Friday, 29 January 2016

WTF is wrong with Windows 10?

At the risk of turning this blog into an anti-Microsoft rant, I'm trying to understand why Windows 10 has become so rubbish. Not just "it's a bit like Windows 8 but with naffer graphics". But it's completely, utterly shite.

(Given the experience I had recently with trying to compile a Unity app on a Mac recently, it's unlikely Microsoft will be the only company getting a roasting for producing crappy, needy, simply-fail-to-work-but-offer-no-way-of-going-back-to-a-working-version operating systems)

Both at home, at work and wherever I found a machine running Windows 10, I got rid of it. All except on one machine - a laptop used for testing development on the latest Microsoft operating system. And sometimes, it doesn't make sense to keep flipping between computers; it seems a bit churlish to say "I hate Windows 10 so much, I'm going to put this laptop down and boot up one of my other machines, just to browse the web or download some pdfs".

But it's got to the stage that that's what's happening!
I tried to download a pdf from a website on my laptop.
Some five minutes after it had downloaded, I went into my downloads folder and tried to move it onto the desktop (so it'd be easy to find when I came to read it later)

This was more than five minutes after the file had finished downloading.
A quick look at the task manager and this appeared

Now task manager used to flash a column red if it hit more than 90% or so. It seems like the latest version of Windows 10 now recognises that this is so common, it doesn't do it any more. The stupid Microsoft "anti-malware" is - to me at least - acting like malware.

It's chewing up almost all of the spare CPU and battering the hard disk.
Which in turn renders the rest of the computer useless, as it slows to a crawl. But more than that - it doesn't just make things "a bit slow" or make the computer a "bit cumbersome" but actively stops me from doing what I want with the bleeding thing - which, in this case, was to download a file and put it on the desktop.

If it wasn't for the fact I have to support legacy apps written on a variety of Windows platforms, I think I'd seriously be considering moving to Linux. All of the new development I do now is for mobile platforms (web, Android and - when I absolutely have to - iOS). I used to be a Windows-only developer but it really does look like Windows has had it's day.

I used to build applications with the view that if the mobile version wasn't available, you could always run it on your PC (after all, mobiles don't let you do cool stuff with hardware like plug into the serial port). But more and more it's obvious that it's the PC that's becoming a niche operating system.

I used to think that the proliferation of mobile devices was strangling the computer industry. After all, a mouse is far superior to a pudgy finger for fine resolution and moving things around a screen. And typing on a keyboard is a million times easier than poking a virtual keypad on a screen. Yet consumers (not necessarily computer users, but the majority of people using their tablets to "consume" data) demand less of their devices and simply point at an icon, saying "I want that one".

But it turns out that it's not the demands of the greater masses that's killed desktop computing. It's the developers of the operating systems that have made them so painful to work with. When every action is followed by a dialogue asking for "administrator permissions" or a boot up time of ten minutes while every background service starts and the proceeds to bring the computer to a crawl, it's no wonder people prefer to pick up a tablet and "just go".

But it doing so, OS developers have been going backwards too. In making their operating systems unusable, they're encouraging us to seek out alternative devices and platforms. Ten years ago, the idea of not using Microsoft Office in some shape or form seemed alien to anyone who had ever used a computer (many users confusing Office with Windows and wondering why their PC at home didn't come the full-blown Outlook by default). Now, Office is just another bit of software that you don't need to buy any more.

Windows is slowly becoming the same thing - it's still currently a popular OS. But it's utterly unusable for anything other than the most menial of tasks. It's slow. It doesn't let you do what you want. Half my (admittedly home-built) hardware doesn't work with it. A lot of old software doesn't run on it (unless you remember to right-click and run as administrator). Compilers and development tools don't work nicely together like they used to. In it's current form, Windows is worse than Linux and - dare I say it - probably Mac.

Microsoft used to make awesome software. Sure, it was expensive. And quite bloated. But it worked well. It let you get on with the job - make whatever you needed to make, using software that let you get on and make stuff. But now, Microsoft software is too slow, too bloated and too demanding. It actively gets in the way of trying to get stuff done. And Microsoft don't even make the best/easiest/most useful operating system either.

Interestingly, whenever "big business" appears in the news, it's always Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Apple, even Starbucks that get the press. No-one even thinks to mention Microsoft.

Let's hope Windows 10 dies just as quickly as Microsoft's profile and we can get back to using our technology to do cool stuff, instead of fighting with it on a daily basis!