Thursday, September 27, 2012

Windows 8 and Linux

In his column over at Network World, Marco Chiappetta ate some crow over Windows 8.  I wanted to salute Marco for being perfectly honest and telling it like it is, however it is.  Marco built himself a system and tried Windows 8, in spite of his varying opinion of the operating system.

I read the article with interest.  As you probably know, I hate Windows: I'm a linux guy.  I am forced to use Windows 7 at work because no one has come up with a way to administer Windows networks under linux.

Windows 7 felt like a downgrade from XP to me.  Microsoft has become adept at hiding things from their users.  Some would say they're downright fond of it these days.  After trying Office 2010, I would have to agree.

Mr. Chiappetta has some really good things to say about Windows 8, specifically in the performance and lack of bloat categories.  In fact, I was almost tempted to give it a try.

Until I remembered the interface.

Of all the boneheaded moves for which Microsoft is responsible, this one contains the greatest amount of bone:

Hey, let's not only hide every function that is familiar to our entire userbase - let's disguise it behind an interface that is completely worthless on the desktop, not to mention mostly worthless on the tablet!

No, really, I would try Windows 8 in a virtual machine or a second machine (and I hate Windows).  But the interface thing really irks me.  I find the sheer hubris of it awe-inspiring, like Apple putting a different connector on their new phone.

Believe it or not, we in Linux Land have had a similar problem recently.   What you might find interesting is the way the entire issue was handled, both by the programmers and the users.  Something popped up a short while back as an interface for netbooks (remember them?).  This was before tablets became all the rage.  I downloaded a version of Ubuntu optimized for netbooks with this interface.  It lasted a few minutes, after which I replaced it with my normal desktop (XFCE, as in Xubuntu).  I saw absolutely no gain from using the all-in-one glob interface.

Flash forward to the here and now, where Ubuntu comes standard with the Unity interface, which is strikingly similar to what I've seen about Windows 8.  Unity has caused great amounts of disharmony in Linux Land.  My impression is that most don't like it.

Microsoft (and Apple) wish to let you know that if you don't think they know what's better for you than you do, you are cordially invited to perform an anatomically impossible act upon yourself.  On the other hand, in Linux Land, you can continue to use the clunky interface or install a different desktop and set it up to your liking.

I would give Microsoft a lot of points for simply including a function to switch between the normal interface and the new one.  But Microsoft knows best.

Marco - thanks for the input!


  1. Slackware Linux + Xfce

    'nuff said. :)

  2. Here I am, attempting to take Windows semi-seriously and you come along and start with your linux talk.

    Not that I can argue with you, Compiler Breath :)