When Written: April 2009
As you may know I am interested in user interfaces, not just web based but any interaction with the user. User interface design isn’t just about a single application, the whole operating system interacts with the user as do everyday objects.
What makes an enjoyable user experience? Sometimes it is the small details that can make all the difference, with cars it can be the satisfying clunk of the door, with operating systems it can be the smoothness of the movement of the graphic elements, with the iPhone it is the smoothness of the display as it responds to a users finger movement, and often there is an indefinable something that marks one product as better over others.
With Hi-Fi almost everyone can tell when they are listening to a better system, but not all can say why it sounds better. This got me thinking about my development box.
I have been using a Mac Pro quad core with 8G of RAM running OSX with my Windows Vista build running in Virtual machines under either Parallels or VMWare. This setup gave me all sorts of advantages; I could have one box with all versions of the major browsers installed on it. I even could run IE6 in OSX. I could choose the best program for the job, finally I was free and liberated from the restraints of a single manufacturers’ Operating system! However as the months wore on I became more and more dissatisfied with things.
My Windows did not seem to have the slickness of others I saw which were often running from lower powered laptops. There were the occasional strange graphic redraw effects as well as the active window focus changing as each OS decided it should be in control. I was finding my productivity rapidly going through the floor and also my enjoyment of using Windows disappearing rapidly.
This came to a head when I had to use a friend’s Sony Vaio the other month, all of a sudden I was back using a slick modern operating system with a powerful interface working the way it should, and this was Vista! I have to say before my office is besieged by angry Mac owners with pitchforks and lit torches ( there is probably an iPhone app they could use to simulate those) , let me make it quite clear that I am not saying that Vista is better than OSX, but what I am saying is that if you have to use Vista which I do, as the new development tools from Microsoft often will either not run or are limited on XP. It became clear to me that running Vista in virtual machines is not as nearly as satisfying an experience as running it natively on a machine built for the job.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what is different but for me the change in experience was worth ordering a new pc. So a new Windows box was ordered and the Mac has been relegated to a door stop for now, although one of our designers is looking at it with a somewhat unhealthy lustful look in their eyes!
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton