• Subject: Re: RTFM (was: CPYF behavior)
  • From: dhandy@xxxxxxxxxxx (Douglas Handy)
  • Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 11:08:43 -0500


>But still, yuccchhhh!  I think MS has one heck of a
>lot to learn about usability.  But then again, I
>suppose a monopoly really doesn't have to worry
>about things like that.

On the contrary, MS did worry about that which is why they switched
from the Win3.x interface to the Win9x interface.  The story line is
that (prior to Win95) MS discovered that an amazingly high percentage
of Win3.x users never opened more than one program at a time.  They
thought if they needed to do something else, they needed to save their
work, close the program, launch the new program and finish it, then
restart what they had been doing.  If memory serves me correctly, they
found that something like 70-80% of the people did this.

And of the ones who did try and do more than one thing, they often had
a hard time getting back to a different program and would end up
starting a second copy of it instead only to get confused because they
had "lost" their work in progress.  So they would reboot...

MS discovered that the Win3.x interface was not exactly intuitive,
except to their developers.  So rumor has it they did a big usability
study taking computer illiterate people off the street and trying
different things to see what they found intuitive or at least would
"discover" on their own and adapt to quickly.

This is how the task bar was born -- the idea was to show people what
was still open and let they find their way back easily.  Then they
made windows minimize to the taskbar in an animated fashion so people
would get the idea that entry on the taskbar still represented that
program.  That is also why it is animated when restoring the program.

The Win9x interface is more usable to novices than the Win 3.x
interface, but then that doesn't exactly say much either, does it?

I mean, just how intuitive is it to press Start to stop the computer?

>Now another question:  Where's the <Windows> key on
>my keyboard?  No, I'm not giving up my old-style PC
>keyboard.  Never!

The control panel applet Keyboard has a tab called Remap, which (among
other things) lets you remap one of the ctrl or alt keys to be a
windows key.

Oops.  Just checked another machine.  The Remap tab only exists if you
have installed the MS Power Toy for keyboard remapping.

Regarding the virtual desktop thing, there are numerous shareware or
freeware utilities for Windoze which will give you this as well.
Also, some video drivers support it and change the Settings tab of the
display properties to let you enable from there.

I agree virtual desktops is much more useful than using Alt+Tab with
maximized windows, and I used virtual desktops prior to switching to
multi-monitor instead.  I now run three monitors (two 17" and one 15")
and spread my CA sessions and other programs out between them.  It's
great; I can have several sessions fully visible, or bookmgr and
Flex/Edit and one or more sessions visible.

It is also easier to drag & drop between multiple (visible) monitors
than with virtual desktops.


PS - Sure 3 monitors takes up lots of desk space, and I wouldn't
recommend it for the average user.  But for developers, I think it
makes sense, especially with softcopy or online documentation being
the norm.  Remember, having two or three hardcopy manuals open took a
lot of room too!
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