Listen to the caveman

Updated: April 7, 2014

Several months back, while busy ranting about Windows 8, I came across a delightfully fresh post on Wilders Security Forums, pointing back all the way to September 2000, to an article discussing and mostly praising the release of Windows Me.

Now, fast forward a lot, you all know that Windows Me was a failure, the same thing sort of happening to Windows 8 and its glorified service pack, Windows 8.1, except the world is taking its time coming to the same conclusion I did almost two years back. So let us briefly discuss this, shall we.

Windows Me in retrospect

It is easy blaming people for not being able to see the future. No one can do that, without extensive use of medications and hallucinatory drugs and some slight synaptic problems in their cortex. To wit, deriding the original author for his work is pointless, especially alongside a handful heap of other, rather useful information that he provided over the years. However, there comes a question, how should one review software, so that their perception withstands the test of time?

Fast forward again, we're now looking at Windows 8 and 8.1. From the technological perspective, there's nothing wrong there. You get all kinds of interesting new bits, you get supposedly more security, decent performance and other cool things that make the system tick, the sum of all the work invested by thousands of engineers at Microsoft.

But all of that means nothing really. Because when a user picks a laptop from a shelf and starts fiddling, trying to figure out what gives, the only thing that does count is their brief first impression, composed of kneejerk reaction response, ancient instincts, taste, and possibly some curiosity fused to a sliver of intelligence.


Note: Image taken from Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

When you look at the operating system thusly, you can safely ignore the improved kernel and the enhanced security topography, because they cannot transcend the emotional barrier that governs our pockets.

So you can't blame Paul really, not unless he had a hidden agenda, which would be to remain good friends with Microsoft, in which case, all of the above becomes totally pointless. But assuming this is not the case, then he did make a mistake, because he observed, tested and evaluated a product by summing up its ingredients, instead of trying to taste the cake.

What does all this mean?

You probably do not want to hear me praise myself again, how I'm the king of everything and always right, right? Gets boring after a while, and loses its edge. I know. Still, you can't ignore the almost prophetic record in my own observations. For one, I'm never burdened by the vendor guilt association, EVER. Second, I do try to look at products from a completely different, animalistic angle, and that's the one that ignores the kernel code, the spec sheet, and all the other geeky and unnecessary details.

I ask myself, whether this thing in front of me, pisses me off or not. That's the only test really. Do I want to be kicking bits of plastic and metal to death? Do I want to delete the software right there, right then? If the answer is yes, then it goes against my instincts as a human being, as a consumer, and therefore, it becomes a failure in making.

Start Screen forced on me

This can be a good advice for everything in life really. Ask yourself, what for? If you can't come up with an answer within seven seconds, you probably should not be doing it. Whether we're talking about storming a sniper nest, cleaning a pool, beating your children, or installing a new distribution. It makes no difference. What for? Spend extra three or four hours installing Windows 8.1 when the same thing used to take less than a third as much on Windows 7. Exactly. The answer is right there. Flip the desktop 180 degrees for no good reason. What for? There. You just universally defined failure.

So what's your point Vanessa?

Indeed, apart from blathering a little and patting my own ego, I seemingly did not offer you any great advice. Oh, but I did. If you read carefully, you will know what to do the next time you need to cobble up a new product. Whether you're a tiny company making its first proof of concept or a software giant, the rule still applies. Try to find someone who's keen on their instincts, and let them do their work. There's a fine line between experience and gut feeling, which can throw you off, but nothing beats the first thirty seconds. When you get used to something, it's over. Irrelevant. Unless you're really disciplined and can focus, keeping your basic efficiency and needs at the forefront. But most people can't.


I don't want to be the guy to say, I told you so, because it won't make any good. I did claim Windows Me to be a failure, and that was long before I even started contemplating writing my own articles online. Hell, there was barely any online then. Vista, the same thing really.

Again, exactly that is going to happen with Windows 8.X, unless Microsoft changes its decision, well they sort of are, but I am going to update my box first before I make any big conclusions. It will be interesting, ten years from now, to see what the future will have to say about the present. My guess is, the predictions made by those who followed their ancient hunches rather than their internal computer science PhD will be the ones to claim victory. There you go. Wonder what the future technology will do for you? Ask your inner primitive.


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