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Recently, I installed Vista SP1 RC Public Availability Programme (here) and I was initially disappointed as on inspection it was business as usual I couldn't find any differences and I was left wondering what was all that about then? I even took the time to do timings to do a before and after on times that was important to me such as  timings in a DirectX games and none of them have changed, I even re-run them again and not one difference. So what I wanted from Vista SP1 was better performance in DirectX and I didn't get it.

However that is not the point of SP1. SP1 is about improved compatibility, reliability and performance in key areas. I didn't realise that when I installed it. So the moral of the story is, SP1 isn't going to be exciting so don't get disappointed, it pretty much a great big bug fix.

Afew words of warning before you go head-first and do the same. Read the FAQ ! RC1 is a time-limited release and you will need to uninstall it before you apply the next RC or the real thing. Infact subscribe to the so you can hear whats going on.

So am I going to finally jump to Vista? Sadly no. Performance in DirectX games is what will keep me on XP until I can scratch together some money for one mother of an upgrade. But why should I bother? The Spec of my machine is more than fine and all the games I buy now look great and work well so I'm going to stick with it for some time yet.

So have I really used Vista in anger? Yes, I spent a great deal of time when it first come out trying to like the new OS. I totally appreciate the work that has gone into it and I do understand that it is the foundation for Windows client OS for the next 10 years so there is more under the hood going on that benefits me and I should perhaps just run with it and live in blissful ignorance of the wonderful stuff going on my behalf.

However my big gripes about Windows are not fixed in Vista and Vista has slowed down the major bit I like.

My biggest gripe about Windows is it doesn't really help me get organised.

The Start Button is a cluttered UI bottleneck. I like to categorise stuff so it's easy to find them. It's a pretty simple thing to do, it's not pretty or ideal under XP with the flying out menus but IMHO it's worse under Vista! Now with added scroll-bar fun. So to avoid all this I drag icons out of the start menu and drop them on the quick launch or the desktop so before to long they both start getting cluttered up to. Not to mention squeezing the task-bar even more.

I want to group programs together in categories like Games, Office, Photo/Graphics and have the ability realised that some programs can reside in more than one category! At the moment I'm copy and pasting short-cut links in the windows explorer view as this is the simplest way to do it to try and get organised

I can hear the Apple Mac guys sniggering right now (just because Apple are helping VW to design a car! Oh and the dashboard in a Merc as well apparently) I have a Mini and the top menu hasn't change much either, admittedly the dock is a nice thing to have but it has the same problem! I don't have so many programs installed on it so it's not that much of a problem.

Anyway, with my Laptop I decided to follow the Mac lead and buy a dock as Vista didn't supply me with one. So I purchased Stardock's ObjectDock Plus. Setup some tabs and autohide the taskbar, which I now haven't seen for weeks.

The ObjectDock Plus isn't ideal but it is the single biggest GUI productivity gain I've had from my OS since 1995! It's like having a start-button for each category!

The thing is we are smarter than this? How hard would it be to select categories for a program to be associated with on install? And save files in a similar way to category data stores. But the great-white knight isn't better organisation, that's to hard and to radical I fear, it's search. Everyone knows how to use a search engine so desktop search is the answer, so you can save your file in any old place.  To my mind that's just lazy and people don't want to work that way. I use desktop search once every few months when I can't find something but 10 out of 10 it's isn't on that computer so I wasted my time using the search this is what being a bit organised means. It's just less stressful. Don't get me wrong I'm no librarian just hate not finding stuff but I do feel that my OS doesn't help me.

So will I be switching to Linux or Mac, well it's a mute point as I am lucky to already have both running in my house, the joys of VMWare but neither of them really help, so I ask what exactly do I need an OS for if all it really does for me is run programs? Hey I may as well virtualizes the whole darn thing and just 'player' programs when I want to run them. I fell it is heading in that direction at the moment for business, so perhaps the program being dependent on an OS will become a thing of the past.

But what about all the other stuff an OS does? Well with Linux you can streamline, so only run what you need. The same is happening more or less with Windows 2003 and more so in Windows 2008. I don't know about OSX.

Needless to say I don't think the OS has moved on in the usability stakes much since Windows 95. Admittedly things are prettier but for me it doesn't feel like much more. What I dearly would like is OS writers to be braver, more courageous, small incremental changes is all nice and safe but doesn't move me on much from where I was before, so what's the point in switching?

Yes, I think now it is time for some more courage. Look at how the iPhone for example, it is getting taken up just because the interface does the job well, but it doesn't look like Windows, Linux or the Mac, so people aren't afraid if they can do stuff easily and intuitively.

What we need is a usability revolution not some lipstick on a pig.


Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2008 9:11 PM Main | Back to top

Comments on this post: Geez, please save me from my operating systems!

# re: Geez, please save me from my operating systems!
Requesting Gravatar...
Hi Dave, I've tried calling your home number but keep getting "busy" signal - can you drop me a note at some stage?
Left by Dave Caddick on Jan 06, 2008 11:58 PM

# re: Geez, please save me from my operating systems!
Requesting Gravatar...
I would ask that you might peruse my earlier blog posts about Desktop Environments and Usability... I could send some screenshots of my current OpenSuSE setup which is very intuitive and/or some shots of my future thesis GUI work if you are interested ... ande
Left by Ande on Jan 07, 2008 8:29 AM

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