd thought overwritten and gone to restoring damaged system files (via System Restore, which in Vista makes XP's version look like a joke). It's in Server 2003, but not (really) in XP (only for system folders, and not well impemented). Leopard's "Time Machine" may be the same capability (with excessive eye candy) but I'm dubious of their implementation too... daily screenshots? Not based on major modifications? I hope they at least don't store the VSCs in some easily located portion of the filesystem; I realize there's very little malware for Macs, but most XP malware goes after the system restore copies as soon as it can. In any case, Leopard isn't out yet and won't be for a while yet.
      • BitLocker Drive Encryption: NTFS encrypting filesystem is nice, and there are of course 3rd-party software solutions, but using a dedicated hardware chip to do the encryption on your entire drive just makes all kinds of sense. I wish my system had one... I'd move GRUB out of the MBR and chainload it instead; then even dual-booting with BitLocker would work (yes, it does).
      • Resizing hard disk partitions, including the system volume, while they are mounted. I didn't even know this was possible! As somebody who does a lot of messing with partitions, doesn't want to shell out for Partition Magic (I get MS software for free via my school) and doesn't entirely trust QtParted and NTFSresize (I have about a 75% success rate, which isn't high enough for those kinds of operations. No major data loss... yet... but still not good enough).
      There's so much more... but I'm tired of repeating this post for the quadrillionth time. Oh, and as for power savings, I get much better battery life in Vista (due to various things including dynamic processor scaling that allow me to set my clock rate as low as 5% of its normal speed while the CPU is idle) than I do in XP. Linux is similarly good, but ACPI support in Linux is still lagging. I don't have OS X installed on my laptop.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tibor the Hun (143056)
        You state all of those things as if they've already been proven with rock-solid stability.

        Remember that to this day, MS does not have a consumer-level OS that can defrag itself in the background, or index its filesystem for quick searches. Priviledge escalation, proper stand-by management, and security are but a distant dream on billions of user desktops.

        If there's one thing I've learned about MS is that they overpromise and underdeliver. So I'd hold the judgement on drive encryption, and HD repartitioning
      • by aaronl (43811) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @01:59AM (#16526347) Homepage
        UAC: This doesn't work that well. I found it to be the second most annoying thing in Vista, beaten only by the terrible Aero theme. It's a very nice idea, it's been available on any UNIX based system for many years, and MS still didn't make it work right. The video mode switching alone is just silly to no end.

        Address space rand: Increasing security is always good.

        DX10: If it isn't getting backported then it isn't very useful. Besides, of course it's going to seem fast, you have to upgrade your CPU and video card to use Vista properly. I personally so absolutely no speed improvement in graphics out of Vista/DX10. I did see my system run slower, though.

        Shadow copies: This is LVM. I've had this for a decade. If you want a better version than VSC in Vista, go buy a Net.App.

        Bitlocker: I do not want any partition/file system/disc encrypted at home, and I certainly don't want it at work. People forget passwords, systems need repairing, etc, etc. It has a niche use, though.

        Resizing: I don't resize my system partitions, and very few other people do. Most people don't even know what a partition is. It's nifty, and ties right in with LVM.

        Power management: Just as everyone else said, you can't get the gains that you claim. You can't slow the CPU down under its base clock. That means 600-800MHz on most Intel chips. Throw battery gains out the window if you're using the GPU hungry Aero theme... I only get slightly better battery from my Pentium-M system under Ubuntu than I do under WinXP, and that's mostly because there are fewer things trying to run in the background.

        You might repeat your post over and over, but that doesn't make anything you mention earth shattering. Nearly all of these "huge improvements" in Vista are either incremental over XP or have been available on other platforms for years, and then there is the pile of mis-features that nobody actually wants.

        Anyone that does some research on Vista would know that this is the first NT based OS that Microsoft shipped that offered no real user improvements. It doesn't even put into place that last piece of Cairo, which would have been WinFS. All of the features that people were excited about, MS has ripped out. However, as the GP pointed out, MS sure had enough devs and time to throw in all of the total bullshit DRM that none of their customers actually wants to pay for.

        Hell, the MS DRM, especially mandatory driver signing, means that I *can't* even use Vista. I have too many pieces of software and too many devices that I would have to purchase a new product, retest, redeploy, and retrain to get away from what already works with XP. For all these wonderful "features" that Vista offers, it gives us three that range from simply useless to outright malicious to the end user.
      • UAC: Vista can raise (and presumably lower) program permissions while running.

        This isn't such a good thing. From what I've read UAC asks for permission quite often. If we take a look at history, people will end up automatically clicking on allow, just to not have to think about it. A well-designed system takes into account the human factor so that it does not ask to change permissions (roadblock-style security, which leads to automatic response by the human user), but instead allows to user to change permis
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16522479)
    Then why are the CPU requirements for Aero so high?
  • WPF!!1!111 (Score:5, Funny)

    by neuro.slug (628600) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <__oruen>> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#16522521)
    I know it doesn't make sense, but the Object Management Group should extend the API just so we'd have the OMGWPFAPI.
  • by PoconoPCDoctor (912001) <jpclyons@gmail.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:10PM (#16522533) Homepage Journal
    In January of this year, maybe a little later, our contracted supplier of PC's will probably start the push towards shipping new PC's with Vista, instead of XP Profesional. In my environment, a major medical center/school, I don't think the GUI will be immediately useful, in fact, it might hurt productivity initially, since our users will need to learn how to navigate Vista to accomplish everyday tasks like file copying, etc. Games are not big in a medical center, or most large enviroments, for that matter.

    Unless Vista's underlying GUI can better render high-resolution images of cells, and most imaging in the research labs is done on Macs, it probably will not have a tremendous impact on corporate buying decisions.

    The OS choice will be determined when our PC supplier starts to charge more for a PC with XP Professional than the same system with Vista. Research dollars are hard to come by, and unless Vista totally breaks standard Office suite PC/applications, it's just a matter of time before it will replace XP.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:26PM (#16522749)
      > I don't think the GUI will be immediately useful, in fact, it might hurt productivity initially, since our users will need to learn how to navigate Vista to accomplish everyday tasks like file copying, etc

      Silly user. File copying is evil! You're not supposed to look at files.

      Win95/98: We won't show you directory paths or file extensions.
      WinME: We won't even boot to DOS without a fight.
      WinNT: Pay no attention to the 8.1 filenames. We're going to make sure everyone puts spaces in every path name, by calling it "Program Files"
      Win2K: ...and since some of you still didn't get the message last time, we're going to make everyone's home directory contain at least two spaces by calling it "Documents and Settings"
      WinXP: ...and don't even think of trying to remove Outlook or other files we want on your hard drive, even if you never use the application. By the way, it phones home, but we won't nuke your box if you don't let it phone home.
      Vista: ...by the way, when we said we wouldn't nuke your box if you didn't let it phone home, we meant we would nuke your box if you don't let it phone home. Don't worry, we won't install any user tracking software not authorized by the government, though.

      > Research dollars are hard to come by, and unless Vista totally breaks standard Office suite PC/applications, it's just a matter of time before it will replace XP.

      You've forgotten the lesson of Office 97.

      Research dollars are hard to come by, and when it's confirmed that Vista totally breaks standard Office suite PC/applications, only then will it be only a matter of time until it will replace XP.

      Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

  • The Holy Grail... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:18PM (#16522641)
    ...is vector-based uber-scaling. I want a desktop that looks basically the same when I switch resolutions, with icons and fonts scaled appropriately. Vista has the necessary scaling and vector capabilities in place, but I'm guessing it doesn't support this. Or does it?
    • I've some questions, not direcly AT you, nor ripping you. These just came to mind, inspired by your and other's comments... So please understand I am trying to find my way to reasonable/insightful (and maybe even inciteful) questions (I don't have vista, and surely will not plunk down my OWN money for exhorbitant vista "features" KDE and Gnome give me right now):

      Can vista users stretch the desktop icons and folder icons? Do they scale well?

      Can vista users with bad dexterity or shaking hands left-alt-right-m
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:22PM (#16522685) Journal

    Enough said.

    What the heck? I'd love to understand look and feel better, but it would seem to be a more effective review if the pictures were in color.

  • A while back... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bunions (970377) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:26PM (#16522745)
    just after they'd changed the name from the awful "Avalon" to the much more memorable "Windows Presentation Foundation," I saw a demo of this stuff from a MS evangelist. The demo application was awful. Gratuitous use of 3D, buttons that were unrecognizable as such and which would flip up into the 'air' playing a movie when you pressed them.

    I understand that it was just a demo and these things weren't really 'gratuitous' because they existed simply to show off the capabilities. But the bottom line is that it's so super-easy to make these awful UI abortions that we're gonna see metric asstons of it coming down the pipe from programmers and their bosses who are unable to resist cramming every last widget behavior into their software. Feh.
    • Re:A while back... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ElephanTS (624421) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:56PM (#16523837)
      In other words every Win app is going to look like an over-tweaked Flash site.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bunions (970377)
        That is exactly what I told people afterward, almost verbatim. Because that's exactly what it looked like.
  • by pammon (831694) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:30PM (#16522795)
    The author seems rather confused about what "GUI" means. The GUI is the graphical user interface - what the user sees and interacts with. The article mentioned almost nothing about the actual user interface of Vista - only the developer-targeted APIs. Nearly all of the apps that ship with Vista do not use WPF and therefore the actual GUI will not be like what the author describes.

    And the author is simply wrong when he says that "With WPF, everything is drawn with vectors, so you can scale windows and icons as big (or as small) as you want, and the objects will display with no loss in quality." In fact, icons in Vista are generally 256x256 bitmap images. Artists normally prefer bitmaps because it gives them more control over the artwork.
    • No, it IS vectors (Score:3, Informative)

      by cbhacking (979169)
      Yep, icons are raster. So are bitmap files. So are rendered jpegs, in most programs. So are sprites in most programs. The point you're missing is that Vista ships these bitmaps off to the GPU to be rendered using vectors (not sure if the raster->vector conversion happens in software or hardware or both, but what comes out is vectors) so you get the advantages of vectors on the display end (they are fast to render using hardware acceleration, too) and the advantages of bitmaps when manipulating your image
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pammon (831694)
        I'm not quite sure how a raster image can be "rendered using vectors" (and any more information you had on this would be nifty), but whatever hoops Vista jumps through internally, it still can't allow an image that starts out as 256x256 raster to be scaled up "as big as you want" with no loss in quality.
  • interfaces (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StarvingSE (875139) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:31PM (#16522805)
    Paul McFedries, author of Windows Vista Unveiled, thinks that an operating system should be thought of as more than just its user interface

    Correct. Why can't Microsoft understand this? They spend so much time with the user interface, that the actually OS stuff (stable runtime environment, security, "revolutionary file system" gets put on the backburner. I think it would be in MS's best interest to focus 100% on the core internals of the OS and leave the shell to either open source or some third party. Heck, even a totally seperate division of microsoft. This whole "API for everything" and having so much interface stuff integrated with the internal running of the system is just a recipe for disaster, as can be seen on every other windows release before vista.
  • by goofyheadedpunk (807517) <`goofyheadedpunk' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:32PM (#16522815)
    Maybe I'm just cantankerous today, but the idea of having a GUI do more happy bouncy shit to pander to the least educated user really bugs me. Perhaps it's just me, but I hate little "helpful" pop-up tips and goofy animations asking if they can assist me in writing a letter. No user interface, other than the nipple if you're a mammal, is intuative and no amount of pop-uppery will fix that. Simplification and consistancy is probably the best way to make sure that all the rules of the interface can fit inside people's head, which is maybe what they're groping toward by copying OSX. (Which is by no means the Best Interface Ever, as some people content. Me? I like the command line.)

    Blegh. Why has this pissed me off so much? I've not used a Microsoft product in years, and I'm far more likely to do this [bmezine.com][*] before touching Vista. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but does this piss anyone else off?

    [*] DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK (unless you're familiar with modblog, aren't squemish and aren't at work).
  • slow transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bored (40072) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#16522869)
    This guy is smoking some serious crack in a couple of places, he talks about how difficult it is to do transparency? Hello I wrote a little piece of code to make transparent windows back with turbo pascal on a 386.. If my 386 could do it i'm sure you don't need a GPU... Just because transparency wasn't in the basic GDI (which is even older) doesn't mean it was hard or even that slow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sebastopol (189276)
      Yeah, I'm sure you were performing on average 2000 bitblts per action on your 386 Pascal program. Just because you wrote an algorithm that probably did a 50% dither on b&w bitmap 10 years ago, then saying it is trivial, is akin to me saying, "Hey, I once ran a 4-minute mile, therefore a marathon is trivial!"

  • by KiwiRed (598427) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#16522871)
    I'm kind of lost about exactly what this 'vector based' part of the Vista UI is, as referred to in the article:
    Improved scaling. With vector-based graphics, you can scale any image bigger or smaller without any loss in the image quality. This is simply not possibly with raster-based graphics. For example, if you have ever tried using larger icons in Windows or a program toolbar, you know that the resulting icons look blurry and jagged.
    Yet MS themselves have said that Aero isn't vector-based (http://www.msblog.org/?p=731 ), and just used good ol' bitmaps. Is the author referring to some feature of the UI that MS has available in Vista but just forgot to use for Aero?
  • by Fonce (635723) <msmunter AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:53PM (#16523119) Homepage
    You know what bothers me about this? They've taken nearly every proposed feature out of Vista that we wanted or that was going to useful...or even new...leaving us forced to debate whether or not there's actually anything new in the only really new thing about it, Avalon.

    And when we do have people talking about it they don't have any idea what they're talking about, discussing cutesy shit you can do with their uber-advanced API and not improvements that Microsoft has made to the ACTUAL GUI that will help me complete complex tasks easier, find that which I need faster, and just make my user experience more pleasant and efficient overall.

    Features, you say? They're not features, they're bugs. Much in the way that spam is email, these bullshit "improvements" are actually just annoying eye-candy and a stop-gap measure to one-up the actually useful features that exist in other operating systems such as OSX and Linux. And no, I'm actually not a *nix fanboy despite my heavy use of it; I've been a Windows admin for a few years now. And I've been a user long enough to know that dancing icons and spinning buttons do nothing more than impress grandma for a few seconds and piss advanced users off.

    Where's the real innovation? Where's the Microsoft that made Windows 3.11 and Windows 2000 (which, despite it's faults, was one hell of an OS)?

    Dead, I say, choked by the left hand of greed and the right hand of stupidity.
  • by microcars (708223) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:04PM (#16523219) Homepage
    WindowsRG ? [deanliou.com] (ReallyGood Edition)
  • by kosmosik (654958) <kosNO@SPAMkosmosik.net> on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:20PM (#16523429) Homepage
    > Developers can do 2-D, 3-D, animation, imaging,
    > video, audio, special effects and text rendering
    > using a single API.

    And when exactly they will learn that UI design it is not about what YOU CAN DO? It is what YOU CAN'T DO. You can take any program and DO WITH IT WHATEVER, give it nice animations, nice 3D effects, symphonic sounds, add to it few agents, fifteen toolbars, make it do your coffee etc.

    It is not what you CAN do. It so about how to make it the most simple as you can. KISS - for Keep It Simple.

    Reffered in the article OSX is a quite complicated operating system but still it manages to deliver a platform on which (at least in my opinion, and I am not biased since my main workstation is running Linux) you can make SIMPLE and USEFULL applications.

    My point is that the platform should allow users to get consistant and simple interface. Not that what Windows is offering - now you get it even more complex - you get all Windows Legacy stuff working (dating back to 95) and also a BRAND NEW SHINY 2D 3D WHATEVER interface. So it is in fact worse not better. Since it includes more ways to screw the applications to become UNNEEDLY COMPLEX.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:02PM (#16523897)
    I think Linux and the free UNIXes have become the major "spanner in the works" for Microsoft.

    Commercial UNIXes were unable to compete with Windows on a price perspective and Microsoft capitalised, very well I might add, on that price difference and on a sales pitch that basically said any tool needing to be configured, run and managed from the command line would always be more complex than one administered from within a GUI environment. (Playing "devil's advocate here, I don't personally believe that, I'm looking at it from their perspective).

    However, a tactical mistake they made was not to keep the GUI separate from the core OS from the outset - I guess greed played a big part in that because making the GUI much heavier and inseperable from the core kernel forced MS customers into hardware upgrades, which in turn meant more Windows sales.

    Had Linux and the BSDs not come on the scene, Microsoft would be in the same situation with security and bugs that they are today but with less dissatisfaction from their customer base because there would be nothing to compare Windows to.

    However, I'm sure that any intelligent Windows user now would have to agree that when it comes to tailoring a server for very specific uses, nothing beats the modularity and configurability of a UNIX-like OS.

    The problem Microsoft are now faced with is that to change Windows such that the GUI became a modular, selectable part of the OS would be so vast a change that it would render a huge proportion of existing applications incompatible and take away one of the major reasons stopping a lot of their customer base putting in Linux or BSD servers in certain parts of the corporate enterprise. Add to that the fact that migration plans in enterprises are phased over lengthy periods of time, and MS have to maintain compatibility layers to give time for older applications to catch up - this adds to the bloat and the requirement for more raw processing power.

    I wouldn't say that Linux or BSD have the power (or intention) of fully displacing Windows, but I do believe they have unintentionally forced Microsoft down a single track of having to make their OSes bigger and bloatier with each release, and this will get to the point where their OSes become unmanageable from a security and patching perspective.

    I think it's inevitable that at some point in the near future, if MS stay in the OS game, then they will need to modularize Windows a lot more to make it manageable - that will have to lead to a lot of applications breaking, customers getting more angry and, perhaps, Linux and BSD becoming real viable alternatives in core enterprises where the likes of Exchange and MSSQL currently dominate.

  • by HermMunster (972336) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:04PM (#16523911)
    The current GUI in XP is more than valid and works well doing everything you would expect it to do. The GUI in Vista is all that is has to offer. Well, some exceptione, are the DRM infection, the restrictive EULA, and the built-in spyware.

    What troubles me is that somehow so many industry pundits are pushing this thing as something special and worthy of the billions spent to develop it. Most of these must be looking at a picture of increased sales of hardware, more magazine articles (thus advertisers), etc. I personally think alot of these guys have been paid off by Microsoft.

    Just looking at the OS for a few days can clearly demonstrate that alot of what is being said just isn't true. One guy I read that got alot of press professed massive hardware support while my experience with it has been very common and found little hardware support overall. One would not expect neglect of IDE drivers, modems, etc., but would would expect that great effort to make wireless as trouble free as possible is much a minimum.

    Microsoft touts their sleep mode features, but in reality their implementations of these features have been severely lacking and extremely problemmatic over the years with little to instill any sense of confidence in me toward that feature and thus Microsoft. I think if the average person was going to save $50-$75 a year we should all jump up in the air and wave our hands in joy. Frankly we'd save more money if we'd just turn the buggers off at night.

    Guess what? We all thrashed Microsoft in the area of Genuine Advantage Notification and yet they have implemented this feature in spades under Vista. Anyone buying it will have to accept that up front. That means they are going to be spying on you and your use of Windows. Not only that they seem to think they are entitled to this. They seem to think they can interfere with the use of our computers.

    I have 15+ legit copies of XP and I have good solid hardware that runs it. My small business does just fine. What exactly is Vista going to give me? Anyone using XP currently has to ask that one question and be serious about it. I know many will find reasons to upgrade but from a productivity stand point, from a usage stand point, from a feature stand point, there's really nothing that complells anyone to upgrade. You like the latest greatest then fine do it for that but not because Vista is giving you anything special because it isn't. One must also ask themselves if it is worth giving up your privacy to the spying the Microsoft will be implementing. Not only that are you willing to give that up to a monopoly that has been convicted of crimes? Are you going to give that up to the company that stole the technology to do on-line activation of Windows and Office? Are you willing to give that up to a company that then used gorilla tactics in court to bury the court and the plaintiff in paper work in an effort to hide the evidence proving the plantinff's case?

    Microsoft has alot of power to influence and they get more free marketing than any other company on the planet, now and throughout history. But to be honest with you it only takes a concerted effort by people such as you and I to tell others how what has been happening and what they are doing with Vista to bring things back to reality.

    Why does Microsoft think they are the only ones that can produce a spying program that can disable even legitimate licenses? Who is Microsoft to tell us that after we pay upwards of $400.00 that we are not entitled to install this on any given machine we so choose? Do they not think that the average person who purchased Windows Vista is going to put up with "sorry, you have to buy a new Vista because your motherboard went out and you need it replaced"? What do you think will happen to system upgrades?

    That sort of license restriction caters to the likes of the big companies selling computers such as HP, Dell, etc. It doesn't help the average guy who is trying to make computers cheaper and better than HP or Dell.
  • by meburke (736645) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:05PM (#16523915)
    Project Looking Glass was 'way ahead of the Vista 3D presentation, and still offers some cool effects that aren't available on Vista yet. I predict that soon after Vista comes out the OS community revives Looking Glass, couples it with Croquet and humiliates Micrososft by doing it on half the power at a fraction of the development cost.

    http://www.sun.com/software/looking_glass/ [sun.com]

    http://www.opencroquet.org/ [opencroquet.org]
  • Beryl (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anno1a (575426) <cyrax@b0r[ ].dk ['ken' in gap]> on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:23PM (#16524073) Homepage
    Ok, I agree, the Linux people are major ripoff artists. That being said, when most things _are_ ripped off (which, being great artists, happens rather fast), new features do appear. The window manager Beryl [beryl-project.org] (which is a fork of Compiz) has gone above and beyond in imitating the new graphical bling of Vista. And a lot of the bling from OSX too. I dare say that a lot of this bling comes at a smaller price (hardware wise) than what you get from Vista.

    When I first saw screenshots of Vista I was impressed. Impressed with what could be done. Sadly, I haven't really seen them move any further with the bling since the first screenshot was released, and now that I have Beryl up and running I really couldn't care less.

    If you look at the forum [beryl-project.org] for Beryl you'll see a LOT of input from users, requesting (granted, a lot of stuff seen elsewhere, but also) new and innovative features and bling, that might actually prove useful when working (and naturally a lot that's pure bling).

    What I'm basically looking for is what makes Vista stand out from something like Beryl, except for the fact that you can actually run (some) windows programs on it. Why are people getting so excited over this, when you can have Beryl running on your computer today? Or Compiz? Or Metacity?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday October 20, 2006 @07:38PM (#16524211) Homepage Journal
    When dear Lord will MS finally understand that we don't want to operate our computers. We want them to operate themselves. I want fewer controls, fewer buttons. I want the software to figure out what's the right way to do something, the right app to start, the right place to put an object. I don't want to be an AUDITOR for my system anymore. I'm sick of it. I don't really care about this years trendy glassy stylistic trend which will be as old as dirt in about 3 years anyway. I don't want rearranged controls that map out everything I could possibly do. I want all of that transparent to my use. I want for instance to be able to simply start typing on the desktop and have it popup the last 4 choices of applications, have me quickly pick one, and load what I just typed into the appropriate area. And if the input is unique enough, I want the software to know what the application is supposed to be and take appropriate action. I want a blank canvas. I don't want to start Adobe to read a PDF. I want a window to open up with the PDF and keep the application absolutely in the background. I don't care what it is. And I don't want to hear about codecs, plugins or patches. Just make it work or let me know how long it will be before you, the system is ready to do that. I want you remember all the little tweaky settings. Print still means print even if the last time I printed it went to email instead, just do that unless and until I tell you otherwise.

    Then I want it run faster and quieter with fewer interruptions to update, fix and patch. The system can do that but it has to be completely quiet and unobtrusive about it. I want virtual reboots that allow me to keep working even when the system has to be restarted. I don't want to do storage management, that's your job.

    I don't want to hear from firewalls, spyware blockers, AV or malware tools. Please do have them but if they are worth anything at all they will do 99% of their job with ZERO human intervention or notification of any kind.

    And then what I want you to do is precreate a large array of batch scheduled housekeeping procs to run off hours, again, w/o me knowing about them to do the little things they need to do: update, defrag, clean off garbage, memory cleanup, patches etc etc etc etc. Take a few hours if you like, take more, do it at night or whichever schedule I give you and bring the system back to WHATEVER state or condition it was in before including all open applications and objects.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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