Friday, April 4, 2014

Life After Windows XP

The final nail in the coffin of Windows XP is fast approaching. The end of all and any support. I know I'm going to get slammed for this post but sod it... it kind of needs to be done.

In light of this, for my gaming system, I decided to try out Windows 7. I keep coming back to the same thought... Vista must have been REALLY bad. Released in 2009, the computer I built up last year (4 years after it's release) gets a performance score of 5.9 out of 10...

Performance wise I'm finding myself incredibly underwhelmed. For all of it's animations and eye candy, I find myself thinking "I don't care. I need a half decent platform whose resources aren't taken up mainly on the operating system".

And as a usability thing? Awful. Just plain rotten. It takes forever to start up, it does updates when it shuts down, it starts up, tells me about updates, and then restarts again finally starting up. It's not an operating system for people.

Yes, I know... there are going to be a whole lot of comments telling me that obviously I just don't know how to use it right or obviously it's my fault for not getting a top of the line computer or perhaps it'll be that I was wrong not to go out and buy a copy of Windows 8. Nope. I don't see it as my fault. I don't see it as a fault with the hardware (which runs other OSes without the same performance drain). I can only imagine how horrendously painful Windows 8.

As far as I'm concerned, it has some real major problems which I don't think should be defended. I think people should be up in arms asking for change. The first and most obvious one:

Admit that coupling in the web browser with the OS was a giant mistake!

Why is this such an issue? You lose nothing by making the file browser and web browser two completely different things - except that the browser gets judged on its merits rather than being the default that everyone kind of gets. It was a dumb move on MS's fault. It never should have happened. When it did happen, it should have been abandoned. Fine... still include a web browser in the default install. Make it so that people can remove it if they so wish. Get a proper update system that doesn't rely on a web browser.

What it gains though... The security issues of the browser becomes the brower's alone. It's no longer an OS issue. This is huge in terms of the way you think of fixes. No other OS, with the exception of Chrome/Chromium OS couple the browser so closely with the OS (and Chrome/Chromium OS make it so that data is stored remotely).

I think if Windows were to be awesome, they would uncouple the Interface from the kernel. Why? Imagine an OS where the UI could fit the person and their needs. Instead of insisting that everyone have a full desktop, the UI could suit their task. If I'm a gamer, I want a very different interface from an accountant. If I just browse the Internet, ChromeOSes interface is fine. If I'm a "power user" there's a very good chance I'm going to want to see a whole lot more. etc.

Hell - give people a choice about their exposure. For example, for a gaming box, I'm not going to want a browser or email client because they all expose me to things I don't want to bother with on a gaming box. I would like to give up the browser, the email client (the calculator, wordpad etc.) and be able to safely not run with a virus scanner.

This would mean that interfaces could be optimized in very different ways. A gamer is going to value performance over eye candy in the OS (a pretty OS is nice but a properly functioning game is even better). This would mean that MS could focus more on getting the underlying system (like updates) right. It would also mean that other people could develop front ends. Businesses with an UI that suits their business, their business processes etc.

And yet's face it. Windows has been broken for a very long time. A new install is a nightmare. There's the frantic looking around for drivers. I often get told it's not nearly that bad.... but then, Windows didn't identify an ATI video card, consult a website (ati.com redirects to amd.com so it's not too hard to figure out a way to do this) and grab the driver. Instead I had to go to the site myself, and download a 200MB file... for a driver. It's just a driver... Of course, the size of the file for a driver isn't MS's fault. BUT if they wanted their OSes being celebrated rather than excuses being made for it, they would have fixed this... a very long time ago. Think like they did when the created the Windows 98 boot disk (it was the first dos system that didn't require careful setting up of the cdrom drive).

This in the face of people still occasionally telling me that hardware is a problem in Linux. While that is true, Linux works, straight out of the box with more hardware than Windows could ever manage (the big difference there being in the licensing).

Of course, what's going to happen is that I'll get all sorts of comments... Defending just how bad an OS could possibly be...

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