Summary Windows destroys so much productivity and yet, the direction the cash flows is: from companies to Microsoft. Working with MS Windows sucks in so many ways, I can’t even enumerate them all :-@
Reader’s discretion is advised: this is a frequently updated (and probably never ending) rant.
Yes, many of these things have been written down before.
And yes, I know that this article deals in part with an old versions of Windows: Windows 7. But those things also sucked back then when they were released. And this happens to be the version that is mostly used in the company I work. And Win 10 is not much better.
And also yes, I know, that some aspects are not strictly Windows OS, but other applications, not even necessarily written by Microsoft. So it seems, that the title does not refer to the Windows OS exclusively but the Windows ecosystem, at the core of which is: Windows OS.
And also also yes, I will over simplify, exaggerate and mix and match things in a way that might not hold in court. But only to illustrate how I feel.
Windows destroys productivity
Windows destroys so much productivity, its just unbelievable. And even worse: companies are paying Microsoft for it when they should be compensated.
So many things are counter-intuitive and confusing. No wonder people still believe they are too dumb for computers. They — and that’s the first problem here — confuse “computers” with “Microsoft Windows”. When in fact Windows is too badly designed for people.
So many things are simply not possible. Unfortunately they don’t get criticized more often; people don’t know what they are missing when they think computers must run Windows.
Interacting with active and inactive windows
The operating systems that I have worked with (Linux ((mostly running KDE 2 … 5)), MacOS X and Windows 3.1 … Win10) have quite different ideas, what should happen when you click or scroll in an inactive window.
MacOS usually does the right thing
: clicking an inactive window will activate
don’t do anything more with the click. This way, you cannot e.g. accidentally follow a hyperlink when you only wanted
to bring the browser to the front.
Scrolling in an inactive window will move its content accordingly without activating the window. This is nice because this way you can read documentation in a partially hidden window while keeping the focus in the window you work in.
Linux (KDE) is configurable to whatever you want. Unnecessary, but you can get it to behave.
Windows is just wrong. You can’t scroll in an inactive window and when you activate it (e.g. for scrolling), you are already triggering an interaction in it.
Windows goes even one step further and breaks this habit in the only place (I know) where it would have made sense: When
you want to copy&paste text in to the terminal, you can do so with a “right click”. Except that this time the right
click will only activate the CMD.exe — not performing the paste action. No, this time you have to click twice.
Every application comes with its own window decoration
Not even the system tools use consistent decoration. After only three clicks, you see the “good” old WinXP style.
Inconsistent behaviour when closing windows
Update 2021-09-03 That’s a point I can make while only referring to Microsoft tool and programs. Other developers did, however, happily continue the stream of surprises. What happens when users click on that red cross ? Either the program is terminated and needs to be loaded again. Excel users know what I mean. Did I mention that Windows destroys productivity? Or the program keeps running in the background, ideally in the tray. Or, because “Why not?”, the program is minimized to the taskbar. I like to not click the minimize button to have a window minimized, NOT !!!
Inconsistent Print dialogs
Not even all Microsoft apps come with the same print dialog. There are reasons why some tools need additional options but at least the common basics should have been consistent.
Mouse clicks in one visual area might have different effects.
The Explorer top bar might not show the good old window menu but it’s still there. WinXP used to have a dialog button in the top left corner. Windows explorer does not show a button there but the menu is still there. Leading to different behavior depending on where you click on the visually homogenous title bar.
Pop-up windows are generally just … 😫 😡!
Pop-up windows are generally not re-sizeable. Even those with lists and tables in them which would easily fit on my screen.
Why can’t I interact with the opening application anymore? That was the original intent behind having windows, was it not? So users can do multiple thing “at the same time”.
Open some Excel file! Select a range! Click on “Conditional Formatting”! Forget how to tell Excel to format a row based on one of its cells (while leaving the format pop-up open). Open a web browser to look it up. Click on Excel to active the windows. Guess what: Excel won’t activate.
Pop-up windows of Outlooks are a pain in the back
I mean really, Why are (Outlook’s) pop-up windows not resizable?!
Why can’t I interact with Outlook anymore when one is open? Say, I want to update my mail filter rules. (I really don’t want to they made sure of that, but, let’s say, I need to.) I can’t look in to my e-mails to adjust the filters. No, Microsoft decided I shall not be able to gather the required information for the task at hand. Microsoft decided, I have to have all relevant information available before I start adjust the filters. (Which in itself is in an un-resizeable pop-up with a really crude wizard like interaction.)
Update 2021-10-14 The extrem case is (and of course this happened today), when you are about to send an email, spell checker does not recognize the special content, e.g. code snippets, and while you are spell checking the mail an appointment reminder pops up. Your are basically fucked now. The new pop-up is displayed on top of everything, but the spell checker pop-up is the only window that Microsoft lets you interact with. No way forward here.
Can’t Copy Text out of Pop-ups and other windows
Ever tried to copy an error message or an error code out of a pop-up? Microsoft rather have you type it yourself into the web search of your choice. Ever tried to copy e.g. the hostname out of the overview panel somewhere within the System preferences? Microsoft rather have you memorize it and later type it by hand.
It’s not possible to make it wider, even though commands like to be lengthy, output as well. (Have you ever tried to look at the output of any mysql command with more than three columns?).
Update 2021-09-08 CMD.exe has a fixed size line buffer. Toward the beginning of an session, the prompt is somewhere in the middle of the scroll area (not at the end as you would expect). After some time (or after running some command with a lot of output), you cannot scroll all the way up anymore. Computer have a gazillion bytes of memory, but CMD.exe cannot store a few thousand more lines. I mean it could – you’d have to change the fixed value, and then the window will have that many lines from the beginning.
CMD.exe keeps line breaks when you change the width of the windows. Have a look at iTerm how this should be done.
CMD.exe won’t paste text when you “right click” it when inactive — all other actions on inactive windows are executed.
CMD.exe does not allow me the change the prompt. I might need additional information, or I might want the path presented somewhat differently. I might want color to see at a glance where the output of the last command begins.
Okay, “Edge” is certainly better than Internet Explorer, but which advantages does it have over Chrome?
Copy URL out of “Edge” browser
When edge came out, the web was already broken — or rather perverted by actors that seek to profit from it regardless. For example window titles — or tab browser tab titles nowadays — used to simply put a label on the HTML page we were looking at. Todays its more like “Great value offers | Travel Inc. | Where the sun always shines with the best offers throughout the year — every year yadda yadda”
Update 2021-07-14 While I do consider Excel a productivity booster for 51% of its overall uses, I must also say it fits the Windows ecosystem perfectly with it usability blunders.
In some input fields, you cannot navigate the text cursor with the cursor keys. Trying to do so results in wild character sequences being created.
When a column is (almost) as wide as your screen, you cannot position the scroll bar to show only its right part. Excel will snap back to the columns beginning or forward to the beginning of the next column. Hey Microsoft, I have some spelled paths here with quite different lengths, and I am only interested in the (variable length) last part each. Also, follow-up question: How do make this column now narrower?
“Skype for business” is not Skype …
…and I don’t know how much it is for business, but it is certainly not “for users”.
Running “Skype” for business, you get a
lync.exe running. Lync never used to work satisfactory in any environment that
I encountered. “Skype for business” is basically just “Lipstick on a pig”.
It’s spell check is so slow, even I can type faster than the characters appear on in the input field. That problem was solved in the seventies: you could type a key and the character would appear on the screen immediately. This even worked much better on old remote access via dial-up connections… and computer have only gotten faster since then. There’s no excuse for that.
Inconsistent Copy&Paste behavior.
‘Pick a layout’ button in the windows title bar
looks like a list of checkboxes, that behave
radio buttons. And users cannot pick a layout with it but merely toggle whether the current speaker pop-up is shown.
No layout change, not even a change of content of any area. Only toggles one ‘modal’.
What it should have been, you ask? The control for that modal should have been somewhere near the effect of that control. Users don’t tend to look for a toggle for anything somewhere except in the area around that something. That is, the button should been near the overlay, behave like a checkbox and have a label/description like “show/hide speaker”.
Windows Snipping tool
The Windows Snipping Tool can’t even crop captured images. A co-worker suggested
re-capturing the window to the right size. While possible, that would somewhat contradict the nature of computers to let
users change things
Does anyone still honestly think, that by using Microsoft Windows they would increases the productivity in their company?? Throwing away work and starting all over… Not very productive, is it??
The Windows Snipping Tool lets you draw on captured images. However, there is no
undo. But, I guess, I can delete the
image and start over?!
Update 2021-09-08 Keeps stealing focus. Literally. Ever tried to install something in the background that can easily install itself in the background? You know like on Linux or Mac OS, where installations run quietly in the background, waiting for input when they need input.
Windows Installers like to take away the focus from the currently active window. Because whatever Windows does is certainly more important than whatever I am doing (correction: what I would like to do).