Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NetHui Part 4 - A Cold Day in Hell

For one of those missed sessions, I spent my time talking to the guy on the Microsoft stand. I have to admit to having been ingenuine when I'd met him last year. It was a bit of a joke to have found him, and acquired a business card. There were a few jokes going around at the time (as he participates on a mailing list I also participate on but none of my friends had seen him).

He showed me MS Windows 8 on a touch interface. Unfortunately they didn't have a MS Surface to show off but it at least showed me the bit I was really interested in - the interface.

It's based on HTML 5 and javascript (sound familiar? Gnome shell is based on javascript, and I'm willing to bet that they'll be integrating HTML 5 support - I really should do my research on this but it's getting late and I've got at least one more post to do after this one).

It's a HUGE shift from what we've seen on a Windows platform before - doing away with... well... windows. Applications run full screen. I'm not entirely happy with this. On a big enough screen I'll have 3 or 4 Windows visible at any one time.

It does feel like you're operating on a cell phone. This has been a huge gripe of mine. My computer does not have a touch screen and should not try to operate as one! However... On top of this interface, you can run a desktop like interface.

So the title of this post? I thought it'd be a cold day in hell when a Microsoft Operating System appeared to have more options than a Linux one. This is ingenuine and unfair of course. I have the choice of KDE, Unity, Cinnamon, MATE etc. But, to offer the choice in a single package - switchable quickly (it runs on top of the cellphone looking interface like an application) is massive! I hope the FLOSS people are watching. It doesn't have to be one or the other. The two can co-exist. While it does feel like a bit of a token effort on MS's part, I think we could actually get this right. It doesn't have to be a separate X-Session. It could be an Android type interface which you could switch with a single key press (Windows key anyone?).

This has great implications. Imagine if you could take the Galaxy Note (the worst of both worlds! Too big and unwieldy for a phone, too small for a tablet) and have it as your desktop as well! i.e. put it in a docking station, switch to a desktop like interface on a bigger screen.

All we really need is that modular design I was describing for Gnome-Shell.

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