Just now I copied several gigabytes of data from one partition to another on my Windows XP Pro (64-bit edition) Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 machine. Having toyed around with Linux here and there over the years I’ve come to know that such a request isn’t beyond the realm of reasonableness. Linux can carry out this seemingly trivial task with aplomb but if you try to get Windows to do the same thing, old faithful shows just how crappy its inner workings truly are: try to double-click on Outlook in the systray and up pops a yellow balloon saying that it’s not responding, try to do anything else for that matter and one begins to realise that a stiff drink would have been the more prudent course of action.
I feel like a deer caught in the headlights of an on-coming car with no idea which way I’ll turn. All my favourite applications depend on Windows (with the exception of Firefox), but Linux, although it has a dream kernel capable of withstanding much abuse, doesn’t really offer much as far as quality in the user-space. There is no way that something so annoyingly-named that sports a GUI as haphazard as amaroK could ever replace iTunes, and I could never accept the spartan simplicity and barely-customisable Nautilus file manager or the flickery and slow bloatware that is Konqueror as replacements for what is, 99% of the time, a fast and zippy Windows explorer.
Don’t even get me started on Macs, either. Whilst Apple’s computer designs are works of art, the GUI is just a bit too freaky for an old Windows user like me, and with Home and End keys that don’t move the cursor to the beginning and end of the current line, I can’t see me ever accepting the one-size-fits-all-dummies feeling I get with OS X.
What would be nice is to keep the Windows XP shell but give it a decent kernel and hardware interface layer so that it feels responsive like Linux but still fits like an old glove. I know people still holding out with Windows 2000, so I guess I can still get away with using Windows XP for a couple more years, but even that can’t last forever. Windows Vista isn’t looking too appealing, either, with it’s Draconian (with more than a dash of monopolistic) licensing, a virgin networking stack that won’t be worth touching until at least service pack 2, a graphical shell that will bring new meaning to the word “bloatware”, and no decent “classic” interface. If Microsoft didn’t go all “focus-group” with Vista I might be able to put up with it, but as it is, I’m staying put – indefinitely!