Windows 7 and it's brand new Kicker, i mean taskbar.

Today Slashdot linked to some "leaked" ( a new term for marketed ) Windows 7 screenshots. Is it just me, or do they look exactly like a nicely skinned KDE 3.5??? Almost everything in those screens look like features from KDE 3.5 with compositing. Have Microsoft lost the innovation edge? Their art team is doing great, but the developers and designers seem to have lost the way. Clearly they haven't been following the competition. Well what exactly do i mean? Let's take a look at some alternatives ( note that i don't use Gnome and am not going to write up about something i don't have much recent experience in ):
  • Apple: Innovative dock, 3D effect, mouse over magnification, "Genie" minimize effect, great fonts for LCD screens. Proper transparency. Resizable ( Horiz and Vertically ).
  • KDE 3: Completely skinnable, themable panel ( Kicker ). Different minimize effects, further extended by compiz. Proper transparency. Resizable ( Horiz and Vertically ). 
  • KDE 4: Completely skinnable, themable SVG panel. Different effects all built into window manager ( Compiz isn't required to make KDE 4 do some awesome stuff ). Proper transparency. Resizable ( Horiz and Vertically ). Ability to align to a given side of the screen ( as in, doesn't fill up the entire screen but expands from a given side ). The ability to have no panel. This sounds odd, but you can remove your panel and add the system tray and task manager to the desktop if u wish and either use the desktop shortcut key or window switching to do stuff. Why you ask. Asus EEE, 800x480 screen, a panel really takes up space.. and i dislike auto hide.
Window Management:
  • Apple: Expose effect to compensate for the useless window switching. Expose is actually really useful, since it lays out all the windows for you on the screen, the only problem is that the mac is prone to instancing windows when you don't want them, so it becomes cluttered.
  • KDE 3: Shade ability - something that is really useful, but seldom used. Shade causes your windows to collapse to just the title bar, nothing else. This is useful if you don't want it minimized, but just out of the way. With Compiz, wobbly windows, nice window snapping and some other really fancy effects, some of which are actually useful and pretty. Configure special features for certain apps, like whether to put an icon in systray, or startup geometry, or even whether it should always be on top.
  • KDE 4: Shade ability. Wobbly windows and other fancy effects without Compiz. Same special features as KDE 3. Expose as with Apple except its there as an enhancement, not the only way to switch windows. True transparency. Ability to make entire windows transparent. The Desktop Effects give a series of great productivity tweaks to window management and include some really fancy effects.
  • Apple: standard with widgets. Nothing really special about the apple desktop except it can support Mac OSX Dashboard widgets.
  • KDE 3: standard with widgets. This desktop ( from 2001 origin ) has pretty much the same features as the Apple 2007 desktop. 3.5 series is as advanced as all the new commercial desktops. It supports super-karamba widgets and has the same basic features as Vista and Leopard.
  • KDE 4: something completely different. The KDE 4 plasma team need to be commended for this. So it's a desktop with icons if you want. And folder views ( a new concept where you have a container on your desktop that shows the ( filtered ) contents of any folder you wish ). And if you have 2 folder views you can copy from one to another. And widgets. But what kind of widgets? Try almost all of them. KDE 4 plasma widgets ( obv ), KDE 3 Karamba widgets, Mac OSX Dashboard Widgets and Google Desktop Gadgets. It can also have any panel item as a desktop widget ( and vice verse ). In fact there is really very little you can't do with the KDE 4 desktop. It's about 2 years ahead of it's competition, and these guys do it for free.
  • Apple: Fail fail fail. Leopard fails on an epic level here. Finding installed apps is like finding Yang Peiyi ( the poor girl that was deemed "too ugly" to sing ) on the stage at the Beijing Olympics. Spotlight tries to do the job for you, but just gets in the way, especially when you're used to Ctr+Space being a different keyboard shortcut.
  • KDE 3: I was using KDE 3 with KickOff menu. And although a lot of people hated it ( again this change is bad mentallity that keeps dictators in power legally ), it was a huge improvement on the standard Windows 98 style menu. Just pop open the menu, type a few letters and choose your app. I went from old menu with a million "Quick Launch" icons, to new menu and no need for quick launch. The problem is that Quick Launch was mostly created cause menus failed. If the earlier menus were better, the masses of icons on peoples docks/panels/taskbars would be gone. And with Kickoff, i feel that this is actually happening. The menu is so easy to use, so there is no need for masses of icons.
  • KDE 4: Seeing as KickOff was introduced into KDE 3 and was actually a great feature, they decided to build it into KDE 4. The pitch-forkers complained, so now you have a choice, but the primary menu is the KickOff style menu. And as with all things in KDE 4, this has been greatly improved.
Where are Microsoft in all of this??? Their desktop is basically no different from the Windows 98 desktop, except that it's now done on a DirectX graphical server. So it's a touch prettier, but not much more functional. Their panel in Vista looks like Windows 98 + Windows Blinds. This means that i could have had that technology 10 years ago. The Windows 7 panel looks like a nicely skinned version of Kicker, the KDE 3 panel. It really doesn't seem like new tech. The menu isn't much more innovative in Vista than KickOff from KDE 3. Do they have an innovations team? Where is R&D in all of this? They have so much money to invest in this, since it is their primary product, yet we aren't seeing anything the customers like. Clearly Vista is a flop, and a lot of people are expecting big things from Windows 7, but i'm not yet convinced it will be the next XP, but rather Vista Version 2.0.

1 comment:

  1. This is kind of sad. I mean, what their doing has...already been done before. What's Microsoft offering that's NEW? From the tech perspective it's crap! From a business perspective it's the need to continue, or a strategy of some kind. As a leader in technology Microsoft has to do more than just release a new OS just for the purpose of extending or keeping up.

    Like you said, Kde3 and 4 can do the same thing. I can get it to look the same or even nicer within a few minutes setting up Emerald.

    Mac has done most of this a few years ago.

    The question is: unless your a Windows fan, why would you use this instead of MacOS or Linux-- using a KDE3, Gnome or Xfce desktop?