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Microsoft

Whistler vs. KDE/Gnome 345

Goatbert writes "I just posted a comparison of Windows Whistler to KDE, Gnome and Mandrake Update on NewsForge. It tries to compare Whistler's User Interface/Update feature to KDE and Gnome."
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Whistler vs. KDE/Gnome

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  • W2k's explorer have this NOW

    Yes, and I disabled it as soon as I figured how to. Click on a folder with 30+ gifs, jpegs, or other graphics and you get the delay while it opens them all up and scales a thumbnail out of it. Not interested, maybe later.

    --

  • > Windows Explorer is pretty flexible when it comes to shell extensions and folder templates.

    Yeah, I know. I've dabbled with shell extensions in Visual C++ and Delphi. VC++ YUCK, COM in C++ is a holy mess with all the macros and stuff. I'm using Delphi exclusively nowadays.

    I bought a book on the Windows registry, it's amazing how much you can achieve just by fiddling with the registy, without any programming at all.

    It would be great if the address bar could also function as a command line, sort of like the old DOS4Win (or something like that). Now go make it so :-)
  • > On a command line, even after a DIR or LS, you still have to type the name of the viewer app.

    Not entirely true. Debian, for example has the commands 'view' and 'edit' that are supposed to open the file with correct program based on its MIME type (the same that the GUIs do).

    >it's RIGHT THERE, in front of you, you want to point to it and grab it.

    I don't want to "grab" it. When I'm using the keyboard (most of the time I write something), I hate to move my hand to the rodent. With an archaic command line, it'd be annoying to write a long file name, but fortunately we have tab completion. If the system could just read my thoughts or sight...

    > Selecting a bunch of files. Here the GUI can get quite awkward or useless.

    Actually, GUI can be good for selecting multiple files that have no connection between their names, but the advantage to command line is marginal if there is such.

    > A lot of people would disagree with this statement, myself included. I can remember how to get to someone's house, but I rarely remember the street name.

    See, you have given a name: "someone's house". This is an abstract "high-level" name. Street names - which I don't remember by the way - are detailed, precise names and more like file system paths.
    I tend to remember the commands I use (abstract name) more than randomly but I don't remember every single option to them (detailed name). I do know a way (path) to get to what I want (man). One can see this as three layers: abstract name > path > detailed name. GUIs are mostly missing the highest level. (But that's just one man's interpretation.)
    And no, the CLI isn't optimal and implementations not very consistent but the GUI, as it is, is much, much worse. It may be more intuitive at first but it is restrictive and certainly not efficient. Why spend time moving hand to the moused browsing through menus (or try to remember key bindings that are often too many to be intuitive) when I can just intuitively write \section{Foobar}. If I don't remember it, then only search through the help.

  • >On a command line, even after a DIR or LS, you still have to type the name of the viewer app (and potentially its full path) as well as the name of the document, even though it's RIGHT THERE, in front of you, you want to point to it and grab it

    Not true.. under the MS command line, you can use "start document.ext" and it will do the same thing as double-clicking document.ext.
  • I think you're right on target. As much as I like and use Unix every day, until the major players in the unix space (sendmail, the guys at ISC, samba, kde, gnome, linux distros, and so on) decide to come up with the end-all-be-all config file formats that a single application can be made to understand easily, we'll never see decent system configuration tools.

    Each config manager has to know how to work with a bunch of different config files that use different grammars, structures and so on, which pretty much means writing it from scratch and its usually done by someone totally unrelated to the application or service being configured.

    Yes, I know that XML is supposed to save us from this madness but thusfar I haven't seen a mad rush to embrace XML.

    Maybe it's just a matter of time, but it'd be great to see a little more unity in the config file world -- this is a really basic step towards simpler configurability and usability.

  • Nautilus shows previews of text in files in the icon itself. You can zoom in and out to get more or less information, or individually stretch an icon or shrink it. Image files also are previewed as thumbnails. And you can listen to mp3's in the icon view with a mouse-over. Or you can convert a directory into a virtual album by switching to the music view. That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are other views and you can write your own. Of course, these can be disabled for performance issues or personal taste.
    ----
  • I have no complaints about the MS Windows GUI, though I still spend a great deal of my time on the command line. I think MS did a very good job stealing^H^H^H^H^H designing the overall layout. However, Microsoft deserves every bit of critism heaped upon them for the lack of stability in the underlying OS.

    The Unix GUIs, in my opinion, are too flexible. You heard me right. Too flexible. Everybody has a different idea of how things should be done and so programs such as KDE are designed to accomodate virtually every conceivable idea. And everybody wants to make their programs a little different by using the GUI in a unique way. In a GUI, unique is a bad thing.

    This results in too much inconsistency. I believe it doesn't really matter how you design your GUI, so long as you do it the same way all the time. Right clicking on a file may seem intuitive to you and I, but a newbie is as likely to right click as to drop to to the command line to run grep. But the newbie will learn he can right-click. In fact, he'll start right-clicking on everything. The original design could have been "hover the mouse cursor over the icon and press TAB". It doesn't matter, but be damn certain you do it that way, and only that way throughout the interface.
  • by Pulzar ( 81031 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:53PM (#608509)
    Bah. The only useful items in the review are the screenshots. The verbage around them is author's bad attempt at guessing how "novice users" think.

    The conclusion does not follow out of any facts whatsoever, and seems to have been added as an afterthought. The last paragraph is a collection of cliches, and the fact that it says "windows is ok" does not make it more "grown up"!

    The author's idea was good. But he needs to get a couple of *real* novice users in front of his computer, observe each of them for a while, and *then* tell us what they think!

    A follow-up article with this information, confirming or denying his original opinion, would be a good idea.
  • There was a GEOS for the Commodore 64.
  • by Dice ( 109560 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @01:58PM (#608515)
    Okay, this has been one of my pet peeves for a while now. Mainly, I hate start menus. This isn't specific to the "Windows" start button, it extends to the Gnome foot, the big ugly K and the Apple menu. The problem lies within the reliance on mouse positioning to keep the menu open. On desktop machines this isn't such a problem, you can generaly keep pretty good control over your mouse, provided you don't sneeze or are not attacked by a vagrant feline. But then there's laptops. It's a pain in the arse to keep the cursor on a start menu when you're using a touch pad. Maybe I just have fat fingers, but it's just no fun. A better solution is a more CDE like interface ala XFce [xfce.org]. Click the menu, it's open, click the item in the menu and the menu closes, your selection executes. In between the first and the second click you could traverse your mouse cursor around the screen twice and do the lambada for all XFce cares.

  • by cybermage ( 112274 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:47AM (#608517) Homepage Journal
    So, will "Whistler's mother" be the default wallpaper?

    --
  • Congratulations, you have proven that Red Hat 7.0 sucks.

    However, the article was comparing Whistler with KDE and GNOME, not any specific distro. When I installed KDE 1.1 for the first time (on top of RH 5.2), the K menu didn't have any of those "half-finished CD writers" or "toys," just the core set of applications - kedit, kmail, etc. About the same amount as was included with my default Windows installation. Never mind that you have the option to not install these in the first place...

    As for the NIC trouble, the only useful pieces of information I've ever found in the system controls are the names of the devices I'm using and the IRQs/DMAs they occupy. The latter info is located in KDE's own system controls section, echoed from /proc. Some device names are included there, but I don't see how far you can get in troubleshooting if you don't know what kinds of devices you're using in the first place.

    And if you really, really want to install software from the net rather than from the CDs your distro includes, I don't think anyone is keeping you from going to freshmeat.net to get what you need. Again, this is also distro-specific.

    Bah, I've wasted too much time responding to this...
  • I wonder who these articles are written for? It can't be aimed at new or prospective linux users, since it basically says that whistler is much better than KDE or Gnome.

    In any case, the good thing about both Gnome and KDE is that if anyone wants any of those windows features, they can be coded in in a night.

    go open source, baby!
  • This method is extremely quick. I also use 4NT (shell replacement) when I need to do command line stuff. Some things are just easier from the command line, and 4NT has [Tab] filename completion (the only indispensable CLI tool IMO).

    In HKEY_CURRENT_USERS, search for "CompletionChar". Set this to '0x09'.

    Hey presto - Tab filename completion without having to get 4NT :)

    You can also download TweakUI to get it too.

    Si
  • by 1337d00d ( 177978 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @03:46PM (#608523)
    I use Windows on one box, Linux on another, a hacked together variant of Minix on a third. For graphics design I have an apple cube. I use each of them, and like all of them equally, with the exception of the Minix one, which sucks, because nobody makes software for it. The problem that I see here is that people do not truely understand the nature of each windowing system.

    You are reading this from your own windowing system, (unless you use lynx, and then you are very cool :), most likely a windowing system which you understand very well. If it's windows 98, you probably understand the control panel and the system.ini files. If you're using 2000/NT4, you probably understand the CLI, and how to modify the config files. If you're using KDE or GNOME, you probably understand the command prompt and the configuration manager. If you're using Enlightenment, you like having lots of xterms :). However, the problem is not that you don't religiously know the benefits of your own windowing system, but that you haven't used other windowing systems long enough to understand their benefits.

    Example: If you use Linux at home, and go to work on Win2k boxen, you won't learn all of the good things abou Win2k, because you will always be comparing it to Linux. Your instincts hold you back from fully using it, because you are sure that it can't do anything better, or different, than Linux, and that if it does, it does the thing worse.

    The problem is you. Spend some time learning Windows, or MacOS, or BeOS, or GNOME, or KDE, or Enlightenment. The real power of all of them only becomes apparent when you approach them with an open mind, looking for how you can best use them. For example, I have written a switcher program for my Windows box to switch between LiteStep and the MS Windows gui/shell. LiteStep allows me to customize Windows nearly as much as the Linux equivalents do, and Windows provides me with a larger market of software and drivers. Don't complain when you can embrace and extend.
  • While a comparison between Whistler and KDE/Gnome is interesting and useful, we should not forget that there may be better ways to do user interfaces than whatever MS dreams up. Reading the article, you might thing that MS invented the task bar and start menu. They just moved the MacOS menu bar from the top to the bottom of the screen, and put "Start" in the place of the apple logo.

    Granted, MS does have a huge development staff, and is likely to have put considerable effort and research into their designs, but then, their marketing department probably has a lot to say about their design also, and they are certainly not above changing the interface in a way that says "I'm new, buy me or be old fashioned" regardless of how useable it really is.

    The unspoken subtext of this article is "What are the chances of (KDE/Gnome) finally kicking MS butt in the marketplace? Can we catch them on the next release cycle?". Free software should not be about trying to beat commercial software in the marketplace. It should be about finding new and better ways of meeting practical computing needs..

  • bah.. go find a Mac user and ask them about usability. You'll get a lecture on "infinite clickspace" and "persistence" and other such junk. That's what usability is about, not how pretty the damn thing looks. Personally I find it boring as crap but if you are going to argue it you really need to understand what it is you are arguing.
  • original, OK. But what about the CLONE of Windows that is KDE?
    original, OK. But what about the CLONE of Apple that is Windows?
    original, OK. But what about the CLONE of Alto that is Apple

    Why would it even be relevant who thought of it first? Its about as relevant as "My Dad can beat up your Dad" chanted in a school-yard.
  • It's good to see an article that cares about usability instead of the usual speed comparison (which is completely irrelevant to the average user that just wants to type her letter). E.g. humans tend to sort things mentally by "access time" rather than by a hierachical directory structure, which makes features like a "last used program" option a great thing. It would be interesting to extend this to a file manager that does a mathematical cluster analysis based on access time, and puts files from different directories but with similar access times into common "heaps" (which is exactly the way many people order papers, books, etc on their desk).

    Another problem is that many "Joe Users" never use the (m$ windows) help system, because it is not well structured (just get some Joe Users and ask them - chances are you will hear something along "I cannot find any useful help there"). I don't think that the Gnome/KDE help systems are much better.

    The way Linux vendors modify the desktop menues does not help either. E.g. SuSE puts in a "SuSE" menue into the KDE menue. It is quite confusing that some apps might be found under "Applications" but others under "Suse".

    Rather than waiting for the next cool feature from M$, and copy it, it would be interesting to get hold of a few "Joe Users", and ask them what they like/dislike most in existing interfaces (e.g.: menues are good - submenues are bad - subsubmenues are plain evil - based on performing this experiment).

  • "What will happen then, is complete speculation. If Microsoft continue to dumb down their $80 version of windows, I can see a growing market in replacement shells for windows"

    Less probable that this will happen. For the pro's, a more ideal desktop system is the one that sticks with windows manipulation, performance and less with such things like "Start menu". An example of this is WindowMaker. On Windows there is its twin-brother: LightStep. I don't know its present status, but for nearly a year I witnessed a long and painful path of evolution, where LightStep tried to overcome the all-embedded-in-one world of Windows. I saw how betas balanced on stability, performance and features. I saw the headaches developers had on working NT and 98. It seemed that LightStep would be doomed to be an eternal beta. Sometime ago i noted that the project is still alive. But it seems that is not so popular as before and still fights its beta status. After nearly 3 or 4 years.

    So you may imagine what will happen to replacement shells. Besides there is also a problem they may force users to stick into traditional desktop. M$ is removing most chances, if not all, to use a command line terminal. Without it, it will be pretty hard to see other desktops in Windows, as they should be quite complete to fit on a cascade of dialog windows and other diagnostic stuff. Without a clear information about the backstages of the system it will be very hard to make beta
    tests of such soft.

    In resume. User is doomed to be dumb.
  • Sure.. but the reason MS didn't have overlapping windows was because it was just too damned hard. It took the genius of Jeff Raskin to figure out an efficient way to do resizable and movable overlapping windows. Microsoft for a long time had no idea how to interface a mouse. They relied on hardware cursors and it was only after working with the Apple API that they figured out how to do software bitmaped cursors.
  • Everybody argues how innovative Microsoft is in general, and who invented the Start button. The funny thing that Geoworks did a couple decades ago. Does anybody remember a revolutionary OS called GEOS [newdealinc.com]? It was Windows 95 when Windows was text based, and it ran on a 286! An Geoworks stole a lot of thier ideas from Macintosh, and Macintosh stole a lot of thier ideas from the Xerox Palo Alto REsearch Center, who had no idea what they owned. James B.
  • Well, according to the way Microsoft thinks its users are, they'd never get it. But to be honest, why would someone who's never used a computer before think to take the funny-looking paperweight with a cord on it, slide it around the desk, make the connection that moving the paperweight also moves a little arrow on the screen, and then go to the button labeled 'start' and click on it? (All right, I'm exagerrating here, but not by too much. The Windows UI really isn't much more 'intuitive' than the command prompt; it's just prettier.) And then, 'advanced' users end up getting saddled with these training wheels designed for beginners.
  • by Tyndareos ( 206375 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @01:00PM (#608537) Homepage
    Yeah! How are we supposed to stay motivated without any propoganda about how much better the quality is of the software we as a community can produce, as opposed to the most powerful software company in the entire universe???

    I want to read that Microsoft is stupid. Can't you all just take that into account the next time you try to review something objectively?

    btw; I do not speak for myself, but on behalf of my boss, my cat, my girlfriend and off course ... all the intellectually challenged slashdotters.

    On a more serious note: I am truely fighting myself not to bonk my head on the doorpost every time my flatmates tell me how much better Windows(recent/future version) is because it has fading everthings ...
  • Very good point seeing the system that Apple saw at PARC (actually they secured a few of the employees and ex-employees but we'll stick with Myth shall we?) didn't even have moving or resizable windows. What I thought was funny was that perhaps the best thing there, the object oriented language Smalltalk, was completely ignored by Apple. Now, if you saw the crap that Microsoft was making before they stopped off at Apple one day (can we say DOS Shell and Windows 1.0?) you would understand how completely ripped Apple must of felt.
  • If Mac OS X can be as good as everyone says it is/will be I have little doubt that Gnome/KDE will both be exceptional GUI UIs in due time.
    Arent you people tired of this ridiculous debate?

    Horrible cliche: Rome wasnt built in a day. but very accurate...

    Why get 'down' on the KDE/Gnome teams? I say simply: "Keep up the good work and good luck" - and no I am not pandering.

  • You mean the Next interface, not the Windowmaker one. WM is a cheap rip off. NeXT at least had all the applications following the same design.

    Go try a Next (or neXT or NeXT or whatever) out and come back to windowmaker and cry at how they butchered the finest interface ever made.

    (i left out the crying part personally, but you seem to like windows so you must be a wussy :D )
  • Under Windows I get to start with a clean system and add tools I want.

    Linux will let you do this. Just don't install all the optional packages. The start menu is filled with crap I've never heard of.

    Yes, it's a whole different operating system. If you've never used linux, you've probably never heard of a lot of the apps. It's just different - don't expect it to be the same as windows. In Windows, I click on "Windows Update..." and get system patches for bugs, security holes, etc. I'm not aware of a simple method under Red Hat.

    Run 'up2date'. It's better than Windows Update.

    You make a good point about hardware configuration, though...

  • > Can we buy a clue here? For all the sniping
    > people do on how "unoriginal" MS/Windows is, as
    > near as I can tell the entire KDE and Gnome
    > approach is to just copy MS. So of course they
    > don't have to spend money to get the same
    > results.

    I'm sorry that you wrote this, but you did. I was using HPUX w/ a variety of popup menus in 1988, and it had been around for awhile then. Before win 1.0 I believe. You are talking about systems here, and you are just plain wrong -- windowing GUI systems are all basically the same when you walk up to them.

    > "All three" aren't learning from each other --
    > both are learning from Windows. There's only one
    > UI that has any real R&D and UI testing dollars
    > behind it, and it dowesn't have a footprint or K
    > as an icon.

    MS spends a lot of stolen money for very little improvement in the UI, I'll certainly admit that. As far as testing, Gnome and KDE are fairly stable products, so they probably do a lot of testing. Obviously they spend very little on R&D.

    > When Win95 came out, all people did was complain
    > about how stupid the start button is, now we
    > read comparisons that say "well, KDE and Gnome
    > both have start buttons, so they're just as good
    > as Windows, I don't know where MS is wasting all
    > that money."

    Sure, we read it, but how hard is it to make popup, cascading menus in early X w/ twm? Or to pull down menus from the early Macs' menu bar? I've always throught the start button was dumb. If KDE and Gnome had no foot or K, I guess I'd use an icon to launch a menu system or use popups. I don't really care.

    > So we can bitch and moan about how imperfect and
    > stupid MS interfaces are, but quite frankly
    > there are only two companies that can claim any
    > moral high ground for actually advancing the UI
    > outside of ripping off MS: Apple and Palm. They
    > are the only companies I see actually doing NEW
    > things as opposed to "me-too"...

    popup menus, available all the back to the early history of X and twm, are the basis of the later menubar extension and then led to the "stay down"/"stay up" appearance of Microsoft's "Start Menu", which was done by others before it ended up in Microsoft's lower left corner of win95.

    I have no idea why you are so interested in distorting the history of menu systems, popups, or the general thrashing of systems and UIs which have an lineage far removed from any microsoft product, but you do -- you made a very shaky post, so you have to deal with the consequences and innaccuracies of same.

  • The main advantage I see for the Apple menu is that you can put any damn thing in there that YOU, the user, wants.
    My biggest pet peeve about Windows Start thingy is that all sorts of crap gets chucked in there in NO particualar order. On my Mac, I have any number of apps and utilities installed, but only the ones I use on a regular basis go in the Apple menu, and they're sorted into folders by what kind they are.
    On the Windows box I have to use at work, there are 3(!) separate "Adobe" entries in the Start Menu. How many times do we need to see the "Read Me" file that always gets chucked in there?
    Yes, you can easily take it out. My point is that it shouldn't be in there in the first place.

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • In this light I would say: ok, use Windows. But don't mess with Linux anymore. Because Linux is not a Windows substitute. It is ANOTHER system. And whatever the media cries about thiis, it is THEIR problem. Specially some /. people.

    Linux is not Win^2, or Anti-Win, or Win(-1) or anything else. It is "crunch-Win" when M$ whistleblowers try to overcome its territory. However, on the rest it is a quite peaceful system that lives along with Solaris, BSD and other *NIX cousins.

    2,5 years I scrapped the last piece of Windows I had. And till now I haven't seen that I'm loosing something on M$ stuff, except games. But I can live without them. You may not live on Linux the same way I can't live on Windows. As far as no one touches each other's "domain of use" we may peacefully live. Unfortunately Redmond's horde cannot live too long without another OS war.
  • "There's only one UI that has any real R&D and UI testing dollars behind it, and it dowesn't have a footprint or K as an icon."
    Or a Start Menu. Boggles my mind. Window's UI is hardly useable for daily work. Nasty fonts, horrible prints, inconsistent dialogs and menus, not to mention installation and maintainance of the system.


    I meant only one UI in that comparison that has R&D money behind it. I specifically call out apple later on as a company doing original work -- I wasn't trying to "rate" the UIs in any way.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • You're thinking of the Louis Armstrong song "What a Wonderful World", not the Sam Cooke "Wonderful World" that is used above.
  • Well, even though it doesn't fit in with the code name, I think a certain painting by Edward Munch would be much more appropriate.

    Microsoft Background [museumsnett.no]

    If Microsoft can't get the rights to use this, they can simply replace the monitor with a mirror in front of anyone that has used one of their products for a good period of time, hadn't had a chance to save their work, then suffered a bsod.

  • Well, it isnt THAT terrible.

    Gnome (and KDE to some extent) dont require you to run a particular window manager. Enlightenment and WindowMaker are a fair bit different than Windows' Explorer. Windows still doesn't look as if it'll support multiple desktops/pages. Gnome uses more of an atomic menu model than windows - you can have many 'start' buttons in panels if you want them. And panels can be of different types. With applets you can use different task management tools. By the way, I'm concentrating on gnome only because that's what I use, and havn't got experience with KDE - so I appologize for lack of an impression on it. Linux GUI is NOT a total rip of microsoft, and it's an insult to the good ideas of people working to help us out to call those ideas rip offs.
  • by hyperstation ( 185147 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @04:35PM (#608571)
    i love linux as much as the rest of you, but gnome and kde both annoy the hell out of me with their not-so-uniform window sizes, windows where the text/buttons doesn't quite fit, etc, etc...for those of us who are running it at 800x600, it really looks shitty

  • Remote Desktop!

    Excellent! That should make it easier for crackers than going through the trouble of installing BO or Netbus...

  • by Shaheen ( 313 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @04:50PM (#608580) Homepage
    The Windows (as in, Win32) customization scene has been around for a long time.

    There are many programs out there that allow you to change their interface, sometimes only in how they look (WinAmp), but other times in how they act (K-Jofol).

    Within the past few years, there have been a number of "shells" that have come out that allow you to ditch explorer (the start menu / taskbar / desktop combination) and use your own interface, like an X-Windows window manager.

    Microsoft is trying to have the best of both worlds - a standardized user interface, with the ability to change it all. Personally, I don't think it's gonna work very well, but that may be just because I used to be on the Litestep development team.

    Obligatory links:
    Skinz.org [skinz.org]
    DeskMod [deskmod.com]
    Litestep.net [litestep.net]
    desktopian.org [desktopian.org]

    And those link to many more...
  • 5. you still MUST use the command line at least once to setup the default install or ot lauch a useful service

    And the bash command line is bad how? It's just another way to get things done. You try expressing a grep piped into sed piped into ... with a GUI. Plus, bash is infinitely better than Windows's command interpreter.

  • you are so ignorant, it's laughable. the ui ripoffs have been happening for fiteen frickin years.

    No shit, genius -- so tell me did you actually read what I said or just feel self-important enough to contribute this "insight".

    I never claimed MS was creating UIs from whole cloth, only that MS has done a hell of a lot more advancement and refinement of UIs than KDE or Gnome has. Apple and Palm and MS have all borrowed from each other, but just as importantly they've all ACTUALLY CREATED NEW THINGS, too! That's called progress -- are we using EXACTLY THE SAME UI that PARC developed all those years ago? No -- because people are actually allowed to develop new concepts to build on old ones. You don't have to reinvent the wheel to be a contributor to progress.

    All KDE and Gnome have done is copy the wheel, while the actual developers (at Apple, MS, and Palm) are criticized for spending money without producing a better product?

    mmmm...just a sec...X was developed at MIT at the same time as all three!

    mmmmm...just a sec, X isn't a UI! you are so ignorant it's laughable.

    Call me when you've read more than the nickle version of computer interface history and we might have an intelligent discussion.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • why a window manager matters? I don't really care about the window manager, or how it "looks". I don't really know many non-geeks who do. The most important thing is the apps, and consistentcy. That's all that really matters. Personally I use ICEwm, because it never changes, and I have customised it so it is quick for the tasks I need. I've done the same with windows. The only time I reboot is if I need another app, not because of the window manager.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @04:51PM (#608590) Homepage Journal
    Ye gods. Try a little less 'kool-aid' next time :)

    I can even tell you exactly where they got it- read "Tog On Interface". Microsoft has! Bruce Tognazzini was developing this technique _decades_ ago, just the way you describe it...

    ...for the Apple ][.

    It's nice that Microsoft care so much about using Apple usability testing. You'd think it would help them more than it seems to.

  • The main problem with Windows Explorer is that it has a tons of infrastructure, but Microsoft has made very little use of them.

    So, here are millions of desktops carrying around god-knows-what memory bloat, and reduced stability unti IE5.0-SP1, and the best Microsoft can show for it in the default UI is a pie chart showing you your drive space in My Computer, and nasty Disney adverts on the desktop in IE4.

    There are gobs of applicaitons for which 'desktop integration' would be great, but nobody takes advantage of it because nobody sees the light on the issue. Maybe Whistler will show the way, but I think once the 'integrated' OSS GUIs start to get more mature, you will see much more development there. (Because people can add do-dads easily, post them to Freshmeat, and find them in the next version of RedHat.)
  • The user is someone off the street, heavily pre-interviewed to fit various target demographics of experience or workstyles.

    I don't know what exactly they are doing, but I would expect that their target demographic is office workers who currently use windows (poorly). This will exclude virtually everyone slashdot or open source cares about (experenced programmers and unix users) AND the demographic Mac went after (people who do not currently use a computer).

    There is a very good reason that Mac still beats windows for inexperenced computer users.. Mac was interested in inexperenced people liking the Mac.. Microsoft is interested in bosses forcing their people to use windows. I should say that I really don't like Macs or Windows. I like unix, but I accept the fact that unix is a system of traditions where the first person to write a cool enough program to get all the sysadmins to install it sets the standard. (If your a sysadmin you should really like the idea of software by sysadmins for sysadmins)

    Anyway, "user friendly" is almost totally realitive to your choice of users. Microsoft made an intelegent choice based on marketing, Mac made a noble but economically stupid choice, Gnome and KDE probable don't really understand that their is a choice (like most X based GUI's before them).

    Personally, I'm not interested in a user interface being easy to use for office workers, grandparents, or even myself. I'm want to see people do the creative ivorey tower side of user interface research, i.e. stuff that has never been done before. Hint: if it has pull down menus or middle of the screan dialog boxes then it dose not qualify. (Personally, I think any "academic" who is doing user interface resarch and still talking about pull down menus or dialog boxes is a fraud) I don't care that such sustems would be hard to use since they would be intersting and show us possible new future directions. Plan9 made a reasonable attempt at such research.. and it was inspiring.
  • by Bud ( 1705 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @02:44PM (#608597)
    There is no clear winner or loser. Each interface has its advantages and disadvantages. Windows doesn't have a bad interface -- and it shouldn't, because Microsoft has put millions upon millions of dollars into making sure Whistler isn't the next "Bob." Gnome and KDE, on the other hand, have managed to put together very useable interfaces without millions of dollars behind them. All three interfaces need work to become as user friendly as possible, and all three can learn from each other.

    Woo-hoo! Let's translate this final verdict into clearspeak. "MS Win-duh is nice because they've spent megabucks on UI design, while Gnome/KDE are nice although they didn't. And they should all steal even more from MacOS."

    I hate to say it, but this article belongs to the from-the-bulls-ass department. The reviewer has no clue about user interfaces, and no background in CS whatsoever. Can we please get an ignorance filter for Slashdot?

    To clarify this before people start to flame me: user interfaces need to be logical. This is a danged FACT! People can learn to use anything, as long as it's systematic. The Linux/Unix core is systematic. Gnome/KDE is not. Windows is a mess, but it's the monopoly so who cares. MacOS is logical, but it's disregarded as a toy. This reviewer doesn't even know what the word "logical" means!

    The reviewer should read some of the stuff from Bruce Tognazzini [asktog.com].

    --Bud

  • by Tack ( 4642 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @05:07PM (#608599) Homepage
    Eazel has setup usability labs for Nautilus, and have discovered some very interesting things. Their experiences have been that indeed usability studies are very necessary. These are people with years or decades of experience with designing interfaces at Apple, and they were _still_ caught off guard with how users responded to Nautilus.

    It just goes to show you that no matter how much experience you have, you simply can't predict or estimate usability. You need usability labs. Eazel has set the stage in free software for this, and I think you'll see companies like HelixCode and RedHat follow suite.

    Jason.

  • All Microsoft UI R&D is done at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino California

    really, is that why Apple now uses ALT-TAB to switch between apps?

    UI is not GUI.

    And there are no "virgins" in UI development -- they've all ripped off from each other liberally. I never claimed otherwise, only that KDE and Gnome have given back little in terms of advancements...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Maybe on install of the OS you can pick "Beginner, moderate, Advanced". Once you feel confortable with the OS in beginner mode you can then install the "moderate" version.

    Microsoft will soon be selling Windows Whistler Personal, Windows Whistler Professional, Windows Whistler Server, and Windows Whistler Advanced Server. (The marketing department reserves the right to search and replace "Whistler" with something else.)

  • I have personally seen quite a few Windows users freak out when I show them how MacOS works.

    I've personally seen quite a few mac-heads freak out when I show them that i can open huge files on windows without ever having to change the memory allocation to the application.

    Different aspects of the UI are refined by different companies, and that's (IMHO) why I think people have such fervent preferences in OSes.

    And, FWIW, I've spent the last 10 years of my life with a Mac and PC on my desk. In 1993 I preferred the mac, in 2000 I think Win9x/Win2k has far surpassed OS8/9 -- but I'm very eager to see how OSX pans out. (And I'm an artist even!)

    ---------------------------------------------
  • This article notes many features present in Windows Whistler (such as an advanced taskbar, start menu, and file-manager integration) that both Linux GUIs lack.

    Whie I still prefer KDE and Konqueror, I can understand that many of these features can be useful to many users. I think that comparisons like this can only help the Linux GUIs as a whole: Once they realize what they need, they can refocus their coding!

    Free software is about freedom, including the freedom to express one's opinion. Opinion articles like these will help everyone, and, as ESR predicts, make the Free/OpenSource software products stunningly better than the proprietary ones.
  • Not quite. Microsoft took IBM's OS/2 1.2 and re-released it as "Microsoft OS/2".

    I thought it was completely co-developed up until the BIG split between MS & IBM, is my history wrong?

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Look, when will you guys figure out I'm NOT SAYING that MS invented everything on the GUI, only that they have done a million times more work on UIs than KDE or Gnome have.

    And, it's worth noting that it used to be called "Microsoft OS/2", so it's debatable who's user lab the task bar even came out of...


    ---------------------------------------------
  • I sometimes wonder what MS is thinking when they make interface changes. Most people have a very hard time navigating around in Windows as it is... changing things only makes it more difficult for the user. I am talking about Joe User here, not the ones that are in-the-know and understand that you can turn half the new stuff off. KDE and Gnome have been progressing very well, and I know I will probably hear flak from the fact that KDE and Gnome make interface changes themselves. KDE and Gnome are developed by the same people who use it. No, not everyone who uses them are developers, but any one of us COULD be a developer. We can make changes and submit them. Whistler is being developed by a group of paid developers to design what they think is going to be best for the user. Also, take into consideration that most users of KDE or Gnome are quite a bit more computer savvy than your average Windows user. They can more easily interpret the information that is presented to them. They understand the concepts of drag and drop, right click, double click.... even middle click! I tend to find much of the interface of Whistler to be very appealing, minus that new start... thing. If the interface really does prove to be more intuitive, there is nothing that says that KDE or Gnome cannot copy it. At least, not until somebody at MS gets the bright idea to patent it... hehe
  • /*
    KDE and Gnome has great userfaces as well, but haven't brought something completly new and cool up that we
    haven't seen before

    Has windows?
    */

    Precisely...I wish I could find the neat little interview I saw in Byte before Win95 was rolled out...it had interviews with several developers. It was hilariously funny because one of the developers basically explained what interface they stole particular ideas from (the titlebar and toolkit was designed to be somewhat NeXTish, the desktop Mac'ish...etc.) A hilariously funny read and a good, honest look at how Microsoft "innovates."
  • My NIC wasn't working. In Windows I'd go to the "System Properties," find a yellow question mark, and work on the driver. Under Linux I was lost.

    Obviously you've only ever used 1 version of Windows. In Windows 3.11, you had to set the NIC in one place. In Windows 95 it was in another. NT 4.0 - different. Windows 2000 - different again. Just setting an IP address is the worst.

    I've got Microsoft and Linux certifications, and I've used both about equally. And I can unequivocally say that they are both very inconsistent when it comes to configuring anything. There is no consistent management/configuration program in Linux. (But at least I can use ifconfig to do it manually, and can find the man page quickly.) And Windows keeps moving configuration programs around on me - really just confusing me, because all the different versions look pretty much the same.

  • In 2. you argue that command line is faster because it is easier to select patterns. But this wrongfully assumes that there always IS a pattern when you want to select a bunch of files.

    What if you want to delete a bunch of files you downloaded yesterday. It's graphics, tarballs, packages, etc. There is no obvious pattern, and most people would just hold down ctrl and select all the files with a GUI.
    This is not that simple with command line interfaces. Sure, "rm" takes multiple arguments, but what if you aren't really sure which images to delete. Wouldn't a thumbnail make your day?

  • I seriously don't like the idea that they took common GUI instead of "rich" ones.
    By comparing 3 similar GUIs (each having the same look'n feel), they just restrict their expectation of a GUI.

    Maybe, if they had tested RiscOS4, BeOS or MacOS against Windows, they'd have found some others PROS/CONS as they don't interact the same way.
    BTW, It could also be dangerous as mixing heterogeneous GUI features might lead to a feature-rich but totally illogical interface... Which actually hapened to Windows95 that was a cross between MacOS, Risc Os and XWindow and that they decided to personalize focussing by adding that browser features in it.

    Finally, I hate the 3 latter for many reasons among which "focus-theft" is well-placed : while you are typing something, outlook throws an alarm windows that "absorbs" any keyboard event until you focus back to your work.
    --
  • I thought (and still think) that the BeOS has a lot going for it. I'm saddened to see that it hasn't taken off more than it did.

    Yeah, it's not Free as in Speech, but the API's are very clean and elegant, it's got great SMP support and the thing really flys for me. The UI is also very intuitive and easy to use/learn.

    Unfortunately there are all of about three applications for it, so no one uses it. (Catch 22: More apps <--> More users)

    :-(

  • End double clicking.

    Why must I double click on a folder to open it when there are five mouse buttons and a wheel on my mouse (not to mention 4-6 modifier keys on my keyboard)? What's even funnier is that the middle button doesn't even do anything on the icons in GMC (I know that mouse-1 selects and opens in KDE, but it really shouldn't be like that).

    Here is how tasks should be assigned to mice buttons in file managers.

    1. select

    2. open

    3. move

    and if you have more...

    4. back

    5. forward

    wheel: scroll

    My second biggest gripe is toolbars.

    Most toolbars in gnome can't be folded up or removed, or the buttons on it can't be added or subtracted. I think that each app should use the Panel functionality as the toolbar, because, lo and behold, it's the same concept! This would allow users to make as many panels as they want and put whatever buttons on them that they desire. For example, I'd have absolutely no toolbars.

  • I have heard lots of potshots taken at Whistler, but the more I've observed of it, the more I think it's just anti-Big Giant sentiment. It looks pretty solid, and the better of the options here. I realize this is likely to be a sentiment that will face rapture from the moderators, but go lightly you army of independent thinkers(?).

    1. P 2 P___H U M O R [mikegallay.com]
  • Since when do "winner" and "make money" have anything to do with each other? Is this a contest to see who can make the most cash, or to see who can make the better OS?
  • Linux will be around. So will gnome and kde. Redhat, VA Linux, et al may not be. They seem to make very little difference in the grand schemem of things. But still, it makes little sense to compare the features of Microsofts product to those of linux's currently shipping equivalents, namely because Whistler is so far away from release that any feature or weakness can easily be changed in time for release...

    Past that... I for one am happy that the stock market has become a sane environment once again. There were too many ideas that were getting too many millions in financing thanks to aspirations to be the next amazon, yahoo, or ebay. Maybe now people will start concentrating on those little things like "profit", "revenue" and "margins". But that's a conversation for another day.
  • I was using HPUX w/ a variety of popup menus in 1988, and it had been around for awhile then. Before win 1.0 I believe. You are talking about systems here, and you are just plain wrong -- windowing GUI systems are all basically the same when you walk up to them.

    This may be the crux of our disagreement, then -- I don't believe "popup menus" make a UI and more than "paint on canvas" makes a painting (or "characters in text file" make source code).

    This seems to be my main issue with KDE/Gnome, as well -- they think that making prettier menus, or floating shapes or customizable buttons is "improving the UI". This stuff has nothing whatsoever to do with UI, it's all cosmetics.

    UI is putting buttons where you expect them to be, ensuring that the user is rarely surprised by output (by making sure they understand the ramifications of their input).

    The web, for example, is a very "ugly" place, from an aesthetic standpoint -- but it has a FANTASTICALLY successful UI. All you do is click on any blue underlined text and you get taken to the link location! That's pretty much the whole thing, beyond that its cosmetics -- but its that simplicity, clarity, and predictability that have made it so successful.

    Sure, we read it, but how hard is it to make popup, cascading menus in early X w/ twm? Or to pull down menus from the early Macs' menu bar? I've always throught the start button was dumb. If KDE and Gnome had no foot or K, I guess I'd use an icon to launch a menu system or use popups. I don't really care.

    Again, it has NOTHING to do with the buttons or the menus -- making a menu is a technical issue that's easy to solve. The HARD part is figuring out where to put the menu, how it reacts to the user, how it behaves when no attention is being paid, how it displays contents when it is activated, etc.

    I'll give you an example: When you have your mouse over a menu, if you go a little bit off the side of the menu, should the menu close? Should it open the menu that is next to the current one (in other words, open the menu under the current location of the mouse and close the one that is where the mouse WAS), or should it keep the old menu open (and if so, how long, and how far should the mouse be allowed to stray?).

    I personally find the very unforgiving menus in most X windowing systems to be very hard to use because they will close a menu without hesitation should you stray by even a pixel. It's a very mathematical (and computer-programmer logical) way of behaving, but its simply not a good UI, because it doesn't accept that people do not have perfectly steady hands, or that they need to move the cursor in order to read the menu option. You simply MUST be more forgiving than that to have a useful UI, but I just don't think it's ever occurred to a Unix programmer that users might not be able to drill down through a 7-layer deep cascading menu without being off by a pixel. My grandmother doesn't play enough Quake to be that precise with the mouse! :)



    ---------------------------------------------
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:57AM (#608640)
    it's my understanding that eazel's nautilus will have previews of a number of file types.

  • It's not "bad", merely not good for my mother to use.
  • There, as I recall, was also a GEOS for the Apple //e and IIgs.

    W

    -------------------
  • Use the Windows Logo key or CTRL+ESC and arrows, you can navigate the start menu pretty easily this way. I've found that generally Windows is completely navigatable with the keyboard.

    ALT brings up the menus while arrows navigate them, CTRL+TAB navigates tabs at the top of dialog boxes, TAB moves the cursor to different buttons, Space presses a button or widget (checkbox/radio button), ALT+Letter selects a control with an underline in its name, ALT+TAB switches applications, ALT+ESC navigates open applications in a sequential order, Logo+D toggles minimizing of every application to see the desktop, ALT+Space brings up the system menu, ALT+F4 closes an application, F3 initiates the Find command (or Logo+F), ALT+Arrow initiates the "Back" or "Forward" command in explorer windows, Backspace navigates up one folder in the tree of My Computer or Explorer, F2 usually renames something, and F4 brings down the "Drives" in a dialog box or My Computer

    In Internet Explorer, F11 makes it full screen, F6 lets you type in the "Address" bar, F4 pulls down the "Address" bar, ALT+Arrows works here too, and so on.

    Hope this helps. Personally, I never use the mouse except in games or when navigating web pages.

  • I do not use Win2K at all -- I use Linux at work and BeOS at home. But my coworker uses Win2K and he experiences the loss of the mouse and the freezing of the computer on a daily basis.

    It seems that for every anecdotal story about Windows being stable there is another about it being unstable, and vice versa. What can we conclude from this?

    Win2K is really no different from any other Windows: on some circumstances it is inexplicably stable, and on others it is inexplicably unstable. From this, I conclude that Windows is unreliable.
  • I agree with most of your comment, but I don't quite agree with you about the "horribly slow file managers". You can't have tried Konqueror, or your KDE2 installation must have been broken in some way, because Konqueror is at pretty cool and fast filemanager imnsho. The Control Panel in KDE2 is a bit confusing and overwhelming, but it's not that bad. Furthermore, I don't use the Control Panel directly, I just use the startmenu and launch the "Configuration panel" (I don't know what else to call it) from there.

    A thing still lacking is stability (not the kernel, but in the desktop environment), but KDE2 has just been released and I expect that it will be better when KDE 2.01 is soon released and maybe it is just because my install is broken, but it is (at the moment) a standard Mandrake 7.2 install, so it ought to be more stable than what I've experienced until now.

    Another thing is an easier way to install new applications. it shouldn't be necesary to go use the CLI ever to install any app, but it often is. Furthermore the applications automatically (or ask about it) put an icon in the startmenu and elsewhere. Helixcode's Red Carpet looks pretty cool.

    Greetings Joergen
  • People who bitch about UIs are becoming really annoying. I really hate the Mac UI. Seriously. Whenever I use a Mac, the experience is painful. Now that said, I understand how *certain types of users* find the Mac's interface intuitive. Personally, I'm fine with vi (I actually prefer Blackbox, but you get the point). Different UIs for different types of people. My ideal UI would probably be Blackbox + powershell (multiple xterms - rock!).

    The idiocy of ranking UIs is that - what users are we talking about? You, a "person who owns multiple computers"? Those aren't exactly very impressive qualifications. Basically, you're ranking the UIs on your personal reaction to them. Fine - but what makes you think this applies to anyone else?

    Window's UI is hardly useable for daily work

    That's absurd. Tens of millions of people use Windows every day, at work and at home. You may not like it, but it's the truth.

    Sorry for the rant. I just find it aggravating to hear Mac OS people say that no OS has ever approached the UI of the original Mac OS. As I've tried to show, that idea is nonsensical.

  • NICs, vague tools, and configuration files... Ok let's make a point. If you go to the Army no one tells you that rifles will shoot automatically to where you point, right? If you have some initiate experience on Linux and take intervals of a year to "restudy" it, then wait that the rifle will shoot the same way as before. Linux is not a "AI automatic rifle system". IT IS NOT. Wanna go shoot? Pick the damn RTFM and dig on it as if you are doing 50Km marches a day.
    If you did that, then you would know how to launch your damn driver in 2-5 minutes without rebooting the machine and kick KDE into Hell. And a simple wget would be enough to grab the packages you needed. And you wouldn't be whinning about "desktop experience" but kicking the graphic desktop up to the extremes without that "Start" button crap...
  • You want to back up your implied knowledge on computer interface history here with some facts + references?

    This is my implied knowledge: MS Windows is not a 100% clone of any Mac OS, anything from PARC, anything from Palm, or anything from IBM (or anyone else). MS has done original work on their UI, whether people like the results or not is of no consequence to that fact.

    You're quick to say that MS is innovating, but you don't give any examples. Please, I invite you to show us the list of UI innovations that MS came up with themselves. For a company that spends $5bil a year on R&D, show us what it's produced

    Off the top of my head i think of the sidewinder joystick -- a fantastic interface that is obvious in hindsight but was so novel when it came out. It makes perfect sense as a way to interact with the computer.

    More software-oriented, I can think of the dynamic menus they're using in Office 2k. Again, you may hate them completely, but that's of no consequence to this discussion.

    But of course these are all rough, blatant things -- an UI is not comprised of these "big" points, for the most part what makes an UI usable is the little things, like how a context-menu functions. The difference between Windows right-click menus and Mac OS option-click context menus is night and day -- the context menus on Windows actually contain useful functions, while the ones on the Mac OS seem placed there as an afterthought.

    Using the right-click menu on a windows system is a relatively IMPORTANT part of running the system, while it isn't on a Mac. That's a BIG UI decision with many consequences. having the third button do cut-and-paste in X, for example, is an UI decision that is (AFAIK) original for Unix but is so completely useless that it hasn't been copied by anyone else. It would be obnoxious to suggest that it was "copied" simply becuase cut-and-paste existed, and third mouse buttons existed. It's still an original UI concept to tie them together in such a fashion.

    MFC toolbars can't even handle more than 16 color bitmaps, I for one do not associate that sort of crap with a company that pushes any UI envelops.

    If your UI relies on more than black and white to function, it's broken. Adding color is nice, but its a cosmetic issue, NOT one of UI functionality or capability. KDE and Gnome seem to focus on this part as well (making things "prettier") while ignoring the basic functionality of the UI (why can't I copy and paste between ANY applications on my system? That's a serious UI shortcoming). If a user selects "copy" in one location, goes elsewhere and cannot "paste" then the UI has failed that user, no matter if the menu has flaming text or spinning 3D grahics on it. Microsoft (and Apple and Palm) have done excellent jobs of making sure that THEIR UIs do not let down the users in such a fashion (or at least not on a regular basis). THAT is the true work of UI design.

    As far as I can tell re gnome and kde, they seem to be trying to copy many of the things I've always regarded as the *worst* aspects of windows

    I can't disagree with you there -- it's close enough in appearance that you expect it to function the same, but half of the functions aren't there, and that drives me nuts. I expect that any windows user would be similarly frustrated by a seemingly familiar interface that in fact behaves very differently.


    ---------------------------------------------
  • by Oestergaard ( 3005 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @11:58AM (#608668) Homepage
    Man ! That article was so politically correct I can't believe it...

    Whatever happened to the good critical slaughtering of products the author doesn't like ?

    Sheesh... ;)
  • Actually, maybe. Microsoft already owns rights to online depictions of Whistler's Mother [tripod.com] for their Encarta encyclopedia, so they could partake of this whimsy if it so struck them. However, Microsoft has always been slow to acknowledge codenames in their software once it gets to final distribution stage.
  • You know, I have never heard of IT managers that don't use software because of some company's stock valuation. The stock market is not representative of how much linux is being adopted since it's free. At best, it reflect how companies are struggling to make a profit in the Linux support buisness.
  • Why would anybody think that moving the mouse to the task bar and clicking a 'start' button is better then right clicking anywhere on the screen to get the menu?
    It's just poor UI design.
  • It's a blessing to have the command history in the RUN command under the Start menu.

    One of the things I greatly appreciated in KDE 1.x was the integration of 'readline-style' command history in some widgets ( the address text field of the file manager, as well as in the mini-command utility ). You could use TAB for file completion and cursor keys to recall previous conmmand/addresses.

    Sadly, it seems gone now.

  • Click the menu, it's open, click the item in the menu and the menu closes, your selection executes. In between the first and the second click you could traverse your mouse cursor around the screen twice and do the lambada for all XFce cares.

    And this is unlike the GNOME and KDE menus how?

    --

  • The virtual desktop feature has been available for NT4 for quite a while as part of the NT4 Option pack. I'm using it right now. Whilst it only allows two screens, as opposed to four with Linux, it works very well with no noticable slow down.

    Virtual desktops have been commonplace on X11 desktops since before either Linux or NT even existed. It's just taken NT a long time to catch up...
  • He completely skips over the atrocious design of the control-center, where a configuration box can disappear but not be saved.

    What's the environment in question. Without knowing what the user is ment to be doing with it and in what kind of ogranisation then comparisons are rather useless anyway.
  • by ywwg ( 20925 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:00PM (#608682) Homepage
    This "comparison" is a joke. The reviewer, clearly an experienced linux user, tries to guess what might be confusing to newer users. A true _usability_ comparison would focus on how easy a person can _use_ the interface. He completely skips over the atrocious design of the control-center, where a configuration box can disappear but not be saved. He doesn't talk at all about real-world use, like "it took the average user three seconds longer to find program X with GNOME than with KDE." How does Whistler's navigation of menu levels compare to GNOME or KDE? Are either of them as slick as the original Mac? Do whistler taskbar items respond to screen-edge clicks yet? How easy is it to do X Y Z with each file manager? It's a superficial "first-impression" piece, not a usability comparison.
  • You are right, among the previewable file types will be mp3s. By letting your cursor over an mp3 file you will hear the begining of the song.


    "When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun...
  • "All three" aren't learning from each other -- both are learning from Windows. There's only one UI that has any real R&D and UI testing dollars behind it, and it dowesn't have a footprint or K as an icon."

    First I should mention that while the menu feature is a typical Windows borrowing, many others are not. Second don't forget to mention some "testing dollars" to Xerox, Apple and even some less known Hewlett-Packard that helped the creation of the Win9x interface. And to end, don't forget a less reffered X that had the menu system quite before Windows had it... If you don't believe than go grab any old Unix from the beginning of the 90's.

    And this guy gets 5? UberTroll
  • What do you expect, given what he had to work with? All three of the GUIs in the comparison are basically the same -- slight variations on the abysmally bad Win95 interface. So if he decided to "slaughter" one of the products, he would have had to equally slaughter all three since the same arguments would apply. Either way, you get the same conclusion: they're all three about the same.

    If you want a GUI review that makes Microsoft look bad, then build a copy of OS/2's WPS out of GNOME GUI components.


    ---
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:00PM (#608689) Homepage
    Sung to the tune of (What a) Wonderful world:

    (What a) Microsoft World
    ------------------------

    Don't know much about my CPU,
    Don't know what a DIMM's supposed to do,
    Don't know what a hard disk is for,
    Don't know how to overclock my core;
    But I do know that Microsoft rules,
    'cuz that's what they taught us all in school,
    Oh, What a Microsoft world it must be.

    Don't know why my screen is always blue,
    Don't know what these damn exceptions do,
    Don't know why my modem runs so slow,
    What it's sending out I just don't know;
    But I do know what the salesman said,
    Once I save enough to finally upgrade,
    What a wonderful world it will be.
  • I agree, that CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM helps everyone. Since NO gui is perfect (they all have their cool little features and quirks) discussing what makes a good GUI great, helps to design more user-friendly UI's. I don't have time to invest X hours learning a specific GUI, and most people also don't have that kind of spare time -- I have better things to do, like writing game code :)

    > This article notes many features present in Windows Whistler (such as an advanced taskbar, ... )

    BeOS has had this feature for while [arstechnica.com]. It is very slick. Let's say you open up 10 copies of your web browser (NetPositive) you DON'T see 10 huge buttons spread across the task bar (Deskbar, or the Twitcher), only one. All instances of the same program are listed vertical. IMHO, this is making more efficient use of limited screen real estate.

    Which brings me to my next point:

    The stupid application title bars DON'T extend across the WHOLE top, in BeOS. All that space between the application name, and the Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons are simply WASTED in most GUIs. Not so, in BeOS. Even more cooler (usefull!) in BeOS, is that you can SHIFT-DRAG any title bar (Be calls this the window tab) along the top of the window [be.com]! (The direct link to "A Look at the BeOS Windows" [be.com] doesn't work for some reason) Makes it extremely easy to switch among visible apps.

    Seems like everyone, Be [be.com], etc, includes virtual desktops/workspaces by default, EXCEPT Microsoft!

    And who can forget Be is FREE! [be.com]

    ... now only if Be would open source BeOS, and make it true multi-user, it would last "forever" and have a chance of becoming a popular OS. :) This is the one strength that Linux has, TONS of developers working world-wide. Of course Linux's "main fault" is lack of consistent vision, and a lot of redundant work. i.e. Browse sourceforge, and ask yourself do we REALLY NEED Yet-Another-Text-Editor?

    Well, I've probably come off as a BeOS zealot. Far from it, I LIKE and use: Win2K, BeOS, Linux, and BSD. Use the respective tool for the proper job, since when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, something Linux may fall into, if it's not carefull. :)

    Cheers
  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @03:25PM (#608693) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft is one of the first (if not THE first) to do serious usability laboratory testing for microcomputer software. This is separate from unit testing, regression testing, stress testing and focus testing.

    The labs are set up much as focus group rooms, or if you haven't seen those, tv cops' interrogation chambers. A simple but attractive office or homey room with a computer and a few knick-nacks, overseen by a VERY wired booth and a large one-way mirror wall.

    The user is someone off the street, heavily pre-interviewed to fit various target demographics of experience or workstyles.

    The instructions handed may go all the way from an unopened box in the chair (install and explore this), to a preconfigured setup and a few written instructions as if from a boss.

    The people in the control booth record everything said by the user, and done with the computer. The controller can converse with the user through an intercom, and even move the mouse pointer or type remotely, but generally lets the user drive the show.

    The user is asked to think out loud as much as possible, to say their goals as they conceive of them, and to say their reactions to what they see. "Okay, I didn't mean to do that. I think Undo would be here, and, yep, okay, undone. Oh, but that erased this other thing too, which I wasn't expecting."

    Now, bring this to Open Source or Free Software. The lab doesn't need to be so fancy, but the REAL needs of REAL users must be REALLY observed and dissected and made into REAL usability gains.

    If usability angst testimonies are filtered between the neophyte to the guru, how can the guru comprehend what the neophyte needs? Guesswork makes for crap software.

    Conversely, in 1990 or so, Microsoft's LAN Manager group dismissed the feedback from Microsoft's own employees, as "not the typical user." A shame, because at the time, there were very few 30,000+ node LANs in the world. They could have clearly benefitted from the feedback of such users.

  • I'm pretty sure I still have to work with vague 'mod' tools configuration files. Same for the mouse.
    Fair criticism. However, I installed Win 98 on a computer which had a separate graphics driver CD. It took 4 hours of guessing to get the driver to load. (The CD contained hundreds of drivers, and the one I needed was not the one stated in the documentation). At least with Xfree86, the documentation contained the correct answer.
    The start menu is filled with crap I've never heard of.

    If you use Debian, then the menu (of whatever window manager you choose) contains exactly the programs you chose to have installed.
    In Windows, I click on "Windows Update..." and get system patches for bugs, security holes, etc.

    Again speaking as a Debian user, my system automatically installs security fixes by itself (it dials up once a day to check for them).
  • by MostlyHarmless ( 75501 ) <artdent@NospAM.freeshell.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:05PM (#608728)
    ... and I'm not just talking about the mail program, either.

    What the author previewing is a development version of whistler -- one that will be available to everyone in 2001 or later. In contrast, the versions of GNOME and KDE he's using are most likely the current, stable ones (1.2 and whatever the KDE stable is (2.0?) ). So currently, Whistler is ahead in the few points the reviewer touches on.

    However:
    By 2001, Nautilus will be out and have the preview feature the reviewer wanted, plus many others.
    By 2001, HelixCode's Red Carpet will provide even easier updates than the current packagers.
    By 2001, GNOME and KDE both will have radically improved interfaces.

    I don't remember any other specific complaints the reviewer had, but this is clear: With whistler, we'll see that one interface in 2001 and then no improvements until the next version -- maybe '03 or '04. OTOH, GNOME and KDE both are progressing at a rapid rate. What they already have in devel will surely be out way before whistler, and the improvements will be a steady trickle of bugfixes and enhancements, instead of seasonal service packs and enhancements only every two years. So while Whistler may be ahead for now in what was reviewed, but this will be radically different by the time whistler is actually released.
    --
  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:11PM (#608747) Homepage
    Gnome and KDE, on the other hand, have managed to put together very useable interfaces without millions of dollars behind them. All three interfaces need work to become as user friendly as possible, and all three can learn from each other.

    Can we buy a clue here? For all the sniping people do on how "unoriginal" MS/Windows is, as near as I can tell the entire KDE and Gnome approach is to just copy MS. So of course they don't have to spend money to get the same results.

    "All three" aren't learning from each other -- both are learning from Windows. There's only one UI that has any real R&D and UI testing dollars behind it, and it dowesn't have a footprint or K as an icon.

    When Win95 came out, all people did was complain about how stupid the start button is, now we read comparisons that say "well, KDE and Gnome both have start buttons, so they're just as good as Windows, I don't know where MS is wasting all that money."

    So we can bitch and moan about how imperfect and stupid MS interfaces are, but quite frankly there are only two companies that can claim any moral high ground for actually advancing the UI outside of ripping off MS: Apple and Palm. They are the only companies I see actually doing NEW things as opposed to "me-too"...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • by Anne Marie ( 239347 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:11PM (#608749)
    There is no clear winner or loser. Each interface has it's [sic] advantages and disadvantages.

    This surprised me, though I've never been disappointed by Jeff Field before. Newsforge is still, as its mission states, a forum for "open-source news" -- just look at the banner atop the front page, where "GNU/Linux" is prominently displayed where "Linux" would suffice for most. For such a site to publish an article that doesn't universally deride Microsoft or celebrate OSS offerings is a pleasant change from the earlier years.

    It looks like linux-centric media are finally growing up. I'm glad, because it would be a shame for the movement's mouthpieces to stumble just when the movement itself is gaining such momentum.
  • by uradu ( 10768 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:38PM (#608771)
    I believe the ideal is a combination of command line and GUI. Some things are a lot quicker to achieve graphically, other quites awkward or impossible, but very easily done on a command line. Two examples:

    1. Opening a document. If you're in the proper directory in Windows Explorer, you see the document icon right there, in front of you. Just double-click on it, and it opens. You don't have to know which application opens it, what the exact name of that app is, etc. On a command line, even after a DIR or LS, you still have to type the name of the viewer app (and potentially its full path) as well as the name of the document, even though it's RIGHT THERE, in front of you, you want to point to it and grab it. While some die-hard CLS users would argue that the command line approach is easier anyway, many people wouldn't concur.

    2. Selecting a bunch of files. Here the GUI can get quite awkward or useless. If the selection criterion is simple enough, it might be workable: select all files starting with project1*, for example. Sort by name, select the relevant files. But if the selection pattern is more complex, that might not work. You really have the urge to type something like SELECT *YAHOO* in the address bar, that would be so much easier.

    > It is much harder to remember where something is than remember the name.

    A lot of people would disagree with this statement, myself included. I can remember how to get to someone's house, but I rarely remember the street name. Many people think think very graphically, in terms of objects and actions. I often forget the syntax difference between regedit and regedt32, or regsvr32 or other such abominations (which abound especially in unix). It's a blessing to have the command history in the RUN command under the Start menu. On Linux after a few months of disuse, I have to run back to the manual for a lot of commands, even though I know exactly what I'm trying to achieve.
  • by Flavio ( 12072 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:22PM (#608778)
    You guys may say I don't pay attention to details, but I can't see a difference between this so called "new" Whistler and the current Windows 98 interface.

    Sure, icons and bars all over got whiter and everything appears flatter, but overall we're talking about exactly the same thing.

    Talking usability-wise, I can't see any advantage in comparison to Windows 98, and quite frankly, I don't expect to see any. I think Windows is decent as it is and couldn't think of a way to execute things faster and better without a CLI. (please respect my views here :)

    Am I the only one that thinks the clean Window Maker interface can't be beaten? Most argue about "the average user" finding it more complicated, but come on!, the average user gets dumber each day. Let's consider for a change that Whistler isn't really something new (at all) and that maybe it's very good already.

    As for KDE/Gnome [I've got to comment on them, otherwise this would risk being offtopic], they're far from being Whistler. Linux's power doesn't come from nowhere and to channel such versatility is a very hard task. Anyway, I'm not sure I even want them to be like Whistler.

    Flavio
  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:41PM (#608791)
    "There's only one UI that has any real R&D and UI testing dollars behind it, and it dowesn't have a footprint or K as an icon."

    Or a Start Menu. Boggles my mind. Window's UI is hardly useable for daily work. Nasty fonts, horrible prints, inconsistent dialogs and menus, not to mention installation and maintainance of the system.

    Being a person who owns multiple computers (at home) and has several OS's (see below) I would put GUI's from best to worst in the following order (sorry if i leave your Your Favorite OS[TM]).

    1. Mac OS 9

    2. MacOS X PB

    3. BeOS (I'm quite impressed with Be, but it looses points for difficulty of setting up OpenGL on "supported" video cards and for shipping with a Web Browser that isn't at least as standards compliant at Nescape 4.x)

    Large Gap in useability

    4. Windows ME/2000 (same basic UI)

    5. KDE/Gnome (these loose points for the following 1. Setup 2. Lack of applications standards [choosing what is right for you is Okay, but after the choice is made, file mapping on import and export should be automatically, autolaunching on web clicks should choose your fav app to handle the service etc] 3. horribly slow file managers 4. their respective "control panels" tool and 5. you still MUST use the command line at least once to setup the default install or ot lauch a useful service) I have used Mandrake 7.x, RedHat 6.x and 7.0 (kept mandrake 7.1)

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:29PM (#608799) Homepage
    Who gets final say though, on a proposed UI change in Windows.

    The highly paid UI people, geeks down in the code mines? Or the much more highly paid marketing guys, whose livelyhood depends on their ability to schmooze and talk people into things, and who like glitzy gadgets regardless of functionality, and who play golf with/go on corporate retreats with/swap wives with the head honchos, executive staff, board members of Microsoft.

    Windows has NEVER struck me as a piece of software whose feature-set was driven by engineers. You can hire the smartest people on the planet, but if your corporate decisions are not made by those people, it will not be reflected in your product. On the other hand, if you turn your product over to the engineers, geeks will think its cool, but the product is almost guaranteed to not succeed in the marketplace.

    Case in point:
    The Talking Paperclip (TM).
  • by doodaddy ( 92272 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:31PM (#608805)
    Well, I installed Red Hat 7.0 this weekend (after a year hiatus from Linux) and, I hate to say this but, I missed Windows! Perhaps I am just used to navigating Windows but I feel that some important gaps are left in the Linux "Desktop Experience:"

    My NIC wasn't working. In Windows I'd go to the "System Properties," find a yellow question mark, and work on the driver. Under Linux I was lost. But I'm pretty sure I still have to work with vague 'mod' tools and configuration files. Same for the mouse. I can't remember the commands when I only need them once a year. This is nerve-wracking; and a great example of the importance of GUIs (recognition not recall).

    Under Windows I get to start with a clean system and add tools I want. The start menu is relatively empty and ready for my bidding. Under Red Hat (and SUSE) I'm deluged with half-finished CD writers, and configuration tools. The start menu is filled with crap I've never heard of. Help, glub, glub.

    In Windows, I go to a site like tucows or softseek, look at screenshots of little helper applications and install them separately. Again, Red Hat and SUSE filled my system with half-finished toys. Want KDE? Fine, use gnorpm and dig through weird menus of choices and find all sorts of little pesky individual packages. (In the end, I STILL can't load the KDE window manager.)

    In Windows, I click on "Windows Update..." and get system patches for bugs, security holes, etc. I'm not aware of a simple method under Red Hat.

    In short, a "Desktop Experience" to me means I don't read man pages and tinker with config files, then rc.d. I've read about all that, and tinkered with it. I'm glad it works. But I DON'T want to revel in it! While Unix systems get their power from scripting and small tools, the "Desktop Experience" is a different beast! I'm all for the Unix tools and use them religiously, but that's a different issue. (Linux the OS still works great!)
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @01:32PM (#608825)
    What I am confused about is the fact that just b/c some fool decides to write an article comparing the FEATURES of KDE/Gnome/Whistler's main parts you seem to feel that the majority of people think that Linux is now easy enough to use on the desktop?

    Personally, I hate and despise Gnome and KDE. They bother me. They really really do. They are terribly dirty and cluttered looking. I never liked the fact that you could have icons on your desktop to start up programs (Windows). I always put the damn things in folders as it was (too much shit on the desktop is just making it harder to find). I personally use Enlightenment. I don't care what anyone says about it not being stable or whatever, it works just fine for me. (I am not an inexperienced user, I know how to get things installed.) I use it b/c I can put whatever I want into a quick mouse button menu and bam, I am set to run my apps. For stuff that I am too damn lazy to add to the menu, my Xterm is right there as the first selection. I have no problem in typing in the command line and &.

    *Most* Linux users realize that Linux is not ready for the desktop. It wasn't originally intended to be. It is getting there, slowly but surely. Someday it will be somewhere close to what it needs to be now, but does anyone really care? Do most of us think that we will ever beat Windows (or whatever it is in the future) on the desktop? Probably not.

    I love Linux to death, I use it for everything. I only just recently reinstalled Windows on this machine to use an Intel Create and Share USB camera to do vid conferencing w/my parents. I cerntainly don't believe that the average person is going to be able to use it easily w/o modification or problems.

    My parents use it daily, some for things that they don't realize, and some for things that they do. They still use Windows for a good majority of things b/c Linux is lacking in a lot of areas.

    You need to understand that not all of us believe what the minority do. We have great faith in our beloved OS, but we don't advocate it to everyone.

    Just my worthless (and terribly longwinded) .02
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @01:34PM (#608831) Homepage Journal
    And yet, apparently if you sit down in front of a Mac you can learn the UI faster than on a Windoze box.. but some would say that you never really learn the Windows interface because it is different for every application and changes with every release.
  • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:47PM (#608834) Homepage Journal
    It seems with every version of windows things are getting "easier" abd the user is, by default, taken away from the complexities of file systems and hardware.

    In the days of windows 95 and 98 this was great, a large majority of people had never used a computer before, and liked the idea of a start menu.

    Today there arent many people arround that cant load up Word from the start menu. Will these people, the non slashdot reading majority of computer users, enjoy these "enhancements"? Most people I know have 6 or 7 icons on their desktops for there often run programs and games, and the rest languishes in the start menu. They are pefectly able to get them though. They can right click on C: in My coputer and if theres lots of purple then thats good - they have lots of space (or is it blue for free space - I forget)

    The people that have never used a PC before are unlikely to find this any easier, as when they ask their next door neighbour, who has gotten used to windows 95/98, they will get a confusing reply.

    With linux heading to the main stream geek OS, and WW: PE, heading even more for the newbie, many semi-savvy users will be looking for a comfortable middle, which will probaly mean spending a few hundered bucks on the next version up from PE, or sticking with 98/ME.

    They wont be able to stay with ME for long though as new technologies will require upgrades, in the same way >2GB drives needed 95osr2.

    What will happen then, is complete speculation. If Microsoft continue to dumb down their $80 version of windows, I can see a growing market in replacement shells for windows.

    How long before the "intellegent" menus, as in winME, cant be turned off? Will the traditional start menu be going the way of program manager?
    Once people get used to an idea its very hard to take them off it.
  • by Niles_Stonne ( 105949 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2000 @12:47PM (#608835) Homepage
    I'm really happy for Microsoft's really PRETTY interface, but what about an interface that lets you work more efficiently?

    I want to see MORE data on the screen, not LESS... With the "new" start menu, not only do I have to click an extra time to get to anything, it also covers up 1/4 of the screen! The "explorer" now has nice big bars with spaces between them seperating your drives... Can't I see more than 8 drives on the screen at once? Or is that too confusing?

    Anyways, thay's my $0.02 worth...

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