Auto-launching of applications

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at
Mon Feb 23 10:19:05 GMT 2009

Hash: SHA1

[Reposting my reply publicly, since Chow Loong Jin reposted his:]

Chow Loong Jin wrote on 22/02/09 17:38:
> Okay, but before I do that, why don't you print out a screenshot,
> actual size, of the Windows taskbar containing the Windows Updates
> icon. Show it to fifty people who've used computers before but haven't
> seen Windows before, individually, and ask them what that particular
> icon means.

Are you expecting me to defend the Windows behavior?  :-)  It's just as
bad in Windows as it has been in Ubuntu.

> Fact is, if I don't know what it is, I'd hover my pointer over it, or
> click on it.

You and I (and most Ubuntu developers) are in a small fraction of people
who are confident in clicking things even when we don't know what they
are. Last year, a schoolteacher friend of mine -- who is much smarter
and more well-read than I will ever be -- went to the trouble of taking
a screenshot of his Windows screen, printing it out in color, and
bringing it to me to ask what all the icons next to the clock were. The
idea of hovering over the icons or clicking on them hadn't even occurred
to him.

>> If your benchmark for of "those who do have proper icon observation
>> skills" covers only a tiny proportion of the target population, it's
>> a useless and disingenuous benchmark.
> It's pointless arguing this. I'd say that majority of the target
> population do have proper icon observation skills. However, you would
> probably proclaim otherwise. Why don't you do an actual study?

We intend to, once Canonical's Design team is fully staffed. But we
won't be treating it as a test of how many people have "proper icon
observation skills". Rather, we'll be testing for what proportion of
people an icon succeeds. That's an important distinction! Making
software smarter is much easier than making people smarter.

> Point taken, but if a notification area icon appearing doesn't catch
> the user's attention, what makes you think that an update-manager
> window appearing behind everything is going to catch the user's
> attention? Right now, many of my friends are Windows users, and most
> of them are irritated whenever Windows prompts them to update. If I'm
> not mistaken, all Windows does is put up an icon and add a
> notification to it. Just think how much more irritated they would be
> if they switch to Ubuntu and find that Ubuntu pops up an entire
> window every time there is an update to be applied.

I think part of the irritation in Windows is that the bubble floats
above whatever else you're doing until you explicitly dismiss it, which
Update Manager does not. And no, Update Manager won't appear every time
there is an update; if there are no security updates, it'll appear once
a week *at most*.

- --
Matthew Paul Thomas

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