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Thinking About Desktop Eyecandy

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the almost-entirely-a-glorious-waste dept.


An anonymous reader writes "This article ponders over whether excess eye candy and special effects being incorporated on the desktop is a good trend after all? The author explains why he thinks the users are taken for a ride by the OS companies in compelling them to upgrade their hardware in order to enable these processor intensive and memory hungry special effects."

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No shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982928)

Kinda obvious...

Re:No shit (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982946)

First think i do is dumb it down and make it look as simple and old as posiable.


can't beat that now can you.

Re:No shit (2, Interesting)

nub!s (962275) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982981)

Actually, I do. $ (seriously.:P) ----nubis :)

Re:No shit (2, Funny)

mkaltner (555433) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983050)

I can beat that:


Mmmmm.....Eyecandy... (0)

JDSalinger (911918) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982929)

What sort of asexual computer user considers OS special effects Desktop Eyecandy? He must mean "at-work" Eyecandy.

I prefer Frosted Piss candy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982935)

it's magically delicious

Stop... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982939)

Stop promoting your own blog, whore.

Gotta agree... (1)

James A. V. Joyce (798462) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983134)

...a single link to a blog entry stating the obvious does not a story make.

Necessary? (0, Redundant)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982941)

Is eyecandy really necessary? I can see that a GUI is necessary for non-computer-inclined users. But this is really getting silly. The GUI was created to make commands easier to access, not to be pretty. Anyone who has used Windows 1 or 2 knows that early GUIs were definitely NOT pretty. --A proud twm user

Re:Necessary? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983001)

A prettier GUI is often easier on the eyes, and if you have a load of extra resources (do you really need a 3ghz machine with 1 gig of ram just to browse the web?) might as well use them to make the interface more attractive. Though whats attractive to one, may not be attractive to another.

Do you want to be stuck in DOS still? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983005)

This isn't about eye candy. It is about progress. Go back to DOS if you don't like it.

Re:Necessary? (4, Insightful)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983022)

It depends - some can be quite useful. For example, the genie effect when minimizing a window in OS X shows you exactly where the window went, so you know how to get it back. That's awesome for a beginning computer user and very intuitive.

On the other hand, the water ripple effect when dropping a widget in dashboard in os X is pretty much useless. The ONLY possible way you could call this usefull is because it's an indication that you did in fact let go of the mouse button, but that's a serious stretch.

I personally find the smooth movement and eyecandy in os x to be great - sure you could make something like expose work without the eye candy, but the smooth scaling of windows makes it very easy to use and intuitive. I stare at a computer screen for a large portion of my day - I do, in fact, enjoy the fact that it's nice to look at.

Re:Necessary? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983129)

i beleive "eyecandy" refers to the useless effects, as, its candy for your eyes, and candy is not useful to a healthy diet. On the other hand, some foods are both good for you, and taste great, but i dont have much of a sweet tooth, so i dont know about others.

Its true some effects are nice, personally i perfer a elegent destkop, but speed and function are my primary concerns, so i have to use a ugly desktop, because all the elegent ones have no function i need, and are to power hungry. (example: i have to use worker as my file manager, its functional and speedy, but down right ugly), shame theres no better file managers that can open files based on their type (worker is very good at this, which is why i have to use it, i dont have the time to assign extentions to thousands of files just so other file managers can get off with being unfunctional). Altho, wmii is a very elegent window manager, if you dont want to waste time managing windows (which i dont), so there are some elegent and functional projects out there, i just wish they would all use the same toolkit, so they could all look the same :(

owe, poor me, i ranted :( Sorry everyone, i should probably delete this...

Re:Necessary? (2, Interesting)

Drizzt Do'Urden (226671) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983185)

I completely agree. Also, looking at my iMac CoreDuo CPU monitor, there's not even a blink up in CPU time while doing these operations. My PowerBook G4 400Mhz works better and better with each MacOS X revision, so I guess Eye Candy isn't what is slowing it down ;)

Re:Necessary? (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983067)

A certain amount of eye candy can make things more pleasant, though. I used twm for years, but now I use enlightenment, because it gives me the simple, uncluttered design that twm does, but has nice shading and other visual effects that make the whole experience more pleasant.

I like uncluttered and simple, but I also like a polished look. I don't use the window switching bar thingy on the top (it wasn't even turned on by default in the version I have now), and the only icons I have on my desktop is a single row of virtual desktops along the bottom edge. Simple, elegant, and lots of uncluttered screen real estate.

Re:Necessary? (5, Insightful)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983100)

Is eyecandy really necessary?

Depends on the person. Some people like beauty, some people like function, some people (such as myself) like both.

Re:Necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983137)

Precisely - well said. Beauty (or pragmatism, utilitarism, et al.) is in the eye of the beholder, hence articles such as this are an exercise in subjective futility, nothing more or less. IOW, a troll.

Re:Necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983117)

it's been shown repeatedly that, in the perception of the user, things that look better ARE better, and things that are better generate more positive emotions, which makes the user feel better, which then reinforces his original decision. makes sense, since that's what the real world is like. of course, what works for one person might not work for another.

-- twm user, and e17+composite user, depending on mood :)

Re:Necessary? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983307)

Eyecandy is not necessary. If you don't need the fancy GUI that will hold your hand for you, install WindowMaker on a 1GHz Celeron or something cheap like that and be very happy.

The Big X. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982942)

"The author explains why he thinks the users are taken for a ride by the OS companies in compelling them to upgrade their hardware in order to enable these processor intensive and memory hungry special effects.""

Whew! I'm sure glad OSS isn't doing something like that.

Re:The Big X. (1)

niskel (805204) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983199)

Except he mentions XGL and AIGLX as doing the same thing in the article...

Maybe I'm crazy... (1)

davestar (680893) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982945)

...but I thought this was pretty obvious!

"...users are taken for a ride by the OS companies in compelling them to upgrade their hardware in order to enable these processor intensive and memory hungry special effects."

I'm all for it... (5, Insightful)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982947) long as everything is configurable. The minute something becomes distracting I should be able to disable it. Forced fancy effects that do nothing but distract you and spin away CPU cycles are a waste.

Re:I'm all for it... (1)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983027)

reminds me of when i was dicking around with talisman, nextstep and (mainly) lightstep (i think that's what it was called). i remember screwing around with the txt config files, making my own lil buttons for shit, having menus pop out here and there, align it all just nicely and having my desktop look, then i realized i was spending way too much time preparing the eye candy than actually using my desktop productively...though you could argue that doing that was a creative and productive...(just not very useful)

oh, the memories...i'm glad i'm over it. (cold turkey withdrawal was a bitch though)

Eyecandy != OS (1)

Nosklo (815041) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983103)

You're right. There must be a way to disable stupid stuff. I remember back in 386 days that I hated the paper-flying-animation when I first saw it.

But you can have good eyecandy, that is useful, and without switching OS versions. One thing doesn't have to come with the other...

As an example, take a look at Enlightenment DR17 [] . It is beautiful, and it is getting pretty functional. I show it off to clueless people, and they drool all over. And it is very practical and useful already, in fact it feels a lot natural to use, specially in big resolutions. Eye candy does not get in my way. I love it and it is my primary desktop environment now.

Re:I'm all for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983167)

Forced fancy effects that do nothing but distract you and spin away CPU cycles are a waste.

CPU cycles don't matter. Your CPU is idle for the vast majority of the time, and is usually not the bottleneck in your system. If, however, I have to wait 500 mills for a pull-down menue to "fade" or "scroll" into view, and I have to do that on the order of 50,000 times a year, then there's something to complain about.

Re:I'm all for it... (2, Insightful)

Bobke (653185) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983271)

Indeed, all I want is the same desktop that I have right now, but with the rendering done by my 6800GT, effectively saving me CPU cycles.
I have run the "wobbly windows" XGL thing on my machine, and dragging windows in it IS a lot less CPU intensive (from 50% to about 15% CPU, but I have a HT enabled).

Disable vs Remove (4, Interesting)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983327) made a good point, that eye candy is ok, provided that it can be turned off. However, you may not realize that isn't always that simple.

Let's take a hypethetical situation. Lets say I write a UI that uses a 3d api to render the desktop. (we will call this supposed UI, 'SparrowGrass' so we have a name to work with.)

Using 'SparrowGrass' I can enable all sorts of 'spiffy-wa'(as my console gamer friend calls them) hardware accelerated effects, such as dynamic shadows, translucency, and such. But because they are expecting that there is a 3d card with a good T&L chip in the machine, it will run like a dog without it.

So either because I find such 'spiffy-wa' effects morally offensive when I am trying to remotely reconfigure a DC, or because I lack the latest 3d card, I choose to disable the fancy 3d features of 'SparrowGrass'. However, I am still using a 3d API to render the desktop.

If you looks at one very famous company's 3d API, printing text to the screen involves rendering a couple of polygons, and basically texture mapping the text onto them. While you have turned off the 'spiffy-wa' features, you are still going to be taking a hit for using the 3d API in the first place.

it seems unlikely that there will be two sets of .dlls supported, one for providing a 3d based desktop, and another for providing a 2d desktop.

Well duh. (1, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982957)

Do people honestly believe that consumers are the ones who benefit most from a new operating system?

Re:Well duh. (1)

Blisshead (959178) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983243)

...moving away from windows 98 to 2000.... just in terms of being able to actually do anything.

why have this at work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982960)

I don't mind home users buying this, but why do companies?

It bugs the hell out of me that a select licenced windows server cd comes with eye candy switched on(ok its not much but it's a server!)


Re:why have this at work (2, Interesting)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983211)

Actually it doesn't come with it switched on. I run server as my desktop OS, so I know this. You have to start the themes service and you have to configure the video card to "max acceleration" (as it is set to no acceleration on server SKUs by default). You often have to set things like the image aquisition service and others to automatic if you have scanners and the like. All of these things are off on the server sku...

Fat Eye (2, Funny)

Nosklo (815041) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982966)

I think my eye has Diabetes [] , so I will pass on vista, and take Xgl Ligth please.

Slashcode suggestion (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982972)

move.submission >/dev/null

No thanks. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982979)

I don't cary about eye candy on the desktop. Here's why:

I played WoW for one year now on a Windows 2000 Professional box. As we all know, Windows 2000 is as about as bland a desktop that has ever existed.I was getting 90 to 100 FPS in WoW and I was happy with it.

Recently, I was forced to upgrade to Windows XP because an application bombed out when trying to install on W2K. Now, I get 30 - 40fps. After turning off all the XP eye candy, I get 40fps steady.

Re:No thanks. (2, Informative)

jekewa (751500) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983080)

I'd look at the in-your-face, under-the-hood, and behind-the-back services before blaming the eye candy. Unless you mean the eye candy as the instant messanger, anti-virus, quicktime and office quickstart programs, and the other notifications you have in your icon notification area. Nearly all of them is tapped into a running program, stealing cycles from your system. Also look at the services started on your behalf, including the built-in (and arguably nearly useless) firewall and other security checkers. Unless you're running the game in a window you're not using the eye candy anyway.

That and you should get the up-to-date drivers for your video card, and verify that the refresh rates in your desktop settings match your expectations.

Running the same game [] on the same PC dual-booted to Windows will get 80fps while the same game on LINUX will get 125fps on ye ol' AGP nVidia 6600. Native versions of the game, mind you, not any kind of emulator.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983111)

Upgrade your graphics drivers. Check for virusses and spyware. Check you've got all the settings configured correctly. There's no way the user interface should cause that much slowdown when it's not even being used.

Re:No thanks. (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983312)


Shenanigans? Yes, I think so. I am certain that changing operating systems to Windows XP from Windows 2000 would not decrease your frame rate by 60%... Did you decrease your RAM? Did you install lots more programs? Do you have memory intensive apps running now that weren't running before?

Before we ge the whole picture, it's all a load of bull crap.

Eyecandy not really necessary (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982985)

But it sure does help with the overall experience. For example, in what little amount of spare time I have I like making images with Povray. Whenever I want to try out something new it sure helps to have the code open in a mozilla browser window underneath the terminal window that I'm typing into. Also, I don't have much screen real estate.

Sounds a little fanboy to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14982986)

Sounds pretty obvious, although based on his arguments it sounds a little fanboy too. The jist I got from reading the article is that he was just trying to sell me on linux for an arbitrary reason. Otherwise, a bit of spit and polish is fine, but alot of the effects can be turned off in windows anyhow. This article didn't exactly move me.

Effect for the sake of effects (1) (960072) | more than 7 years ago | (#14982993)

Is negative and eventually detracts from the user experience.

But there are certain effects that compliment the OS and do serve a purpose. In OS X, when a window is minimized and you get the "genie" effect, notice how it minimizes to the point for which the minimized application will reside? It leads you back, so that you can remember.

-- Jim []

Don't underestimate the value of feedback (2, Insightful)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983000)

OS X has loads of eye candy. The obvious benefit is that users get more feedback on their actions. This means less calls to tech support, because it is obvious to the user whether they are taking the right actions or not. For example, when a program crashes in OS X there is a spinning beachball, and when a program launches the dock icon bounces.

The hidden benefit is that much of the eye candy in OS X is very soothing. It makes it easier to get work done when you have a soothing background and your actions on the computer generate a continual calming effect. Everything from the click of the keys on my powerbook to the way programs open and close is designed to put the user into a state of flow.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (2, Insightful)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983065)

On a cognitive level I think a lot of the OS X effects help the user understand exactly what is happening in computerland.

An example of this is Expose, how the windows nicely slide and resize, making it obvious what is going on. The animation here is not really necessary (think windows alt-tab) but it certainly helps. Another example is the fast user switching feature. Rather than simply flipping to the other desktop leaving the user wondering where they are and how they got there, it does a nice rotation animation.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983114)

Yeah yeah, Windows XP does the same thing if you pay attention enough. As the window gets smaller and goes to the taskbar it goes exactly to the point it will reside.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983165)

True, although for me at least XP doesn't induce any state of calm or flow. I find both the color scheme and the animations in XP to be extremely grating. XP feels like being in the doctor's office and lying on the metal table under very harsh lighting.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (2, Funny)

borawjm (747876) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983207)

The hidden benefit is that much of the eye candy in OS X is very soothing. It makes it easier to get work done when you have a soothing background and your actions on the computer generate a continual calming effect.

Yeah.. tell that to clippy.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (3, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983212)

I agree. OS X is a more comfortable user experience (OS X XP? hehe). But why does windows has such a problem with it's eye candy compared to os x? I'm currently running an iBook 600MHz with 640MB ram. If I tried to do the same with XP (and I have recently) on a system of the same specs, it's really sluggish. Default installs for both all the way. Changing XP's look back to classic really doesn't solve much of the problem.

I'm no apple fan boy by any stretch of the imagination, but computers are for work - to me at least. I don't need that damned yellow notification popping up above the clock or whatever the hell makes XP interrupt me while I'm working. Apple's mantra of 'it just works' does just what it says. "works"

XP for gaming or the rare application that doesn't have an equal on OS X.
OS X for everything else. Even .Net programming.

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983251)

OS X has loads of eye candy. The obvious benefit is that users get more feedback on their actions. This means less calls to tech support, because it is obvious to the user whether they are taking the right actions or not. For example, when a program crashes in OS X there is a spinning beachball,

A spinning beachball? What about the old, static bomb icon? Ignoring the issue of appropriate icons, why does a crash notice need something that dances (while eating CPU cycles?)

Dancing icons and characters are a drain, but let's remember the love for Clippy from Office 97. Oh, wait . . .

Re:Don't underestimate the value of feedback (2, Insightful)

EnderGT (916132) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983252)

There's a huge difference between eye candy and visual feedback.

Visual feedback is not only nice, in many cases it is critical - thinking here of the hourglass that tells you a program is working on something. Eye candy, on the other hand, does nothing more than make the desktop look pretty - thinking here of the WindowsXP menu transition effects feature, or the Vista "glossy chrome" effect that will be on all window borders.

Some features that could be called eye candy can also be called functions, such as transparent windows. As one other poster commented, a transparent window could allow a code editor to be open over a web site that provides sample code or api reference.

It seems to me that the majority of GUI improvements lately have been in the form of eye candy. Personally, as soon as I install Windows XP, I turn off everything that I consider eye candy - specifically I switch to classic mode, turn off transition effects, turn off personalized menus, etc.

Re:value of shiny... shiny (2, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983253)

Pshaw... having just moved from a Win2K box to a Powerbook, I don't find that the shiny shiny stuff makes a difference in my life.

Some of it, like the animation that swooshes the dock, just irritiates me.

I personally find the PB keyboard annoying compared to my Logitech, and the mouse button on the trackpad - man was that designed by a deaf person? CLICK! CLICK!

I would love to be able to turn off even more of this flashola than I have already. I don't need my windows to swoosh down to an icon, or for every third item to start bouncing.

I dunno, maybe Mac folks are just easily amused, or I need to ingest more mushrooms.

Oooh - that's it... mushrooms!

All Candy is Fine - In Moderation (5, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983010)

I'm all for eyecandy in my OS so long as it is in moderation. To me, that means 2 things:
1) It's not excessive. I don't need 10-second animations to show a window has popped up.
2) It's not too hardware intensive for the time it's released. Around 3 generations ago for video cards.
3) You can scale it back if needed.

For #1, it shouldn't slow things down or cause a distraction. Something cool, but subtle. OSX's dock bar is a nice example.

For #2, I mean you shouldn't need a current-gen system to render everything. If Vista came out today, I don't want to be required to have an nVidia 6800GT to view the desktop with the defaults on. If you required a Geforce 2 or 3, then fine; they've been out long enough that most should have something as good or better (plus you should be able to turn it down if you don't).

For #3, you should be able to run an OS in a lighter configuration. This is for people that either don't have recent hardware or just want a light experience for performance (or personal preference).

Re:All Candy is Fine - In Moderation (3, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983187)

People keep making noise about Vista requiring a cutting edge video card to use the Aero UI, but what people rarely mention is that Vista will run just fine on a machine without any 3D card at all. It'll just automatically disable Aero.

So, if you've got cutting edge hardware, vista will take advantage of it. If you don't, it won't. Where's the problem?

Keep it simple. (1)

AdmNaismith (937672) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983018)

I don't know what the need is for transparent and exploding icons on the desktop. I prefer a clean desktop with a list of programs and link to dive into my hard drives. Anything else is a distraction and waste of resources for me.

Not a developer then.. (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983020)

But building more special effects in the OS level will rob the extra power and memory from the applications and games which rightfully require them.

This guy is incredibly clueless. Effects only take up "power" (argh) and memory when they're in use. The likes of OSX automatically scales down the fancy stuff if your system doesn't have the grunt to run them well, I imagine Vista will do the same. Switch of the swishy bits and your system will use no more RAM or CPU time than if they weren't there in the first place. Besides which .. the PC I'm typing this reply on has a 2.6GHz CPU and 1Gb of RAM, with a Radeon 9800pro graphics card. That's faaaaar more than my desktop requires. If I didn't "waste" the extra capacity on delightfully shiny effects it'd just go to unused. It's not like Firefox would start using it.

And further to that .. I *like* swooshy effects. I'm a PHP developer. I need cheering up. ;)

Re:Not a developer then.. (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983106)

> The likes of OSX automatically scales down the fancy stuff if your system doesn't have the grunt to run them well, I imagine Vista will do the same.

You have used Microsoft products before, right?

Okay, I'm being harsh, but last time I checked, Vista had fairly crazy minimum requirements, and even if it's not taking up CPU/graphics while not running the effects, I'd be bloody amazed if it's not still trying to take up a whole bunch of memory (which, sure, might be swapped out, but doesn't mean I like it).

Re:Not a developer then.. (2, Interesting)

Mr.Ziggy (536666) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983112)

Here's the problem with your assumptions:

You're using your baseline computing conditions. Letting the GUI eat up cycles opening up firefox is fine. There are other times when you're doing computationally intensive tasks such as: compiling, ripping, packing files, watching video.

I don't want the GUI to compound the problem and fight for system resources when I'm just opening a window or browsing my filesystem. I want to rip a CD and use the computer without the GUI screwing things up. The GUI needs to know it's the assistant and helper, NOT the main event.


it can be useful (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983028)

Eyecandy incorporated in the proper way can in fact be useful. It can provide extra visual cues to indicate what's going on. It can help new users familiarize themselves with a system. However, for the most part, the ways it's currently being implemented are more of a distraction than a useful feature.

I Thought Eyecandy Wasn't The Main Goal.... (1)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983029)

Please, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the actual goal of all this desktop restructuring was to move the processing off of the CPU for the rendering and onto the GPU. The eyecandy was just a fringe benefit of the transition. Unless the benefit is more CPU cycles for non-GUI tasks, I would agree that this is a waste of time.

Removing it is always the first thing (2, Informative)

linuxbaby (124641) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983033)

Every time I help a friend set up Windows, it's always the first thing I do:

Control Panels --> System --> Optimize for Best Performance
It turns off ALL the fuzzy, fading, stupid stuff, and surprises them how much better it responds.

IceWM [] on top, but with KDE libs underneath, so you can run any KDE or Gnome apps, but don't need all that mem-hogging desktop candy just to run KMail or whatever.

Re:Removing it is always the first thing (3, Funny)

engagebot (941678) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983170)

What? Control Panel -> System? No Windows key + Pause/break?

Re:Removing it is always the first thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983284)

I continue to deny the existence of the 'Windows' key. As well as that other 'key' with the mouse cursor choosing something from a menu.

What did the command line say to the GUI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983034)

What did the command line say to the GUI?

/ EAT ME /

Use a shell and buy a lava lamp instead - cheaper. (1)

zenst (558964) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983052)

Whilst desktops can make it more appealing and in a few cases easier to do things.

You still cant beat a shell prompt, nomater the OS for so many tasks.

rm -f a*.wibble or del a*.wib if you like - painful on a desktop given the ease of a command line.

So the 60's hippies with the teletype consoles and lavalamps productivity wise and eye candy wise were way ahead of us :D.

Re:Use a shell and buy a lava lamp instead - cheap (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983173)

You say that, but I find it utterly frustrating to try to dabble with the Win32 command line as it is. Linux/Unix, on the other hand, I can move around in with ease.

Re:Use a shell and buy a lava lamp instead - cheap (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983232)

Man, those long-hairs in the 60's could delete information so much more efficiently. I'm totally jealous.
I am a Linux user myself at home, and trying to get it worked into the corporate strategy, but I can guarantee you that they weren't "more productive" when each application required reconfiguring for specific hardware, you had slower communications, and no graphical capabilities. No GUI is great for filling out forms with text, but for other office-style tasks, it's much harder for the average user.

There is no conspiracy, AFAIK (1)

dvdsmith (892766) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983055)

From the article;

Why is the OS industry obsessed with providing richer, processor intensive graphical effects ?

Because the average user who doesn't give a damn about processes and other things we obsess about ask for them. Plain and simple, market demand. ;)

Re:There is no conspiracy, AFAIK (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983172)

I agree. Demand in the economic sense, ability and willingness to pay, not demand in the usual sense, as in desire. I don't think there were a bunch of people, each sitting in their home, thinking, "Can a brother get a fucking drop-shadow in here, or what? Or at least make my pull-down menus semi transparent."

Disagree (5, Insightful)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983057)

Italics are quotes from the article:

But building more special effects in the OS level will rob the extra power and memory from the applications and games which rightfully require them.

I generally play games that require a lot of processing power in fullscreen mode, so the OS using fancy features for display will have very little impact (all of the OS's textures will be swapped off the GPU unless I alt-tab or otherwise task switch away from the fullscreen game). And the vast majority of applications I use just aren't going to have any significant negative impact from a bit of eyecandy. Computers are ridiculously fast these days... Word processors and web browsers have more than enough power to spare some for eye candy. There aren't too many applications for which this kind of eyecandy actually hurts performance on modern systems. Even things like, say, movie encoding or other heavy number-crunching apps aren't impacted significantly because almost all of the work in displaying the eye candy is done on the video GPU which would otherwise be unused anyway.

There are other valid reasons too which prompt me to take the viewpoint that less eye candy is better for the OS. Experience tells me that it is futile to do productive work within a desktop with all the special effects enabled. The last time, I tried it, I was severely distracted and fell short of completing my work. Is it just me or are there others who have been through the same experience ? To do productive work, it always helps to have a fully functional but spartan desktop.

I disagree here too. "Eyecandy" if used well (see MacOS X for some examples) can give subtle cues that actually make me more productive. This part is clearly subjective so YMMV.

But the Windows users do not have this luxury. For example, a person using Windows 2000 will be forced to buy a copy of Vista if he needs the added security and extra features like better search. And to install Vista on his computer, he will most certainly have to embark on a spending spree to upgrade his PC to accomodate the extra special effects that are integrated into the OS

The guy who wrote this should have done some research. You can run Vista without the Aero Glass UI being active, just as Windows XP can be dumbed down to look, feel, act and perform like Windows 2000 (except with much faster booting times).

If you don't want the eyecandy, shut it off. You CAN do this in Windows XP and Vista, despite what the misinformed article states.

Re:Disagree (2, Interesting)

nickheart (557603) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983280)

I used to play WoW on windows XP ... i was getting pissed off becuase i was getting disconnects every 8-10 hours or so, and only about 35 FPS... Then i installed windows 2000 (haha, no activation) i suddenly only disconnect when i tell Wow to, and holy moly, i'm getting another 10fps, just because i canned Xp...... Now, is this the fault of eye-candy, i htink not. i think it's the other extras that get added to Windows, especially by the time you get to sp2, you have so much crap running just for the GpOS! ... well, that's my rant... Go install win2k, you'll love it

Its not eye candy if it helps you work better. (3, Insightful)

helix_r (134185) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983063)

I really disagree with the article. Computer interfaces should look good and be efficient. GUI's will always push the envelop of whatever technologies come around. If OS and software vendors aren't pushing the envelope, then they aren't working hard enough at improvement. Who cares about your lame 486's, anyway?

The author then makes the claim that nice interfaces rob the computer of processing power. I disagree. Most of the time the computer (especially desktop) is doing nothing. In anycase, if what I understand is true, upcoming MS windows and some future X implememntations will use hardware acceleration for rendering window graphics-- so, the CPU won't be under any "strain" at all.

Anyways, I paid my dues with the vt100 era. It is now a pleasure to use a nice interface. I would not have it any other way.

Re:Its not eye candy if it helps you work better. (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983290)

"The author then makes the claim that nice interfaces rob the computer of processing power. I disagree."

Yeah, no kidding. Most of my resources are eaten up by this thing called "system idle processes" and I just can't seem to disable it. ;-)

Psychological and moral boosting (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983066)

Just like the fact people like to decorate their slave boxes... Err... I mean cubicles, people actually like working with fancy high-tech OS technology that they see like the ones in the movies. The affect might wear off after 2,000 hours at working the same dead end job day in and day out, but if it feels like you are on the deck of the enteprise while doing Excel spreadsheets you might feel better about coming into work on time.

Re:Psychological and moral boosting (1)

Maul (83993) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983329)

but if it feels like you are on the deck of the enteprise while doing Excel spreadsheets you might feel better about coming into work on time.

So basically it'll make you feel like Wesley?

(Apologies to Wil in advance)

It doesn't hurt (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983071)

Has anyone here ever seen CDE? For the love of God.

If I'm going to stare at a screen for hours each day, I'd like to have what I'm looking at be easy on the eyes. I'm not a GUI nut either--text mode can be visually pleasing too, depending who is writing the software (ever logged into VMS? For the love of God!).

Eye candy is not always necessary, but as long as it's helpful and not distracting, I'm all for it. Good examples are window managers such as fluxbox, windowmaker, and enlightenment. They're pretty simple in some respects, but they look quite nice. Of those three, enlightenment 0.17 is loaded with more eye candy than I've ever seen, though none of it feels obtrusive.

Re:It doesn't hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983204)

Agreed. I started work here a year ago, and had a Sun box with CDE. After about a week of that, I did everything in my power (as a non-root user) to get up and running fvwm2 with some nice themes. A month ago, I got a Linux box set up with Gnome and KDE. I actually enjoy coming into work now that I don't have to stare at CDE all day. Down with CDE.

Author doesn't know what he is talking about (5, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983078)

"For example, a person using Windows 2000 will be forced to buy a copy of Vista if he needs the added security and extra features like better search. And to install Vista on his computer, he will most certainly have to embark on a spending spree to upgrade his PC to accomodate the extra special effects that are integrated into the OS."

Apparently, the author failed to notice that Vista has the option of the running classic interface, the XP interface, or the new Aero (ie: processor intencive) interface. So while a 2k user may want to buy a copy of Vista for security concerns, they should not have to upgrade their hardware in order to do so.


Re:Author doesn't know what he is talking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983171)

or the new Aero (ie: processor intencive) interface.

GPU intensive.

Re:Author doesn't know what he is talking about (1)

Silvers (196372) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983206)

Mod parent up. This is exactly true, and deflates most of the article.

It is optional.

Eye candy has some nice fringe benefits... (2, Informative)

anthropolemic (860028) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983083)

I've been testing the next release of the "unnamed proprietary operating system" in question, and I have to say that a great deal of the eye candy goes a long way to making things easier. Getting a live preview of a window if you hover over its taskbar button or flip between windows is a nice feature, as I constantly have a ton of windows open in the same app. Being able to move a window around without spiking the CPU to 60%+ is another subtle but nice benefit. In my testing of this release I've found that the UI is more responsive and smooth when the compositor is active versus when I have it switched off. This is on a 945 chipset's integrated graphics, too - you don't need a GeForce 7800GTXOMGBBQ in order to run the new UI smoothly.

Old Hardware (1)

se2schul (667721) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983088)

Your hardware is only as old as the software you're running. If I can find a less bloated OS to run on older hardware with all the features I need, then I don't feel the need to upgrade. Most of my machines are 7 years old. I got them all as hand-me-downs from people "needing" newer hardware to run the latest OS. Like me, most of them don't play games and really only need a web browser and an office sweet. I love it when a new OS comes out.... chances are I'm going to get a better computer for free.

Why the eye candy (1)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983089)

Eye candy in OS inevitably slows down a computers performance. Adding more and more features does likewise, so the question has to be asked, why incorporate 3d effects on an interface at all? Microsoft no doubt wants people to believe that the new 3D engne it will use in its new Vista OS will make finding things on the computer easier, however it's not the eye candy that makes an OS better, its the data management system that is underneath the graphical interface. So then, let's call call it as we see it, the only real reason to incoroprate increasingly more eye candy into an OS is for marketability purposes. Much like the endless widgets, gadgets, and other useless add-ons that are often included, but never used in programs like word (or mac OS), the makers of these programs have a need to make the consumer believe that he is getting more value for his puck. more importantly, they want to give the consumer some visual benefit that he recieves for upgrading to a new version. Take word for example, does adding 10 more bells and wistles to Word make it better? No, in fact it clutters the program, and makes it harder to manage, and yet, we have new "features" added all the time. or take a cell phone as an example, the vast majority of people use only a fraction of a cell phones features, and yet OS producers continue to add program in the belief that the consumer will chose their product over others because it offers more stuff (value). The same is true with a computer OS. The marketers say, we need eye candy to make this sucker sell, to give the cnsumer a reason to upgrade, and so the programmers accommidate. But does eye candy make the OS better? Not necessarely. Just like sometimes all you may want is a cell phone that makes calls (and nothing else), many people want an OS that can do email, word, excel, etc, just the basics and nothing more. Adding more flash does not make those tasks any easier or beter to do, what it does do however is introduce one omroe component to the OS that may cause it to crash, or slow down the opperation of the programs that DO actually matter. in my eyes at least, flashy eye candy is not the way to go. sometimes, simplicity is what counts.

And then there's the opposite of Eye Candy. (2, Insightful)

unr_stuart (883885) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983095)

That's why there's fluxbox []

it's what the customer sees... (1)

Sean5033 (246214) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983109)

The average user is finally learning to care about security features, but the user can't *see* them. We're used to being able to see upgrades to things we purchase, we can see the trip computer in the new car I bought. But with software, if it looks the same, the customer is going to perceive it as being the same.

Like Easter... (2, Informative)

dedeman (726830) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983121)

It would appear that eye candy is a necessity, but only with the idea that there are different levels of eye candy, that the eye candy can easily be made to go away/less sweetening, and that it will work well with an average hardware base.

That last idea would be the difficult to figure out. However, how much is decided by the user when they see screenshots, what is the coolness factor when icons appear to be crystal/brushed aluminum/iridecent blue/etc? How great is it when windows will shuffle like pages in a book, or are transparent?

No matter how pragmatic the average /.er might be, there is something to be said about design and usability. How else would you explain the popularity of the iPod? Otherwise we'd all be driving one of these [] around.

Of course my latest and greatest hardware is circa 2001, I don't know what people consider hardware hogs to be. I can still run BF2 on my PIII 1.4.

Go for the eye candy... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983122)

The graphics for Mine Sweeper haven't been updated in years.

Form follows function. (4, Insightful)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983123)

Article sort of misses the overall point.

First, let's all just admit that out GPUs are sitting mostly idle 96% of the time. This is not simply a question of CPU cycles anymore, like it used to be.

Second, lets admit that when you refer to 'eye candy', you are framing the quesiton as a perjorative. It strongly implies that what you are talking about has already been judged as useless decoration.

Good design follows function, as the saying goes. Examples of "good" eye candy - the Dock in OS X's genie effect. Its fast, it tells you where your minimized document is living, and it can be turned off (to straight scaling). Nothing wrong with this at all. Where developers go wrong is usually in two areas. One, developers are not designers. Developers write code, and should not attempt serious design, any more than the Photoshop and Illustrator jockeys should attempt C++. Second, picking an appropriate bit of eye candy should always follow an already identified need. This is the form-follows-function. Animation always draws the eye, it should not be misused to redirect your attention where it is not needed. Here's a great example: pull-down menus in Mac OS X vs the same in Windows XP. On the Mac, pulldowns appear instantly, and fade away once something is selected; this is correct behaviour, as you asked for a menu - there should be no delay. Fading away is fine because the selection has been made, and you have moved on. In XP, the menus fade up, and vanish instantly - totally backwards. That is bad eye candy.

In the end it is always a question of design. Eye candy by itself is nothing, no value judgement can be rendered.. it is the application. So the way this article is framed is mostly useless for purposes of deciding when and where to employ such effects.

This old chestnut (1)

nickgrieve (87668) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983127)

But the Windows users do not have this luxury. For example, a person using Windows 2000 will be forced to buy a copy of Vista if he needs the added security and extra features like better search. And to install Vista on his computer, he will most certainly have to embark on a spending spree to upgrade his PC to accomodate the extra special effects that are integrated into the OS. The alternative being to keep on using the same old OS with reduced features and dwindling security updates.

No, no no and, no.

You just use the "classic" theme or whatever or turn off window effects.

But if you do have a fancy bit of kit, then you can turn it all on so you get to use that kit, all the time, not just in your game...

Right on! (1)

tfcdesign (667499) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983133)

I say OS6 would be worlds faster than 10.4.5 if it could run on the same computer.

kids get it (2, Interesting)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983160)

I always put my Windows box to "Classic" mode in short order.

To me, UIs aren't "interesting" so I like to keep them as minimally distracting as possible. The less time it takes for my brain to say "this is a pushbutton" the better off I am.

I've found that younger people are a bit less conservative about this stuff, and seem to embrace funky looking buttons faster.

So I'm just turning into an old fogey...

Some of the effects making dropdown menus scroll down or fade in just take time. I understand how a total n00b might be impressed or even appreciate the connection (being less "jarring" than something just popping up) but it seems like a large cumulative time waiting for menus to open.

It's not just the proprietary OS's (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983189)

While I share some of the exasperation of the article's authors about the "need for speed" that Vista is requiring, at the same time, I recognize that this is nothing new or limited to Microsoft.

This has been a function of all operating systems that use a GUI. It's been that way since they started. OSS is no less guilty - look at the specs for running Gnome or KDE, and compare the recent releases with the earlier versions. Compare hardware specs between Mac OS versions. Windows versions. In each one, the need for "more & faster" is consistent.

I like a nice, straightforward UI too, but it's not just the "public" and "marketing" people who are demanding more eye candy. It's the people who develop them as well - just look at the various reviews, with the "ooh...shiny!" comments from various people even on this board. I've lost track of the number of times I've seen a complaint about the processor/graphics requirements answered here with "just upgrade" - for Linux users.

What about lack of choice? Well, this criticism would be valid, if Microsoft wasn't giving you the option to turn off the "Aqua" interface. Which it is. I can think of many points to slam MS about (and have), but that their newest OS needs a more powerful computer to run is unfortunately not one of them. It doesn't mean that I'm going to run out and buy it, or buy/build a new computer just to get it, but any computer I do build would be capable of running it anyways - as well as the newest version of KDE or Gnome or...

Useful if Configurable (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983190)

On my Pocket PC (iPAQ H2210, Windows Mobile 2003) the defaults both for window-open animation and cleartype are off. Turning on cleartype dramatically increased boot time, but on a 320x200 screen, it's pretty well mandatory. The window-open animation adds maybe a second of startup time to each application, maybe two - but it also lets me know when an application has launched, which is hugely useful since it's windows (even if it is CE) and it does things on its own schedule. And I haven't disabled the desktop backdrop, though it consumes crucial memory and makes desktop ("today") redraws slower, because it looks nice :)

So, even on my tiny little 400MHz/64MB RAM system, I have turned on all available eye candy, because I find it helpful and/or attractive. I turn off most of the crap in XP, because it is neither. On a mac, I'd want to leave it all on, because it's both...

Mature products (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983216)

This is, I think, part of the industry's attempt to keep things new and indeed sell os's and hardware. 10 years ago, computers were really just getting going in the mainstream and people were buying and upgrading al the time. Great times for the hardware and software manufacturers. Even better with the Y2K panic. It made the boom. Now, computers in the home are commonplace, and really, for most people who just browse and do e-mail etc (not hard-core gamers and hobbyists), the computer matured as a product at about the 1.5GHz mark. Possibly earlier. Most people don't need more and the only way you can sell them more if you break their old stuff. Hence the bust.

They want and need more profit, and will do almost anything to do it. They want to avoid the perils of the mature product market where little distinguishes one product from another. Look at microwave ovens and lots of other products. several hundred bucks t start - 50 bucks now.

So you have Mac OSX visual enhancements, Aeroglass and extreme processor editions. These things really are the same thing car makers did in the 70's when the oil crisis eliminated real stock off-the-lot pavement rippers. A performance car from the factory then was mostly the same as the regular model, but festooned with garish decals and NACA ports that did nothing but look good. They billed these performance models.

The home computer has pretty much grown up and will likely stay this way until the real next big thing (whatever it may be). The only OS immune to this is Linux because it is not sold. On the commercial side of things, expect to see more and more of this, and expect to see hobbyists and gamers strips stuff out of their boxes much like a racer buys a car and starts ripping carpet, goo-gahs etc out of the thing. For now, this is the new world order.

Re:Mature products (1)

litewoheat (179018) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983311)

>Even better with the Y2K panic. It made the boom No, the boom came from the wide spread availablity of Internet access and the invention and mass marketing of the graphical web browser (Netscape, then IE) Y2K employeed a bunch of otherwise unemployable COBOL programmers and pumped money into consulting companies which had little effect on's. Most of that was under the radar stuff and much much more money went to the real fly by night dot.coms started by 20 something dropouts.

Is this from the "Duh" archives? (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983218)

"This article ponders over whether excess eye candy and special effects being incorporated on the desktop is a good trend after all?"

A great deal of us have been saying that working, being stable, secure and performing are much more important than a pretty interface for a very, very long time.

The first thing I do when I install any OS is to turn off all the unnecessary crap.

Article author doesn't get it. (1)

joetheappleguy (865543) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983220)

Computers are now consumer items and as such are designed with consumers in mind, not anal-retentive "efficiency is all" types.

For example, most people care how their cars look first, how they perform second. If you can mix both of these selling points then you have a market winner.

Same thing applies to computers and other tools - Take a stroll through a home improvement store and look at how much industrial design goes into power tools these days, looks sell and this author doesn't seem to get it. An electric drill doesn't have to be colorful and aerodynamic, but that's what sells.

People have graphical screen savers and desktop backgrounds because they enjoy the personal touch it gives their systems and eye candy effects are something that users simply enjoy. Call it beads and shiny baubles, but that's what consumers want.

While an efficient, well written application can have its own aesthetic value, one that combines those qualities with a visually pleasing and interactive front end will garner the most attention and desire from the end users.

Complaining that you can't do "productive work" because of some visual effect that might happen when you close a window or launch a program means that either your "productive work" is too boring to hold your attention, or maybe you have ADD or perhaps you need to disable that fireworks screensaver as a desktop background.

You could go always back to a CGA video card if the shiny bothers you so much.

Eyecandy is not paramount (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983221)

Desktop eyecandy sells. Sure, UNIX made OS X interesting, but if it wasn't pretty, it would not have gotten the response it did.

I tend to like my OS to be as unobtrusive as possible. Many times, eye candy effects take the focus away from what I should be doing. Some examples:

Any flash sites where the site has a million animations and sounds for the menu but lacking a lot of content, or useful content. Next time, don't spend 4 hours tweaking the window-close animations and add a damn site map.

I really hope in the next version of Office they do a better job of organizing menus better. In my mind, there should only ever be one options or preferences button with everything branching out from that. I can't say how many times I've found a program that has "Setup" and "Options" and "Preferences" and "Settings" menus all doing the same type of thing but without any sense or order.

For all intents and purposes the first thing I do whenever I set-up a freshly formatted XP (after the initial updates) is to switch the window style back to Windows 2000 and earlier and get rid of most of the effects.

If I want to use my computer to go on Slashdot, I don't need a huge blue-and-orange UI to tell me, "WELCOME TO WINDOWS!" and then the browser saying "FIREFOX PRESENTS:". I want my attention focused on Slashdot, not anything else.

(BTW, I highly recommend Aaron Spuler's "Smoke" theme for Moz/Firefox - [] ).

Screw the "Eye Candy" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983223)

What about sharks with freakin laser beams on their heads? That would be much cooler in vista than simply "eye candy"!

Classic interface (1)

mdecarle (756338) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983230)

I don't care about it all. I use the Classic interface in WinXP, with the Eggplant theme. It's the same desktop I've had since Win95 first came out. And I waited with XP until 2 years ago, when I got a new DELL Precision.

Forced to agree with George.. (2, Insightful)

DoctorDyna (828525) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983247)

Im forced to agree with the previous comment, I don't know where the vast majority of people are getting their information, bit I'm a big fan of :

"Tis better to remain silent and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

I know, I've read on several sites now that the fanciest of the UI effects will only be available if the machine meets the requirements, and that the effects and general UI look and feel has many many steps down it can take in the event that the hardware of the current machine doesnt meet the specifications needed.

Chances are the server OS is based on most of the same technologies, would these people assume that you need a GeForce 7800 GTX in your server just because it runs Vista Server?

I can see it now, a Terminal Server with a Athlon FX-60, 500 gig hard drive, SLI GeForce 7800 GTX's...

Come on you GUI Nazi's get over it, technology evolves, plain moves to pretty, it's been happening for decades now. If your hardware doesn't support it, make it look like windows 95 (or redhat 6 if that floats your boat instead). Not everybody uses their computer with bread and water type work nessesity only. Some of us are into computers because we're enthusiasts, and we like to have lots of UI candy, and we don't give a shit if it takes 24 pixel pipelines to get there, cause we've got em.

Isnt is funny how the people who want and will enjoy a fancy accelerated UI are the same people who will have hardware to run it, and all the folks bashing it and saying it't not nessesary are the ones that are going to get the "windows is laughing at you message" during install that probably will verbatim say ""Microsoft Windows has detected that you are using a legacy video accelerator device. Enhanced display options will not be available at this time.""

Queue the Simpsons bully laugh "Haa-ha!"

Wait - What About Pr0n? (1)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983267)

I'm so surprised that nobody suggested that the REAL desktop eyecandy can be found at []
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