My proposal to improve Windows 8

I propose a new user interface for Calculator, because the one we’ve been using since 1990 is too confusing, and the one that came with Windows 7 didn’t help. It’s just different, not better.

The only thing that can save Calculator is the ribbon interface.
Note the numbers 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9 get grouped together to save space. The concepts of 0 and decimals are confusing for young computer users, so the best thing to do with them is bury them under an arrow in “other.” Operators get their own group. A focus group can decide whether the division mark should go in the operators group, or whether it should be buried along with 0 and decimals. Many users find division confusing, but only a focus group can decide whether that means users will use the division operator a lot, or rarely. If they use it a lot, bury it. If they use it rarely, display it on the screen. Perhaps display it all the time, since there is an empty space next to the numbers. Only the least useful command in the whole program is worthy of being displayed all the time.

So this screen capture should be considered preliminary. Still, it illustrates the concept well. Note how much less confusing the screen is with less showing at a time. This will make Calculator much less intimidating for people who don’t know how to use a calculator. It also makes Calculator take up less space on the screen, which would be highly useful on netbooks. Critics claim the ribbon needlessly wastes a lot of screen space, but this ribbon-enabled Calculator demonstrates how this myth is just not true.

Never mind how simple math operations now take at least two ribbons and switching between the two ribbons at least twice. Never mind how productivity will plummet. And note how now you really do need a book to understand it, or at the very least, to find anything. Calc For Dummies will be a bestseller. Whoever gets to write that book will promote Windows 8 very heavily. The knockoff Complete Idiots Guide to Calc won’t be, but that author will also promote Windows 8. A Sparknotes cheater’s card will also sell well, so whoever writes that will also promote Windows 8 heavily. It could also warrant a feature story in PC Magazine, so they’ll promote Windows 8 too.

See a pattern yet?

Coming next: the ribbon-enabled command prompt. Because those wily Windows veterans are already scheming to escape having to use the ribbon in Explorer windows by using the command prompt. This must be stopped. Besides, digging DOS commands out of a ribbon is much easier than remembering all of them (who can do that?).

4 thoughts on “My proposal to improve Windows 8

  • April 8, 2011 at 9:27 am
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    Very funny, and very true – there are many many programs I have refused to upgrade, or quit using altogether, because the newest version has been “improved” to the point where I would have to learn to use it over again. Not to mention the number of programs I have tried over the years and run away from screaming because the authors have decided that the conventional WIMP UI that everyone already understands (because they’ve been using it since forever) is “old” and “stale” and “broken” and so they go with something that I refuse to take the time to learn how to deal with.

    Most recently, of course, there’s Firefox 4, which I was forced to fix with two different extensions to restore functionality that they took out for no logical reason I could discern.

    All that said, however, I get the feeling that you are satirizing something specific here, and I don’t know what it is.

    • April 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm
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      Just the needless extension of the pointless, user-hostile ribbon interface to other parts of Windows 8.

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm
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    I don’t really understand this post, and I think I’m glad. After six or seven years using Linux I got a used Dell with XP installed and it’s working okay. Whatever this ribbon interface is, I hope to avoid it.

    • April 9, 2011 at 7:01 pm
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      I’ve been using ribbon-ified apps for about four years now, and still don’t understand the ribbon either, so you’re not missing much. The idea was to replace the menu and the toolbars with one thing that had the functionality of both, but it failed. Miserably. I guess I should write up an explanation of the ribbon and why it’s the worst thing to happen to computing in 30 years.

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