Apple’s Vista Ad and More…

One of the most annoying things about the early versions of Vista that I was playing with was the continual darkening of the screen and question about whether to allow something I had just asked for. That is what this commercial from Apple is playing off of. Perhaps the worst example of this was having to allow notepad to open each time I wanted to view the source for a web page from IE7. Apart from the fact that by now they should be able to open it inside the browser and display it with syntax highlighting like every other browser, having to approve it every time is really annoying.

My personal opinion of this approach to security is that it will make things worse than before. People will become so accustomed to clicking OK so that they can get on with their work, that they will stop reading the warnings altogether. Either that or they’ll throw the PC out the window in frustration.

I have been doing a lot of work recently with another version of Windows too. This one is Windows Mobile 5, Smartphone edition. This comes close to being as frustrating as Vista’s continual approval requests. Let me give you some examples:

  • There is a version of media player on the device that can play internet streams or local files, but I can find no way to make it save the URL for a stream so I have to either type it, or create my own web page with the streams I want to bookmark
  • Again in media player, there is a menu option labeled library that takes you to all the media on the device, nicely sorted. Well, no. It takes you to the media stored in the device’s internal memory or the media on the storage card. But don’t think you can look at both at once. And don’t expect it to be obvious either.
  • Like most portable devices, it has limited memory (although nowhere near as limited as most devices I’ve used of its ilk). You might have expected to be able to quit from an application when you’ve finished using it so as not to fill that memory, but no. Very few apps, and none of the MS provided ones, have a quit option. Instead, you are expected to start another app to kill the ones you no longer need.
  • I’m not even going to get into the inconsistencies in the UI when it comes to which button to press to get to the next page of things, or to confirm an action. Sometimes it is a soft key, sometimes it is a number key. Sometimes the ‘back’ arrow takes you back, other times it seems to do nothing and instead you need to press the menu soft key and choose cancel from the menu.
  • When storing names in the contact list (this is a phone after all), you have the choice of whether you display the name as ‘First Last’ or ‘Last, First.’ Sounds good? Well, it is on a per-name basis and I have not found any way to make that setting apply to everybody. If I find the idiot who made this decision I’m a good mind to make him or her switch my 1000+ contacts, one at a time, to the way I like it.

There are many more examples. I suspect that the iPhone will demonstrate once again the difference between a company that understands consumers and one that doesn’t. I would like to think that this would result in Windows Mobile improving too, but that doesn’t seem to have happened with Vista, so I’m not holding out much hope.

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