Now that I have your attention, and before you read on, take a moment to go read 'Vista is a train wreck' over at the Crazy Time Go! blog in it's entirety. Mart posted a comment on my post If the MacOS is so great, why do I need Windows...? which got my attention. So I checked out his blog and was surprised at what I found.
Mart really takes us to task over the new Windows Vista user interface...
"Windows users, your life is about to get a whole lot worse. This is something I've been meaning to comment on for a little while: Is it just me, or does every "new, improved" release of Windows actually increase the complexity, confusion and frustration of the user experience? Here are a few illustrations of what I'm talking about:"
...and then uses some really poor examples to back up his assertions. For the record, all of his screenshots are valid -- you can actually make Windows Vista look like this if you so choose -- but it's not how we ship Windows Vista. That is to say, Marts screenshots are not illustrative of the true out-of-the-box, typical end user experience. This post contains what the user will typically see the first time they use Windows Vista (with the usual caveats these are screenshots from the beta of Windows Vista - final version might be different).
Mart starts with the Windows Vista Start menu...
"This thing takes up fully a third of the screen, and it's full of mind-boggling teeny-weeny text... buttons, forms... look at all the information I have to sort through in order to find what I want."
Yes, it does take up about a third of the screen (at 1024x768) when the end user clicks the Start button -- that's how it's designed -- you can't use what you can't see. Click the Start button again and it folds nicely away out of view.
As far as 'mind-boggling teeny-weeny text... buttons, forms' is concerned, Marts screenshot shows the expanded 'All Programs' view -- here is the default view -- notice the simplicity.
With regards to his statement '...look at all the information I have to sort through in order to find what I want.' Well, you don't have to wade through all of the items in the expanded 'All Programs' view if you don't want to -- that's what the Search box is for. As an example, let's say I wanted to find the calculator, I would start typing 'calculator' and this is what I would see...
Mart on the usable desktop space...
"Supersized taskbar and giant sidebar clutter my workspace with seldom-used information, and leave me maybe 80% of my screen for actual work."
His screenshot shows a Windows Taskbar which has been expanded to double the normal size by the user and he assumes the Windows Sidebar takes up application space (which it doesn't by default). Here is a screenshot of Notepad running and taking up almost the entire desktop -- note Windows Sidebar is still there underneath.
He then makes a comparison of the Windows Vista desktop with the MacOS desktop. Here is the screenshot he should have used with the Windows Taskbar moved to the top of the desktop and the Windows Sidebar hidden by double-clicking the Task Tray applet (both easily accomplished by the end user).
(Aside: I would be interested to know exactly what resolution Mart was running when he took the screenshot of the MacOS desktop so we can really compare apples to apples -- I'm pretty sure he is running higher than 1024x768.)
On Internet Explorer Mart says...
"Why there is all this horrible visual complexity right at the top of every single browser window, that I can never get rid of?"
At this point I have to stop and ask if Mart is basing his comments on his actual personal use of Windows Vista, or merely on static screenshots? His screenshots show optional features which have been enabled by the end user within Internet Explorer.
Here is the screenshot I would have liked to seen Mart use for Internet Explorer...
In my opinion it doesn't have much visual clutter out of the box -- certainly way less than Internet Explorer 6 and earlier.
Mart on the Network Settings properties...
"Not much change there - well, except I hope my Grandma never calls me up and tells me her Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper I/O Driver broke."
Mart makes it seem really easy to get to this property page -- but it's not. It's there if an advanced user or technical support needs this level of resources. Here are all the hoops Mart had to use to finally arrive at the Network Settings properties...
1) Click the Start button on the Windows Vista desktop.
2) Select Control Panel.
3) Select 'View network status and tasks' to launch the Network Center > Status page.
4) Select 'View status' in the Network details section.
5) The Local Area Connection Status Property Page appears.
6) Click the Properties button in the Activity section.
7) Click the Continue button in the User Account Control dialog.
8) The Local Area Connection Properties page appears.
Way before then I'm hoping Grandma would have been able to solve her own problem because the troubleshooters and repair features are so much better, and networking in general 'just works' out of the box. If she couldn't and had to go through the 8 steps outlined above Mart would be absolutely correct in raking us over the coals.
Finally, Mart gives us a screenshot of the Classic View of the Control Panel which is an optional, but not default view. Here is the Control Panel the end user will see by default (and labeled as 'Home' in the options).
Now, if you've read this far, please don't think I'm trying to whoop up on Mart because he is a devoted Mac user -- I think our comments back and forth with each other on the aforementioned post show us to be rational, non-zealots, who each like our operating system choice. If I had wanted to browbeat I wouldn't have linked to him at the top of this post and sent my readers over to his blog.
And for the record, I went to the Apple store today at Alderwood Mall and played again with the MacOS on a variety of hardware -- good stuff. If my best friend came to me and said he had compared Windows with MacOS and decided on the MacOS more than likely I would jump in the car with him to go purchase the Mac (and quiz him all the way to the store to find out what tipped the scales).
I spend the bulk of my time in Windows Vista using Windows Media Center, and haven't taken much time to go digging around the other features. Marts post really made me wonder if we had gone down the path of adding 'more layers of complexity to make it even harder than it was before'. So, I decided to go find out for myself and share whatever I found with you.
I definitely think we are on the right track.
But in the end it won't be me who decides if Windows Vista is a great product -- it will be regular consumers like Mart who will determine it's success.
So, after reading both our posts I would still like to hear your feedback -- good or bad.