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Old 01-30-2010, 08:30 PM
Reid Kistler
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 518
Default Is Your Operating System Outmoded?

<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='' target='_blank'></a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"We've come so very far in the way computer operating systems treat us, and in the way we treat those computer operating systems. They multitask, they animate, they reach into the internet and pull down our favorite parts, they rarely crash and they're always on. It's a far cry from a decade ago, but I think we could go so much further.... I think there are serious opportunities for evolution available to the Microsofts, Apples and Ubuntus of the world, but they involve embracing new technologies in new ways. And stealing a ton of ideas from phones."</em></p><p><img src="" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p>In an editorial that appears on Engadget, Paul Miller presents 10 "outdated elements" that he feels are keeping current operating systems from being all that they could be - along with a proposed solution for each. I do not think that most of his items are really all that important, but then my idea of an outmoded operating system is illustrated in the picture above! It would certainly be difficult to argue against easier windows management or lower costs, but his other points seem to be non-issues, already have solutions, and/or are pertinent to only certain user groups. Which of his 10 problems do you think seriously need to be fixed - and is the OS the best place to look for such solutions?</p>
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Old 01-30-2010, 10:15 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 639

Yeah, I read this when if was first posted on Engadget and came away with the same basic impression you did. My take is that it isn't the OS that needs to change. What needs (well, needed) to change is the mindset that a metaphor that works for one form factor or for one use can/should be adapted for use in another. This was Microsoft's #1 mistake with both TabletPC and with PocketPC and the mistake I think Apple made with the iPad.

I think the desktop OS is great as is. Of course evolution will continue, but I'm not certain we'll see a revolution any time soon. It is too refined and well suited for the form factor. Power usage needs a flexible interface (layered windows) and precise methods of input (i.e., the keyboard and mouse). Xerox PARC got it right early on and Apple and MS have done an admirable job of advancing the concept over the past two decades.

"True" laptops are really just mini-desktops these days. I don't see much change happening there beyond perhaps some touch or better multi-touch integration into the trackpad to better approximate the precision and speed of a physical mouse.

Perhaps a "true" netbook should be something closer to Jolicloud with a little touch added since the precise control of a mouse is less of an issue for a device dedicated to casual computing. I DO think that window management needs to be different on a screen of this size.

A tablet/MID, well, certainly NOT the same metaphor as the phone/PDA. IMO, something of a mix between WebOS and Origami is probably correct. However, I'm pretty certain that Apple got it correct that a tablet does NOT need to be built using mobile PC parts but rather can make due just fine with mobile phone parts. Do we SERIOUSLY want to do video editing or even heavy document creation on a tablet? No, it is about media consumption and perhaps note taking--needs a stylus for this, IMO, though as people migrate away from handwriting, I'm not sure this will continue to be a function naturally suited to a tablet. Incidentally, if you DO want to do video editing, then this is where you'd likely offload most of the processing to a PC and just use the tablet as a fancy, mobile input device. Hmm, this is a really neat idea for a whole new class of apps...

As for the phone/PDA, well, probably what we are seeing now with iPhone/WebOS/Android. Kudos to Apple for figuring this one out and for the others for continuing to innovate in neat ways. Can't wait to see what Microsoft adds next month.

There is likely not a single interface that is one-size-fits-all even at a form factor level. But I'm sure similar, best-of-breed metaphors will emerge (like the finger-flick and pinch-to-zoom concepts for phone/PDA's or the mouse and double-click for desktops). But it is certain there will be major differences in the metaphors that work across form factors.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:17 AM
Rob Alexander
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 667

Actually, I'd say that ptyork's comments here are more insightful and interesting than those of the author of the original article. I really see a functional tablet as needing both finger and stylus. For media consumption, which is most of what you'd do, the finger is easier and more intuitive. But I believe MS has been right all along in their Tablet PCs that taking hand-written notes and storing them electronically is a valuable feature. So if I could have a slate that let me navigate through an intuitive set of multi-touch gestures, but that still let me open up OneNote, or something like it, and take notes in a meeting, then I would have the perfect companion to my regular computers.
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:35 PM
Sven Johannsen
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,411

That actually exists in HPs current Tablet offerrings, and seems to be where the Slate is going. I think the stylus side of the experience is pretty good. I find it nearly as easy to navigate as with a mouse, and writting approximates taking notes with a pen. The piece that isn't there quite yet is the finger UI, for when that is appropriate. It would be preety neat if the Slate took advantage of HPs TouchSmart interface used in their all in one media PCs, with the option of dropping out of that when needing the greater precision of a mouse-like stylus based, or pen based interface.
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