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The Mobile App Design Tail Wags the Desktop Software Design Dog

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the stop-taking-away-features dept.

GUI 183

CowboyRobot writes "The metaphors and conventions of mobile apps on phones and tablets are now driving the design of desktop software. For example, dialog boxes in typical desktop software used to be complex, requiring lots of interaction. But these are now typically much simpler with far fewer options in a single pane. Drop-down menus are evolving, too. The former style of multiple cascading menus is being replaced. Drop-downs today have a smaller range of options (due to mobile screens being so small and the need to have the entries big enough that a finger touch can select it), and they never use the cascading menu. In Web-based apps, the mobile metaphors are finding greater traction as well. One need only look at the new Google Mail (GMail) interface and see how it's changed over the last year to view the effects of this new direction: All icons are monochrome, the number of buttons is very limited, and there's a More button that keeps the additional options off the main screen."

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Dumbing down (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42674963)

The dumbing down of computers continues. What else is new?

Re:Dumbing down (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675009)

*puts down bottle* Unfortunately, I agree with you.

Explains a lot really. Some people can go through 12 years of school, and not learn a thing. Computers never had a chance.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675133)

Fortunately, there is still full-blown unix available, and it keeps getting better and cheaper.

Re:Dumbing down (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675315)

For how long? We might have the source, but there's no guarantee that there will be hardware to run it on in the future. And Microsoft is doing everything in its power to make that happen.

Honestly.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675409)

If you look at what's been going on in the linux ecosystem, we still might have the source, but that doesn't mean we have the time, engineering skills, or motivation to keep it from becoming an unmaintainable mess that we're be better off scrapping and starting over with than trying to re-engineer back into sane design principles.

Just look at the MAKEDEV->devfs->udev->eudev mess, various other subsystem messes (I believe the scsi subsystem was mentioned a few months back with contreversy over if the superior system got pushed out due to corporate interests, etc)

All isn't as rosy in the open source world as it once was. There's enough big money involved now that technically inferior code/design being pushed is the norm rather than the exception.

Honestly I pity the world my kids would grow up in.

Re:Honestly.... (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675787)

Honestly I pity the world my kids would grow up in.

Seriously? You can walk into a store and buy a "phone" running Linux for under $200. It gets several hours of battery life, and has a better processor and more memory and storage than anything available on the desktop 15 years ago. The screen is on par with desktop standards of the same timeframe. If you handed me one in 1980, I would have believed you were a time traveler or an alien.

I can buy a $35 computer that far exceeds anything that a $3000 computer could do when I was a kid into computers in the 80s. The $35 computer is completely open, unlike anything from the 80s. Just like those computers, you can hook it up to your TV - but now your TV is a 55 inch 1080-line monster instead of a 20 inch 192-line lead and glass behemoth.

I have 5TB of redundant storage sitting in the basement - 15 years ago Microsoft was so proud of the ability to index a single TB that they launched Terraserver just to show off.

There will always be proprietary stuff out there, but I see no reason to pity my kids.

Re:Honestly.... (3, Funny)

jcfandino (2196932) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676671)

If you handed me one in 1980, I would have believed you were a time traveler or an alien.

And you would have been right about the first thing.
I don't know the GP about the second thing, though.

Re:Honestly.... (2)

jcfandino (2196932) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676885)

Thinking about the computers on the 80s. Computers at that era booted right into BASIC interpreter.
Kids had magazines with programs on source code, and many of those kids probably learned something useful, besides just paying games.
Nowadays devices rarely come with any language interpreter at all (batch?).
Linux does, but you're probably an advanced user and already introduced in the CS universe.
I don't much see probable that a kid with a pc or mobile device steps on a programming language by chance.

Re:Honestly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677275)

It's just not right in your face, that's all.

Windows comes with Powershell since Vista and JScript/VBScript since ever. And every desktop OS comes with a text editor and browser, which is all you need to start programming in Javascript.

Add the fact that there's much more to consume on computers now compared to then, and that programming is a common middle class job, not something rare and exciting, and you'll see there's just no incentive for kids to do that.

Re:Honestly.... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677279)

Thinking about the computers on the 80s. Computers at that era booted right into BASIC interpreter.
Kids had magazines with programs on source code, and many of those kids probably learned something useful, besides just paying games.

True. Mind you for most of that decade you had to type those programs in yourself. They were simply printed listings. That meant you learned the fundamentals of BASIC, but they were never very sophisticated programs.

Still, happy days.

Re:Honestly.... (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42678105)

Well, let's not go overboard with the nostalgia. I don't think anybody learned much of anything by spending 3 days with MLX ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MLX_(software) [wikipedia.org] )

I don't remember the year or exact details, but I could swear that Star Micronics or Apple actually made a funky replacement printhead for their dot matrix printers that you could swap out with your real one and use as a crude scanner for barcodes. The idea was that magazines would print programs as scannable barcodes instead of as listings, and you'd use your printer "in reverse" to enter them. For better or worse, it flopped (in the US, at least).

Re:Honestly.... (2)

gTsiros (205624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676695)

the generation that grew up learning on those relics you describe has far more intimate knowledge of how computers work and how to take advantage of their abilities due to how they work, not because they have a TB of ram and 16 execution units.

the software of my calculator (48gx) is far better than almost anything I've seen in modern computers.

Re:Honestly.... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676867)

Most of that generation grew up playing blocky versions of arcade games on the C64 or Oregon Trail at school on an Apple. The smart kids could peek and poke to their hearts content, but now those kids have things like Arduinos and Mindstorms and robotics competitions. The barrier to entry for programming is a web browser and a text editor, available everywhere, and it is a lot more powerful than printing your name in a goto loop at Radio Shack.

I have a 48gx. It's a nice calculator, and indeed the software is well-written. But it will never run efficiently on anything else. It's machine code written for a dead architecture. It doesn't really matter how well-written it is, because it is a dead end. It did it's job well, and that's great, but today I'd rather have a less-efficient library written in some portable language. Sure, HP managed to get some more life out of the code - but they did it by emulating the old Saturn chip in ARM... in the end a much uglier hack than porting source code.

Re:Honestly.... (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677327)

today I'd rather have a less-efficient library written in some portable language.

I can date the point at which my enjoyment of programming started to fade as the point at which I was on a platform where I had to use libraries to make programs. The real fun for me is creating the whole thing, not being a client of libraries.

That would be about 1987. I only rediscovered the level of fun of early 80s programming when I got hold of Andre Le Moth's "Hydra" console, and made made games from the ground up, including the video driver.

Don't get me wrong, if I'm doing work, then of course I'll use libraries. But they ain't fun as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Honestly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676979)

Interesting. Fifteen years ago we certainly had different types of hardware, but we really didn't have anything that used user hostility as a design feature, like our modern "walled gardens".

Fifteen years ago the FBI still hated people who like to experiment with computers and networks, but they hadn't quite got the hang of getting ubiquitous spying powers with zero consequences, of infiltrating any group of people who might know anything about anything, and of course working with the content industry to get prison sentences that make murder or rape look like rational alternatives to "piracy". Fifteen years ago people still remembered the last banking crisis we had (the S&L scandal) where banksters actually went to jail. Fifteen years ago cops didn't demand your cell phone at a traffic stop.

Fifteen years ago your Linux "phone" might not have existed, but the ones that did exist were functional enough to keep in touch but not so functional as to make 24/7 wage slaves out of "salaried professionals". They didn't have government mandated GPS spy chips masquerading as "enhanced" 911 "safety features", and the cell carriers sure as hell didn't have self service all you can eat wiretap and location tracing websites for cops to use whenever they feel like.

Fifteen years ago people could go to local computer stores that weren't Best Buy or WalMart and buy actual parts to build machines in person--ordering stuff was an option, not a requirement since almost all of those kinds of stores are gone now.

Fifteen years ago IT wasn't outsourced overseas, employment and pay were both high, and IT workers weren't treated as barely tolerable expense lines on the balance sheet. They were still hated by management of course, but management had to behave themselves better.

Don't judge things by the whiz bang features of the latest available toys. By any objective measure we are less free, more monitored, and going backwards at every turn. This dumbing down of the desktop and pandering to the lowest common denominator is just another example. I fear for everybody's kids.

Re:Honestly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677497)

The $35 computer is completely open, unlike anything from the 80s.

The Apple II came with schematics and a fully commented ROM source code listing, and the original IBM PC had the same available via the separately purchased Technical Reference Manual. Neither had any proprietary components other than the masked ROMs until the Apple IIe came out. It wasn't an accident that so many Apple and PC clones were widely available.

Re:Honestly.... (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about a year and a half ago | (#42678163)

Just because it was open doesn't mean that cloning was legal. Neither Apple nor IBM approved cloning in any way, any more than a playwright who publishes a play approves unauthorized productions with no royalties.

Re:Honestly.... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year and a half ago | (#42678245)

This seems to be getting better. In a lot of the world, stick PCs running ARM and Android are becoming popular. One can spend $50-60 and get one here, although in emerging markets they are likely far cheaper just due to economies of scale.

No, they won't run the latest Crysis, but for something for basic application use, they do the task at hand quite well, and because they have no moving parts, are pretty reliable, and with cloud backups, loss of data can be minimized.

Where I pity my kids won't be CPU architectures, it will be vendor lock-in, DRM stacks, NAC (healthchecks), mandatory idenfitication, 24/7 tracking [1], and Draconian IP legislation. Take a new PC off the shelf, and there is a good chance that it will only run Windows 8 [2]. We are one calamity away from having laws passed that would force any machines to have DRM healthchecks before they are allowed onto the Internet at large [3], and it is only a matter of time before another ACTA/CETA treaty passes.

[1]: This is already here. During a job interview, I had to defend posts I made to sci.crypt and comp.sys.next.advocacy that I made to USENET in 1991.

[2]: Some PCs can turn off the secure boot. Others just don't have that option.

[3]: This is a common practice in companies where a PC has to respond that it has various software installed. However, replace Norton with some software dedicated to DRM, and that is what would come at us should a remote intruder manage to take down some piece of infrastructure on a large scale.

Re:Honestly.... (4, Interesting)

RCL (891376) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676065)

Open source was never about "clean code". Remember, Linux (the kernel) was regarded as an "obsolete design" by academia from the start. It was a quick hack that people liked and started to develop, there was no grand plan behind it (except for "copying" Unix, which itself had no coherent design).

Open source in its purest form is a patchwork of solutions that make sense locally, but may badly fit each other (or be redundant) in the big picture view - and this is natural. The wider world as we know it heavily relies upon redundancy and diversity.

Now, regarding your suggestion that money might have destroyed the originally technically sound open source approach. Dare I say, money is more likely to improve the situation than worsen it. Money is the ultimate metric by which we can measure whether some approach has practical merits. Without the monetary feedback, we are likely to be trapped in the infinite loop of designing "the right things" which will never be "right" in the real world. Things may get messy at times when we are stuck in the local minima of existing solutions, but in the long run I believe that money will sort it out... because better technology allows - ceteris paribus - to make more money :)

Re:Dumbing down (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675621)

I just don't see the general purpose computer going away any time soon.

But let's suppose it did... enterprise level hardware is still cheap by historical standards.

Re:Dumbing down (2)

RCL (891376) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675755)

You can have a GP computer which will be locked from installing a third-party OS, at least for all practical reasons. Obsession with security is so high these days that this "only run trusted stuff" approach seems to be welcomed even by geeks [indiana.edu] - who are happy to build their own cage.

Re:Dumbing down (2)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677575)

The problem comes not with signing, but with who controls the chain of trust. That is what you need to be concerned about.

If I hold the keys to the chain of trust, then it's my computer and secure. Anything else is unacceptable and an abuse of security policies for the sake of control.

Re:Dumbing down (5, Insightful)

Kenshin (43036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675207)

I honestly don't see what's wrong with that, as long as it's not the dumbing down of *all* computers.

Car analogy time: I can't fucking stand manual transmission, but do I understand why people like it. They can have it. But the people who like manual transmission look down upon automatic transmission and complain "it's the dumbing down of cars."

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675311)

Well, it clearly is the dumbing down of cars, that's for sure. How do you expect to have a proper car chase without well-timed tension shots of the hero reaching down and slamming into the next gear to outrun whatever's behind him? What are you gonna do with an automatic, slam it from drive into... um... drive, but MORE?

Re:Dumbing down (3, Funny)

The Master Control P (655590) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677379)

I'd just like to say, I would totally buy an automatic transmission which had "drive" and "drive more" on it.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677807)

My Challenger has a waste gas (err "Sport" button)...

Re:Dumbing down (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675323)

Except for the fact that it is the dumbing down of the vast majority of computers. Ever used Windows 8? There's no way to switch back to the start menu without downloading third-party software (such as RetroUI). While Windows 8 is undeniably better than Windows 7 at supporting tablets, it doesn't make much sense to shoehorn a tablet/phone UI on a computer. To use a car analogy its like Microsoft is discontinuing any manual transmission cars and there's no way to get back a manual transmission once you've "upgraded".

Granted, if you use *Nix you can still customize your computer no matter what the idiot developers *cough* gnome *cough* have recently done, but if you use Windows you are out of luck. And if you use a Mac, well, you long ago gave up customization.

Re: Dumbing down (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675491)

You are aware that OS X is UNIX right? You could replace Aqua with KDE or Gnome if you wanted to for some reason. You can easily replace Finder with 3rd party software such as Pathfinder.

There are very few modifications you can do on Linux that you couldn't also do on OS X. I'll give it to you that iOS is locked down but on the Mac you can do pretty much whatever you want.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Kenshin (43036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676243)

Windows 8 hasn't gained traction yet. We'll see how that experiment turns out. On my Windows machines I'm sticking with 7 for the foreseeable future, and so are most people I know. Windows 8 is a weird Frankenstein's monster.

As for the Mac, I can pop into a full UNIX terminal if I feel inclined. :)

Re:Dumbing down (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677199)

Ever used Windows 8? There's no way to switch back to the start menu without downloading third-party software

You do realize that most Linux distributions are full of third-party software that has to be downloaded, right? Many of the customization options are from those third-party components.

Seriously, I've never heard Linux users whine and cry so much about needing to customize a computer until Windows 8 came out. What changed? Did Windows 8 suddenly make you so lazy that you can't download and install something that gives you the options you desire?

Re:Dumbing down (2)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677593)

I can't avoid the Modern interface. There are a rather large number of options in the OS that are only accessible via that UI and, conversely, many that cannot. The OS is schizophrenic and unable to function in one or the other exclusively.

Did Windows 8 suddenly make you so lazy that you can't download and install something that gives you the options you desire?

The Start Menu was removed for the sole purpose of shoving a tablet-centric UI down users throats for the sake of their presence in the Tablet market. The entire Modern environment is centered around that (and to establish Microsoft's walled garden.)

Re:Dumbing down (1)

aaron552 (1621603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677671)

There are a rather large number of options in the OS that are only accessible via that UI

Aside from (some parts of) Networking and the Lock Screen, I can't think of many settings that need to use the Modern UI interface to access.

The Start Menu was removed for the sole purpose of shoving a tablet-centric UI down users throats for the sake of their presence in the Tablet market. The entire Modern environment is centered around that (and to establish Microsoft's walled garden.)

TBH, I was originally somewhat excited to hear that MS was (finally) making their UI touch-friendly. Instead, we got a patchily-implemented touch-first UI. They threw out everything to force an Android/iOS-style mobile OS onto their users when there wasn't even any evidence that users actually wanted that. Instead, MS is trying to enter an already-crowded market with an inferior product. Then again, they pulled it off through sheer persistence with XBox, so maybe it will be considered an acceptable alternative 4 years down the line.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677903)

I think you still need Metro to shut down or restart. Unless you know keyboard shortcut, which novices do not. There is a shorthand way to get to control panel without using the "charms" bar, but again I don't think novices will stumble onto it. There's a lot of stuff that just keeps nudging you to the metro UI.

The problems aren't so much being touch-friendly. But that it is also mouse unfriendly in many ways (much more mouse movement than before). It is also something that appears to be designed for a tiny screen, not a large computer monitor. Giant icons, a "context" menu that is mostly empty even though it has a "more" icon, and full screen apps that make poor use of all that real estate.

"Swiping" makes sense on a touch device or a touch pad even. It is absolutely stupid when using a keyboard and mouse though.

And let's not forget the actual advertisements appearing in the built in applications.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42678041)

I think you still need Metro to shut down or restart.

I don't know of many people who just hate all of Metro/Modern. Most don't like the fact that the Start menu has been replaced, and that new apps take up the entire screen. I don't consider the charms/sidebar UI to be in the same problem domain (and typically, they are either helpful or useless, but don't get in the way much).

"Swiping" makes sense on a touch device or a touch pad even. It is absolutely stupid when using a keyboard and mouse though.

What in Windows 8 requires swiping? I've been using W8 exclusively for months, and other than being an easy way to close or rearrange Metro windows, I'm not sure where you need to swipe anything.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677825)

The choices are slim. All the decent utilities to fix the Windows 8 problems cost money. The free ones that I've looked at have a variety of problems.

Although there is a workaround to boot straight to desktop by setting up a service; ugly but not too terrible. No other workarounds I've found for the remaining warts.

Re:Dumbing down (4, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42678227)

> What changed?

Despair at seeing Linux's most influential distro doing its best to ruin itself as badly as Windows 8 has.

We naively thought Linux was an island of sanity, and believed abominations like Unity were something that only happened to Windows people.

Ubuntu scared the shit out of all of us by making it clear that Linux isn't immune to the insanity propagated by those who think crippling desktop apps to the limited functionality of phone apps is a *good* idea.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677803)

Compare though to Mac OS X. It hasn't been dumbed down in that way, clearly Microsoft is copying someone else. Yes, there's a feature in Mac OS to bring up gigantic icons to click on to start apps, but it is not there by default and not shoved in your face as the only option. Mac OS also does not send you to the Apple store all the time, and you can use the application that are preinstalled without needing an Apple ID.

Windows 8 really is anomalous. Nothing else really seems to be naively assuming that all computers will soon be tablets and phones. The generous part of me says that Microsoft was trying to leapfrog over the competition and went too far. The cynical side says that they just want more eyeballs in their app store.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675605)

Yet now, how many newer Automatic cars are adding tiptronic, or sports shift? - Creating some bastardised hybrid of Auto and Manual that just feels and responds "wrong"

Re:Dumbing down (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676241)

This is the best car analogy I've ever seen here. Those tiptronic things are just like Windows 8. Trying to be two things and being bad at both instead of just focusing on one thing and being really good.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677931)

Compare though to Mac OS X. It hasn't been dumbed down in that way, clearly Microsoft is copying someone else. Yes, there's a feature in Mac OS to bring up gigantic icons to click on to start apps, but it is not there by default and not shoved in your face as the only option. Mac OS also does not send you to the Apple store all the time, and you can use the application that are preinstalled without needing an Apple ID.

Apple does get flak for their UI though. From the brushed metal everywhere to the to the current stitched leather stuff.

Though, Apple tends to prefer to keep stuff as similar as possible - they realize muscle memory is very important and people like things to be as similar as possible. To a fault, actually - people are saying iOS ahd OS X look "dated" because they're not "modern" or "fast changing" like how Linux or Windows UIs keep changing and how iOS and OS X look static. After all, iOS 6 today looks pretty damn similar to iOS/iPhone 1.0 back in 2007. For better or worse.

Yet now, how many newer Automatic cars are adding tiptronic, or sports shift? - Creating some bastardised hybrid of Auto and Manual that just feels and responds "wrong"

I find the tiptronics useful for when you need to shift down prior to reaching a hill or when you really want to coast in a higher gear. Not as a substitute for a manual transmission - most of the time the transmission does a reasonable job of picking the right gear, but sometimes I know I need to shift down. Like a bridge I commute over that's really steep and really does require a lower gear if you want to accelerate or just maintain speed. Being able to tell the gearbox to downshift before the engine starts struggling makes driving just a bit smoother.

If I wanted a manual, I'd get a manual. But most of the time, an automatic "just works" and having the ability override the transmission is a bonus.

Re:Dumbing down (4, Insightful)

vlueboy (1799360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675419)

The dumbing down of computers continues. What else is new?

I would not call it dumbing down when the fact is that "the dumb" expect an intuitiveness that is just NOT here yet. A trend started by toolbars decades ago ASSUMES previous familiarity. If we learned anything from the backslash caused back in Office 2003 when the file menu went away, it was that it's hard to explain to someone over the phone what to click on when even your description of the icon can fall flat or cause ambiguity in what the user thinks you're suggesting.

Today, smartphone feature reduction (more like forced simplification) has bled into webmail GUIs. For the adults I tutor one on one, I chose setting them up with Yahoo over Gmail due to richer, written interfaces. I also chose Firefox over Chrome due to the same, back before FF killed the menu in a copy-cat move that would undo this very effort. Imagine all the complaints I got from 3 of these students over 50+ years old when their Yahoo text labels went away last month. They instead got arrows, gear icons, disappearing options (dynamic) and paper clips where they expect "Reply", "Delete", "Attach". Those icons were always there, but they never cared to notice, kinda like people spend years clicking on "Edit \ Copy" without noticing what the Control - C and its icon are supposed to help with. The masses do not pay attention even when there's no pressure, and they did not take being forced to adapt very well. The ones who do are already computer savvy.

Even though the buttons are far fewer, tablets are even worse. My mother unlearned how to Attach a file a dozen times. Finally, she learned the tablet GUI provides fewer confusion, but she's still greatly confused and is afraid of exploring what she thinks is a cryptic GUI and invisible "if you see nothing helpful, you're supposed to hold your finger down for the menu the programmer hid for that option". Android's interface is terrible for teaching an older person with limited memory AND time --I've had limited exposure to iPhones but find them friendlier and more likely to use words. See that gear icon over there [settings]? See that three line icon over here [menu]? See that bifurcating icon over here [share]? See that magnifying glass [search], not to be confused with this magnifying glass with a PLUS in it [zoom]? See those overlapping squares [windows]? Heck, I new it was trouble when I found it impossible to have them master multiple windows, let alone summoning and handling multiple tabs (plus icon in one browser, or square tabby thing in IE, or File \ New Tab in another)

Older people tend to

1) refuse to read our notes, books or sign up for classes in a real school with real homework. Too busy with fun and an "I need it now" attitude
2) tablets have no mouseover help labels
3) refuse to think through "geeky" words when 95% of the sentence makes sense.

With things my mother enjoys on facebook, she constantly uses the hardcover dictionary to confirm spelling and meanings. The second there's a geeky word, she completely locks up and wants a quick way out. Dumbing down provides such a way, but becomes a trap destined to be understood only by the initiated, which are a much younger crowd that has no problem or shame in asking for help.

Re:Dumbing down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677837)

As a geezer geek, I found your rant perhaps mostly true but still offensive. There are plenty of young people afraid of tech and quite a few of us old farts who might know it better than you. Would you have substituted "white people/black people" for "young/old" even if you thought there was some statistical truth to your stereotyping?

Agism is the last acceptable prejudice, it seems. Though to be fair, most people of my generation that I know do fit your description. Oh well.

Re:Dumbing down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677955)

As a geezer geek, I found your rant perhaps mostly true but still offensive. There are plenty of young people afraid of tech and quite a few of us old farts who might know it better than you. Would you have substituted "white people/black people" for "young/old" even if you thought there was some statistical truth to your stereotyping?

Agism is the last acceptable prejudice, it seems. Though to be fair, most people of my generation that I know do fit your description. Oh well.

"I'm offended because I'm an old fart..... even though its, uh... true."

White/black is different because everyone young now is facing "being old." No one who is black will be white tomorrow.

Oh yeah, him, well most black people won't.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675997)

It may be me, but on Google spreadsheet I haven't figured how to select and copy a range of cells, using my Android Galaxy Note. I have to seek out a desktop PC with a mouse for that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676045)

This is not dumbing down, this is finally applying basic usability theory. Designers should be aware of the fact that nobody reads dialog boxes for example, and take care with their design to not use them, and where they do, to keep it short and to the point.
Using black and white instead of colour icons? Yay, finally colour-blind people will find things easier to use.
Not everyone needs to access every function all the time. A good designer will anticipate what the common functions are and make it really easy to use them, and tuck the less commonly-used things out the way. Too many choices can be just as bad as not enough.
The /. bias is towards technical people who will mostly see it from the other side, but in reality the vast majority of users only use a computer as a tool to achieve simple goals; a good designer should make this easy for them.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677357)

The slashdot crowd would have thought the TV was dumbed down when it changed from a rotary frequency dial to discrete channel buttons.

Re:Dumbing down (1)

edibobb (113989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677975)

That is EXACTLY what I was going to say. If they're not dumbing down TV and movies, then it's Windows and Desktop Apps.

History (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42674993)

I think this is a classic example of 'those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it', but on a surprisingly rapid cycle.

So first people start realizing that the way menus and such are handled on the desktop did not work well in the touch screen or mobile space, so designers learned that lesson and developed more appropriate layouts.

Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

Though really, it is probably just the old 'I learned to do X in environment Y and now I want to do X everywhere because Y rocked!' thing.

Re:History (4, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675101)

There might be that. Or there might be laziness. "OK, got the UI working for compact touchscreen devices. Now to design a completely different UI for a non-touchscreen large-format device with mouse and keyboard. Screw it. I'll just upscale the first UI. It'll work fine, and I just want to check this off and maybe go home on time for a change."

In a developer, laziness is next to godliness, in that it's simply another synonym for "efficient". The fact that a tablet UI is kinda yucky on a desktop system doesn't take away from the fact that it basically works. "Good enough".

Re:History (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675149)

You're right, but in reality:

designer=costs manager

lazy=doesn't want to pay

Re:History (2)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676275)

I just did somethign similar. I was writing a karoke jukebox client/server system in my own time, and decided that:
1) Tablets woud be a convenient (and cool) client interface, and
2) I suck at UI aesthetics.

Using the jQuery Mobile library was a no brainer and all of the aesthetics were done for me. It looks and works great on a tablet/smartphone, and is still perfectly usable on a PC. I could make the PC interface richer and more information dense, but there is little incentive.

Re:History (2)

stewbacca (1033764) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676315)

While something tells me you are very happy with this sort of attitude, it's pretty much the one thing that sets mediocre and greatness apart. I guess you'll always be "good enough", which is fine if you don't ever want to be better. I want to be better.

Re:History (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677917)

If only we could put Symbian on the desktop, we could have the same UI work on a 50 inch monitor as well as a 1 inch monitor!

Re:History (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675345)

So first people start realizing that the way menus and such are handled on the desktop did not work well in the touch screen or mobile space, so designers learned that lesson and developed more appropriate layouts. Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

The trend of simplification on the desktop started before mobile was driving it. I think there is a convergence in that some things that usability studies and other factors were driving in general happened to also mesh very well with what fits on mobile device and works without a multibutton mouse; there is some analogy, I think, to how SQL and the relational model were motivated by theoretical concerns but really took off because they also happened to be convenient to implement in a performant way on disk-based storage and were introduced as disk-based storage was becoming popular.

Re:History (3, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676551)

I think this is an important point. I have used "touch" aka tablet friendly graphics software for over a decade and the tablet friendly UI's were all amazingly efficient UIs with a mouse and keyboard. People knock touch UIs as "dumbing down" UIs. But they said the exact same thing about GUIs *period*. You could say "dumbing down" or done well you could call it "removing excessive complexity". I could create the most cluttered UI imaginable just covered in buttons without any hierarchy. It would be extremely fast if you memorized where everything was. But a context menu would probably be better.

Re:History (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675363)

Now we have a new batch of designers that is making the same mistake, taking the mobile layouts and trying to use them on a desktop where they do not make much sense.

It's interesting you say that, but there's at least one area where the opposite was true to success: pie menus. With mice, a pie menu isn't as useful precisely because desktops have so many options and layered pie menus can quickly become confusing. Meanwhile, pie menus are a great fit on a touch screen with only a few options and layers (just gesture one of eight directions from the center of the screen). I think the difficult part is really knowing where, if anywhere, success will be with a design. Oh, and of course, it's not to say pie menus were a complete failure on desktops and mouse gesturing in general is something some people like. So, there are perhaps usage cases or users where mobile layouts are a good fit on the desktop much more than would otherwise seem.,/p>

Re:History (2)

jafac (1449) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675401)

I'm just doing what my stupid customers and managers are telling me to do.
I don't want to call them stupid to their faces. (that didn't work out so well 15 years ago when we went through this exercise before). . .

But, object oriented... reusable... blah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675071)

Where are all the coding paradigms that were supposed to save us from this? You know, like... a different GUI class depending on the environment, with seamless API calls so code instantiating the elements didn't have to care?

What of the abstraction layers? It doesn't even have to be object oriented. You could just have the GUI as some kind of socket or process with which you communicate. Once again, send a bunch of commands to create the GUI, let the service figure it out. Code interacts with GUI as an abstraction, problem solved.

I blame artsy fartsy people, the marketing department, and anyone who calls themselves a "designer" or "architect". Not necessarily in that order.

nihao bitches!1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675141)

Let's face you: you better learn a fucking second language, and it'd better be Korean.

America's lost it, our day in the limelight has passed. Buy a Kia -- oh, wait, you already did-- get a LG television, and hold onto your iPhone tight, because the next one you buy'll be a Samsung Galaxy. It's inevitable, the future belongs to the land of the rising sun: porn cartoons, bullet trains, samurai, bukakke, karoake, and all that shit. It's the future, man. I hope you're gonna be able to speak the language.

Re:nihao bitches!1 (1, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675291)

Wrong thread again, twinkie.

I know the Slashdot interface is particularly complex, but we're supposed to be the top of the heap.

Re:nihao bitches!1 (0)

stewbacca (1033764) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676413)

Hey, this is slashdot! You know, the place I've lamented for its lack of being able to edit a typo or a poorly worded section by being ridiculed by the slashmob: "That'sch why you schould ushe the preview button!. Beschides, I code all me reschponesh scho i don't even need any editing toolsch!"

Re:nihao bitches!1 (0)

Goaway (82658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676565)

Apparently not the top of the heap in realizing when somebody is clowning around.

Re:nihao bitches!1 (0)

broohaha (5295) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675397)

> it'd better be Korean
> Kia... LG television... Samsung Galaxy.

Ok, Korean. Because Korean products. Fine.

> the land of the rising sun
huh?

> porn cartoons, bullet trains, samurai, bukakke, karoake, and all that shit
wtf? That's Japan, idiot.

Re:nihao bitches!1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676717)

It seems you have encountered the joke, and it seems to be on you.

(PS: You didn't even catch the "nihao".)

Re:nihao bitches!1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676003)

AC's Father: Hey Sparky! C'mere a sec. Let me show you sump'n.

Re:nihao bitches!1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676329)

Hey dad! Are you going to show me your pecker again?

Windows 8... (1)

Shrike Valeo (2198124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675177)

To quote the link: "...Windows 8 Metro UI last year, which was an obvious attempt to move the desktop to a mobile UX"

Granted, I haven't tried 8 in any sense (why bother..), but from my end it looks more the other way around and they're forcing something totally suited to a tablet onto a computer rather than moving the PC direction towards tablet/phone UI; it bears a resemblance to poorly handled game ports from console to PC

You only have to look at... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675223)

You only have to look at Windows 8 to see this trend.

Rather than doing the sane thing and making different views/OSes for phones, tablets, laptops with small screens and full-sized computers, we've come to where we try a "one size fits all" method that doesn't work. It used to be that we had desktop-style OSes, sites and applications on smaller devices, now we have it backwards.

Seriously, I've got a 24 inch screen, I don't need huge boxes for my applications like I might need on my tablet.

and apps running full screen does not work that we (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675337)

and apps running full screen does not work that well on a 24 inch screen or for desktop work flows.

Re:and apps running full screen does not work that (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677971)

The apps with Windows 8 are also so badly designed. Given that they often look so similar I suspect this awfulness is part of the design standard.

Ie, Weather opens up full screen and at least half of the space is unused except for the background. And yet you can side-scroll through 2 more full pages worth. Which includes an advertisement! I pull up Bing and a search brings up 11 results all with big boxes and large fonts, and then you side scroll too see more responses. Ok, web page of Bing only has 10-12 results also, but that's in a browser in a window that's not maximized. Sports I see one headline, one huge picture, and two boxes with additional stories. You have to side scroll to the end to get to a listing of scores. I don't know much about sports to be honest, but I had assumed most sports fans want to see the scores or at least some headlines. It seems more attention is spent on looking pretty with lots of pictures than on presenting useful information.

Re:You only have to look at... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675369)

Oh, it's not only Windows 8. In fact, they weren't even first. OS X / iOS has been trying to mate over the past several years with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, Apple seems Hell bent on destroying the concept of the file as data and instead trying to make the app the center of the user universe. Completely opposite of the initial UNIX approach but I guess files and file systems have always been a big conceptual and practical problem for the great unwashed.

I weep for our collective loss. Not everything is a toaster.

Re:You only have to look at... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675425)

Well, yes but Apple basically says "you can't do that" to a lot of basic things and for some reason Mac users are perfectly OK with it. There always has been a lack of customization on Mac-OS (and iOS!) and then, annoyingly claims that it is doing it in some awesome way that only Apple could have thought of. Such as how the first iPhone could only run web-apps and any calls for a repository of applications to download were flatly ignored by Apple basically saying that they didn't want to/couldn't do that.

That's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42675247)

For simple applications, but for large scale applications that people rely on to get actual work done, that interface sucks.

An application that I have been developing for years has 100's of dialogs with some having 30+ options on a dialog. Not because I wanted to make it complex, but because the business requirements dictate it. If I "dumbed down" the interface, I would wind up with a user interface from hell. Instead of getting to the information they need in 2 clicks, now they have to dig through 20 layers? I'll pass.

No no no and no (0, Flamebait)

ADanFromCanada (2809499) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675285)

"One need only look at the new Google Mail (GMail) interface and see how it's changed over the last year to view the effects of this new direction:" Hell no. You never need look at only a single example before drawing wide-reaching conclusions. Who the hell is writing this shit? And who the hell is allowing it to be posted on Slashdot?

Re:No no no and no (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675567)

Not sure that's quite fair, the quote wasn't "one need only look at the new Google Mail interface...to conclude a new direction is widespread," but "to view the effects of" the new direction. In other words, in the sentence you quote, GMail is being proposed as an example of this trend, not as wholly sufficient evidence for it.

Re:No no no and no (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677907)

I can look at my workplace's site... Where the main audience is mostly older (over 60) men. We've seen tablets grow from 2% of our user-base to nearly 20% in the past 14 months... Mostly iPad. Right now the site is relatively hostile to any view less than 1024px wide. I fear it may bite us in the ass if steps aren't taken soon. But, it isn't my job... Adding feature X for advertising revenue, or cross branding promotions drives most of the development.

In a newer project used Bootstrap as its' base... but consistently the mobile experience (28% of the users on this site) seem to be second thoughts.

I've been relatively vocal about a lot of this and it's starting to set in... times are changing...

Windows 8 is a half-baked creature (4, Interesting)

dstyle5 (702493) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675371)

Been using Windows 8 on my "old" PC since the first public release and as they kept releasing new beta versions I kept expecting the Modern GUI to be cleaned up, apps given better interface, more functionality, the store to be somewhat usable at some point (its still garbage in the released version), etc, but alas the RC came and not a whole lot changed.

To me the UI feels 1/2 done, like they plopped a mobile UI on mouse and keyboard driven UI and called it a day. Given the tons of code in Windows you think they could add in a few if/else blocks to check which platform you are on and adjust the UI a bit to the platform. The Vista/Win8 comparisons are rather apt, IMO.

worried (5, Insightful)

msheekhah (903443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675385)

I am seriously worried about the future of desktop computers. If the economies of scale shift too drastically, the hobbyist computer and computer gamer will be out of luck. While I think the current shift towards mobile is making computers more approachable to more people, for those of use that use computer for work rather than play, it's detrimental.

Re:worried (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677185)

You have good reason to worry. Intel is exiting [slashdot.org] the motherboard market. That says something. Something worrisome. Other people say it's because Taiwan does it just as good now, so Intel doesn't have to care anymore, but it's more ominous than that. Google dropped Google Desktop Search and Sidebar when Microsoft created their own versions. Microsoft discontinued their own sidebar a little while later and let's face it, their search is STILL unreliable. Will we see the same series of events with motherboards and the commodity PC? Could be. A friend of mine has been worrying about the trend for months, and I'm starting to catch the bug.

Re:worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677595)

iNTEL is right, Taiwan does make quality products.
However this may be a mistake, after the global coastal event, Taiwan vs Folsom, California... hmm, I'm putting my money on Folsom, Ca. But then one never knows when mile high water is sloshing round the planet wiping the slate clean.

Re:worried (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677697)

two things about me.

I Played (as kid) and Worked (as homeless contractor) in Folsom (started in old folsom, but eventually built like all of Lexington Hills doing one thing or another, roof, joist sheet, frame, cement, drywall, whatever the fuck, watering grass...PS I LOVE FOLSOM lived there about two years officially, and more unofficially, folsom cops are the BEST! I digress) before it became the new mini foothill city it is now. I remember NATURAL MOSS ROCKS, and hell of CAVES and gold mines, I used to hunt for white rock and crystals/gold, had access to Teichert's ease-way to get way out there into the catfish ponds - fun fun fun. I can imagine iNTEL has a fucking Tunnel going to Aerojet (AeroJet, You know - the location they cook the meth in the meth machines, and the people that work there have the KMA (kiss my ass) cards, oh yeah rockets too. Ever wondered how ricketfuel got into yeh dregs? Wunder No More - I digress phuckin CIA shitz...)

The second,
I am that caller on Art Bell way back who suggested a MILE HIGH TSUNAMI.

Note for CLIFF HIGH: if you pick this up, I'm not sure what to tell ya, the mile high tsunami was my dream, and the meth machines was cause I knew someone who had the KMA card, flashed it to cops, who got the fuck back in their car and left us alone... Go figure that one out. I thought I was going to have a felony..., long since the days of doing that horrible shit today though, but I LEARNED from it.

Dear God (what ever your god is) I ask that you bless the fucking politicians and banksters.

that's because iOS is equated with value itself. (2)

cathector (972646) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675391)

look at the amount of advertising for products completely unrelated to computing (mobile or otherwise) which choose to position the product being sold within the frame of an iPhone. it's a nearly ubiquitous advertising technique. this, imo, indicates that the iPhone has become popularly synonymous with "value". a few years ago this role was filled by laptops: if i was selling diapers, i'd show a smart-looking housewife viewing my product on a laptop. now it's iPhones. so what's happening is that UI designers are trying to convince you that their UI has Value by making it invoke iOS. my $0.02.

Thank God. (4, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675645)

UX designers and experts have been clamouring for simplification for years, but clients refused to change until everyone started asking "why doesn't this work on my phone/tablet".

Perfect example:
Cascading drop menus that require click+hold, or click+hover to keep open. These are almost impossible to keep open multiple levels deep with anything other than a keyboard or mouse. Touchpads, thinkpad nipples, trackballs, all require precise movements, and even a mouse is less than ideal. But we tolerate it because that's what we're used to. Since click+hold, or click+hover doesn't make sense on a touch device, people are finally beginning to accept UX recommendations that it's not a good menu behavior to use.

Depth of functionality != Complexity. Watch this video for more understanding [penny-arcade.com] . It describes video game design, but the same idea applies to any user interface.

Re:Thank God. (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676453)

UX designers and experts have been clamouring for simplification for years, but clients refused to change until everyone started asking "why doesn't this work on my phone/tablet".

That's because hiding all the useful options and calling it 'simplification' fscking sucks.

Re:Thank God. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677471)

It's probably a good idea to watch that Penny Arcade link the GP gave.

Re:Thank God. (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677763)

UX designers and experts have been clamouring for simplification for years,

This is because UX is a bollocks field that has nothing to do with HMI and HCI.

Perfect example:
Cascading drop menus that require click+hold, or click+hover to keep open.

Ironically this is the perfect example.

In a desktop interface if you want to have multiple levels of menus to keep a menu system uncluttered, you did the cascading thing you mentioned.

In a mobile interface, to do the same thing you have to have separately loaded menus rather than one cascading menu. In terms of screen space this is better, but in terms of user friendliness, it's not. You're constantly having to go back and forth between menu and sub-menu, to the user this is tedious and time consuming as in order to go back, you need to change menu's entirely. If you dont separate options out into sub-menu's you end up with all options in 1 menu which is a usability nightmare.

Android as of 3.0 began to fix this on tablets where there is room on screen to have a cascading menu. Android 4.0 began to fix it on the mobile by having vertically cascading menus (I.E. you could pick "Menu A" and all the options under Menu A would appear below pushing Menu B below that, to close it you simply tapped Menu A again or scrolled down to Menu B if you didn't want to do that).

BTW, "touch and hover" has been fixed for some time, most menus will stay open until you click outside the menu area now (or another form of input that tells it to close, such as the esc or alt key). I'm not sure which era you're stuck in but I suspect its Windows 98.

Pleasure UX (2)

velvet_stallion (2623191) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675665)

I look forward to the day when my desktop recognizes my hand gestures and begins playing the appropriate porn...

causation = correlation? (1)

tfocker4 (2750497) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675699)

So because since their inception, computers have continuously refined their interfaces to be simpler, we ate to assume that current trends are driven by mobile devices? Does the op remember the original google page (long before mobile was a big deal)? 5 year old children draw more complex illustrations. And are we to assume this is a good thing? The tech savvy would say no, give me buttons and drop down menus filled with features. Mobile displays ate simplistic because screen space is a luxury, not because it's a good thing.

someone please explain... (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42675761)

...the discrepancy here; after all, all those developing FOR mobile
surely aren't doing this development ON mobile.
So therefore -- does the answer to this dilemma in essence hilight
the end of the GENERAL PURPOSE computer?

Just asking.

Re:someone please explain... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677489)

So therefore -- does the answer to this dilemma in essence hilight
the end of the GENERAL PURPOSE computer?

Hopefully. Donald Norman predicted it's demise 15 years ago in The Invisible Computer. So far, so good.

Re:someone please explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677769)

Your so damn close give you the cupie doll , but I fear you aren't thinking hard enough, the description words you are looking for are...

"NON AGENDA 21/ ROHS NON-COMPLIANT -- REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE devel/3D/video/audio workstation computer"

I have added too many words, feel free to remove some of these motherfuckers and clarify.

the return of Mystery Meat navigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676081)

We are also seeing a rise in Mystery Meat navigation, where cryptic icons are used for navigation. Even Google is an offender here.

Re:the return of Mystery Meat navigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676819)

I have always considered most icons "cryptic" ... until I learned the "code". Everyone brings their own experience/notions to a new set of icons.

Gmail now has a terrible user experience on a pc (1)

rayhigh (912376) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676343)

Yep, and Gmail is nearly unusable now, whether you are scrolling all over the place trying to locate the mark as unread functionality, which is now buried in a random menu, or trying to figure out which icon is forward and which is reply, because there's no damn text indicating which is which....

Re:Gmail now has a terrible user experience on a p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676841)

I think it has always been terrible. Reason I latched onto a POP3 implementation for my client of choice (Seamonkey to continue my Netscape 3 UI paradigm - how's that for an ancient UI preference?), but it is unpleasantly crippled in a lot of ways, such as not sync'ing changes in either direction for duplication of effort.

Users choose the platform (1)

geeknotnerd (628448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42676615)

You only get to choose the platform where your program is used if you code for only one platform. In all other cases, the user gets to choose. The popularity of mobile platforms means that your software will probably be used both there and on a desktop. Users have come to expect to be able to continue their work seamlessly, regardless of platform. While moving fluidly between platforms, users expectations are jarred when the experiences don't line up. They don't react well to the mental model being different between platforms. Since desktop constructs don't work in mobile, the mobile constructs must be made to work for desktop. Yes, there are trade-offs with that approach, but the overall sum of the cross-platform experience is better.

Re:Users choose the platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677059)

Translation: after all this time, users are still impatient superficial idiots whose brains overload at the first sign of something that might provoke thought.

Change is the Problem for Most Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42676749)

It does not really matter whether the UI gets more complex or less, as the user just wants to "get it done", as with my wife, a teacher who does gobs of "lesson plans" and such like. Once I decided I was not bothering with all the issues with the still-young Windows XP to replace her familiar Win98 (with its Win95 "look" as I recall, which replaced OS/2 as the MS extortion choked off apps), and showed her how to use Open Office on Linux Mint 7 or so, she was good to go. Mint 9 came along, still with Gnome, and with a bit of desktop tweaking it worked much the same.

Still, there were some inevitable differences, and those threw her off enough to make it unpleasant ("when mama's not happy, nobody's happy"), because the changes hindered her productivity AS A TEACHER in her always-preparing working style - when she gets to her classroom an hour before the kids, she wants everything ready to go so she can focus on them, and not waste time fiddling with her lesson materials. Now she is learning to thoroughly despise the totally alien MacOS interface forced on her by the school system to access required intranet apps.

Interestingly, she has taken well to her Archos 80 with Android 4.0 (ICS) for mobile apps (and a bit of Angry Birds), but she uses it differently, and still struggles with on-screen controls (lack of precision as much as different UI) similar to her struggles with the school's iPads. But any time she can get to her desktop Mint 9 PC to do "real" work (or even keep up with her far-flung family via FaceBook), that is her preference, because that is her comfort zone.

My point is that once a non-geek user gets their PC workspace figured out, and out of their way, they do NOT want changes to get in the way of what they consider productive use of that tool, quirks and all. I can empathize despite my generally geeky tendencies now that I have struggled with the MS Office 2007 Ribbon. I had just enough familiarity with prior versions for work (and Open Office for home), to get by with what I needed to write with a focus on words delivering a message, not so much how they looked, nor how to use the word processor features (after a "reasonable" learning curve that was mostly out of the way after Word 2).

The Ribbon has been my UI experience from Hell, and now I see what so many long-time users hate about UI change: if any particular UI (I suppose I should qualify that as "adequately functional") has been assimilated into their work habits, do NOT mess with that, and waste their productive time with change, unless a Hell of a case can be made for quantum leaps in productivity, and only with reasonable effort in a reasonable amount of time - however the vict... er, user defines those. And it better not change again for a long time - we have work to do, so get off my desktop, kids!

P.S.
And, yes, I still prefer plain old vi for text editing - "export TERM=vt100" to prevent all that silly color coding crap that obscures a lot of text on my preferred black background - and, no, I do not know all of its keyboard shortcuts - I get by with the "essentials".

YMMV

Re:Change is the Problem for Most Users (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | about a year and a half ago | (#42677941)

> The Ribbon has been my UI experience from Hell, and now I see what so many
> long-time users hate about UI change: if any particular UI (I suppose I should
> qualify that as "adequately functional") has been assimilated into their work
> habits, do NOT mess with that, and waste their productive time with change,
> unless a Hell of a case can be made for quantum leaps in productivity,
> and only with reasonable effort in a reasonable amount of time - however the
> vict... er, user defines those. And it better not change again for a long time
> - we have work to do, so get off my desktop, kids!

BINGO! I use ICEWM on my linux machines. It does its job and then gets out of the way. Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve the first couple of months, but that was it. I've been productive for years. With Windows, it's every new release. And in the case of KDE/GNOME, it's more often than they change their underwear.

Microsoft, HP & Amazon: Off to the Woodshed! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42677521)

XPHEDGE - On a long enough timeline windows XP will get a service pack 4!

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-01-23/microsoft-hp-amazon-next-tech-firms-be-taken-woodshed

XPHEDGE - On a long enough timeline windows XP's EOL will be infinite!

laugh, might as well, maybe we'll all be sucking the mile high tsunami+plethora of nuke plant disasters (hint: flooded pump failure) soon enough.
love your fellow fucking D vs R bureaucrats, who can't do shit but steal, kill, and masturbate at our ill fortune. The good news is what goes around comes around, maybe the mile high tsunami drowns us, but it drowns them too. It's a message from the Universe saying, Dear Earth Leaders, you've kept everyone in a spiritual enslavement far too long and now we are fucking pissed, mother nature will now awaken mankind and shake you couch potatoes off this planet. WHY? Cause when you came into this world you came here to LEARN.

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