The Windows Seat – Day 3: Interfaces

I’m several days into this Windows trial and I’m actually beginning to get some strong feelings about the whole thing. First and foremost, Windows isn’t evil, it’s software. Whatever you might think about Microsoft is mostly irrelevant when discussing software. Hell, if you want to get really involved, I didn’t purchase Windows Server 2008 Enterprise. I didn’t purchase a product who’s company purchased it. I downloaded the installer from Microsoft’s site (They offer their entire OS for free for almost a year, legit.) and at 1.7GB I’ve cost Microsoft a little bit of money.

So, right now I’ll hit on something I noticed about user interfaces, and less a discussion of them, more about how I regard them. On Windows, software uses different toolkits and often times there are visual differences. Windows Media Player looks different than Roxio. VirtualBox is different than Firefox.

On Linux, when KDE applications and Gnome applications don’t mix well, it annoyed the hell out of me. I’ve always ranted about the dissimilarity, praised the day Qt added in a way to accept a Gnome theme. Lauded over gtk-qt-engine. I thought Windows’ inconsistency would kill me.

It hasn’t. In fact, I kind of like it.

I was having an internal dialog trying to figure out just why it is because I really am shocked by this. I’ve mentioned this as a pet peeve several times in the past, including one to LinuxInsider and it was in fact published. So this is a big, damn, deal.

The realization was, until yesterday, I looked at my PC as an appliance. It was something that I used to get something done. This appliance happened to have the features of just about everything. There’s nothing wrong with this, but Windows doesn’t do the same thing.

On Windows, the applications are each appliances, focused on doing one thing in a pleasing manner. If the application needs to look different to do that well, then so be it. The shift from “computer as appliance” to “applications as appliances”, when done well, really meshes to make me enjoy using applications. I have to say that I really like Windows Photo Gallery. It’s got all of the features that I like in a really basic photo manager. It’s also got a shiny, dark theme that I like a lot and it’s simple enough that I don’t have to think about “managing photos”. When I’m using it, I’m thinking about how good (or bad!) my photos are.

I’m REALLY looking for a Linux-side application that can hit Windows Photo Gallery on the head. I know that there are a ton of basic editing applications and simple managers, and a plethora of super-duper sophisticated solutions, but that balance is awesome. I’d love to leverage that on Linux.

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