Seven, the last Windows?
The long-awaited release of Windows 7 has continued in the euphoria with the sales success of the latest operating system from Microsoft.
But this has led to one conclusion: Microsoft is a company that is incapable of change.
Even if users were happy to discover a more responsive OS, Seven is just a new improved version of Vista with small use of ideas from MacOs, which seeks to remove its defects without really doing it, and especially that does nothing really new in the interface.
And we realize, given the recent development in events, including the Balmer crusade against Google, that Microsoft is afraid for his future, as Apple is afraid of Android that threatens its iPhone.
This leads us to make an overview of competing products, and we'll see that in fact, user interfaces can truly evolve the work space and leisure space on the computer.
Seven is a compendium of ideas poorly designed and never rethought old principles. Some sad examples:
- Arrows on the icons to mark shortcuts. Is it really useful? Every desktop icon is covered by an arrow, does it bring out something?
- The wallpapers which change at regular intervals: this is disturbing, a transition effect would have been desirable. It was no been thought in Redmond.
- The fact that a window goes full screen when it is moved to the edge is the most disturbing behavior that anyone could imagine. We never move a window on the side for another reason than to better see the other windows!
Windows was designed on two principles:
- A monolithic design makes it difficult to replace the interface manager, as it is done on Linux where user caan choose between Gnome and KDE, or other system.
- It provides support for applications like Office, Visual Studio. When you acquired one of these applications, you can not change the operating system. You have to move to new versions of Windows, which leads you in turn to purchase applications for Windows.
This principle of interdependence between OS and applications brought Microsoft into a spiral of success when you buy Windows for its applications, and applications because they are made for Windows and also because it is Microsoft software.
But this model is threatened with the development of Web applications that provide the most common processing for the office. User is no longer dependent on a particular OS. And the user who has not installed anything on his computer no longer depends on an editor: he can change the application at any time.
The operating system for Web applications could, thanks to some peculiarities, replaceg a system for local application.
Designed for netbooks and mobile devices, it will over time grow and go on the desktop
It is especially from version 3 in development that Gnome will actually renew the user interface.
Gnome Shell is based on the concept of activity, a concept already present in Android. An activity groups in a workspace on the desktop applications and all related objects. This frees space for everything that does not relies to work in progress.
It is of course easy to move from one space to another, and to move items from one to another.
On the Gnome desktop, we find further activity spaces, application icons, icons of places for retrieving files and icons for recently used files that you can reload without having to search them again. This system, a time called Zeitgeist, is called the "activity journal ".
Fast access to documents is the primary concern of the interface. Several videos explain how it works.
The Win2-7 Pack theme allows also to give to Gnome the look and feel of Windows 7.
For those who prefer the Gnome 2 interface, the distribution Mint has a fork called Mate that works with Gnome 3. It even offers an adaptation of Gnome 3 that makes it work like a traditional desktop and eliminates his drawbacks.
Note that since Ubuntu has adopted the Unity interface, Mint gots 40% more users, disappointed with this distribution.
- Gnome Shell. Overview.
- Gnome 3. Specially dedicated by the development team to the presentation of the interface.
Windows places the widgets in a pane and the application icons on the desktop. Plasma KDE does the opposite: widgets, called plasmoids, are integrated directly in the desktop, while the icons are ... in panes.
The icons in one window, this brings us back to Windows 98 ... Fortunately it is possible to overcome that and move them on the desktop next to widgets.
These widgets are resident applications that can be reduced or enlarged to better manage the space.
With plasma, the office becomes interactive and provides ongoing information and services without you having to ask.
We will not speak on MacOS which uses an economic model worse than Microsoft, the user is bound by the hardware as far as by the software.
Its long-term future seems more than doubtful and the aggressiveness of the firm against the competition and recent trials for violating software patents (whose paternity is not well established) denotes a certain panic in Cuppertino.
Windows is still powering desktop and game computers. Even the advent of netbooks, which has a time threatened it, could not destabilize Microsoft that had the good idea to use XP as OS dedicated to these machines (which partly explains his still significant market shares).
But it is not the first system on smartphones, which are now small computers. It does not seem to be the OS of PC tablets.
And even on the desktop, a future seems to be emerging for Chrome and Linux running Web applications that are more and more conclusive.
Working out of Windows will be possible in the office: this will be the beginning of the end for the old OS. Especially if the prediction of Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) at Association of Mobile World Congress 2010 is true:
In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs
It seems that Microsoft has taken note, and Windows 8 meets perfectly with this development. Windows is doomed in its current form, the new Windows interface with Metro operating on shelves as on desktop computers will replace it.