Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thoughts from Windows

Ok, as you know, while I'm in Arizona, I am using a Windows laptop to do all of my computer-related stuff. I've forgotten what it was like to use Windows XP, and I must say, I miss my Ubuntu computer. Now that a slim majority of my readers are Windows users, I'll have to be more fact based. Attacks like "Winblows" or "Windoze" or "Micro$oft" don't cut it anymore. So, here are some of the problems (from my perspective) of using a Windows computer.

One thing I greatly noticed was that Windows programs tend to be HIGHLY obtrusive. For example, my dad needs Microsoft Live Messanger on this computer. Something that really ticks me off is that it by default runs when the system boots up. If an open-source program did that, that feature wouldn't remain very long. If that program was a real tangible thing, I'd slap it. The thing that really ticks me off is that it starts like that BY DEFAULT. And there's no way to stop it from starting at bootup (at least not one I could find in the help files). [EDIT: Ok, after enough searching, I was able to find something that looked remotely like a menu bar, and was able to find the button to disable that feature. Though a menu bar would have been a lot of help] I'm sure there's a way to do it via some registry editing (which I'm also not too fond of), but you have to actually hunt around for that. Now I know that you do a lot of hunting in open-source software. But you should hunt if you want to ADD a feature. If you have to hunt all over the internet to REMOVE a feature that could be considered obtrusive and inconvenient, there's something wrong with the program. For example, pidgin has a feature that lets you start it at startup, but that's DISABLED by default. And I, as the computer user, would like to keep it that way. I find it really annoying when I start up the computer to get windows in my face, especially MSN news. Uggghhhh.....

Another thing, when I want to install a program, that's EXACTLY what I want to do. Install THAT program. For this, I'm mostly looking at Yahoo!, but there are several other companies which also do this. If I want to install Yahoo! Messenger, that's all I want to install. Not Yahoo! Toolbar, just Yahoo! Messenger. Merely asking me if I'd like Yahoo! Toolbar would be OK. However, you ask if I'd like it, and have the check box already checked. That check makes a big difference. It's the difference between asking if I'd like to install your product, and imposing that product on me. If I wasn't really paying attention (cycling through the next buttons which I'm sure many of you do), I just installed a piece of software on my computer without really knowing it. That's really sneaky. Again, if someone did that in the open-source world, they'd deserve a slap. Of course, it's also much more difficult to install a separate program in the open-source world namely because it's simple to catch, and the ./configure, make, make install cycle is much more involved. You're not asked for input unless it's REALLY needed.

The next thing that ticks me off is Internet Explorer. Yes, I know most Windows users have evolved past the point of Internet Explorer. But there's still that 18% of people who read this blog who still use Internet Explorer. Now, let me tell the truth: It's a piece of crud. I'm not even going to get into the security issues because those are more in depth. Right now, I'm just talking about the cosmetic and usability issues. For one thing, IE7 tries to look like Firefox, but fails. Miserably! The tabs are a joke! One thing that consistently ticks me off and makes me laugh at the same time is when you open up a new tab. You get an HTML file that says, "You've opened a new tab!" I'm just like, "NO DUH!". I pressed Ctrl+T or went File>New Tab. Of course I've opened a new tab. Then it starts talking about all the benefits of tabs, blah blah, yadda yadda. Also, the classic browser view is gone. For some reason, Microsoft decided to stick the address bar between the forward button and the refresh button. That was kinda confusing. And the search bar, in addition to being a blatant ripoff of Firefox, is very poor. You can only search MSN or Yahoo! I'm not sure, but it seems like they left out the most powerful search engine for their own anti-Google agenda. [EDIT: You can get it, but you need to work for it] Oh, I've gotten really conspiracy-theory-minded now. I better stop before I get a stroke or something.


Cairnarvon said...

Pidgin behaves exactly like Windows Live Messenger, except that it always automatically signs you in when you start it unless you logged off manually before you shut it down the last time.
And if you had to use the internets to figure out how to stop Windows Live Messenger from starting automatically, you probably shouldn't be using a computer. >.>

The fact that Yahoo! sucks has nothing to do with Windows, either. Everyone knows it, that's why everyone uses a third-party client for Y!M.

I don't use IE7, so I have no opinion on it, but I do know you can add other search engines to the search bar, and Firefox definitely wasn't the first one to add a search engine to the toolbar. It wasn't even the one that popularised it (that was the Google toolbar for IE).
As for tabs, what's wrong with displaying some information about tabs, especially when there's a key combination that can be used to open a new one that could be pressed accidentally?

There are some legitimate complaints regarding Windows, but these aren't it.

cactaur said...

I can wholeheartedly disagree with your statement about Pidgin. I've installed Pidgin on both Ubuntu and Windows, and in neither case does Pidgin impose itself on startup. And I do concede on the Windows Live Messenger. After finally finding something resembling a menu, I was able to turn that feature off. It took a little more searching, so I concede that point.

And Windows really fosters the kind of environment for monolithic program takeovers. It's not just Yahoo!, but many other companies (including Microsoft itself) use this strategy of trying to install as many of their programs on a client machine as they can. That kind of mentality would be very difficult to maintain in an open-source environment. And last I heard, Y!M for Unix did not do that kind of shady dealing (however, I admit that would probably be because it's highly unmaintained). But I imagine it will also be much more difficult to do on a Unix platform, especially if it was a source package. If it was a source package, the user would have a lot of output to see what the heck is happening to their computer.

Yes, well, Firefox did integrate the search engine in the actual browser. No third-party toolbar required. And yes, I admit towards the end I've gotten much more fatigued and stopped thinking as straight, as announced. But yes, I've discovered you can add more search providers. I'll correct that too. Oh and yeah, I just found the tab thing funny. I perhaps should've made that a bit clearer.

Larry said...

Ehhhhh, but at default programs everything sucks, you're just too used to Ubuntu working efficiently...that is no excuse why Windows shouldn't ...BUT, I have gotten Windows pretty well configured...at the time that I had it....as Cairnarvon said, there are some legitimate complaints about Windows, but these are really minor issues, and in my opinion can be easily fixed(even without registry hacks)

Joshua said...

well, seeing as how i use windows more than linux because of my dad ...
you can easily disable windows live messenger. you can do it though the 'menu bar', but you can also do it though downloading a startup control panel or many other programs. no need to fiddle in the registry or anything like that, its just a click or two away. you can even make it start your own programs if you want.

also, with the yahoo thing, most companies do that. its not just yahoo, its the corporate world. nothing having to do with windows.

with IE7 (which i've been forced to use a few times), excluding the security things (of which FF also has its fair share of, nothing is perfect) it depends on what OS you run it on. IE7 was designed to work with vista, not xp. it works alot better on vista because of that.

who uses the refresh button anyways? most of the time, i just hit ctrl+r

there is another way to open a new tab. its right next to the current tab, theres a little small one with no text, click that and its a new tab.

how does it try to look like FF? i don't see a resemblance.

from google, you can download a default google search engine for IE. its right

also,w ith the new tabs, so what if it says htat? who really pays attention to it? you hit ctrl+t and type in a url. no need to read.

alot of what you've said isn't really true ... you just aren't used to it. i've heard that complaint many times from people who are trying to move to linux and say similar things.

Larry said...

msconfig.exe, no need to download third party software, it's build into Windows, it's like Sessions manager in Ubuntu, you can tell it what to startup,etc. It's very simple to prevent programs from executing on startup, it's just programs like YIM or Live Messenger have the tendency to start up, there is always without a doubt an option to disable it from executing itself on startup