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Five Simple Things

Leave it to a Microsoft employee to point out five excellent reasons why OS X treats it's users like human beings and not part of the collective. Via Fake Steve.

I have a list. And it's not so much a list of what I find wrong with Windows as much as it is a list of what I find right about OS X. It won't be phrased as such, but that's the general spirit of it.

These are things which, if the Windows team were to implement them, would make Windows far better than it is today.

1. Stop stealing focus

When I'm going about my merry little way in OS X, if there's an app in the background that needs my attention, it'll make itself known, but it won't hijack my whole experience.

In Windows, it doesn't matter what I'm doing - I could be focused on writing (as I am now), and some other app will happily come along, z-order its way on top of everything else, and refuse to piss off until I've clicked on something I don't even care about. I've been dealing with that this week, and it drives me nuts. It doesn't ask you to pay attention - it pushes everything else out of the way and forces you to get involved.

Not cool.

2. Stop with those irritating little bubble messages

After my machine starts up, I just want a clean space to work. What I have instead is a host of little bubble messages in the lower right-hand corner, telling me things like "Your security is stupid" or "Please click on this message to get rid of this message."




If my security is stupid, it's because I set it that way. I don't think nagging a user to change a setting that was intentionally set is a good way to make things safe.

3. Stopping hardware

When I have an external hard drive hooked up to the Mac, I just drag the drive's icon to an eject button on the dock to sever the connection between the laptop and the drive.

In Windows, I have to right-click on this obscure icon that most people will never even know about, click on something ("Stop hardware"? I forget the wording), and then select from a list the bit of hardware I want to stop. Problem is, there's nothing intelligible in the bloody list. There might be five things, all of which look as likely as the others.

I've been doing this for years, and it's still confusing.

What's the big deal? Drag. Drop. Done.

On the Mac, this is a one-click affair. Under Windows, it's at least four clicks. And they're confusing clicks at that.

4. Never, ever, EVER reboot my machine without asking

This one really gets me.

Non-existent on my Mac, but my Windows machine happily reboots itself whenever the fancy strikes.

I was writing a forum post for Channel 9 a couple days ago, and it got up there in length. Not so many words that I sobbed over the loss, but enough work lost and enough frustration gained that I called it a day and went home.

To my Mac.

There's no excuse for it. Yeah, security, whatever.


5. Stop asking me to reboot - I'll reboot when I'm good and ready

Another rebooting problem. My machine grabs some updates, installs the updates, and wants me to restart my machine so they'll take effect. I'm fine with that, but I want to reboot on my own time. I hate having a whiny dialogue pop up every few minutes to remind me to reboot.


When I write, interruptions are a Very Bad Thing. I get into a flow of thought that can disappear if I so much as walk three feet for a glass of water. Having that stupid "Reboot now? Well, how about now? Or now?" window appearing every few minutes is enough to make me scream.

That's all.

Five simple things which, if changed, would make Windows a much nicer environment in which to spend significant amounts of time. Windows is spiffy, but the things that work are the things I won't remark. When something happens with so little fanfare that I'm not really aware that it's happened, then it's probably a good thing. Unfortunately, when my attention is repeatedly - and we're talking about over and over every day - drawn away from my work, then all I'm going to remember is the irritating behavior. The good stuff doesn't even get a chance.

“Five Simple Things”

  1. Anonymous Wayne W Says:

    Most of the "bubble" messages can be turned off if you step through them once. And the "unmount device" is easier than he makes it seem: there's an icon in the toolbar that shows mounted devices, all you have to do is hover your mouse pointer there and it shows what's mounted: click on it and it dismounts. For that matter, in XP and above, you don't have to dismount: just yank it. Always a good idea to make sure I/O operations are complete first, though.

    The thing that really ticks me off about Windows is that you can't disable "handicapped assistance" mode (as I call it). When I'm writing, I will frequently rest a pinkie on the shift key at the end of a sentence as I think up the next. Do that too long on Windows and "helpful" mode turns on! And about the only way to turn it off, that I've found, is to reboot the damn machine!

    In all fairness, I really wish I could do an Alt-F and get to the file menu in OS-X. I'm VERY glad that Alt is not a toggle key like on Win, but I would really like to be able to more easily access the menu bar without using the mouse.