Windows Software Ugly, Boring & Uninspired?

An anonymous reader writes “CPU magazine has written a very straight-to-the-point editorial on the lack of quality and innovation in software for the mainstream OS. They compare it to the Mac, which is found in a much different light. Where has all the innovation gone?” From the article: “There's too much coal and not enough diamonds within the sphere of downloads. The greatest pieces of software are plagued by unintelligent design, and very few rise to the level of ubiquity. Windows users don't have a strong sense of belonging; there's no user community rallying around the platform. We use the computer, certainly, or is the computer using us?”

You are damm right! I dont totally agree with the article but generally most of the newer software out there are just that, ugly, boring and uninspiring. Some examples…

Blogging applications: Show me a really good blogging application for Windows which was not a port of one on the mac platform? The best one I've seen and used is Ecto which was for the mac and then got ported over the pc later. Wbloggar is good, stable and works but wheres the Atom api support? Yes I know Atom is still in that unstable state but come on! Wbloggar is also a pain to use if you got multiple blogs and blog alot. I actually use Blojsom's bookmarklet because wbloggar is a pain when inserting trackbacks and technorati tags. Its good for quickly bashing out thoughts or a post but nothing else really. Compare it to Ecto and you got something very different.

Ok taking things up a notch, wheres the innovation in this area? Yes you guessed right on the mac side. Flow which Miles showed me a while ago seems to be one example of this innovation on the mac platform. Not only is it a well thought-out application but its not bad looking either (dont have a mac to try it out sorry). The nearest thing to Flow is Blogwave which is far too complex and somewhat ugly compared to Flow, but to be fair there not quite the same. Blogbridge seems to be the only cross platform aggregator which does much more than just read news.

Look at the instant messenger client field, I wasnt exactly impressed with iChat then iChatAV came out and I was unimpressed with the unknown protocal used for video and audio. But saying that, iChatAV, Proteus and Adium all work well and look good. Compare it to GAIM which Adium is actually based upon. PSI which works well but looks pretty poor (interestingly works on the mac too). Only Pandion and Neos MT looks good. However I'm starting to use Grush which I'm sure I will write more about soon.

The other area where the windows platform is so far behind is in the widget area. Konfabulator has been out for ages and the widgets on the site are pretty good and useful till Apple launched Dashboard in OSX 10.4. Now look at the differences between Dashboard widgets and Konfabulator widgets. For example, a search for google map on konfabulator and dashboard returns 1 for konfabulator and 9 for dashboard. A search for flickr returns 1 for konfabulator and 5 for dashboard. Do you see a pattern emerging here? I still wonder how hard it would be to convert between konfabulator and dashboard widgets. But honestly at this very moment Dashboard widgets are way better than Konfabulator widgets and the innovation in them are amazing when compared. I'm sure Konfabulator can do the same but konfabulator widgets are smply uninspired.

So generally Chris is so right about Windows, I dont know how this can be fixed but it seems a lot more software is going cross platform now.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.