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From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Sun Sep 17 2000 - 12:59:24 PDT

> > Apple is king of useability,
> Interestingly, several of the kings of usability and user advocacy from Apple
> --- Andy Hertzfeld, Darrin Adler, Bud Tribble, Mike Homer, etc. --- are now
> tilting at windmills on the Linux front ...

Pushing on this point a bit... it's very difficult to make credible claims about
a company's core competency beyond that which resides in the people in the
company. Most old hard-line Apple fans (I consider myself one, albeit ex-fan)
will make the claim that usability at Apple has been on a slow downward slide
since Bud wrote his last version of the style guidelines. Are they *really*
still the UI gods, or are they simply still coasting on the genius of the
above-mentioned, long-gone people? I haven't actually played with Aqua, so maybe
it reverses the downward trend, but interesting to see that the "cathedral model"
of which Apple is king does in cases suffer from quality-rot over time as experts

OTOH, much as I hate to give them props, Microsoft has made *huge* strides in
usability. Windows circa 1993 was *worse* than GNOME is today, IMO. MS still
has its warts --- context-sensitive menus and so forth are an abomination from
hell --- but its certainly been following the reverse of the trend at Apple.
Office and IE --- like all products where MS has actually had competition --- are
damn fine pieces of software, and getting better over time.

I don't know what conclusions to draw about Linux from all of this... Beberg et.
al. are right at least in the sense that UNIX geeks in general have never placed
as high a premium on aesthetics and pure usability as the desktop geeks. OTOH, I
see things like the Tivo UI and I think "damn, you can build some nice consumer
UIs on Linux!" I don't know if any of that will sensibility creep into GNOME /
KDE / Enlightenment etc., or if the flocking of the old (and now quite possibly
disillusioned) usability gurus to Linux will make a difference. One thing seems
certain, though: it should be easier for any UI god with an axe to grind to have
a *profound* positive impact on Linux usability than in closed platforms.



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