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Michail
Premium
join:2000-08-02
Boynton Beach, FL
kudos:1

Sacrificing functionality for simplicity

I've noticed a trend over the years in many of Microsoft's products to trend towards simplicity and simpler designs. However, I feel much of it is coming at the expense of functionality.

While I am a firm believer in design simplicity I don't think MS is keeping functionality and "power uses" in mind. This is an area where I think apple is doing a little better. The have design simplicity but don't always sacrifice the power user in the process. Of course, they have had a longer time focusing on design.

I get that technology is changing. I like the overall trend to fit technology to humans as I myself don't believe in the RTFM approach.


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4
Have any specific examples in mind? Where Microsoft has sacrificed power user functionality and where Apple doesn't?
--
♬ Music is life ♬


JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA
reply to Michail
If you want power, run *nix. Use the command line. Enjoy.

We're getting to the point with technology where people are finally understanding that the goal is to do stuff, not screw with the tools. No one ever drops into the shell on the Enterprise
--
My place : »www.schettino.us


RazzyW8

@rr.com
reply to Michail
said by Michail:

I've noticed a trend over the years in many of Microsoft's products to trend towards simplicity and simpler designs. However, I feel much of it is coming at the expense of functionality.

While I am a firm believer in design simplicity I don't think MS is keeping functionality and "power uses" in mind. This is an area where I think apple is doing a little better. The have design simplicity but don't always sacrifice the power user in the process. Of course, they have had a longer time focusing on design.

I get that technology is changing. I like the overall trend to fit technology to humans as I myself don't believe in the RTFM approach.

I dunno what to say, the functionality/productive use went UP when I upgraded to 8 from 7.


RazzyUnix

@charter.com
reply to JohnInSJ
said by JohnInSJ:

If you want power, run *nix. Use the command line. Enjoy.

Apple's Mac OSX is Unix.
Expand your moderator at work

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to Michail

Re: Sacrificing functionality for simplicity

I agree with your main point - they're sacrificing functionality for simplicity. The last OS, when the company was focused on functionality, was Windows XP. After that big icons, huge low density dialog boxes, transparency and aero effects have replaced that focus in development...

But your point about apple will be certainly used by some to derail the discussion here...
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4

After that big icons, huge low density dialog boxes, transparency and aero effects have replaced that focus in development...

What are you using your PC for specifically that these are even issues? Windows 7 in no way made my life harder (at work or at home) than using XP. In fact, the months that I was still stuck with XP at work while having W7 at home drove me nuts.

Is it the ribbon in Office apps? Because I don't see what big icons or transparency has to do with preventing "power users" from being efficient...

I'm sincere in asking this question because I honestly don't get it. But maybe everyone else is using their PC in a totally different way than I am...
--
♬ Music is life ♬


Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2
reply to Michail
Click for full size
In some way I agree with you and in others I disagree. I do think Microsoft has dumbed some things down to the point where they are more difficult to use because of the simplicity that is almost unnaturally forced. Look at the mail app in Metro if you want an example. Look at their online mail Outlook.com. Aero has disappeared for something much flatter (I happen to agree with this decision because it was problematic). Look at the attachment I uploaded for another perfect example. They have removed color as a reference and you see this here on a support page as well as all through Metro. What is easier on the brain in locating an object? A two tone bar menu of graphic objects or a bar menu with multi-colored objects with the objects being the colors we have always associated with those objects. Why sacrifice familiarity with something that is dumbed down to the point of not being useful?

Where I disagree is that I really don't see that dumbing down occurring in the bread and butter workplace tools including Windows. Everyone seems to be judging Windows 8 on Metro, when Metro is just a small part of the OS that is completely ignorable. What you have underneath all that is more powerful and no less complex then what preceeded it. If anything Microsoft has made things too complex with Windows 8. The Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde interface that you switch between in either Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT is clumsy and awkward in my opinion even if they give you a big button to do so. I got to play with RT yesterday for the first time and I was impressed that there was a desktop, but I just don't like the Yin-Yang feel of it, just like I don't like the Yin-Yang feel of the Windows 8-Pro. That is unnecessary complexity, not simplicity that has a lot of the world complaining.

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2
reply to darcilicious
said by darcilicious:

Is it the ribbon in Office apps?

Yep, it's just one of the examples. You have your client area occupied by menu, that should be accessed via the old and effective drop down menu approach. Windows Explorer is yet another example. E.g. big status bar in WE W7, that now shows much less useful data, than small line of text in similar program in WXP...
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2
reply to Kramer
said by Kramer:

Everyone seems to be judging Windows 8 on Metro, when Metro is just a small part of the OS that is completely ignorable.

Really? Is it ignorable? That's what you see when you boot into Windows now. In order to "ignore" it you have to install a third party tool. Many folks return their computers back to stores just because they can't stand the Modern UI interface forced on them now...

What you have underneath all that is more powerful and no less complex then what preceeded it.

Many years of marketing made everyone to believe that Windows OS is what you see on desktop when you boot your computer. Developers were working hard to attract new users by new video effects. And now, beginning with Windows 8, we suddenly have to forget all of that and return to the basics and discover, that OS is not just Windows Explorer and how it looks? It's not so simple and this perception can't be reverted back fast even in the overly-marketed world we're living now...

But I think it's not about functionality vs simplicity though...
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4
reply to OZO
said by OZO:

said by darcilicious:

Is it the ribbon in Office apps?

Yep, it's just one of the examples. You have your client area occupied by menu, that should be accessed via the old and effective drop down menu approach. Windows Explorer is yet another example. E.g. big status bar in WE W7, that now shows much less useful data, than small line of text in similar program in WXP...

I just minimize the ribbon in Office and I rarely need the status area of Windows Explorer (which is also resizable up to a point)

Guess it's just not an issue for me. I do a medium amount of web development, create a ton of documents, use Outlook for email and as my primary task manager at work and I don't feel hindered at all.

Now I will say that SharePoint sucks but it seems to be a necessary evil at my current place of employment (and in one instance, it's actually a step up from the CMS it replaced, which is saying something!)

However, for the general use of the OS and the apps that I use, I much prefer W7 over XP.
--
♬ Music is life ♬


Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to OZO
Third parties filled in what Microsoft left out. It wouldn't be the first time. It is disturbing, I agree and certainly a lot of purchasers are totally confused. You are preaching to the choir, so I can't disagree with a lot that you say, but I don't think its all about simplicity as I would assume you believe as well. Before the day is out I have to to make the computer I bought for my daughter "less simple" and do away with Metro and put a Start button on it. That way I can hand it to her and it will be just like the WIN7 netbook that she uses. She will not have one question. It isn't a big deal, but had I handed her the notebook unmodified it would have taken 10-20 minutes to show her how to use it.

That isn't a big deal here at home, but the new computers I order for a hundred real estate agents to use are going to have Windows 7 on them. I don't want to have to do a training session to show them how to turn the computers off as well as other tasks and I am not installing 3rd party software to make that easier.

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2
reply to darcilicious
said by darcilicious:

I rarely need the status area of Windows Explorer (which is also resizable up to a point)

Here you'll find screen shots I'm talking about. Look how efficiently (or may be not) Windows Explorer uses screen space in W7 vs WXP. And here you'll find discussion about efficiency on new WE design in W7 (here in particular).
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...


Michail
Premium
join:2000-08-02
Boynton Beach, FL
kudos:1
reply to Michail
I think my original point may be a little misunderstood. I very much believe in design simplicity and ease of use. Technology should be intuitive and people oriented. We even gain new functionality out of good design. It just changes the way we do things and it may take time to adjust.

I even think the ribbon is good when it's set to auto hide, though I don't like the way it was done in Explorer. It takes a few more clicks to get some common things done.

I just think in some ways things are getting over simplified and functionality is being lost in the process.

A good point is bringing the full screen metro approach to the desktop. I was doing some heavy multitasking work the other day and I plugged my Windows 8 phone in. A metro app then took over my screen. Now it made syncing the phone super easy but I had to disrupt the work I was doing and then find my way back to the desktop.

I've also watched the Windows Essential tools degrade over time. Features were removed and UI changes were made that simplified the apps at the cost of features. Granted, they went after a target audience there.

Now on the business end of things I think some of the opposite has occurred. Developer tools have been increasing in complexity over time. It's a matter of the data consumer vs the data producer.


Michail
Premium
join:2000-08-02
Boynton Beach, FL
kudos:1
reply to Kramer
said by Kramer:

In some way I agree with you and in others I disagree. I do think Microsoft has dumbed some things down to the point where they are more difficult to use because of the simplicity that is almost unnaturally forced. Look at the mail app in Metro if you want an example. ...

I don't think you disagreed with me at all .


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4
reply to OZO
Click for full size
W7 status bar /
said by OZO:

said by darcilicious:

I rarely need the status area of Windows Explorer (which is also resizable up to a point)

Here you'll find screen shots I'm talking about. Look how efficiently (or may be not) Windows Explorer uses screen space in W7 vs WXP. And here you'll find discussion about efficiency on new WE design in W7 (here in particular).

From Computer, I like the status view in W7 much better than XP (Single disk selected, not sure why the caption messed up, sorry)
--
♬ Music is life ♬


Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2
reply to Michail
said by Michail:

said by Kramer:

In some way I agree with you and in others I disagree. I do think Microsoft has dumbed some things down to the point where they are more difficult to use because of the simplicity that is almost unnaturally forced. Look at the mail app in Metro if you want an example. ...

I don't think you disagreed with me at all .

Maybe not... but I think they have introduced additional complexity not so much to make things simpler, but just because they weren't creative enough to get the job done in a better way. The YinYang Metro/Desktop dancing act would be a perfect example.

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2
reply to Michail
Here is my observation from not too distant 2009 - It's a "feature" trading time. And, in particular, look at links there pointed at long lists of removed features in recent Windows OS's... Those contain lots of examples how functionality was deliberately sacrificed for simplicity (or other marketing reasons)...
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4
And yet the list of features added is waaaay longer.
--
♬ Music is life ♬

OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2
Show it...


darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
reply to Michail
I love how Microsoft even "metrofied" Windows Server. If ever there was a product that didn't need a touch enabled interface....

Kerodo

join:2004-05-08
Yep, they're "all in"......
Expand your moderator at work


JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA
reply to RazzyUnix

Re: Sacrificing functionality for simplicity

said by RazzyUnix :

said by JohnInSJ:

If you want power, run *nix. Use the command line. Enjoy.

Apple's Mac OSX is Unix.

Yep. I use it all the time. Just like I use Linux. Heck, I even use Solaris now and then.

If you want power use the command line. In whatever OS you happen to enjoy. Heck, powershell can be nice and hairy if you want and that's even available in Windows RT.
--
My place : »www.schettino.us

Mele20
Premium
join:2001-06-05
Hilo, HI
kudos:5
reply to Kramer
Click for full size
I think Metro is very childish looking...but UNcolorful? No way!

Shootist
Premium
join:2003-02-10
Decatur, GA
kudos:3
reply to Michail
I completely disagree with you on the Mac statement. Apple has been Dumbing down the computers, OS and whatever App they include or sell. And or dropping Apps that they feel the User no longer needs, Like iDVD.

As for MS they are now the Followers. Following Apple in giving the user Less options rather then more user options on how the computer can be changed to there liking.
--
Shooter Ready--Stand By BEEP ********


Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2
reply to Mele20
Look at the mail app. Look at the messaging app. Look at the Skydrive app. 90% of every screen is blank white space with very little shading or color. Great on a 4-5 inch phone screen. Maybe great on a 10 inch tablet. On a 23 inch screen I want to put on sunglasses.


Michail
Premium
join:2000-08-02
Boynton Beach, FL
kudos:1
Now that I have a Lumia 920 I can definitely say the design concepts are fantastic on that form factor.