January 10, 2006

Picking on People with MS is Not Cool.

Someone shared a very snarky link to me about Windows Vista (motto: "Now we've put even more... uh... stuff out the window"). I about peed myself.

Normally even I think a lot of the Microsoft bashing I see seems kind of petty; it's like beating the living crap out of a 10-year-old for bragging that he's tougher than you (or racing a Civic with a fat pipe). But, honestly, these videos were really well done. Let us add them to our collective record.

My favorite part of the whole thing is actually something the Microsoft guy did to himself -- he has this gem of a quote: "There are several ways to do [thing]; the two that I like are..." [Emphasis is mine.] Notice he doesn't say "...the two that I like best are..." Nope, he actually dislikes the other methods.

This really sums up Microsoft's problem in a gorgeous nutshell, doesn't it? There are several ways to do EVERYTHING, and usually one will kind of not work and another will be kind of a kludge and if you try a lot you might find one you kind of like, but lord god Microsoft couldn't just pick the good way and go with it, they HAD to include them all, like Pokémon in reverse.

Take shutting off your Windows machine. Would you like to restart, shut down, sleep, or hibernate? "Hibernate"? What the hell is that, and how does it differ from sleep? They don't say. On my (off-the-shelf, year-old) machine, "hibernate" is like sleep except my X800 video card fan keeps whirring the entire time. So, you know, it's like a noisy sleep, with snoring. In fact, hibernate is off by default, although you can enable it in a preference, but they don't explain why you would or wouldn't do this. Which I think is hilarious, because essentially they are saying, "Look, we know this feature is broken, but we spent a lot of time on it and we want credit, so we've turned it off by default so most people don't get tripped up on it, but we still included a way to activate it so we can claim we have it."

"Sleep," on the other hand, often comes back with my network not working any more. (I noticed this a lot back when I was playing Half-life, which is on the Steam network.) So, that leaves us with "restart" and "shut down" as the two methods I like from the plethora of options. And I only wasted a couple hours of my life figuring out the problems with the other methods! I triumph, sort of!

So enjoy your Vista, Windows users! There's probably a ton in there to like... somewhere.

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30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to change the title of this post. I read it as "Picking on People with Multiple Sclerosis is Not Cool." Honestly.

January 10, 2006 8:53 AM

 
Anonymous Jesper said...

Actually, Hibernate is rather good when it works.

It saves the state of the RAM on the hard drive and then completely turns off the machine. The next time you turn it on, it restores your session and goes back to where you where.

It's like OS X Safe Sleep, but you have to choose it explicitly, which is nice on a desktop computer because it's not automatically activated when the battery runs out (because, drumroll, there's no battery).

It's also a lot like regular sleep, but it takes longer to get into it and you can unplug the box and go to Africa, and when you get home and plug it in again you can resume where you left off.

If you're seriously seeing something like that with your PC, I think that there's something really FUBARed with it, even besides the OS of choice.

That said, I find the Explorer (the folders, not IE) in Vista to be immensely confusing, and if it's confusing if you've used every previous version of Explorer ever, File Manager in Windows 3.11, Norton Commander and both UNIX-style and DOS-style command line file navigation, I think they've done something very wrong somewhere.

January 10, 2006 8:55 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, that brings back such memories of helping friends or family members with PCs.

"So this is what you want to do, and ideally it would work like this … but we're getting this weird error message instead, so there's this other way … whoops, that doesn't work either. Hm... but you can do it like this, I think. It's complicated, so you'll have to write it down…"

January 10, 2006 9:25 AM

 
Blogger vortech said...

Yeah, hibernate is basically suspend to disk. Given how long startup takes, even on my really powerful laptop, hibernate is a necessity. Sleep does not work because of how much battery is lost in sleep (see really powerful laptop referenced above) though that may be a hardware problem?

January 10, 2006 10:55 AM

 
Anonymous Teeny Tiny Todd said...

Yeah, hibernate on my laptop was a very useful feature back in my unenlightened days, though not in the league of OS X's sleep state, OBviously. and 'Sleep' is synonymous with 'Crash' on my windows PC, as it was on the previous one...

January 10, 2006 10:58 AM

 
Anonymous Jeff Atwood said...

Indeed, it has been said that Windows is the worst operating system except all those other operating systems that have been tried from time to time.

> Would you like to restart, shut down, sleep, or hibernate? "Hibernate"? What the hell is that, and how does it differ from sleep? They don't say.

Agreed. Hopefully the kinder, gentler Vista UI will explain this better.

How would you explain it? I have my "teching the tech tech" way but I'm not sure how to express it in Joe Six-Pack terms:

Hibernate = save state to disk

Sleep = save state to RAM

Shut Down = power off, not saving any state

Maybe the best way to explain it is in terms of benefit to the usr: how long it will take ME to resume work? Shut down is the longest, and Sleep is the shortest. There are risks of course...

> And I only wasted a couple hours of my life figuring out the problems with the other methods! I triumph, sort of!

Well, that's what happens when you allow 20 different taiwanese companies to build your PC instead of a single company based in Cupertino, California. They don't always get it together the way it's supposed to work.

January 10, 2006 11:26 AM

 
Blogger GiromiDe said...

Atwood has it right. Any given Windows PC is just a patchwork of products that each is integrated insofar as it runs in a given version of Windows together and is streamlined insofar as it does one thing but in far too many different ways to be efficient. Apple tries its damnedest to integrate and streamline everything, because they realize that's the whole purpose of an OS, to make tasks easier and more fluid.

January 10, 2006 2:31 PM

 
Blogger Andy said...

I read it as "Multiple Sclerosis" too, but assumed it was a play on words.

January 10, 2006 4:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a wicked sense of humor.

First the "misleading" title, and then pretending to not know about hibernate/sleep. I'm sure you do, but you're playing the "dumb-ass". Non-tech people probably wonder if they're instructing their computers to go into a cave for 3 months when they choose hibernate! (yea, ok it sounded funny in my head.)

Your point about there being several ways to do things I believe stems from their belief that features outweigh function. If you have 3 ways to do something, that's better than just 1 good way isn't it?

MS products suffer from these problems and more. The one I hate the most I call "Too many clicks".... it seems to take forever to find things sometimes and you have to click around (say) 4 times when once would have done. Bad design all around, and that's got nothing to do with dealing with 20 Taiwanese vendors. Windows is built by geeks for geeks, not the average Joe. They take the shortest possible path to get it done and it shows.

My second hated point is the annoying pop up messages - e.g. see what happens when you plug in a USB memory device (such as an iPod shuffle), or your system is telling you you have updates available,... it's distracting and annoying.

Blah.

January 10, 2006 7:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter, MS is concentrating on what matters most to consumers: GRAPHICS. -_^

January 10, 2006 8:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like a bunch of losers drinking in a pub and bitching about their ex-girlfriends.

January 11, 2006 1:27 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Yah, uh, guys, I know what "hibernate" is _supposed_ to be. My point is, consumers don't, and there's no explanation, and if you have a working hibernate the computer should just automatically select it instead of sleep when appropriate (as the newer PowerBooks do).

I had a graphics guy at Apple explain why my PC's graphics card didn't shut off correctly in hibernate mode, but frankly I don't remember the gruesome details. I'd like to mention this was a top-of-the-line (back then) ATI X800, not some piece-of-crap.

Anyways, if you love Windows and feel defensive when people insult it, please go ahead and continue to do so. I'm not really out to convince you. Enjoy your thing. We can simply agree that we have different opinions and mine is clearly a hell of a lot better.

-W

January 11, 2006 2:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm convinced that the problem at the Evil Empire is just that they have an extreme case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. When you have ten thousand software developers, they have to do something, and if each of them gets just one feature into the product, you have bloat. The sheer quantity of people means that communication among them isn't feasible, which is what makes the product incoherent.

The biggest product development group I know of at Apple would be the Xcode team, and even there, they're segmented into the GUI guys, the compiler guys, the build system guys, etc.

-jcr

January 11, 2006 3:23 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I've never used Mac OS X yet, and frankly, I want to change that.
So I'm thinking about buying the new PowerBook.
My question is, how do you guys deal with compatibility issues? (I mean, deal with office files, and sites that require IE)
plus, can I install windows on the powerbook?

Thanks

January 11, 2006 3:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love when my friends sit around and talk about the newest features for Windows(any version). I just sit there with a big grin on my face.

Sad thing is though, when Vista is released, the media and all these people are going to marvel at the fantastic new innovations and features.

January 11, 2006 5:31 AM

 
Anonymous Jeff Atwood said...

> I had a graphics guy at Apple explain why my PC's graphics card didn't shut off correctly in hibernate mode, but frankly I don't remember the gruesome details. I'd like to mention this was a top-of-the-line (back then) ATI X800, not some piece-of-crap.

It doesn't have anything to do with the graphics card-- hibernate means save state to disk and POWER OFF. Your PC is having trouble with the whole "power off" concept, so any video card you put in there would have the same problem, eg, it would be inappropriately powered on.

It's a totally valid criticism, but I dunno. Dude, you shoulda gotten a Dell.

Or, the more pertinent question: why the heck are you using a PC in the first place? Because you hate yourself?

p.s. Even if your PC sucks, you have the totally hot car to fall back on. So you got that going for you. Which is nice.

January 11, 2006 11:16 AM

 
Anonymous Jesper said...

"If you have a working hibernate the computer should just automatically select it instead of sleep when appropriate (as the newer PowerBooks do)."

Well, on a desktop it's kind of hard to know what you want, since on the PowerBooks, hibernate/safe sleep kicks in when the battery is ZOMG SUPER LOW, and the desktop doesn't happen to have a battery. But point well taken that it's a confusing name.

I don't count myself as loving Windows, but the Hibernate deal - beyond the bad name - is unreasonable criticism. There are many people that want Sleep and many people that want Hibernate, and it's not possible to assume correctly that one should be used and 'do the right thing' - especially not on a desktop, for reasons just mentioned.

January 11, 2006 2:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> and it's not possible to assume correctly that one should be used and 'do the right thing' - especially not on a desktop, for reasons just mentioned.

...Or Windows could give you the option, say in the Power Options dialog, whether you wanted to display Hibernate, Sleep, or neither in the Shut Down dialog.

January 11, 2006 3:01 PM

 
Anonymous MJ said...

A few years ago (the bad old OS9 days) it wasn't hard to pick on the Windrones. On my powerbook, sleep worked, the networking was faster and all I had to do was conceal the crashing.

With the advent of Mac OS X, I don't bother. I'd be quick enough to shoot down (meaning: verbally destroy) any feeb who starts to be aggravating with his MS-love. My own opinion is simply - use what you want to use and leave me the hell out of it.

This, unfortunately, isn't as easy as it should be. Sometimes the online bank doesn't work without Windows. Sometimes someone hands us an AutoCAD file or an Access file. Every now and then someone sends me a CV (uh, resumé) in Word format.

In essence, we shouldn't pick on them. They're exercising their choice, with knowledge or with ignorance. Good luck to them. And no, my company doesn't fix Windows....(so stop calling ...)

January 12, 2006 1:38 PM

 
Blogger Abhi Beckert said...

"Well, on a desktop it's kind of hard to know what you want, since on the PowerBooks, hibernate/safe sleep kicks in when the battery is ZOMG SUPER LOW, and the desktop doesn't happen to have a battery."

No, that's incorrect. The powerbooks allways go into safe sleep.

When you put it to sleep, it turns the screen off, saves ram to disk, then goes to sleep. If something happens while it's sleeping (eg. battery runs out), it will restore from safe sleep. AFAIK, they will also turn themselves of fully if assleep for a long time.

Macs have allways gone to sleep when the battery is low, that's not new with safe sleep.

January 13, 2006 2:03 PM

 
Blogger Ryos said...

This post was funny to me because a frequent criticism I hear of the Mac is that "it forces you to do it the Mac way. Forget the way you wanted to do it, because there is but One Way, the Mac Way."

Of course I have no idea where they're coming from. I mean, sure iTunes renames your music files and doesn't allow you to use the naming scheme you're used to (for example), but so what? Why would you want to worry about what your files are named when, with iTunes, you never have to see them anyway?

Right? Oh, forget it...

January 14, 2006 11:56 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Ryo: the behavior you describe in iTunes is, in fact, a preference which you can turn off if you're an advanced user and you DO care about where your music is. (Which frankly, I don't.)

So, I'm not sure I get your point.

January 14, 2006 2:07 PM

 
Anonymous moiety said...

Wil,

While we agree that Mac OS X's default sleep behavior is better (always save the state to disk when sleeping), your point that there is "no explanation" of power states on Windows is not true.

See screenshot.

Each option has an explanation. Just hover over it for half a second, and it pops up. Elegant? Maybe not. But there is an explanation.

Also, Vista will replicate OS X's default power-down behavior. That is, on Vista, sleep will be default (and prominent), and each time you sleep, it will be of the "safe"/background hibernate variant, just like on my PowerBook.

And while I prefer Macs and your Windows criticisms are usually right on target, your PC's sleep/hibernate behavior is anomalous, even in Windows-land. I've never had noisy hibernate issues, or no-network-from-sleep issues. On any Windows PC. Ever. Lucky me, eh?

I'm guessing the noisy GPU has to do with a driver issue... Improper drivers can cause halfway/zombie hibernate states where the machine doesn't turn off. Worth looking into. *shrug*

January 14, 2006 4:06 PM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

My example was one of the many, many, MANY things I find annoying, redundant, and/or broken in Windows every time I use it. I started making a list once, actually, and I actually thought about making a blog where I just posted, every day, about the stupid things I'd found in Windows.

But, then I decided, screw it. My time is too valuable to be a beta-tester for a company that's going down the tubes.

Windows will be valuable in the effort to keep Mac OS X as good as it can possibly be. Everyone needs competition to stay motivated. If some people chose to stay with Windows, it'll just be better for us.

-W

January 14, 2006 4:30 PM

 
Anonymous Pedro said...

LOL :D
nice video. pretty interface

January 14, 2006 4:35 PM

 
Anonymous Teeny Tiny Terence said...

"Windows will be valuable in the effort to keep Mac OS X as good as it can possibly be."

Hear, hear.

January 14, 2006 4:49 PM

 
Blogger Ryos said...

Oh yeah. More specifically, the person I'm thinking of was complaining that you can't configure iTunes to name files it rips a certain way, presumably in a way that works with a Windows program that stores MP3 info in the file name instead of in ID3 tags. (Who would do that? Only on Windows...)

January 14, 2006 8:27 PM

 
Anonymous Stefan Seiz said...

My absolute favourite with windows is, that you find the Option to SHUTDOWN the machine under the START menu. Isn't that hillarious?

Of course, on the Mac, it always struck me as odd, that to eject a Floppy, you have to drag it to the trash ;-)

January 15, 2006 9:31 AM

 
Blogger Ryos said...

I can think of six ways to unmount a volume in OS X. Maybe Apple's getting infected, too?

January 15, 2006 2:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a coworker pulling out his brand new Win2K box. He started showing us how M$ had moved all the administrative functions. At some point I made a crack about there being multiple ways to do something. Moron took it as a compliment.

January 16, 2006 9:48 AM

 

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