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GUI Revolutions: From Flashing Bulbs To Windows 8

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the parc-your-mouse-right-here dept.

GUI 120

StormDriver writes "GUI has been with us for years and it went a long, long way since the early days. There were some fairly interesting developments along the way, so we took the time to line them up for you."

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and what we've learnt from Engelbart's demo (1, Interesting)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387110)

Is that reality is never as good as possibility, because any idea will end up being moulded for the personal gain of a particular business or government. Whether it's lock-in on the desktop or sending your information off to the cloud, we'll never see a decent peer-to-peer collaborative system as long as humans are designing, building, deploying and maintaining it.

Re:and what we've learnt from Engelbart's demo (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390514)

we'll never see a decent peer-to-peer collaborative system as long as humans are designing, building, deploying and maintaining it.

That's why, come singularity, robots will win. ~

Re:and what we've learnt from Engelbart's demo (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392664)

I thought one of the battle cries of RMS was that OSS fixes all those problems ... No ones personal agenda matters cause everyone can make it like THEY want it!

As long as greedy people are designing, building and deploying it, yes, it'll be the way it is.

We've seen in the past some alternatives done by people without greed on their mind (at least in the beginning) which then promptly get offered massive sums of money that only an idiot would turn down in exchange for selling out to some big company ... which then turns it into exactly what you say.

One of the major problems however is the basic fundamental idea of a 'decent peer-to-peer collaborative system' can exist. It simply can't, for the exact same reasons why one can't be built. Anarchy doesn't work in efficiently enough to be useful beyond a small size, I challenge you to show me an example of it working. Wikipedia is more or less a failure, its not useless, but no intelligent person goes to wikipedia to get facts since its basically in constant anarchy at this point. You might go to get an idea of what something is, but thats where it ends.

The idea that we'll all just work together for the good of the world is fundamentally flawed. Competition and diversification in our own species is what keeps us from going extinct. If you have any clue about the history of the world, you can understand why P2P will never be as efficient as alternatives even when those alternatives are raping you for someone elses gain because anarchy is raping you for EVERYONE elses gain, and in the end, NO ONE gains anything.

what about guitse? (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387116)

it's like windows: stinks like poo and looks empty.

gaytse is like osx.

Re:what about guitse? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387440)

Don't forget gutsy [ubuntu.com]

There were many. (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387154)

This article doesn't scratch the surface, and looks more like an advertisement for Windows 7 and 8.

http://web.archive.org/web/20100101033213/http://toastytech.com/guis/index.html [archive.org]

There's history for ya.

Wayback Machine mirror so as to not nuke the poor guy's site.

--
BMO

Re:There were many. (1)

Fri13 (963421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387498)

+1

To sum all up

"The mother of all demos"
Xerox Star
Windows 1.0
Microsoft Bob
Windows 95
Windows XP
Windows 7
Windows 8 ....
The future from Microsoft?

Conclusion: Cheap ad for that site.

Re:There were many. (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387510)

The title alone makes it look like an advertisement for Windows - colour me unsurprised :) If it had mentioned an OS that was already out then it would have been less of a clue.

Everything I've heard about Windows 8 so far make it sound like it's very touch-screen centric. I think they're missing the point completely if they're abandoning traditional desktop paradigms altogether. By all means make a version of Windows that is designed for tablets, but don't force that UI on everyone else. It'll end up being worse than Unity.

Re:There were many. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388430)

They aren't. Windows 8 has two UIs, the tile-based and the classic desktop. You can choose to use whichever one you want, although I do see tiles as being the way of the future. Most people will be using them and only geeks like us will bother with classic desktop or commandline any more.

Re:There were many. (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388502)

It'll end up being worse than Unity.

Wait - that's possible?

(.../me gets shown image of WP 7 Metro UI...)

Urgh. I take it all back.

You do bring up a good point, though.

A one-size-fits-all UI is like trying to find a nubile cutie fresh out of college who can calculate quaternion rotations in her head, thinks emacs sucks, wants to marry a typical slashdotter and have his babies, but at the same time loves hunting, fishing, and, oh BTW - she's a billionaire.

In other words? Not going to frickin' happen. Too many damned use cases out there to credibly squeeze together into one coherent UI.

Re:There were many. (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388642)

Believe it or not, I'm dating a girl who can do most of those things, but is not a billionaire. And in full disclosure has been out of college for two years and had to be converted to the vi camp by yours truly.

Re:There were many. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388710)

but is not a billionaire

I think you just proved his point.

Re:There were many. (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392636)

He's still winning by my count.

Re:There were many. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390564)

(.../me gets shown image of WP 7 Metro UI...). Urgh. I take it all back.

If you haven't seen it in action, you should understand that images don't do it justice. It looks different enough from conventional icon grid iOS/Android/whatever UI that it's not obvious how this thing is supposed to work, but actually trying to use it usually drives the point home.

There are plenty things wrong with WP7 at the moment (lack of tethering is a killer right there, and we didn't even get to apps...), and I'll take my Android phone over it any day; but UI isn't one of those things...

Re:There were many. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390978)

Not going to frickin' happen.

Destroyer of dreams!

Re:There were many. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392716)

A one-size-fits-all UI is like trying to find a nubile cutie fresh out of college who can calculate quaternion rotations in her head, thinks emacs sucks, wants to marry a typical slashdotter and have his babies, but at the same time loves hunting, fishing, and, oh BTW - she's a billionaire.

Turns out, you just described my wife almost to the letter, those she isn't a billionaire and we didn't find out until after we were married that she liked hunting and fishing. Had a deal her father was working on not fell through, its quite probably should would have been a billionaire too! So its not impossible, but it certainly is highly improbable.

Re:There were many. (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387778)

>>>looks more like an advertisement for Windows

Yep.
According to this history, nobody existed in the personal computer market (i.e. home) except for Apple and Microsoft. Other significant companies like TI, Atari, and Commodore did not matter. I mean... Atari merely created the idea of a multimedia computer (one that has music-quality sound and graphics) in 1979. Commodore merely invented the idea of preemptive-multitasking and parallel processing (between SPU, GPU, and CPU).

But they don't matter.
The victors (Apple/Microsoft) have very effectively rewritten history to make it sound like they invented anything of any significance since 1975, and authors of websites like this one are buying it. Kinda depressing. The truth is that Apple/Microsoft computers of the 1980s were bland and uninteresting (unless you enjoyed 4-color graphics and sound that went "beep") with no parallel processing or preemptive tasking whatsoever. Atari/Commodore were the ones who were innovating.

Re:There were many. (1)

wootcat (1151911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388200)

To be fair, the article's purpose was to focus on the development of GUI. Multimedia and preemptive-multitasking don't really fall under that category. But you are right in that the article doesn't cover other important GUI advancements, such as Amiga's contributions or even application-level improvements such as the ability to select a block of text and drag it to another location of the document, dynamically shifting the text as the block is moved.

The article does get points for even mentioning GEM, but in reality, it's a big ad for Windows 8. Waste of my time.

I remember reading a much more extensive article a few years back that did a phenomenal job covering this topic. I wish I could remember where I found it.

http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/05/gui.ars/ [arstechnica.com] - This arstech article comes close, and it's far more informative than TFA.

Re:There were many. (3, Informative)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390540)

There's also a total neglect of the X Window System development at MIT, not to mention the various Lisp Machines and their graphical user interfaces which, drawing on the truly foundational work conducted at PARC and elsewhere, further explored the GUI paradigm and established some of its practical limitations.

The importance of building practical systems to test principles of human-computer interaction cannot be overemphasized. The early work by Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay and others was both innovative and empirical, but it dealt with various components of the GUI in isolation. Only by building a complete GUI system and putting it in front of a lot of people could we learn which elements were most successful and in what combinations.

For example, one of the ideas being particularly explored in the Lisp community at this time was how and to what extent the underlying objects should be manipulable through the GUI. Graphical copy-and-paste was a new but easily accepted idea. The obvious question, then, was whether such operations would do better to copy a representation of the object or the object itself. This parallelled a similar debate about the design of Lisp editors: whether these should be text editors in the spirit of Emacs or object editors which happened to offer a text representation. If I copy and paste a graphical representation of a file on the screen, under what conditions should that copy the file contents, the file itself, a link to the file, or the name of the file?

The answer, if you were to ask Microsoft or Apple at that time, would be equivalent to Henry Ford's "You can have any color you want as long as it's black." The Unix and Lisp world, meanwhile, were much more exploratory. No huge revelations come to mind, but in an incremental way it was these communities which established many of the GUI conventions we take for granted today. What has followed thereafter, for the most part, is merely eye candy.

Re:There were many. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387984)

Coral Cache is a much better option for that kind of thing. The Wayback Machine is designed to preserve history, not buffer peak bandwidth. Coral is faster and will be more up to date than the Archive.

Re:There were many. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388660)

And you couldn't provide a link [nyud.net] ?

Re:There were many. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36389062)

Not to mention that the submitter is blogwhoring himself.

Mobile GUI's? (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387166)

I don't see mobile GUI's in there. Surely Palm's early offerings qualify as a "before" and iOS & Android as an "after" ... and Magic Cap as in "in between". Desktops aren't the only place we use GUI's.

Re:Mobile GUI's? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387296)

The article is garbage at best and a paid advertisement at worst. When there is an article on the development of GUIs that doesn't include the word "Motif" you know it is shit. Microsoft being on the Motif WG explains so much about Unix user interfaces...

This guy is still right (0)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387204)

âoeWhat I saw in the Xerox PARC technology was the caveman interface, you point and you grunt. A massive winding down, regressing away from language, in order to address the technological nervousness of the userâ.

Re:This guy is still right (2)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387472)

Vi rules, eh?

Re:This guy is still right (1)

Kompressor (595513) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387788)

Vi rules, eh?

vi has nothing on ed.

user@host:~$ ed

?
^C
?
quit
?
q
user@host:~$

Now there's a real man's editor.

Spellcheck (1, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387290)

"Douglas Englebart was a true visionary. On a single conference on Deceber 9, 1968, he performed a live demonstration that showed working prototypes of a computer mouse, hypertext, email, word processor, and collaborative real-time editor." However, you will note the lack of a working spellcheck. Or else Deceber is a month that only existed in the 60's.

French Revolutionary Calendar (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388314)

Maybe it was a month in the calendar invented for the GUI Revolution but the old calendar was put back in effect when Bill Gates took over.

Poorly written (5, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387302)

Our brain is well suited to work with visual clues, and computers soon learned to use that.

What will computers think up next?

Re:Poorly written (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390688)

'Poorly written' is exactly what I was thinking. There are so many errors it would be a waste of time to point them out.

retard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387318)

Why do you use "GUI" as if it's a singular proper noun? And "it went a long, long way since the early days" just sounds retarded.

What does the future hold? (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387334)

In future, all screens will be touchscreen, even your main PC monitor. The major breakthrough was the self-lubricating touchscreen. It's naturally oily, and hypo-allergenic, requiring no cleaning.

Of course, the mouse driven paradigm needed to be scrapped completely, in favour of a adult finger-painting gesture system. Mod someone down on slashdot? There's a gesture for that. There's an intuitive gesture for absolutely everything. Just install the gesture localization pack.

True, I can't find any of my LOCAL applications any more, but that's fine because I can just google for them, and they'll turn up some place.
It's going to be a good future.

Re:What does the future hold? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387378)

What does the future hold?

It better not be fucking useless, gimmicky hand gestures

Re:What does the future hold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387634)

I'd like to think that hand gestures will be fucking useful for the coming age of teledildonics.

Re:What does the future hold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36389020)

I can think of only a few places where huge numbers of gestures would be useful, beyond the forward-back-scroll-zoom selection. RTS gaming comes to mind, when you want the ability to enter long strings of complex commands very quickly. Gestures could be faster than even hotkeying through menus. Beyond that, though? I just don't see much use.

Re:What does the future hold? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390594)

Mods, flip him a -1. ~

Re:What does the future hold? (1)

bob8766 (1075053) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390024)

Mod someone down on slashdot? There's a gesture for that.

And the best part is that it's intuitive and universal. I use it a lot when I'm driving

Hey hey hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387356)

Space Nutters like tomsthudson have assured me that computers only exist because of NASA and Apollo in particular.

Re:Hey hey hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36389652)

Hey, I know you're trying to get a meme started, but you're the ONLY one who uses the term 'space nutter', and you always will be the only one. It's a silly term, and it's not going to catch on. No amount of off-topic posts on slashdot will change that.

Windows 8 a revolution?? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387392)

That's almost hysterical. If anything, windows 3.1 was revolutionary but that's only in the Microsoft context.

Re:Windows 8 a revolution?? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387528)

Windows 3.0 was evolutionary, and it evolved in parallel with Unix GUIs since Microsoft was involved with Motif. This is why for many years you could sit down at either a Windows machine or a typical Unix machine, whether it came from IBM, Sun, or some other source, and apprehend the basic windowing functions.

The next GUI revolution is in reality overlay. Ideally you all but eliminate any interface but pupil tracking, voice, and gesture. A small device (like a cellphone) has enough interface surface. Gestures would be kept to a minimum, but they have real use, especially in collaborative computing.

There won't be a true GUI revolution since PARC's interface tests (or, arguably, The Demo) until someone comes up with a useful three-dimensional (immersive) user interface. That, in turn, requires much higher-resolution displays, or fundamentally different (and probably head-mounted) displays, such as a laser-based vector/raster combo. But the reality overlay of today is pretty fundamentally different from the way GUIs have been used up to now. And of course, the technology has been used in fighter aircraft for some time...

Re:Windows 8 a revolution?? (1)

Zediker (885207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387552)

Its an evolution, but only time will tell if it is a revolution... I'm not particularly betting on it being one.

Same as I thought (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387604)

Try "from flashing bulbs to iOS", or "from flashing bulbs to Android". If you're searching for the modern pinnicle of GUI evolution, the desktop GUI ain't it (especially windows, released or unreleased). The desktop GUI was perfected 10 years ago, and nearly every "improvement" since then has been driven by the developer's vision rather than the user's need.

Re:Windows 8 a revolution?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388004)

My wild guess? The whole big shiny buttons interface is there for tablet/smartphone users, to try to encourage developers to move Windows into the tablet/smartphone market. However, developers will be disinclined to support this move because (a) they'll have to design their apps, possibly heavily, to work well with a touch interface; (b) they'll likely have to port their apps to ARM, which is likely more a bother than a real hurdle given the recent x86 to x86_64 push, since x86 processors still suck for tablets/smartphones; and (c) for those crazy enough to push x86 processors on tablets/smartphones anyways will have a bitter taste in their mouth unless they position themselves to bundle with tablet/smartphone sales, as I doubt many consumers are going to hang on to that tablet/smartphone for the long term and continue buying up apps over time.

In short, I would say it's hardly revolutionary. I think it's just another push to get Windows onto tablets. Now, to their credit, MS has been pushing the idea for nearly a decade at least. But Windows XP Tablet edition was a significantly failure precisely because it was Windows; that is, people expected all the Windows applications plus the usability of Windows yet clearly you can't just use your finger as if it were a mouse or keyboard on a touchscreen as they're still too small for that, it makes it hard to tell what you're doing, it's uncomfortable over long periods, there's serious power drains using an x86 processor (or an x86 emulator on some other cput), etc.

The fundamental issue is, MS is know for Windows and is so known to push the Windows brand to expand into other markets that every serious MS product with an OS seems to be now known under those terms. Yet, that comes with so many strings attached, that people are very quick to chide MS even if or when it develops a decent interface, provides the same level of good support that other vendors have in the same scenario, etc. Apple meanwhile can reinvent itself because its CEO is known for taking big chances. Google can reinvent itself because people still see it as a new kid on the block, still trying to establish a footing. MS is so entrenched, the only way I can see MS really succeeding is if they're willing to take many big risks (like they have in the past) unassociated with other products and push them even if they sell at a loss for years. AFAIK, that's the only reason the XBox 360 has been a financial success. I'm unaware of the XBox was a financial success as a whole, but if it was, it took a long time for that to be the case.

Point & Grunt (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387402)

One of the IBM technicians wrote about Lisaâ(TM)s OS: âoeWhat I saw in the Xerox PARC technology was the caveman interface, you point and you grunt. A massive winding down, regressing away from language, in order to address the technological nervousness of the userâ.

What was true then is true today. No GUI comes close to matching the expressive power of the command line. GUIs are still a silly prop for kids.

Re:Point & Grunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387804)

And no language comes close to matching the elegant simplicity of ACL.

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390256)

And no language comes close to matching the elegant simplicity of ACL.

ACL as in

  • Audit Command Language
  • Access control list
  • Arbortext Command Language
  • Allegro Common Lisp
  • Agent Communication Language

or some other expansion?

Re:Point & Grunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391378)

APL, Perhaps?

Newbies shouldn't pretend to be greybeards.

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387808)

What was true then is true today. No GUI comes close to matching the expressive power of the command line. GUIs are still a silly prop for kids.

It depends on what you're doing, really. For a lot of tasks, I actually find a GUI to be well suited.

However, I've also copied files from a Windows machine to a UNIX machine as recently as last week so I could do a little command line grep/cut/sed magic on them and produce something else. For cajoling text into a new form, a command line is still the best thing ever. Same goes for anything that wants to be automated (provided they gave you commands for it to be scripted).

A GUI has its place, but it can't fully replace a command line. I like having the option for both

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387882)

Pardon me. I didn't realize I was on your lawn ...

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36389412)

I think it's time for a hybrid next-generation command line/gui system. There's a little crossover already with x-term windows, mouse actions in terminals, "screen" and a few other things but a comprehensive top-down approach might yield real dividends.

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390590)

"GUI operations are essentially impossible to script. With large numbers of servers, it is impractical to use the GUI to carry out installation tasks or regular maintenance tasks."
- David Brooks [theregister.co.uk] , Microsoft

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392864)

Perhaps someone should buy him a Mac and show him AppleScript.

Are there any native Mac OSX apps that aren't scriptable? I don't even know how you could make them unscriptable, its kind of built into ... well, everything in OSX.

You don't have to do anything to make your app scriptable, though you can make it easier to script for by making helpers and such, but out of the box your apps are scriptable because the core runtime libraries are scriptable.

Maybe he should take a look in his own company at VBA, which requires the app know about and support it, but they certainly do make their apps scriptable ... sort of, in a bad halfassed way.

Re:Point & Grunt (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392820)

Really? I find editing raster images and viewing them from a command line to be rather shitty, but maybe you use a different editor than I?

Perhaps you have matrix like skills so just reading hex allows you to visualize the image, I do not however, so I tend to stick with using pretty GUI editors.

I'll be happy to bet a years pay that I can come up with at least 50 tasks that you simply can not under any circumstances do better at a command prompt than I can do at a GUI.

Like wise, I could do the same for the command prompt versus the GUI.

They both have their place. Only an idiot would use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail when he has a perfectly good working hammer right there to use, which is pretty much what you've said you do.

Flashing bulb GUIs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387422)

You people are spoiled rotten. We had abacus AND WE LIKED IT!

Re:Flashing bulb GUIs? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390322)

Abacus? There's an app [apple.com] for that.

Linear Progression Fallacy (2)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387458)

Oh, so it looks like we went from blinkenlights to terminals to Windows without stopping, and any form of interface other than that is either irrelevant or obsolete. I guess they actually consider it the end-all and be-all.

Windows 8 is a huge regression. (2, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387506)

Task switching without hint as to how much further to the task you are actually looking for, only allowing non-overlapping windows. It's essentially Windows 1.0 on those fronts.

Microsoft saw iPhone acheieve apparent success making a giant phone, and MS wants every desktop to be that way. Further making things worse, they are ignoring the market reality and declaring WP7 the most awesome interface for phones and giant phones.

Re:Windows 8 is a huge regression. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388156)

They're just copying Apple's Magical Innovative Full Screen Apps(tm) which are equally as stupid to push as a new paradigm. Full screen works for some apps, but not most apps. If I see anybody make a full-screen IM application I will hunt them down and slap them with a trout until they repent.

Re:Windows 8 is a huge regression. (0)

fortyonejb (1116789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388786)

I love how short demos of a new feature cause people to draw so many conclusions.

Re:Windows 8 is a huge regression. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36390894)

I love how demo's are typically used to show off the best points of a product and as such can be taken as the direction development of said product is going. That's the bloody point of a demo, after all.

So, if the demo shows non-overlapping windows, you can bet your ass that is a new mandatory feature.

But hey, you must have some special crystal ball or something. You seem to know more about Windows 8 than the product demonstrators know. That's cool. When I grow up, I want to be just like you. So hip and happening, so cool and collected. Wise, even.

Re:Windows 8 is a huge regression. (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391776)

A couple points:

- One video doesn't show you how a UX works
- A company like Microsoft will not change the UX on software used by a billion people without cold hard facts that its better for most of them. The scale that Microsoft invests in UX analysis and testing dwarfs what even big software companies spend on their software in general.

Its a pretty strong statement to make, from someone who has neither used it, nor done any usability testing themselves, to declare that its a big step back.

Just me? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387530)

Am I the only person who would actually prefer the Windows 3.1 interface to still be around today? No more "close next to maximise", a nice "desktop" that you can organise how you like, and in subfolders, without things popping up at random places on the screen, and no Start Menu / Taskbar / Quick Launch horror, and everything taking precisely as much effort to draw as absolutely necessary (no gradient title bars, horrid skins, etc.).

There was something sweet, simple, endearing and DAMN FAST about the 3.1 shell that I haven't found anywhere since. It flew even on 200MHz machines.

prefer the Windows 3.1 ? (2)

doperative (1958782) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387716)

"Am I the only person who would actually prefer the Windows 3.1 .. a nice "desktop" that you can organise how you like .. without things popping up at random places on the screen"

A combination of Novell Netware and Xtree [xtreefanpage.org] done for me or even Midnight Commander [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just me? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387840)

Try matchbox window manager. Or maybe fvwm with thunar.

Making linux (or whatever) really fly is pretty easy, you just rip out everything really nice, like udev for example. It's an option if you really need the speed and can't afford a little more hardware.

I know for my part that I'm suffering mostly for not having an SSD, which I suspect would fix everything wrong with my computing experience, from my point of view.

Re:Just me? (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 3 years ago | (#36389570)

You could just run Windows 3.1. It does still work on a modern pc.

Re:Just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36389748)

It flew even on 200MHz machines.

Yeah, sure...
Windows 95 fucking flew on 200MHz, your average 3.1 box definitely didn't have that.

Re:Just me? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390764)

lol considering 200MHZ machines are about 10x faster than the machines it was designed to run on, I sure fuking hope it flew!

Hey ma, OS/2 really flies on this 2GHZ AMD64!

Re:Just me? (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36392430)

Is that why they called it Warp? ;)

XFCE,TWM,LWM Re:Just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391100)

Am I the only person who would actually prefer the Windows 3.1 interface to still be around today? No more "close next to maximise", a nice "desktop" that you can organise how you like, and in subfolders, without things popping up at random places on the screen, and no Start Menu / Taskbar / Quick Launch horror, and everything taking precisely as much effort to draw as absolutely necessary (no gradient title bars, horrid skins, etc.).

There was something sweet, simple, endearing and DAMN FAST about the 3.1 shell that I haven't found anywhere since. It flew even on 200MHz machines.

Really, any rich gui that calls itself window manager seems to get 'it'. The GUI's job is to help the user manage their windows they have open. That's it. That's not to say it shouldn't also provide a rich widget set. But as for computer management / software management / resource management that's not the job of the gui. The GUI could be invoked to assist those tools, but a window manager is none of the above. The ones that call themselves as such seem to do the best job of remembering that.

I wrote the comment about "The 30's?" below. I stopped reading there initially. I got as far as:
"Our brain is well suited to work with visual clues, and computers soon learned to use that."
and that was it. I couldn't go any further.

the Rise of the Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387548)

"in the beginning, Apple and Microsoft were cooperating .. Bill Gates and his workers adopted many GUI ideas, in order to use them in their upcoming products .. In 1983, they announced they’re working on an own graphical interface, called Windows ... link [stormdriver.com]

Pirates of Silicon Valley [youtube.com]

"Here is the true story of when it all goes down. This is the part when Steve Jobs & Apple find out that Bill Gates & Microsoft have stolen Apple's OS, changed some things around & are calling it their own (Windows)"

Moore's Law verses Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387586)

Now I have an i7-2600k with 8gig memory...and Windows 7. It's hardware is 5 times faster than my last PC, yet it's slower and has more trouble than XP. Why is Microsoft doing everything try can to make my life more difficult, and now Windows 8 is on the horizon. Can we hurry up the Quantum computers so it will be fast, like Windows 95 on Pentium 4's again?

Re:Moore's Law verses Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387962)

Take Windows off it and put something else on, then. Put on a version of Linux with low system requirements, run XFCE or something even lighter. Or if you have to have Windows cut out all the crap from it and make it look like 2000 again and you'll see how much faster it runs.

Ahh Windows 8 (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387626)

Because I can't wait to get fingerprints all over my monitor. . .

The 30's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387660)

I'm googling this because maybe my comp-sci history is incomplete, but I don't recall any computers being operational in the 30's:

"First computers that appeared in 30’s and 40’s were not exactly user friendly, and their mammoth size and a retinue of guys in jump suits you needed to operate them were not the only reasons."

Re:The 30's? (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388002)

1936
        Konrad Zuse - Z1 Computer First freely programmable computer.

The title of the article makes me sceptical (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387666)

An article supposed to present a huge history of GUI development, which has "Windows 8" in the title a few days after it was demoed for the first time? Sounds like the article will be something thrown hastily together to jump on the "hype" bandwagon rather than an insightful article about history...

Re:The title of the article makes me sceptical (1)

HuckleCom (690630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388296)

Amen, 'free advertisement on /. '

Can anyone say viral marketing? (1)

SloWave (52801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387670)

A good Slashdot article would be the history of the title of this article and who got paid to create and spread it.

CUA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36387690)

No mention of CUA?

SharePoint is the future of the Microsoft GUI (0)

axonis (640949) | more than 3 years ago | (#36387954)

The future of the Microsoft GUI is not with Windows but with SharePoint. SharePoint is now the true Heart of Microsoft while providing the richest developer experience for any sort of cleint GUI development. Please take the time to look at the SharePoint client object model [microsoft.com] this allows for development in Javascript, Silverlight or .NET for any real world client. SharePoint, apart from being the best server side backend available - fullstop Sharepoint leader in ECM Magic quadrant - a blog [blogspot.com] , This is about the only technology stack anyone scared about their career should be considering. And it is also the most sucessfully technology Microsoft has ever invested in, even back in 2008 with the previous version of SharePoint Bill Gates Says fastest growing software in Microsofts History [starplc.com] Its sad to say, most Slashdot readers are NOT aware of this, and still caught up in the old ways of the world

Re:SharePoint is the future of the Microsoft GUI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388228)

Sharepoint to put it politely is the biggest cesspit of software I've ever seen.
IT can't handle spaces in document hames transparently.
Admins cam move 'stuff' around on a whim breaking all sorts of links etc.
Worse of all it only works in an MS centric world.

When will they realise that the world has moved on. The rise and rise of smartphones and now tablet type devices (and less than 5% of which use MS software) plus the increasing numbers of Non Windows devices on corporate desktops means that they have to make it truly multi platform. Oh, a Mr Microsoft, multi-platform does not mean the different versions of windows.
Make it work nicely with Mac's, Linux, Android, IOS and all the non IE browsers out there then people might take notice. I won't for the first two reasons quoted above.

Re:SharePoint is the future of the Microsoft GUI (2)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388400)

I've used Sharepoint at work and don't see the attraction. It was hard to use and impossible to maintain a dynamic document store like MediaWiki. You have to check out the document, open it in Word, make changes, save the document to a known location, exit Word, then check it back in vs clicking Edit in MediaWiki, making your changes and saving it.

I do have managers doing interesting stuff with it, embedding statistical spreadsheets and creating graphs but those things aren't things I do on a day to day basis as a Unix Admin. I need to be able to quickly find a document and then make changes if needed.

Last I heard, there was some problem with our SharePoint back end server that was preventing the upgrade to the new version which has a wiki as part of the tool. In the mean time, other departments have deployed MediaWiki and are documenting their processes and procedures on the fly. They're finding it so much easier that they're migrating the documents off of SharePoint and to the wiki.

[John]

Re:SharePoint is the future of the Microsoft GUI (1)

MechanicJay (1206650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388986)

I'm currently the admin for our SharePoint 2007 system. I agree, the product is a cesspool of poor code and limited functionality. I've administered several WebCMSs over the years and SharePoint is by far the worst. It's a blackbox where the buttons are either not labeled, poorly labeled, or mis-labeled all together.

What Bigbutt says about an his companies upgrade to 2010 sounds about right. We're currently testing SharePoint 2010. While the backend architecture is actually much better than in 2007, there is still a lot of Beta quality code in the software. We've actually stopped testing on 2010 until SP1 comes out, hoping it's better.

I hate the Windows centric half I my job. I love the Linux half. The sooner I can dump this SharePoint Turd on someone else (as it was dumped on me) the better.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36388466)

AmigaOS --> MorphOS --> :)

(Who has a copy of that internal M$ document that listed many of the GUI and OS elements they blatantly stole from the Mac and Amiga?)

This story reads like a music review of Lady Gaga by someone who isn't quite sure who Aretha Franklin is, or who maybe never heard of Aretha.

Blah. OTSO:

I had to laugh at Mr. Jobs when he said "All this syncing is driving us crazy" OWTTE... I thought "What syncing?" The only Apple products I own are two Apple IIe computers and a bunch of accessories (which still work fine and are for sale). I do not have a iPhone, nor do I need or want one. I do not have a Mac, because Mac is dead, long live Mac. I do not have an iPod, because I'm a musician and all the music I want to listen to is already in my head, which has an excellent intuitive interface and far, far more storage space than any handheld device. I don't have a wireless network in my home, preferring to leech off my neighbors on the few occasions I unplug my laptop from the wall. My gui-less linux server has been running fine thank you for almost 10 years non-stop. I still use my Amiga 3000. Every day at work I beat my head against the wall of Windows, and its stupidity.

-- eagerly anticipating the return of the mothership.. not the planet I picked.. Guru Meditation #00000004.48454C50

what a horseshit article! (1)

capsteve (4595) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388484)

even if it is an article regarding the evolution of the windows gui, truncating the gui history from engelbart and parc to the original mac os, and then switching to the history of the windows gui is pure horseshit.

windows is what it is today due to the development across many windowing and gui efforts.
microsoft has (often blatantly) borrowed gui metaphors from many of its contemporaries thru several iterations of windows including:
motif(cde) - expand/minimize/destroy window
openlook - WIMP metaphor
aqua - transparency effects, alpha blending
compiz - compositing
so on and so forth...

i'm not criticizing microsoft's efforts, but the skew of the article give the impression that windows 8 is where it's to due the sole development efforts microsoft, disregarding other community efforts. the author get's an "F" for failing to perform minor research on wikipedia for a history of gui's:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUI [wikipedia.org]

Re:what a horseshit article! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36389016)

At least they got Engelbart right, but as per usual they attribute they start at Xerox PARC not at SRI. SRI is where the mouse was invented, SRI was where scrolling windows were first done, SRI is where all the work that went into the "mother of all demos" [sri.com] occured.

Once the government funding that paid for the research at SRI dried up the researches were picked up by Xerox.

Re:what a horseshit article! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36390712)

motif(cde) - expand/minimize/destroy window

Given that Motif came out in 1989, a year after Windows 2.1 which had all three [wikipedia.org] , this interpretation of history implies the existence of a time machine.

Well, I guess now we know what all the billions dumped onto MS Research are actually spent on.

I don't usually make posts like this... (3, Informative)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388630)

... but wow, what a fanboyish piece of shit. There is nearly no mention of Apple after its origin.

Leading into Windows 1 (after talking about Xerox, the Lisa, and the first Mac) he says "The era of GUI's was about to start. But apple [sic] was not meant to be the king."

Oh really? [macdailynews.com]

- Vista copied many features straight out of Tiger [youtube.com]
- I think we can all agree that WP7 would not look like it does if the iPhone had never been on the scene
- And now, after ten years of making poorly-selling tablets, Apple has shown how it should be done [paidcontent.org] and MS is falling over themselves trying to catch up

I'm not saying Apple has never copied anything either, but once the article hits Windows 1.0, it is all about MS. He goes from Windows 3 to Microsoft Bob, lays down exactly 10 words about Windows 95, then goes straight to XP, Vista, and 7. He dismisses over two decades of Mac OS with the words "In the meantime, Mac OS was undergoing a similar, slow evolution."

He then says "Last couple of years were really eventful. New families of computing devices became wildly popular -- smartphones, netbooks, tablets. Mobile operating systems became almost as complex and capable as desktop ones. Multi touch technologies challenged the age-old interface design, and required new approaches. And now Microsoft tells us the future belongs to tiles." and the rest of the article is about Windows 8 and tiles. REALLY? No mention at all of the iPhone, who was the first to market with multitouch, even if they didn't invent it? No mention of Palm, or WinCE or BeOS or the Amiga or a million other omissions? Come on. If he isn't a shill, he's got a BIG set of blinders on. If you want to see the history of GUIs, go here. [toastytech.com] They have a ridiculously thorough collection of screenshots.

Re:I don't usually make posts like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36389844)

Sure, TFA was a Microsoft add, but you, sir, are the fanboy. And saying that Apple is the end-all-be-all of computer technology is just drinking Jobs's coolaide. As stated in the article, Xerox ripped/hired off the GUI idea from Engelbart and his team, Apple stole it from Xerox, then Microsoft stole it from Apple. I use "ripped off" and "stole" but what I'm trying to show is that all technology builds from previous tech. Apple's learned a ton from Microsoft, and the reverse is true also. Linux has also learned a ton from the two. Its a good thing and having a tantrum like a toddler only shows that you're being irrationally territorial.

Re:I don't usually make posts like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36390592)

[This comment requires reading all of it before forming a opinion. Judging it, based on the first paragraph (excluding this one), is not acceptable this time. OK, moderators? :]

I think Apple's way is about the most wrong way a UI could possibly go in,
and Jobs should go straight to jail for crimes against humanity,

and I fully agree with you!

Windows always was just a well-marketed shitty clone of Macs.
And Gnome and KDE were always half-done clones of Macs and Windows.
(Yes, luckily, things like Compiz stirred things up a bit.
And Linux still has wonderful things like XMonad and a bazillion other variants and combinations.)

Apple was. and is. the only who's one actually leading. Sadly, right down the cliff. ^^

Very Incomplete (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388666)

Sad, a straight shot to Windows 8 - Xerox had the idea, Apple Copied it, MS copied it and then MS developed it into Windows 8 - without copying any thing else... really?

An error in the title I am afraid... (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36388758)

"GUI Revolutions: From Windows 8 to Flashing Bulbs" - there, fixed it for y'all :)

Real Men (1)

Rizimar (1986164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36389188)

FTFA:

Today we take GUI’s for granted, but back when they were starting up, some people actually saw them as a silly prop for kids. Real men were supposed to use the command line.

Please. Real men still use the command line. That's how I browse Slashdot!

Ah, but ONLY after you Telnet into /., right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36389378)

See subject-line... lol! Nothing like telnetting into port 80, or using Lynx, right??

APK

P.S.=> Not ribbing on you, OR trolling you... just trying to stay "inline" w/ YOUR brand of "nerdy/geeky" humor is all!

... apk

Usual obvious stuff (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391044)

The article re-hashes the obvious.

There's a whole history of early graphical user interfaces from the pre-computer and early computer era.

One of the neater ones was the Panama Canal lock control boards [zuschlogin.com] , built by General Electric in 1913. This was a long desk with a symbolic model of the locks. The water level in each lock is represented by the tall indicators. The lock gate positions are represented by aluminum pointers. The protective chain lifted into position to protect the first lock gates from a runaway ship was represented by a little metal chain. The locks themselves are represented by a long strip of blue-grey stone. (The first GUI theme!) The valves are controlled by water faucets, and the gates by handles.

All this is interlocked mechanically, so, for example, that the lock gates can't be opened unless the water levels are equal on both sides. The handles will physically not turn. That technology was borrowed from railroad signalling.

Another system of historical interest is General Railway Signal's NX interlocking system. [rrsignalpix.com] , from 1936. This is the very beginning of "user-friendly" GUIs. Previously, interlocked systems in railroad signalling, and the Panama Canal system, just prevented the operator from doing prohibited operations. NX was the first system which showed the operator all the currently valid options, let the user select one, and took care of the details of making it happen. It's well worked out. The operator selects the entrance point where a train is entering the interlocking. The system figures out all the currently valid exit points, taking into account other trains currently present, conflicting routes, etc., and lights up illuminated buttons on the track diagram for each currently allowed exit point. The operator then selects one exit point. The system then moves all the track switches as necessary, waits until they're set and locked in the correct position, then sets the signals along the route to clear. As the train passes through the interlocking, the signals change to "stop" behind it, and the track sections and switches are automatically freed up for other trains. At all times, there's at least one stopping distance of red-signaled track between any two trains, and any switch in a green-signaled section cannot be moved until the train clears it. The New York City subway system still uses this technology, along with mechanical train stop devices at every signal which, if up, will hit an air valve on each subway car and stop the train. There's a simulator [nycsubway.org] if you're interested.

It's worth understanding the big display-board systems of the past. Many of them had better human interfaces than modern systems.

Long slow boring ad for microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36391076)

This is a really long, slow, boring ad for microsoft. Xwindows? No? They were critically important. They were the first graphical user interface that connected the gui with the network (as a true client-server application). Not a sniff anywhere. The article misleads us too: the mouse became popular in the mid 80's not in the late 80's. Apple had mouse based products in 84. The Amiga 1000 came with a stock mouse in '85. Thats mid-1980s, not late 1980s. Only Johnny-come-lately: mickeysoft..er microsoft finally, finally came out with anything that needed a mouse in the late 1980s (long after everyone else was in the game). They don't mention the GUIs on OS/2, or any other operating system. They never mention the need for separation between the operating system and the graphical user interface (for a long time, when mickeysoft users whined that they are intertwined, I would ask them to stop an application explorer.exe and see what is left: and they almost never say "its a console" but mistake a console for this reply: "Its a dos window. How did it get there?" Even on a microsoft system the gui (correctly) makes callls to the operating system. But they (mickeysoft) do their level best to hide everything from the user, except for the blue screen of death, viruses, trojans, malware, memory leaks, buffer overflows, and a stable user environment.

ARM app compatibility? (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391472)

FTA:
Also, the ARM compatibility is a double edge knife â" sure, Windows 8 will run on more machines, including mobile devices. But the applications themselves wonâ(TM)t be interchangeable, software written for ARM wonâ(TM)t work on your PC. Whatâ(TM)s the point in calling it one system, when effectively you will have two systems, each with a separate set of compatible apps?

True on one hand (apps like Office), but not true on another. The statement was made that apps that run entirely on the new desktop with the new Windows 8 facilities can be written entirely in HTML5 and JavaScript. As such, desktop widgets and even more sophisticated apps and games can be written once, and run across both platforms. In fact, I think that's precisly why MS made such a big deal about emphasizing that much of what you're seeing in the new shell is HTML5 and JavaScript.

I'm assuming that .Net is still supported as well, adn even that can compile to IL, which can then be run on each platform, compiling down to native code at either install or run time.

xclock (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 3 years ago | (#36391680)

Windows 1 had xclock?

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