Dennis O'Reilly of CNET's Worker's Edge starts of the new year with this announcement in Dual-boot Windows and Linux, step 1: Get Ubuntu:
This is the year I kiss Windows good-bye. Well, maybe not entirely, but the writing is on the wall for Microsoft's flagship operating system, and all other desktop bloatware.
He plans to install Ubantu on his computer, and the first entry talks about downloading latest version and then burning the ISO image on a CD. I trust he will have better luck than me. I suspect he has, because the column reads like it was pre-written in installments. "Tomorrow's" parts 2, 3, 4... are probably already written and ready to post.
Still, his description of Vista as bloatware really struck me. As I move the cursor around the Vista desktop, sometimes it strays to the right where the gadgets are located. After a few seconds, a vertical line appears. It's job is to demarcate the gadgets area from the rest of the desktop.
Whence the Crease
The line fades into view. It has a slight 3D effect and it looks like a crease. When the cursor leaves the area, the line fades away.
Each time I see the effect, I wonder about the programmer(s) who job it was to write the code that makes the line appear and disappear. I feel sorry for them.
If they are younger, they might be proud of it: "I wrote the code that makes the gadget separator line appear in Vista, and millions of people see it!" they'll discretely boast to family and friends. If they are older, they'll wonder about their deadend job, writing code that simulates creases.
The crease represents some of what's wrong with Vista: the "wow" effects that get in the way of productivity. A project manager somewhere decided that programmers working on the crease is more important than ensuring smooth music and movie playback.
Decouple the UI
What Microsoft needs to do is to decouple the UI from the OS. Spin off the UI programmers as a separate company. Concentrate remaining programmers on the functions that OS are supposed to provide:
-- file access
-- low-level interaction with hardware devices
-- display generation, such as font smoothing and 3D graphics.
In other words, focus.
And perhaps 2008 will be the start of the backlash against bloatware. Couple this with other current trends -- such as being greener, cutting back use of resources, and Apple's minimalism -- and we may find that simpler products like Google Apps and Atlantis (word processor) may become more trendy and more popular than Microsoft's bloated Office and operating systems.
Kind of like Google's search engine when it first came out: simple, and it did a better job.