- by GGBlogger
Timothy recently posted “Microsoft Shows Off Radical New UI, Could Be Used In Windows 8” on Slashdot. I took such grave exception to his post that I found it necessary to my senses to write this blog. We need to go back many years to the days of hand cranked calculators and early main frame computers. These devices had singular purposes – they were “number crunchers” used to make accounting easier. The front facing display in early mainframes was “blinken lights.” The calculators did provide printing – in the form of paper tape and the mainframes used line printers to generate reports as needed. We had other metaphors to work with. The typewriter was/is a mechanical device that substitutes for a type setting machine. The originals go back to 1867 and the keyboard layout has remained much the same to this day. In the earlier years the Morse code telegraphs gave way to Teletype machines. The old ASR33, seen on the left in this photo of one of the first computers I help manufacture, used a keyboard very similar to the keyboards in use today. It also generated punched paper tape that we generated to program this computer in machine language. Everything considered this computer which dates back to the late 1960s has a keyboard for input and a roll of paper as output. So in a very rudimentary fashion little has changed. Oh – we didn’t have a mouse! The entire point of this exercise is to point out that we still use very similar methods to get data into and out of a computer regardless of the operating system involved. The Altair, IMSAI, Apple, Commodore and onward to our modern machines changed the hardware that we interfaced to but changed little in the way we input, view and output the results of our computing effort. The mouse made some changes and the advent of windowed interfaces such as Windows and Apple made things somewhat easier for the user. My 4 year old granddaughter plays here Dora games on our computer. She knows how to start programs, use the mouse, play the game and is quite adept so we have come some distance in making computers useable. One of my chief bitches is the constant harangues leveled at Microsoft. Yup – they are a money making organization. You like Apple? No problem for me. I don’t use Apple mostly because I’m comfortable in the Windows environment but probably more because I don’t like Apple’s “Holier than thou” attitude. Some think they do superior things and that’s also fine with me. Obviously the iPhone has not done badly and other Apple products have fared well. But they are expensive. I just build a new machine with 4 Terabytes of storage, an Intel i7 Core 950 processor and 12 GB of RAMIII. It cost me – with dual monitors – less than 2000 dollars. Now to the chief reason for this blog. I’m going to continue developing software for as long as I’m able. For that reason I don’t see my keyboard, mouse and displays changing much for many years. I also don’t think Microsoft is going to spoil that for me by making radical changes to my developer experience. What Craig Mundie does in his video here: http://www.ispyce.com/2011/02/microsoft-shows-off-radical-new-ui.html is explore the potential future of computer interfaces for the masses of potential users. Using a computer today requires a person to have rudimentary capabilities with keyboards and the mouse. Wouldn’t it be great if all they needed was hand gestures? Although not mentioned it would also be nice if computers responded intelligently to a user’s voice. There is absolutely no argument with the fact that user interaction with these machines is going to change over time. My personal prediction is that it will take years for much of what Craig discusses to come to a cost effective reality but it is certainly coming. I just don’t believe that what Craig discusses will be the future look of a Window 8.