By James Wallace Harris, Friday, November 7, 2014
When Windows 8 came out I disliked it so much I began preparing to switch to Linux. I’ve been playing with Linux since I had to assemble it from pieces off of Usenet News, but it never became something I wanted to use 100% of the time. I thought Windows 8 was finally going to push me into being a Linux guy full-time. Then Windows 10 Technical Preview came out and I realized I can’t give up Windows. As long as I can use all my old favorite programs I’ll be tied to those programs forever, and if Windows doesn’t get too weird, I’ll always want to stick with Microsoft.
Does that mean I’ll be using Windows in the 2020s and 2030s and even the 2040s? I don’t know. My friend Mike has switched to Macs, and I’ve used Macs at work since the 1980s. I love Macs, but I’m too cheap to own one. If Apple sold a $99 copy of OS X to put on a cheap Intel box I might have become a Mac user long ago. But they didn’t, and I never bought one. I still help friends with their Macs, and when I do, I have no trouble using the operating system, but it’s not the old comfortable operating system that Windows has come to be for me.
Years ago, just as Windows 95 was coming out, I helped a retiring professor set up a computer he planned to have for the rest of his life. He wanted DOS and Wordstar 3.3. That’s what he knew and loved, and that’s what he wanted to stick with. I wonder if he’s ever modernized? But don’t we all become addicted to what we know? I have a friend who recently got married and her husband talked her into switching to a Mac. She’s having a very hard time. He was positive Macs were so easy to use that she would be won over. It hasn’t worked out that way. She’s extremely non-techie, and what little computer skills she has are completely adapted to Windows.
I’m not sure desktop Linux will ever catch on. First off, there’s no such thing as desktop Linux, there’s endless Linux distributions, each based on a different desktop UI, each configured by some distro dude, in his image of user perfection. Linux has become so Balkanized that its almost impossible to stick with any kind of consistency. The reason I hated Windows 8 is because Microsoft abandoned the desktop metaphor and wanted to force full-screen windows on us. I don’t mind my tablet or smartphone not using a desktop metaphor, but I sure as hell want my desktop computer to use it.
If Windows is always reasonably close to what Windows 7 is, I’ll probably stick to it. I know we like to think the future will always bring us dazzling new inventions, but I’m quite happy with the keyboard, mouse and desktop UI. I’m quite anxious to have larger, higher resolution monitors, and slicker, more sophisticated software, but I’m a stuck in the rut of the desktop metaphor. One thing I hate about the new Windows 10 is they moved away from the old way of showing files and folders, pushing us towards a Metro look. I’m hoping protests will bring back the old way, or I can just find a way to configure the old look. Those colored squares are downright ugly.
I guess Microsoft feels compelled to change things to justify selling us a new version of the OS, but I don’t want too much change. I just want Windows to always become more rock-solid. If Windows 11 looked exactly like Windows 10, but just had a way under the hood to repel all virus attacks and malicious software, I’d buy that upgrade. If Windows 12 protected my files with unlimited versioning, and automatic backups to the cloud that was as secure as my money in the bank, I’d buy it too even if it looked exactly like Windows 10.
Microsoft needs to quit moving my cheese.
Over time, don’t we all become fuddy-duddys about how we like to do things? Won’t we all become fussy old coots who get irate if someone moves our icons? Won’t we all throw geezer tantrums when Microsoft or Apple tries to make us learn new stuff? I don’t mind useful new features, or elegant ways to integrate functionality, but I don’t want my old ways of doing things thrown out. I guess I’m becoming an old fart. Sorry. (No, I’m not.)