Monday, March 27, 2006


The big story of the moment is that the next version of the Windows operating system has been delayed by another 3 to 6 months. The news has been greeted with much wailing, gnashing of teeth and wide distribution of blame. Me, I am glad. In fact I am happy.

I do not want a new version of Windows. The current version is bad enough, and the new one will be even worse. The problem is that the new version will be full of "features", awful awful "features". The current version Windows XP is full of "features". These are simple little things that are meant to be helpful or even useful, but end up being bloody awful. I have written in the past about some of annoying features in XP. The ever changing menus, the cluttered incomprehensible Start menu, the fact that when my son, at the urging of the operating system cleans up his desktop, all the carefully placed icons on my desktop disappear.

Even after years of using XP, I still uncover annoying "features". For example, I recently installed TurboTax, and happened to notice that every time any member of my family uses the computer, they get a little pop up box that says "New program installed". Its as if the Windows is telling my kids to go in and start playing with daddies tax forms! Maybe they can add a deduction or two. I can just see myself sitting in front of a flinty eyed tax auditor saying "the kids must have done it".

The real problem is that Microsoft has to add all these new "features" to Windows. These "features" are what make people perceive that the next version is newer and better than the current version. In practice, all they are going to do is make it different and most likely worse.

The truth is that there are only so many things that an operating system has to do. Windows XP does them all, in some cases well and in other cases badly. Microsoft would serve us much better by fixing the problems rather than trying to give us something new and different. In the mean time I am going to hope that the problems with Windows Vista turn out to be even more intractable than they currently appear and that we do not get the new version for a very long time.

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