Archive for the ‘prs cons’ Category

Market Driven

posted by Viking
giu 27

All the products names are copyrights or trademarks registered by their own manufacturers.

Back in the good old days when computers weren’t mean to be used – and were costly enough not to be purchased – by anyone, there weren’t any design or weight issues.
Desktop computers were rugged and ugly and no one cared, as long as they were powerful enough for their job. Laptop computers were bulky and costly enough to be a professional / enterprise – only choice. Mobile phones were the same, and voice calls were really costly too.

No one really cared about design until Apple made the first iMac, a PowerPC G3 based computer that looked nice and didn’t seems a computer at all, maybe a small colored TV. With the introduction of the various following models, more and more people started buying Apple hardware. The introduction of the iPod was another successful move, selling millions of units. Then followed the iPhone, the rest is history…

Apple did a very good job, creating a large user base and a series of product related – and complimentary – with each others. Owning an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook and an iMac is not that uncommon, assuming a person can afford such an expense.
They ( sort of ) share the same design or style and people continue buying them. Of course competitors started to manufacture similar products with sometimes good, sometimes bad results.

As I wrote, today a device is meant also to be good to see and show to the others, in a similar way as cars and girlfriends ( or boyfriends ). People want them to be that way, because they buy them, so there’s a market for them: the evolution of the well known Supply & Demand model.
Of course common people aren’t supposed to be “power users” or “pro users”, they simply want something that works, that keep working without maintenance and that in case of trouble can be sent to a service and repair center to be fixed until it’s so old that repairing it isn’t the best choice anymore.
The problem is “power users” or “pro users” ( like, for instance, me ) don’t like this way of thinking and are starting to get tired of such products that are not customizable, not upgradable or not fixable.

Once I tried to open a 5th generation 30GB iPod ( my father bought one, and he always say he’ll not make the same mistake twice ) to replace the dead battery – pretty common after 4 / 5 years – with a new one I found on the net for as little as 10€ ( included shipping from Germany ). After cursing for over an hour trying to open that thing following various tutorials I found on the net, I gave up, but I’m still thinking why on Earth Apple’s engineers / designers didn’t simply put four little torx screws on the rear. Of course I already know the answer: because people don’t like seeing the screws, even if they’re covered by plastic or gum caps, because devices without screws sell better, because the vast majority of people are not expected to replace a battery, they’re expected to replace the whole product with a costly new one.

Of course, from a “corporate” point of view, no one can blame Apple in any way. They’re absolutely right – no sarcasm here. They sell a lot and that demonstrates that they’re doing the right thing, manufacturing devices that people wants.

But, considering how many things ( TVs, computers, LCD and CRT monitors, various electronic devices, etc. ) I’ve successfully disassembled, repaired and reassembled with a minimum effort of time and money – and, sometimes, no money at all – from a certain point of view it’s sad to see how any customer is supposed to be so dumb he’s unable to use a screwdriver to replace an hard drive or a RAM module, while from another point of view, alas, almost any customer will never need that capability because he’ll never replace the battery or add RAM to his system or replace the hard drive because, even if as simple as it is, he’s not able to.

In the meantime, I’ll avoid buying phones without interchangeable batteries, laptops without standard screws or any other device that is, beyond it’s inherent limits, not serviceable, not upgradable nor fixable.
Question is, how long such devices will be available on the consumer market?

Bye

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ott 3

Being a Microsoft Student Partner simply means I like most of Microsoft’s technologies and products because they work the way I expect them to work, my expectations based on a 17 years old experience with Microsoft’s products.

For instance, as far as other desktop OSs can arrive, nothing, in my opinion, beats Windows 7 nowadays.
MacOS X is a very good OS, but as long as it’ll run only on Apple hardware, I’ll never gonna use it.
GNU/Linux-based distros like Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian, etc. are today very good OSs, but there’s an overall lack of agreement between developers and, even worse, an incompatibility issue between licenses that lead to a “reinvention of wheel” time after time ( the Big example: ZFS and btrfs ).

So, while I usually like Microsoft products, sometimes I think that some little or big decisions have been made without thinking too much to a certain part of the users.

My first criticism was about Windows Phone 7, that is a really good mobile OS for the average user. But as long as I want to: sync my contacts with Outlook rather than Windows Live, join a domain, run native C++ applications and other things, Windows Phone 7 is not a choice for me. I’m still fine with Windows Mobile 6.x.

But MetroUI caught my attention when I first tried the developers’ preview of Windows 8 some days ago.
The concept behind MetroUI is the “unification of the user experience”, a marketing expression used instead of “users are getting more and more lazy and they don’t want to bother about what’s under the hood” ( meaning they don’t care what they’re using: a mobile phone, a desktop computer, an ATM or a washing machine ).
Many people think touchscreens were one of the biggest revolution in the late ’00s market. Probably they’re the same people whose jaw drops on the floor when I tell them my first experience with a touchscreen was in 1994, in a ship command bridge on a green phosphor CRT monitor used to manage the course ( Yeah, I actually steered a 200 yards-long ship ). By the way, they’re right if considering only the consumer market.
The idea of unifying the UI between “handy” devices ( mobile phones and tablets ) is hardly new and, most important thing, it works. After all, they’re similar and they’re expected to work in a similar way.
But, in my opinion, if the differences between a mobile phone and a tablet are like the differences between a car and a van, those between a tablet and a PC are more like those between a GA aircraft and an airliner.
They’re not similar, they’re not expected to be used in the same way. I don’t expect to find a manifold pressure gauge in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 ( or an ATR-42 or an Airbus A380 ) in the same way I don’t expect to find a FMS console in a Cessna 172 ( or in a Piper PA28 ).

Saying that I don’t like MetroUI would be wrong. I just think that MetroUI has no reason to be the default UI on a desktop OS. I also think that standard utilities should remain non-Metro applications. I find unacceptable that the remote desktop connection client is available only as a MetroUI application on a desktop machine, as I find wrong not giving the user the option to actually kill the application, even by some abstruse key combination, I don’t care, and not just suspending it.
For seventeen years I closed an application in Windows by clicking on the top left ( top right starting with Windows 95 ) corner button of the application window, or by pressing Alt + F4. In MetroUI I can’t quit application like this. I find it a bit ( well more than just a bit ) disappointing.

In the end, considering that there’s a lot of research behind the dvelopment of an operating system ( and Microsoft really care about what users think, or wouldn’t have released Windows 8 Developer Preview publicly ), what I’m starting to think is that average users are beginning to be afraid ( I could have used the word “tired”, but I didn’t ) of the keyboard as well as, following Windows 95, users started to be afraid of the command line.

What I’d really like, as a power user, as an enthusiast and as an experienced user, is a choice. As there are six versions of Windows 7, I’d like the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 8 use explorer as the default UI instead of MetroUI.
We will wait for the beta versions to see what will appens.

Bye

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