Windows 8, worse than GNOME for usability

I’ve been worried for a while that Red Hat’s corporate users will hate us and leave after we force GNOME Shell onto them in RHEL 7. Today however I used Windows 8 “Metro” …

Pop quiz: How do you exit the browser?

It’s a bit of a shame that we seem to be in a race with Microsoft to the bottom.


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21 responses to “Windows 8, worse than GNOME for usability

  1. The browser is the computer. Why would you exit 🙂
    Ctrl-d ?

  2. rich

    Actually I tried Ctrl-w but that didn’t work. Apparently the answer is ALT-F4. I’m fairly sure my fictional grandmother wouldn’t be able to work that out.

  3. Amadeus

    Gnome 3 for RHEL7?
    I hope xfce will be an option.

    • rich

      Yeah, me too. I’m pretty sure it will be, or there’ll be a great deal of push internally to get XFCE as an option.

      • Amadeus

        How can anyone think it is a good idea to have a tablet interface on a critical server?

        Just because RedHat sponsors Fedora and Gnome doesn’t mean all software is meant for server use.

        Have RedHat considered what would happen if CentOS and Scientific Linux stays with Linux Mint’s Gnome 2 fork?

      • amadeus: why would they? the whole point of CentOS and SL are to be RHEL clones, not to ‘improve’ on RHEL.

    • For my servers it wont be an issue.. they don’t have a GUI. There are very few genuine reasons why a server should have a GUI (but many, many spurious ones).

      I run RHEL systems at work but keep Fedora on my Desktop, an excellent way to stay currrent. I stuck with G3 it on Fedora15 and 16, cussin’ every time it did something ‘dumb’ until I learned how it works. And I am glad I did; as a day-to-day UI I use on my work and home Desktop Machines, and on my Netbook, it is proving pretty good. I now prefer it to G2, but it took some time for me to get there.

      But of course change is difficult and there is there is unfortunately a lot of room for improvement, especially as some of the default UI choices and fixed behaviours are.. at best.. immature. At worst.. pathetic. So if RH want to mollify users somewhat please, please do some good UI focus group testing and make good, user-driven choices about how to deliver it, without simply accepting the foobaa defaults provided by the Gnome developers.

      Also, it would be great if the community could make the Mint extensions available and stable (via EPEL?) for those who really need to keep the XP (oops, sorry, I mean Gnome2) interface.

  4. Stan aka Xeno

    Once I wished KDE had strong corporate backup, looking how Gnome , Winblow$ and OSX evolve now i’m not so sure i’d like that.

  5. I do have 2 RHEL subscriptions for personal usage mainly because of GNOME2 availability (it’s only sad there’s no support for gobject-instrospection)…

    If next RHEL major comes with GNOME 2.32, I’ll hang around for a bit more of time… if it’s GNOME3, oh well, I have still a few more years with RHEL6 🙂

  6. I don’t want this to become a DE competition, but I’ve been using a port of Cinnamon ( to Fedora 16 for over a month now, and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s more in the spirit of the good things from Gnome 2 interface while still having some of the improvements of Gnome 3. Hopefully it has some life to it.

  7. Mark Strempel

    I also thought I wouldn’t like the new gnome 3 ui but after i used it a few weeks (in fedora) it pointed out that gnome 3 isn’t that worse. I also had the experience that especially unexperienced (my brother) users were really excited about gnome 3.

  8. GT

    I agree 100% with Richard Jones’s post here. I have lamented for some time that they seem more interested in “eye candy” on the interface than in producing usable, reliable software. I don’t like a desktop where I can’t keep a file or folder that I’m using often. I want my favorite application shortcuts right there, one mouse click away, too. I had all this until EVERYBODY decided to try to copy the iPhone interface.

    Ubuntu, for many release cycles, still has not worked out their software update issues, but they devoted plenty of time to their “Unity” desktop. Mozilla churns out half-baked revisions on Firefox every month, rather than spending the time to do it ONCE for the year and GET IT RIGHT. One Firefox update actually BROKE my KDEnlive video editor package. I’ve spent hours unsuccessfully trying to fix/reinstall it before finally wiping the entire system and starting over. GNOME 3 and Libre Office interact in such a way that I can’t even save a file I’m working on because the “SAVE” button falls outside the desktop. I’ve contacted BOTH Libre and GNOME, and NOT heard a word. Right now I run GNOME in the so-called “fall-back” mode so I can at least write and save a document.

    A colleague told me recently that essentially the “old school” software developers are retiring, and that we’re now seeing the “iPhone” generation’s handy work. If this is what we have in store for the foreseeable future, then anyone who relies on a computer to get actual work done is in for a very rough ride.

  9. I think when in the past Microsoft discovered they are goind badly the wrong way (Whistler) they had the strength to go back and undo the changes. If they receive strong negative fedback over this preview release, they may do something… they plan to get money from this software after all.

    • crf

      Indeed. Developers at Microsoft, for instance, know that virtually all the work they do may be canned. Or just not accepted by the public. They are well paid to NOT take inevitable failures personally.

      When somebody moderately important (or even perifereral) writes negatively about Gnome3, there are dozens of enthusiasts who react to this almost as they would to a stranger beating their child.

      • crf

        if you think Gnome3 is a mistake, you are doing nobody any favours in the long run by not vocalizing in a brutally honest fashion your opinions.

  10. MisterAA

    Why do you say windows 8 is bad in the title when you only talk about the internet explorer misses an exit option? is the Internet Explorer the whole system? if it is no, I think it is not fair for the rest of the OS. If you’d be using a Windows Phone, you’d just press ‘back’ button. Anyway, remember Microsoft would prefer people to use Internet Explorer than other Internet browsers.

    • rich

      I tried the rest, including the original desktop (now lacking a “Start” menu!) and it had serious usability issues too. My desktop machine doesn’t have a “back” button. I’m quite sure that Microsoft want people to use IE, but I’m sure they don’t want people to get stuck in IE forever.

      • MisterAA

        Ok! because the lack of details, I was taking this as a subjective appreciation instead of an objective criticism. So, what about if we start to speculate about a new “back” button in new keyboards? after of all, from Windows 95 time, keyboards have “windows” button, don’t they?

  11. Craig S.

    There is no Linux interface that has ever come close to a windows interface. Honeslty that makes me very sad. I sincerly hope that you are not deluded enough to think that MS will not have those things that rear their ugly head during a “preview” aka UAT test fixed. The Linux community has a very long way to go in understanding polish. Perhaps that is the Achille’s heal of the open source community. Thay are not driven by “profit” in their devleopment efforts, “therfore what I need” is good enough, where profitiability enforces the need for polish.
    Make no mistake, MS will have it together. They always do. When they don’t they recover quickly.
    Win8 is the first “look see” into a unified platform where their desktop, devices, and pads all look and feel the same. It is a statment that they are ready to move from sitting on the side line watching to investing in the pad and smart device market. When they do they will take 75% of the market the first day. They have more request for win pads and devices that all other companies combined have sold. Why? Beucase they own the business desktop world (partically all of it). Those businesses want small devices that have the same apps that have on their desktop aka one stop shop.
    Watch where win8 and MS devices are in two years. Stock anyone?
    Now do not get me wrong. I love linux and the open source community, but to win one must understand the enemy they are trying to conquor and their own weaknesses.

  12. mark H.

    Well, how would you close the browser on you’re smart phone?
    No, seriously, how would you? I barely have a cell phone.

    Really can’t blame Microsoft for moving toward a cell phone interface, I’m no MS lover, I still have my copy of OS2 Warp.

    Problem is all OS’s have to cater to the customer and the masses of customer can’t operate a toaster.

    That brings me to address Craig S.

    Craig, polish isn’t the problem with Linux. I have Mint 12 loaded on the wifes lower powered HP laptop with Athlon. Loaded and runs great. Not so much with my i5 Dell laptop which has choked on any Ubuntu based Linux. But LMDE is stellar on this Dell.
    So I get this new Dell laptop and drop the Win7 Home Premium media that came with the laptop into a 5 year old Dell desktop and it loads without a hitch. So I spring for Win7 Ultimate and it loads into all three machines without a hitch.
    Did I say LMDE is stellar? It is now, after setting a static DNS and massaging Network Manager, and after figuring out I had to boot into Windows to turn on the BlueTooth so any Linux distro could even see the hardware.
    The biggest inhibitor to Linux isn’t lack of polish, it isn’t a lack of visual appeal, the inhibitor is that any idiot can’t simply drop the disk into their toaster and have it run.

    • I disagree – the inhibitor that I have with conversion of most people from windows to GNU/Linux is simply that everyone is used to windows. They don’t want to learn new programs, they don’t want more efficient, or even better looking interfaces – they want the same interface they are already familiar with – Similar to how everyone complains about how Gnome3 is a step backward from Gnome2. I’d imagine the same thing applies to Apple products, with the exception that Apple users probably prefer better looking interfaces as well. (I can’t say for sure, because nobody I know can afford their overpriced machines).

      This is why Windows 8 could be disastrous for M$, because people are gonna freak when they can’t find the start button.

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