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Modern, minimalist software.. taking freedom from the consumer?

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Last response: in Windows 8
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March 5, 2012 4:42:38 PM

This isn't totally relevant, but I thought I'd post it here as the release of Windows 8 Customer Preview really made me think. I'm thinking specifically of the change towards minimalist, simple, tablet-orientated OSes. They simply lack the customisation options of a desktop OS, but it seems that sadly, that's the way even desktops are headed (enter Windows 8). I'll give you a couple of examples.

If you're using Windows, right click your task bar, click properties, and look at just how much you can fiddle around with. Try right-clicking a folder in Explorer, and wow.. there's so much you can do. If you're on a tablet, have a go - nothing you can change. Macs, too, lack the functionality, although I will admit they are improving (yet seem to be about to turn around again with the sweeping minimalist age of software). Maybe "delete" or "copy", but that's about it. Tablet PCs just seem to lack that flexibility, and Windows 8 with it's new Metro UI and simplified, minimalist themes, has definitely taken a firm step towards the new *modern* (yet useless) style of computing.

Sure, they're easy to use. Swipe, log in, click home etc. but you can't choose for example to log in with a different account (Android). Or import songs, and perform the multitude of tasks you can do with WMP (cough, again, Android). It would seem that the simpler technology becomes, inevitably, the less advanced it can be.

When viewing a picture on my phone, I can't see the resolution, I can't choose to "edit in Paint", I can't print it and so on. Lastly, you have the file system business. Apple have already pretty much said "we don't care that you want access to your file system" - with iPads you can't transfer files via Bluetooth, you can't store documents in folders, or have the equivalent of "My Computer", and looking at the new Metro Live Upload (or whatever it's called, it's basically what they're going to try to replace Explorer with eventually) it's much the same.

Companies are taking away the flexibility and choice from the consumer, to create what is very much a "one size fits all" product. It's quite sad, really - anyone agree?
a b * Windows 8
March 5, 2012 4:50:36 PM

I see you point, to a point. Sounds like you would be a great proponent for Linux. In the Land of Linux you can be content to tweak virtually every aspect of your system.

Something else to consider is that Windows and Mac developers are using the simplification of software as a means to reduce the amount of tech support users need. Lets face it, many users simply can't manage having too many options.
March 5, 2012 4:55:55 PM

I believe Win 8 was really aimed a mobile users and actually aims to be 'minimalist'.
March 5, 2012 4:59:32 PM

COLGeek said:
I see you point, to a point. Sounds like you would be a great proponent for Linux. In the Land of Linux you can be content to tweak virtually every aspect of your system.

Something else to consider is that Windows and Mac developers are using the simplification of software as a means to reduce the amount of tech support users need. Lets face it, many users simply can't manage having too many options.


True, but I'll count Google as an example. I love Google, especially Google Mail, simply because they've embraced this idea of minimalist computing (heck, they practically invented it) and yet they have continued to add more and more brilliant features to their product line-up. Although I complain about Android, that's only in comparison to a computer - compared to *any* other phone in the world, an Android phone is brilliantly advanced, and more importantly, as complicated as you want to make it. You can easily use an Android phone, Google Mail, Calendar etc. without ever clicking the settings button, but alternatively you could spend hours customising everything and end up with the Grand Solution for Email Synchronization.

I don't mind minimalism that much, but what I hate is when it's a trade-off for functionality. It's like removing the radio from a car with the justification that it makes things simpler and easy to use as people often find the radio confusing. If you are confused by it, don't use it! Alternatively, companies should make the settings clearer to use, provide more support, and stop trying to add more features. They should stop, think, and perfect everything, make it totally useable, before moving on (although this is impossible economically as another company would break this rule and move on, thereby taking up market share).

Meh. The same thing's happened to music. Vinyl - great, but a lot of effort. CDs - awesome, slight loss in SQ but hey, you can store them all in your car! MP3s... Loss of SQ, but cool, you can store them on a USB stick! Then, Spotify.. great, we can share! But.. oh.. it's in crappy quality. Now, loads of people seem to listen on YouTube.. in 240p.. it's horrendous! Yet they say "oh, it's easy to share, you just post the link"... I don't know what to think anymore :\ </rant>
March 5, 2012 11:16:39 PM

Problem is: How do these massive companies appeal to non-powerusers.

We aren't the majority, we're the minority. I've seen people struggle sending emails and sending photos, not to mention opening zip files.

I'll be honest with you, I like minimalism, just not where Windows is heading. There are positive and negative aspects of Windows 8.

I dunno, I grew up with Windows 95. It probably explains why I made my Linux look like this:



Even my Windows 7 is configured as much like Windows XP as possible...
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