Windows 8 is coming.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I hear you saying. “Didn’t Windows 7 just come out a year ago?”
Actually, it’s not that far off. It actually debuted in October 2009, but the people who write code at Microsoft must have a reason for life, so new versions will keep appearing whether we need/want them or not.
I’m not optimistic. Looking back on recent releases of Windows, there is a definite pattern: Something good (or moderately OK) interleaved with something that makes you want to toss things into walls.
When was the last time Microsoft unveiled several worthwhile releases in a row? Well over a dozen years ago, with the string of Windows 95, 98 and 2000. Win2000, a wonderfully stable operating system, was only on the market from February until September of 2000 — when it was replaced by Windows ME. Remember that? Microsoft is hoping you don’t; it was unstable, crashed often and never had the drivers for a lot of printers and other peripherals, among other small (?) problems.
About a year later, Windows XP came out and began a five-year reign of usability and stability that made us all feel that Microsoft may have gotten its act together; but just to show us how wrong we could all be, Vista was introduced in 2007. I realize that I’m guilty of bashing Vista over and over, but only because I have trouble finding sufficient words to describe just how crappy it was.
So, most of us approached Win7 with some hesitation. But, so far so good.
Yes, some stuff is stupid (the removal of the “Explore” option with its robust file manager being the most annoying), but it is stable, actually installs new hardware well and has grown a more positive rating than my initial “doesn’t suck.”
Watching a preview demo of Win8, I was struck by how much it was oriented towards tablets, or “finger navigation,” as one reviewer put it.
That’s strange, because Apple dominates the tablet market and Microsoft is adamant in defending its Windows product from easily being used on iPads, etc. The familiar desktop has far fewer icons and the Start button leads to much less than now.
Also, you can set the interface between “Metro,” which is finger-friendly, or conventional (which isn’t that conventional). So Microsoft is copying its phone and mobile device versions of Win7.
How will this fly? I’m not impressed. Sitting at a desktop or laptop, rather than a phone, I want a system that easily uses a mouse and a keyboard. I also don’t enjoy relearning where everything is and how to customize things in a new way. We’ll see how stable it is — the real determining factor in business use of a computer.
Maybe we could re-route all those software writers into some useful endeavor, like fixing bugs or planting trees.
Ain’t No Friend of Mine
I rarely watch TV news, especially local news. So I can’t say if the new Maryland law restricting employers asking for employees’ or applicants’ Facebook passwords, or requiring them to “friend” their boss or the HR manager, was covered much by the media. I haven’t seen anything about it in the Washington Post, my usual source of real news.
While very cogent of the usual advice not to post anything stupid like drunk photos on Facebook, I happily post some funny pokes at Fox News, pompous lawmakers or pundits wherever they may be found. If I were to be interviewed for a job, should that matter (as long as it’s not working for Romney’s campaign, I guess)?
If employers are looking for clues to my character, let them actually call my references and ask some decent questions, instead of sitting on their butts in an office cruising Facebook.
It’s just another intrusion, much like pulling credit reports/scores on applicants for jobs or insurance: Maybe you can justify it as attempting to cull out potential problems, but really it smacks of “you want something? Let’s make you bend over a little before you can get it.”
Billions and Billions
Something surely must be said about the Facebook IPO that made instant billionaires of the founders and millionaires of thousands of Facebook employees. How about … “Wow”?
Is that good enough? Yeah, I think so.
Cliff Feldwick is president of Riverside Computer Consultants and does PC trouble shooting, data retrieval, network setups and, occasionally, a right good grilled salmon (ah, so you are paying attention). He can be reached at 410-880-0171 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Older columns are online at http://feldwick.com.