February 12, 2005 spout

Experimenting with Windows Alternatives

When I used to teach COM, we would brag about its cross-platform-ness, i.e. it worked across Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4, etc. So, when I’m talking about Windows alternatives, of course I mean Windows XP, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows CE and Windows XP Tablet Edition:

  • Windows XP: This is the workhorse of my day and with SP2, it’s even more wonderful than it was before. Love it.

  • Windows XP Media Center Edition: The mix of a pleasing 10-foot UI, picture, music and video playback, content and UI extension, PVR, Windows-based expansion and MCE extenders makes this a fabulous media client and server. Love it.

  • Windows CE/SmartPhone 2003 Second Edition: The 10-inch UI, the built-in apps and services, the extension apps, the internet access and a set of apps optimized for 9-key + joystick input all make this a fabulous user platform that’s replaced my phone, my mp3 player and even my laptop in some cases. Plus, I can build my own apps! I haven’t felt this way since my first laptop freed me from the tyranny of the desktop. Love, love, love it!

  • Windows XP Tablet Edition: I love reading text on this OS. The ClearText, the form factor and the scroll-specific buttons near the screen make it a wonderful reading experience. I also look forward to reviewing articles and book chapters with my tablet. However, I doubt I’ll get to it because I dread picking it up and being faced with all of the text input I’m forced to perform. Unlike the MCE or SP OSes which have been optimized for remote control/keypad input, the tablet is more general purpose and therefore supports far more general purpose applications. This means text input for dialogs and passwords and URLs and all kinds of other things where my poor handwriting is often painful. Of course, handwriting is faster than joystick/keypad input, but because there seems so much more input required in an average tablet session, it seems slower. I with the apps for the tablet were more special-purpose and optimized for stylus-only input. Love it and don’t so much love it.

BTW, I paid $6000 in college for my Mac IIcx that I used to log into the Unix machines in the lab, so I’ve had a full range of computer UI experiences. I do truly love Windows best.