Friday, 5 November 2010

Windows still hasn't got it

I am not really one to enter into the Windows versus Mac fray. I have dabbled in Windows since Version 1 (tiled Windows, anyone?), and used it in anger consistently since Version 3.0. But at the same time I used to also have a Mac on my desk at BA, and I have an iPhone. I feel no great bias between Windows and Mac operating systems - they both now do the job pretty well - but I happen to know Windows (and before that DOS) a lot more intimately, so feel safer with it. But just occasionally there's a crack in Windows that displays its roots, and then it makes you wonder why Microsoft didn't do a ground-up rewrite.

Yesterday, while faffing about in a program trying to decide where to save a file, I accidentally dragged one folder into another. Easily enough done - easily enough rectified. Unfortunately, the folder I dragged was the Desktop. Although the Desktop looks like a friendly enough beast, it is in fact several folders, with underlying instructions how to give priority between them. By dragging my Desktop into another folder, I disrupted the delicate balance. Result? I couldn't save anything to the Desktop, and all the icons that were on it appeared twice. ARRGGH!

I did manage to sort it out, thanks to this advice. But it involved editing the Registry, which is not something anyone should do lightly. And certainly not something a typical user should have to do. It simply shouldn't be possible to drag the Desktop into another folder - and until this sort of inconsistency is sorted (it has remained possible for at least 3 versions of Windows), Microsoft really haven't got the hang of idiot proof. We all do silly things occasionally, but we shouldn't have to blame ourselves - the software should prevent this kind of thing happening. It's what they call usability in the trade.

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