FSF Windows 7 sins

I don't normally post political messages here, but this one's important, I think.

The Free Software Foundation has posted 7 Windows 7 "sins" at http://windows7sins.org/, and I think they left out what in my mind is the most important issue. It's sorta covered in "Corrupting Education" and "Lock-In", but not really:

With Windows 7 (and Office 2003 before that, and Vista before that, and XP before that, and Windows 9x/W2K before that) users will have to retire/obsolete all of their existing training in the Windows user interface in favor of the newest cosmetic decisions Microsoft has made for its products.

I don't argue that there aren't significant productivity benefits to the current Windows shell (vs. Program Manager in NT and 3.x) or in the improvements from '95 to XP. I haven't seen much of Vista's Aero, or the new Windows 7 UI, and I'm sure all of the changes have been run by major interface testers.

But when I switched from Office 2000 to Office 2003, I had a rather steep learning curve to deal with the "Ribbon" UI. Even though I taught Office 97 to Computers 101 users in grad school (and was able to take that through to O2K) I was lost with the new "Where the h*** did the menu go" interface. (Ok, If I were an Excel developer, would I consider search&replace General (Home) thing, or a Data thing. It used to be in the Edit menu... )

But I relearned. And I was able to relearn because as I was growing up, the UI changed dramatically (from Write on my Apple ][+ to PC/Word Perfect to WPfW to vim/TeX and on to MS Office*) But for someone who's used to and has memorized the keystrokes/mouse clicks to insert a text box, this is a whole new ballgame.

When I was applying for jobs after college for example, one of the companies asked that I take an "aptitude test" which included things like typing speed and accuracy, formatting documents, generating mail merges etc. This computer-based test was graded on if you click the right menu option first. If you picked "Edit" instead of "Tools" (or if you right-clicked and chose "Format") you got the question wrong. Not that this was a good test, but it's typical for the industry. And the answers completely changed when 2K7 came out.

Of course, in my line of work, we're more concerned about the OS than about the Office apps. So it's things like the changes in networking that annoy me about Vista. Wow, the way I set up a dialup connection has changed. Hmm, I wonder what happens if I right-click here... etc. So I have to learn a whole new way to fix things that go wrong. Not to mention that Vista Home is quite different interface-wise than Vista Business.

And I'd expect that the various Windows 7 editions will look different too. After all, would the wizard that helps gramma connect to the wireless internet at Starbucks be the best way for IT professionals to diagnose an 802.1x authentication problem? If I learn how to do it with my home PC, will that apply to the real business world?


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