Joe Schmoe wrote:
Microsoft Windows has never been compatible with how I work, though. I've never been able to class it as lazy, to be honest, because I always found it to be extremely difficult-to-use and irritatingly obfuscated (just one example of this is in its unhelpful error messages that seem to be designed to intimidate some users), from the very first time I used it.
This is, of course, a funny paragraph. I'm actually quite curious. Could you explain how/why it isn't "compatible" with how you work and what you don't like about the error messages? Thanks!
I'm glad that you gleaned some amusement from this, to the point of implying that it is a fact that my personal experience is to be laughed at.
Assuming that you're actually serious about being curious (which from your wording, I'm unsure about), I'll give explaining the my aforementioned personal experience a go.
First, I should note that I went straight from a Commodore 64 to Microsoft Windows 95 in 1996, though of course I experienced a wide variety of platforms via school and friends as a youngster. I then used various flavours of Microsoft Windows until 2003, and none of the problems and bugbears that I found with it ever went away. After that, I switched to Mac OS X for a few years, as that worked and had its guts arranged in a fashion that seemed a bit more logical to me, and when that went off in a direction that felt bogged down with things that got in my way, I moved to Linux in 2008, which I find does all that I ask of it quickly, simply, and in a way that is compatible with the way my mind works (and its innards are also organised in such a fashion, too - where things are and where they go makes perfect sense to me, and I get on well with that).
Microsoft Windows was never compatible with the way I work because it simply doesn't seem logical to me, and seems largely resistant to the typical expectation of computers - that they are there to do what the user asks of them, via simple commands or gestures.
To actually use it, you had to sit and wait for several minutes for it to boot up. For someone who grew up experiencing computers that carried the "All in ROM, and instant on/off" approach from the 8-bit CLI-based microcomputers through to GUI-based systems (for example, the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, and Acorn Archimedes), this was bizarre, to say the least! I eventually got used to this, as it seems to be a common thing among modern machines, although it's generally quicker nowadays on my CPU architecture of choice (which is ARM - I just have a couple of x86 boxes left that won't be replaced when they die; My requirements are all OS and architecture agnostic now).
I always found the interface of Microsoft Windows to be clunky, confusing, and poorly-worded (which made it frustrating for me to use), with bizarre and confusing metaphors (for example, who puts wallpaper over their desk, and who presses a button labelled "Start" in order to power a machine off? I recall there being lots of little niggles like this, but these are the two that remain most clearly in my mind), and the same goes for the built-in programs (of which there were surprisingly few* ), which never gained many useful keyboard shortcuts during my time using them - I don't particularly like breaking from what I'm doing to have to put my hand on the mouse, and navigate it through several menus and options.
*The OS was hyped as letting you do all you needed out-of-the-box, but didn't actually come with much of anything to do with it out-of-the-box. I noticed that vendors tended to bundle in packages of discounted and somewhat old software to make up for the shortfall between hype and reality. This never seemed sensible to me, and is one of the reasons that I got on better with other OSes that I moved to later, since they did/do the exact opposite.
My experience of the help files was not very good; Far too often, they assumed years of previous experience with the platform - but x86-based computers and Microsoft Windows didn't even become relevant in the UK market until circa 1996/1997, which often rendered them fairly useless. (For all the complaining I see people do about Linux's man-pages, I got on well with those from day one, because they actually tell me what a command does, even if it's sometimes tersely. And I had to use a couple on day one, because the first thing I did was decide to compile something to try to learn from the experience. It was the exact opposite of my experience with Microsoft Windows' help files.)
If something went wrong, Microsoft Windows' error messages tended to be along the lines of "A fatal error has occurred", followed by a very large and unhelpful (not to mention difficult-to-read due to length) string of numbers. There's nothing better for intimidating inexperienced users than hiding what's actually gone wrong and letting them figure out how to fix it - it always struck me as deliberate obfuscation to keep the user from gaining knowledge they want. In all the years that I used Microsoft Windows, I can't remember ever seeing a helpful error message that helped me to solve something. I've never encountered this on another OS, with the lone exception of one time on Fedora (which I also find to be a bit error-message deficient, but which some older relations of mine - probably about James' father's age, give or take a bit - chose and prefer for some reason) a mere one week ago (it turned out that a Linux laser printer driver supplied by Samsung didn't know what to make of Fedora's bizarrely overly-paranoid SELinux setup, and couldn't provide a useful message).
The fact that Microsoft Windows seems to require constant babysitting and attention for all manner of oddball design reasons (from virus-susceptibility to the Registry and DLL hell), couldn't handle all the RAM in a machine for many years and would start paging and chugging way before necessary, and occasionally needed to be completely wiped and reinstalled (the need to wipe and reinstall is also a gripe I have with Mac OS X, too, though), never sat well with me.
As time went on, having to trawl all over the place to obtain software, and having to then manually keep tabs on keeping it updated, became enormously painful. The same goes for having to install drivers separately (which in my experience seems to be rare on Linux; I've only had to do this once, for other people - it was the Samsung laser printer on Fedora as mentioned above). This sadly persisted throughout my time using Mac OS X, as well, so as with the above wipe-and-reinstall issue this is not purely a gripe with Microsoft Windows. I figured that there had to be a better way for me to get on with this aspect of computing, and I eventually found that.
Those are just the things that spring immediately to mind, and I may have missed out a bunch more, but I think that this should be sufficient.
I hope that this satisfies your curiousity, though I suspect that it may also mean that I am from a green-sky-bearing Mars, as seems to also be the case for others with different experiences.
Anyway, I apologise for the long post - I suspect that the more succinct "I expect my OS to get out of my way and just let me use my computer." would not have been as informative an explanation, haha.
jamesh wrote:Actually, the same applies to Windows. You need to do something 'out of the box', and you end up having to dig down to some obscure dialog somewhere, with a non-friendly text box badly explaining what the option does.
This has been my experience also, sadly.
SirLagz wrote:My experience has been the opposite actually...granted I've built my PCs but still.
I bought a dell printer, came with linux drivers
Bought a lexmark printer, came with linux drivers
Bought a laptop, chucked ubuntu on, no issues with drivers.
bought an old old laptop, chucked ubuntu on, no issues with drivers
However, using the preloaded windows on that laptop that I bought had plenty of issues lol...like the fact that it had a whopping 2 gigs of ram and was trying to run vista.
I've seriously had less issues running Linux than I have running Windows.
Even with cheap screwy hardware, Linux handled it better than windows did.
For example, my cheap screwy webcam was plug and play in Linux while I had to hunt around for drivers in windows
Also my experience.
Heater wrote:Those who do actually support all of this, the IT guys and your neighbors geeky sons, are probably quite smart enough to do the same for any current OS. As James says, it's the same problems but wrapped up differently.
ALSO also my experience! Though, don't forget the geeky daughters as well - we have to do this stuff for various OSes too.