Sometimes, software isn't so magical. Even for Bill Gates.
Read on past the jump for Gates in the role of chief rabble-rouser. (Original document: PDF, 5 pages.) It shows that even the Microsoft co-founder -- who champions the "magic of software" -- isn't immune to the frustrations of everyday computer users. Keep in mind that this was more than five years ago, so it doesn't necessarily reflect the specific state of things now. At the bottom, see what Gates said when I asked him about the message last week.
---- Original Message ----
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame
I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues.
Let me give you my experience from yesterday.
I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to Microsoft.com. They have a download place so I went there.
The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.
This site is so slow it is unusable.
It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.
These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.
They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things are strange.
I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.
So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?
So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.
They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).
I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.
I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.
In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.
This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?
So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.
Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?
Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.
This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.
So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.
What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.
Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night -- why should I reboot at that time?
So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.
So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.
So I went back to Microsoft.com and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.
What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.
So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.
At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.
So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.
The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.
So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.
It is not there.
What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.
Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.
But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.
What an absolute mess.
Moviemaker is just not there at all.
So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.
I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.
I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.
I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.
So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.
The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)
When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.
When Gates was showed a printout of the e-mail, Gates smiled and said, "There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail ... like that piece of e-mail. That's my job."
You’ve been using your computer for years, and up until today, you never had to open it. You don’t know much about computers anyways, so if everything seems to be working fine, why would you bother? But this morning, after unsuccessfully trying to power it on, you decide to drag your computer from its comfy looking spot under your desk. You unscrew the side panel, and a vision of horror jumps at you.
Little did you know that furry little creatures called dust bunnies like to get into your systems at night. They usually are very insidious, so you often won’t notice them until it’s too late.
The moral of this story? Everyone should open their computer case from time to time. A little bit of compressed air in there each 2-3 months can’t really hurt now, can it?
Thanks to Geeks are Sexy (see Blog List for Updates to this Site)
Berwick-upon-Tweed was officially at war with Russia for 110 years. As the border town frequently changed hands between England and Scotland over the centuries, it was usually referred to as a separate entity in all State documents.
At the outbreak of the Crimean War, Britain declared war on Russia in the name of Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions. But when the war ended two years later in 1856, the Paris Peach Treaty omitted Berwick.
So Berwick was technically at war with Russia until 1966 when a Soviet official, made aware of the situation, visited the town to declare peace. The Mayor of Berwick said: "Please tell the Russian people that at last they can sleep peacefully in their beds!"
We want to take a moment to alert the public about some of the most egregious false advertising we've ever seen. We're talking of course about movies we put on our Netflix queue under the assumption they were porn, based on their grossly misleading titles.
What's even more insidious is that each film had scenes and lines of dialog that really got our hopes up that we were about to see some hardcore action. Here are a few of the movies we're naming in our upcoming lawsuit:
"Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?"
"Asshole in one."
"Pick up any dudes yet?"
"I have one in the trunk!"
"Need any help with some underpants, sir?
"It won't hurt at first."
"He hasn't slept all week."
"How do you know?"
"'Cause I haven't slept all week."
"Not hard enough."
"Movement. Two men. Approximately ... 40 goats."
"I do my own drilling and the men that work for me, work for me and they are men I know. I make it my business to be there and see to their work. I don't lose my tools in the hole.
"I did what your brother couldn't. I broke you and I beat you."
5. A Few Good Men
"I want you to know that I am proud neither of what I have done, nor of what I am doing."
"Are you planning on doing any investigating, or are you just gonna take the guided tour?"
"I'm pacing myself."
"He's not going to take it. Come here--eat the cookie."
"Pick a hole, any hole."
"What is that haunting aroma?"
"You ease up on him."
"Look at the size of this bad boy, huh?"
"Dr. Nikolias, what about the other boys, what results are you seeing in them?"
"Michaela, the doctors are in the dark. They're groping in the dark."
And finally, one we were relieved wasn't porn ...
The lines that made us call the police:
"Having a kid is great ... as long as his eyes are closed and he's not moving or speaking."
An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an engineer — you’re in the wrong place.” So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.
One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?” Satan replies, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.” God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake — he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.” Satan says, “No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I’m keeping him.” God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”
Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?”
Stunned viewers were asked to sing along to the war-time 'Deutschland Uber Alles' song which has been banned for 63 years.
Bosses at Swiss station SF2 blame the outrage on researchers copying the wrong lyrics from the internet before Germany's match with Austria.
"It is beyond belief that anyone could fail to know that this would be massively offensive to everyone who heard it," said one fan.
The lyrics - which start 'Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt" ("Germany, Germany, above everything else in this world") - were banned at the end of the Second World War.
Only the third verse is now sung to avoid promoting Nazi ideals under Germany's anti-fascist laws.
Telly executive Gion Linder, whose department provided the lyrics, said: "This was a profound mistake and we know there is no excuse. But we deeply apologise for it. I hope such a mistake never happens again."