On Fri, 21 Jun 2002 14:49:01 +0900, Ian Macdonald wrote:
> On Fri 21 Jun 2002 at 12:31:30 +0900, Austin Ziegler wrote:
>> Despite the vitriol from some folks, there are times when Windows
>> is not only the best tool for the job, but it's the ONLY tool for
>> the job.
> True, but those cases are relatively rare these days, especially
> if you're talking about server deployment.

Deployment, yes. Development, no. In my Previous Life (tm), I did a
lot of database design and development. There is *nothing*
comparable to ERStudio for ER diagramming ... and it's Windows only.
There are other programs where the Windows version is superior to
the xplatform versions, and the xplatform versions aren't available
for Linux in any case (UML modeling programs, as an example). Add to
this that I can work perfectly fine with gvim in Windows and either
use Samba or an FTP session to put my development files on the Unix
box -- and easily be able to cut/paste the code into documents and
emails with a reasonable certainty that (except for gvim) the user
interface is going to be consistent -- I choose to use Windows as my
primary coding box.

>> 2. Windows stability has been increasing at least as fast as
>> Linux usability over the last several years, if not faster.
> I'm not completely sure what you mean by stability, but I would
> have to disagree strongly.

I mean lack of crashes. I will grant you the security part, but I
also note that we're discussing slightly different angles here --
I'm speaking primarily from an end-user perspective. There's no way
that I'd *ever* choose Windows as a server solution unless I had no
choice (application compatibility, for example).

> Stability =~ uptime, but admins and users alike suffer untold
> unproductive hours because of the poor design and quality of
> Windows tools.

I think that we'd find that users suffer untold unproductive hours
because of the poor design and quality of end-user Unix tools (e.g.,
OpenOffice.org -- it crashed four times on me yesterday) and the
feature level isn't *quite* up to Office standards. (OpenOffice.org,
as an example, doesn't offer a variable number of user property tags
-- and that picks on a very simple thing that I use often.)

> As for the issue of Linux usability, this can mean many things.
> [...]

Absolutely. I disagree about the 'powerful programming environment';
I find that most Windows IDEs (even VS, sadly) are superior to any
extant Linux IDE excepting Kylix, and in most cases, I find an IDE
to be preferable to the alternative. It is, however, a functional
environment, and one can get the job done without too much trouble.

>> Linux (and most other unices) still suffers from the problem that
>> there is no single unifying UI guideline set, so that while
>> Windows programs look and feel -- and perform -- pretty much the
>> same all over, every Linux GUI program is different.
> So you get flexibility and choice at the expense of consistency.
> Some would argue this is a preferable state of affairs. How could
> having the imposition of a single UI ever be construed as an
> advantage, unless you needed the absolute certainty of always
> finding the same configuration wherever you happened to go?

Some would not understand HCI and learning curves. Quick: how do you
copy a block of text in any given X-Windows program? Quick: how do
you copy a block of text between two X-Windows programs? X is nice
in that it gives the select as a 'standard' behaviour, but some of
the new desktops seem to break that (as well as the middle-button
paste). The ONLY programs I use regularly that does not follow
standard Windows convention on this matter are gvim (and I could
configure it to do this) and cmd.exe (the DOS shell). This isn't a
matter of 'flexibility and choice over consistency' -- it's simple
usability.

Similarly, menu placement -- barring the difference between Mac and
Windows (top-menu vs. window-menu) -- is much more consistent there
than in X-Windows programs.

I will, however, guarantee you that I have significant flexibility
and choice even with my Windows desktop -- to the point that while
certain things that should ALWAYS work the same (e.g., copy/paste)
do so, others (which don't matter flexibility-wise) don't quite
necessarily do so. I've been asked, from time to time, whether I'm
actually running Linux, and if so, how I'm running this (obviously
Windows-only) program...

>> The learning curve for Windows programs is shallower because of
>> the consistency.
> But once the learning curve levels off, so does the productivity
> curve.

Not true. The productivity curve depends on the tasks at hand, and
not on the learning curve.

> A new computer user will be productive on Windows more quickly
> than one on Linux, but after a relatively short period of time,
> the Linux user will catch up and overtake the Windows user.

Again, not true. The average office user will be more productive
with Office than they will with KOffice. They will be more
productive with most Windows email clients than they will with most
Unixy email clients (KMail and the GNOME one exempted).

> Windows is beginner-friendly, whereas more powerful systems are
> user-friendly. Since people are experienced users for longer than
> they are beginning users, it's hard to recommend Windows in most
> circumstances.

Sorry, but it depends on the task at hand. This is why I'm not able
to agree with your statement that it's 'hard to recommend Windows'.
The reality is that most people don't want -- or NEED -- to worry
about administration tasks or development tasks or server stuff or
.. They just want to plug in their webcam and go. I'm not saying
that Windows is BEST for this -- but Windows is better for the vast
majority of users who don't want to have to configure jack squat.

>> 4. I use both Linux and Windows boxen (and far prefer the Windows
>> because there are problems with the Linux install that I have
>> neither the inclination, the time or the expertise to solve), but
>> for very different purposes. The fact that I can develop and test
>> on Windows (my primary terminal/front-end OS) and then test and
>> deploy on Linux with Perl, Python, or Ruby is of great benefit.
>> Again, the right tool for the job -- not Linux Everywhere.
> Yes, being able to write once and deploy everywhere is great. If
> only more things in computerland were as cross-platform and
> ubiquitous as good scripting languages.

I'll agree with that.

-austin
-- Austin Ziegler, austin / halostatue.ca on 2002.06.21 at 08.54.42