I was surprised and delighted by Microsoftâ€
But Microsoft and some of the recent changes to Mac OS X in El Capitan are making me think there is some life yet left in the PC.
While Apple is targeting coffee shop-consumers by making MacBooks Â lighter but less powerful or targeting highly specialized markets with high-resolution workstations, Microsoft has reminded me that there is a vast middle in this market. And that middle is still mostly using desktops that run Windows. There hasnâ€
Every year I want to buy a new phone. I swear have every iPhone model in a drawer starting with number 3. But buying a new computer is something IÂ do only when IÂ absolutely must. There just isnâ€
A while back I bought a Surface Pro 3 with itâ€
IÂ feel a great nostalgia for all things from the original Bill Gates/Steve Jobs era. I will probably end up acquiring a Surface Pro 4 or a Surface Book. Iâ€
But heck, I want Microsoft to win here and bring the PC back to the forefront of the consumer electronics revolution. So here are five suggestions or tipsÂ for MS that would have me running to the Microsoft Store as if they were selling Tesla Model Xs at a deep discount!
Tip 1: Really rethink Windows and the UX of a desktop operating system.
I know MS got in trouble for removing the Start Menu. But seriously: There is no Start Menu in Mac OS X or iOS because for the most part the whole operating system is the Start Menu. Go back and look atÂ the Xerox Star if you have to. Donâ€
Tip 2: Bring back desk accessories
I know that both Apple and Microsoft have failed at providing consumers with a library of little single-purpose applets that share the desktop with theÂ bigger multipurposeÂ applications. But, as guy who once wrote a mildly popular Yahoo Widget, there is real consumer value in DAs. I think the original Mac OS and PC DOS got it right: Appleâ€
Tip 3: Fix the menu bar or retire it
I was so excited when Mac OS X El Capitan enabled me to hide not only the taskbar but the menu bar as well. I hate the menu bar! Itâ€
Tip 4: Make the desktop a first class entity
MostÂ flavors of Unix are doing the Desktop rightÂ and Apple and Microsoft are starting to get clued in. It should be very easy to set up and arrange windows on a desktop and have them stay that way for eternity. Like really forever and definitely between restarts and system updates. Adobe understands thisÂ and gives each of its apps a layout manager that allows artists to personalize and save their workspace. Context is everything. Humans are dumber in unfamiliar contexts and smarter in well known contexts. A desktop is really just a context of virtual objects. I think phones are easier to use, not because they are better designed than PCs, but because they naturally just have one context, one screen, at a time.
Tip 5: A list of five more tips
- Don’t go too far trying toÂ make the desktop UX the same as the mobile UX. They are two different use cases. Shortcut keys, content menus, and over lapping windows are great features and can’t really be replaced by gestures, hard presses, and split screens.
- Bring back BASIC or Hypercard or some kind of programming environment intelligent non-computer scientists can utilize to create real apps on their own. Itâ€
s not about workflow automation. Do not copy Appleâ€ s lame Automator or evil AppleScript.
- Clean up your Windows Store. Be even more picky than Apple. Keep out the spam, copy cats, and useless garbage. But make sure users can continue to download and install non-certified apps. I know it’s risky but it’s also capitalism.
- ReactivateÂ Windows third party developer base, not by enabling quick and dirtyÂ ports of websites into Windows apps but by continuing to empower and simplify and open Visual Studio. I went to one of the very first Windows developer events in Redmond in the early 90s. I got to shake Billâ€
s hand. Iâ€ m sure he doesnâ€ t remember me but I really wanted to write Windows apps after that.
- Continue to revive and refineÂ the general purpose personal computer that is great for everything and works for everybody. I donâ€
t want or need a workstation. I do want to get a lot of work done. Instead of thinking like Apple, think like the Microsoft that re-packaged and made affordable the hoity toityÂ graphical user interface in an open system forÂ schools, small businesses, and nerdy kids.
Even if Microsoft succeeds with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, the PC market will most likely continue to look toÂ Cupertino and Redmond steal marketshare from each other. But unlikeÂ smart phones, pads, and household items with embedded microchips, PCs are programableâ€“by users. And that is something worthy of aÂ battleÂ with theÂ Empire.