Why Windows 10 is bad

Peter Flynn peter at silmaril.ie
Tue Dec 5 21:00:58 UTC 2017


On 12/04/2017 01:28 AM, Adam McClure wrote:
[snip]
 > Is there a reason that you're using the Ubuntu Users mailing list to
 > complain about Windows 10?

I think as a warning. There are parallels.

CAUTION: LONG. Don't read this if you're short of time.

On 12/03/2017 07:16 PM, Robert Heller wrote:
[snip]
> [...] Why, you
> have them develop the next version, which MUST have features to give the
> end-users a reason to buy the software *again*.  Even if the features are
> senseless "eye candy" or other cruft thought up by the Marketing Dept.
>>
>> The only problem for us here is that Linux basically also follows this
>> model ;-).
>>
>> The "release early, release often" model.

The key here — and the key to the difference between the Linux model and 
the Microsoft/Sun/Oracle/IBM/DEC/etc model — is the presence or absence 
of a Marketing Department.

Marketing Departments in big corporations claim infallibly to know what 
the users want, and they use that "knowledge" as a lever to push the 
software in a particular direction, regardless of whether or not the 
users do actually want the features. They conduct "research" to find all 
this out (aka confirming what they dreamed up last week). I spent a good 
part of the early years of my career processing these surveys, which 
consist largely in asking the subject to strike out the most stupid 
answers in order to leave the least stupid ones. On these results they 
base billions of dollars of investment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it 
doesn't, but that's called "business". It's actually mostly guesswork.

They are also motivated by a desire to have something the competition 
doesn't have, so they will — as you describe — constantly invent newer 
and more useless "features" as Unique Selling Propositions. Occasionally 
they come up with something genuinely useful; more often the come up 
with something everyone else has under a different name or form.

However, they do also perform a valuable function: they are responsible 
for the presentation. They direct the polishing of the interface as well 
as the slickness of the few remaining boxes of DVDs of physical product. 
Sometimes they can actually dictate the retention or omission of a key 
interface feature.

The Marketing Departments of the Linux vendors are marketing their 
distribution, not Linux itself. There is no Linux Inc, Linux Ltd, Linux 
GmbH, or Linux SA (AFAIK; maybe the name has been registered somewhere), 
so there is no-one to call BS on some aspects of the interface[s]. 
Instead, specialist technical teams, now including people with hardcore 
usability skills, offer advice on how interfaces should present 
features. But a development team (or in some cases, an individual 
programmer or author) can ignore this and drive on with an interface 
that is misleading, inaccurate, poorly labelled, or just plain wrong.

Fortunately, wiser heads do usually prevail — eventually. But the user 
surface of Linux is still littered with the decaying corpses of earlier 
versions of some now well-known and well-respected applications, as a 
testament to the stubbornness of some developers. This is now much less 
prevalent that it used to be, which (I hope) is a sign of maturity.

There are still some classic bugs that will seemingly never be 
addressed, because — it is claimed — they strike at the independence of 
the developer or author, which is regarded as sacrosanct (and in most 
cases rightly so); or because despite a clear benefit to users, a Mac or 
Windows feature never makes it to Open Source equivalents because it's 
not a feature that the devs themselves would ever use, so they are blind 
to its value.

A good example of the former is the inability of ANY distribution of 
Linux to set cursor/pointer size and style ONCE GLOBALLY for an 
individual's environment, and have it honoured by ALL applications; an 
example of the latter is the absence in Open/Libre Office Writer of any 
equivalent of Word's Styles Pane, which shows the style names beside 
each object.

(I once raised the first one with some devs and got flamed royally for 
even *thinking* of trespassing on the devs' independence :-)

So Linux has (IMNSHO) a better development and release *process* (early 
and often, in source, with access to the named individuals responsible). 
But Microsoft (and now Apple) have billions of dollars of marketing 
money, so in terms of persuading the population of the planet that their 
way is the One True Way, Linux is a non-starter.

The only way for Linux to win this is for Linux to produce a 
DEMONSTRABLY better product. It already has dozens, if not hundreds, of 
products that are better than their Microsoft or Apple equivalents, with 
stable and well-developed code bases, but not yet DEMONSTRABLY so. It's 
getting very close, I'm happy to say, but there are still areas where 
you can't really show the app or feature to a Windows or Mac user 
without an embarrassed explanation of why the Linux version is missing 
the key feature, or has such a crap interface, or simply doesn't work.

Without central control (which is abhorred on small-p political grounds) 
we can't fix this quickly, so we're fixing it slowly. Eventually we'll 
get there.

///Peter




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