Shrouded with GUIs…

I would like to begin my reflection with a very bold, and somewhat embarrassing statement: I still use Windows.

Not as my main operating system, of course. I would never do this to my open-source-loving soul! Unfortunately, I am forced to use Windows on my working computer, because it is still defines standards in many companies.

I was already aware that Windows is bloated with features. For all I know, many of them can be safely shutdown or disabled permanently to free up memory for the ever-hungry OS. What I noticed quite recently, though, was that Windows is also literally fogged with graphical user interfaces (GUIs), like a fortress of sorts…

castle-fogOn the one hand, this allows inexperienced users to change the way their computer works, looks and responds. It is well appreciated, as it gives a sense of flexibility and choice. Using GUIs is typically faster, though sometimes going through several menus may seem daunting.

On the other hand, it limits and at some point completely removes the need for understanding an operating system. After all, why should it matter what is ‘under the hood’. ‘All I want to do is tweet or chat with friends on Facebook.’

The problem I see with current Windows as compared to the ‘old’ Windows (up to XP) is exactly the overabundance of graphical user interfaces. With each subsequent OS version, a typical user is required less and less. I agree, this facilitates progress. The goal is to make a tool (our computer) easier to learn, so that the user can go on and utilize it to its full capacity. However, proper use of GUIs necessitates balance – usefulness/cost-efficiency vs resource-use. To me, Windows lost that balance long ago and Windows 8 Metro interface was ‘a nail to its coffin’.

Years ago computers required significant prowess. There were no interfaces whatsoever. Later on, command-line interfaces (CLIs) were introduced, easing system configuration. Windows meant to change this. It was supposed to make personal computers accessible to the ‘working class’, make them useful to the average user. Unfortunately, the concept of the ‘average user’ somewhat drifted away, in my opinion. I feel that Windows XP was the pinnacle of Windows OS. Subsequent installments did not add much to Windows, they rather subtracted from it. Windows became less accessible, overly complicated and not exactly what many of us expected. Now, in Windows 10 Microsoft is trying to ‘right the wrongs’ of Windows 8 and borrows Unix-like features (multiple desktops, etc.), advertising them as new and genuine.

To me this means that Windows is no longer in the vanguard. Unix and its derivatives are…

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