Lets take the worst of windows and make it the unchangeable default of linux

Alan Cox alan at redhat.com
Wed Feb 18 15:25:16 UTC 2004

On Mer, Chw 18, 2004 at 04:05:56PM +0100, Alexander Larsson wrote:
> This has been discussed a billion times before. I'm not having this
> argument again. If you want to see the rationale for it, read for
> instance http://www.ometer.com/free-software-ui.html or google for some
> of the discussions about this. 

Or go read some stuff on both UI design _AND_ on product selection attributes.
The latter of which is an established theory driving billions of dollars of
marketing research and which in part strongly disagrees with the claims of
that article.

More specifically there are sets of attributes people use to pick product or
service. Some of those attributes are more important than others. Certain
attributes are sufficiently important that the user will avoid the product
or switch given the opportunity. Others matter a lot to a user but aren't
critical, and some attributes are ones that just come down to "I'd prefer if"

There is a lot of good argument for UI that doesn't throw 1000 options at the
user, but the "remove everything" model requires that you know which attributes
the majority of the user base consider in which light. Without doing that
analysis of the userbase you don't know which attributes you can remove.

It is also often about presentation of an attribute. Gnome for example lets
me set the desktop background. To most users thats firmly an "I'd prefer if"
thing - so why hasn't it been removed ? - because there is a sane way to
let the user set it without throwing hard questions at them.

Browse v Spatial mode seems to be an attribute which is important to users,
so arguing for removing it by simplifying the interface is actually flawed
when you remove your head from the cardboard box of purist-UI and look at
the real world. 

So how to fix it - well one way at least would be to add "Make this my
default viewing mode" somewhere so the user can "stick" the current viewing
preference. Windows in particular makes heavy use of "Do you want to make this
your default....." as does Mozilla.

(As an aside there is another lesson to remember - it may be browse mode is
 perceived as better purely for historical reasons - however as any Dvorak
 keyboard manufacturer can tell thats horribly irrelevant to what happens
 in the future)

I'm not arguing that the essay you cite is fundamentally wrong - but its
also not fundamentally right.


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