James O'Neill's Blog

January 14, 2009

Progress or Luddism … why Windows 7 isn’t an F1 car

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 5:27 pm

Jason Perlow at ZD Net thinks I called him a luddite. Actually I said one of his colleagues barely stopped short of using the L word.


 Jason complained that “The “Run” option is no longer directly accessible from the Start Menu as a default behavior, you have to get to it via a Search. Once you get to Run via Search, you can click on it to execute any commands you like, such as the CMD.EXE prompt,”

As you can see in the picture on the left, Jason hasn’t quite got his facts right. You can add the Run option on the Windows 7 menu in same way that you add it under Vista. Why he wouldn’t just press [Window] R for the run menu or type CMD in the search box is beyond me, but I guess it’s an example of what an old friend of mine calls WIKIWIL – What I Know Is What I Like. 

 In his latest post Jason takes issue with the new fluent tool bars from Office 2007. I go back to Aldus PageMaker on Windows 1, and Excel 2 on Windows 2.03 (Excel 1 was a Mac only product); we’re talking 20 years ago, 640×350 was high resolution, VGA at 640×480 a pipe-dream. Every pixel was sacred. 20 years later, nobody has to live in 480 lines: if we don’t need to be so mean with screen space, so why are we using something which  was designed for CGA ? Applications are more complex, tool bars go everywhere: options are buried off a button on the 12th tab of a 24 tab dialog box (they seemed so clever at the time) which you can only get to via a sub, sub menu item; and 90% of feature requests are for things which are already in the product. The products have outNone of which is to say everyone takes to the new task bars like a duck takes to water; far from it. I am more productive now with it, the first day was horrible, then second better by the end of a week it was OK. Two weeks and I was getting back the time I’d lost at the start.

But then Jason goes on to say he uses Office 2007 partly because he is “starting to get more and more documents from people that have been saved in that format”. It’s as if he doesn’t know that a  compatibility pack to allow Office XP and 2003 to open the new formats has been around as long as the new release.

But one comment of his rattled round in my head. “I’m a heavy Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2003 user, and I know them quite well, like a Indy-car or Formula 1 race car driver knows where everything is by instinct and reflex because his life depends on it”

Well sure, it’s great to think of yourself as the Lewis Hamilton of Powerpoint. But here are my top 5  reasons why Windows and Office shouldn’t be like an F1 car.

* It takes years of work to get a seat in a F1

* You can’t get your  F1 car started without a team of people to help

* At any given time only 20 or so people get to drive one

* Of those 19 out 20 don’t get the results they want

* Even the people who produce them say they are too expensive


I want an OS to be more like a road car. Massa doesn’t have to worry about someone stealing his new Ferrari , but I want central locking for my car. Does any one really need air conditioning (in the UK at least): of course not, but I doubt if I’ll ever have another car without. If you can’t drive at a constant speed or get into a parking space you shouldn’t be on the road. I still want cruise control and parking sensors. The list goes on.

I like it that my car the radio now tells me the programme that is on as well as the station, a car without that would seem crude – cars make information easily available – navigation, traffic, state of the windscreen washer


If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see Windows media player has an arrowhead next to it . It’s a “Jump list”. A jump list can be recent files, IE navigation history or in the case of Media center, what it just recorded. So instead of opening Media center navigating to recorded TV and then to my programme, it’s right there. And if I don’t want it to vanish I can pin it to the list to play for evermore

Like the radio info in the car this isn’t a make or break thing, but it’s an example of a general class of improvements which give 7 that bit more polish.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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