Friday, February 16, 2007

Vista has arrived, SFW

So, the wife and I brought home a new desktop computer for her. She didn't want a laptop for some reason.

Due to market forces I don't need to rant about in this space, it had one of the 10 versions of Windows Vista on it. She plugged it in, clicked through all the unenforceable license agreements (with her eyes closed, per my instructions . . .) required so lawyers have a reason to work for software companies.

Then we had to set up networking. Windows Vista, like every other version of Windows, has once again moved settings around for no good reason. Another huge support nightmare for everyone in the world with a CRM system and a searchable support base, because their scripts will once again have to be updated so they can tell helpless customers the new locations of things.

Course, that's no longer my problem. Neither is it my problem that Windows now asks you to confirm everything you're doing that needs administrator access, but that's what I'm here today to rant about.

You'd think, after developing Windows 3.1, WFW, Windows NT 3.51, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows AIDS, that Microsoft would have learned something about usability that works. Somehow this lesson hasn't penetrated: Every interaction your software has with users trains them to do something. You had better make sure it's training them to do the right thing.

Let's take an example: The double-click. MS trained users for years that double-click was how you opened everything. Single click was for selecting. Then they decided single-click was for opening, too. Now all of us users trained to double-click are constantly opening things twice, by accident. Thanks! Then they had to give us a way to go back to the old way. Nice job.

The lesson users will be learning with Vista: When a program tells you it needs administrator access to do something, you click "Yes." Doesn't matter why, just click it and make the dialog go away. Changing the network settings? "Yes." Opening the network settings dialog? "Yes." Installing a program? "Yes." Your web browser wants you to host some child pornography on your hard drive and launch a bittorrent tracker for it? "Yes."

After the tenth such context- and content-free question, you just click yes. I'll be doing it too. Windows will protect us! "Yes."

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