Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Windows 7... For Dummies

So I want to see my bandwidth or current internet access rate or anything to do with my connectivity. There's this icon in my status area. I hover over it and it says "Network / Internet access". That's two separate lines. Apparently this information is so important and detailed that it simply deserves two separate lines.

So, being a trusting sort, I click on it.

Now it says "Currently connected to: / Network / Internet access". That's three lines. There's also a pretty picture of a house, like something a Sim would live in. I'm not sure if this represents the network or the internet access. Is it provided to help the illiterate? If so, shouldn't it be slightly more representative of the problem at hand?

On the fourth line this window offers me an option: "Open Network and Sharing Center". Since I have no other choice, I click on that link. After all, I like to share.

Now I get some sort of a window that tells me that this computer is connected to a network that is connected to the internet. Oh really? Tell me something I don't already know. I am provided with all sorts of links to change my set-up or see my details (which doesn't work, by the way) but not one single way to get any information on my current status.


So I want to run a programme. I go to the start menu, which is now a glowing Windows logo. I click and get two items on a white background on the left side of a panel and some options ("Recent items", "Computer" etc.) on the right side of the panel.

Why is my start menu not a menu? Er, never mind, I'll soldier on.

At the bottom of the left panel it says "All Programs". So I give that a try. Now I have an alphabetical list of apps as they were installed. But no way to organise or sort them, no way to edit the hierarchy, no way to organise the menu into, you know, a menu of things I might want to choose from.


So I want to open a window. It blossoms up like some amoeba with silky sinuous motion and transparent areas so I can see what is behind it. Of course that is totally irrelevant. Transparency slows down all the graphics (well, ok , not on my computer) and lets me (partially) see things that have no bearing whatsoever on what I have just chosen to see. Apparently this is called "Aero" which is short for "Style Over Substance". So I search the web to find out how to turn it all off.


So I want to browse my hard drives. I double-click an icon called "Computer". Now I am happy, since I get a nice graphical display of each of my drives showing their capacity. The removable storage drives are grouped separately and all of this updates dynamically if I pop in a memory card or attach a USB drive. Nice one. So I click on one of the icons and...

Oh that doesn't work. Did I mention that it is now simply impossible, in this brave new world of the shiny and semi-see-through, to tell where you should click or where you should double-click or where you should just darned-well for-your-own-sake really-I-warned-you leave well-enough alone?

So I double-click and launch Windows Explorer.

Which has gone from being mostly-useful but not great to being completely and totally idiotic.

It may even be worse than the Mac Finder. I'm not sure yet.

Explorer now guesses how to display file information based on the file types in the current folder. So it will actually change how the files are displayed if you copy different file types into it. Yes, er, that's exactly what I want.

I have to keep telling it to go back to the default behaviour. And, unlike Windows XP, it never learns.

Explorer used to have a tool-bar for common functions but that has disappeared into the realm of pixies and fairy-dust. I used to have a quick way of selecting the whole path but that is notable only by its absence. In place of functions I used hundreds of times a day, I have such useful options as "Burn" and "Share with".

Meanwhile common functions like copy and paste (paging Microsoft... you've heard of those?) are banished to some deep dark netherworld. And I don't even get the pleasure of mad monkeys with big guns to make up for the loss.

Ting Ting would be so displeased. (Sorry, bad geeky in-joke.)


Microsoft is famed for their usability labs. I can only image that these once prosperous labs have been infiltrated by primordial slug creatures from the planet Zograth IV-B. Creatures who are partially transparent, completely amoebic and who like to burn and share files but never, ever, no we won't admit it, copy or paste.

And it's against their religion to even think about seeing their network status.

I think it's time for an orbital laser strike on Redmond.


BOOM... [rumble]

That's better.


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