This post is not about comparing personal computing operating systems. There must be a plethora of blogs about which OS to choose, for those who are fortunate enough to make a fresh start for whatever reason. For some of us we are stuck with an OS choice we made years and even decades ago for reasons appropriate at the time.
Which operating system?
My choice was Windows and I cannot remember what drove the decision at the time. I am not young, so it may have been the allure of having a personal computer, which happened to come with Windows. Apple computers were for the rich and famous and they were far beyond my financial means at the time.
Windows is now at last free and version 10 is not behaving too badly. I was apprehensive at first about handing over my computers to the whims of Microsoft so they can trickle updates (while I am not watching), until they let me know that I’m ready to take the step. This is not a bad model in retrospect and I should by now have made peace with Microsoft having continuous access to my machines. This access can be changed, of course, but at the risk of missing “important” updates that are more fixes and cures than anything that would give you a real advantage with your personal computing.
Windows 10: hello free bee!
By now, many people have written about Windows 10 and its virtues and woes. The first action I took was to set access to my machines by Microsoft to “basic”. I do not want them to have insights into what documents, pictures and videos I store – even though it is supposed to be for the advancement of the user experience. As long as they have access to fix up and cure anything their OS does wrong (and it seems there will always be something), that is enough for me.
It irks me though, that even Windows 10 has some annoying characteristics that Microsoft does not seem to pay attention to. Let me start on these by first admitting that I am not a Windows expert and I have not launched any serious expeditions to find ways to get around these annoyances.
Exploring your files and folders
With those caveats, let me point out some issues with Windows File Explorer. On my PC, and with my default settings, Windows 10 launches the handy new window that shows recent folders and files. Why does it take a number of seconds – sometimes minutes in the case of video files – to complete “working on it”, before anything appears on the blank screen? Non-one, even the laziest teenager, has time to sit and watch that blank screen.
Once that has completed in its own sweet time, one sees your recent folders and files. Having selected a file folder, columns do not always display fully in some windows. Windows 10 addressed this annoying aspect with an option to “size all columns to fit”. Why not just do this by default? Are there users who prefer half of certain columns to be truncated? Another feature, which is not new, is the ability to right-click anywhere on a file folder name in the left pane and select “open in new window”.
This enables two or more folders to be viewed at the same time. The thing that Windows still needs to fix is not to open the second window on top of the first, or is this technically too difficult? Surely, Windows is a clever program that knows where a current window is displayed and that the user is opening the second window to view next to it and not on top of it?
Sizing of windows also seems to be a real challenge for Windows. Often a new window is opened too small, so you cannot see all the content. Is there nothing that Windows can deduct from the folder properties to help it arrive at an appropriate window size? Similarly, the length of drop-down lists is often too short to show the complete list of contents. How much intelligence does this require to be built, or is the knowledge about the drop-down list there, but not used by Windows?
All things considered, I have embraced Windows as a productivity partner in my simple life and I look forward to many free upgrades in the future. I hope it never turns out to be a fatal embrace. Thank you, Microsoft!