Superstitious Behaviour

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I have a renewed respect for software designers after an incident yesterday.  It was an after school workshop and a teacher who was very interested in learning about the topic being presented took a few hours from her life to do some learning.  It was great and I commend her for the commitment to her own professional growth.

Before we got started, there was the comment that computer professional development facilitators hate to hear.  “I brought my computer – could you look at it later on?”

So, at the end of the sesson, we did sit down.  I was dreading it because the computer could well be an old 486 machine running Windows 98 and that would require me to do some heavy duty retro-thinking.  As it turns out, it was a newish Dell with a Core Duo and 2GB of RAM.  It’s the sort of thing that we salivate over!

The problems became apparent during the dialogue as the machine was booting.  The ire was directed towards Microsoft Vista and all of its popups that it provides.  Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t Vista, it was all of the other demoware that gets preloaded on new computers.  However, Microsoft bashing is in vogue and they’re not around to defend themselves, so it was let loose time.  Then, a discussion of the plan to fix all of this…got a relative that “knows computers” and will put Windows XP on it to solve the problems.

I shuddered wondering if I could swap my old laptop which has all the power and drivers to run Windows XP and take this one off her hands!

I’m one of the legions who can’t wait for the release of Windows 7 and so have downloaded the public beta to kick the tires.  As I read other’s adventures, they keep talking about how it just looks like Windows Vista.  When you read further, you realize what Microsoft has planned for “under the hood”, but I can understand the need to keep the interface similar.  It allows for continuity for users as they make the transition to something newer and more powerful without having to go through a whole new learning curve.  If they had wanted that, they’d move to Linux and get involved in the great KDE3 to KDE4 debate.

Windows isn’t the only OS who had interface shock.  It think back to the revolutionary OS 9 to OS X move by Apple.  There was initial outrage but it became commonly accepted and all subsequent releases now look the same.

Modern developers are smart in that respect.  They give us more horse power and yet are just subtle about how we access it.  It’s great marketing and honours us as users.  After all, most of us are creatures with superstitious behaviour and just don’t embrace change in an operating system for what we perceive as change for change sake.  After all, we’re here to run the apps.

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