Tuesday, January 22, 2013

King Solomon Designs Windows 8

I bought my home computer at the tail end of the Windows Vista era, and never got around to upgrading it to Windows 7 because operating system upgrades are such a giant waste of time.

Visual Studio Express 2012 doesn't allow itself to be installed on Windows Vista. That, coupled with a day off and the relatively inexpensive upgrade price prompted me to upgrade to Windows 8.

As I was Googling to figure out how to shut the computer down last night I was reminded of the Bible's story of King Solomon's Judgment.

Engraving by Gustave Doré (via Wikipedia)

In the story, two prostitutes had a baby each, one of which died in the night. Due to a midnight baby swap, they both claimed the remaining live baby. Solomon recommended cutting it in half and sharing it between the disputing mothers. The real mother, of course, put the baby's life above her rights and cried out for the king's sword to stop: give the baby to the other mother. Thus was her true love revealed.

In Microsoft's case, we have two warring divisions who each claim their baby is Microsoft's sole offspring. Solomon orders the head to be cut off of one and grafted onto the other. Surely this madness will cause the divisions to put the company's (and babies') interests above their own? Sadly, no. “Truly, thou art wise!” they say, and thus Windows 8 is created.

As John Scalzi says in Punting the Start Screen:
I’ve come to believe the Win 8 start screen, and the whole environment it propagates is just terrible UI for those of us who actually use their computers for work, rather than using them just to play games and get on Facebook.
I have to say this seems like a fair assessment. It's clear that they either didn't try, or didn't care, to make it usable. Which is a shame, because under the bolted-on head of Metro is a decent operating system.

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