Monday, December 05, 2005

Tabs Gone to Hell

Everyone knows by now that multiple rows of tabs aren't such a good idea -- or do they? Here's an egregious example from my new Thinkpad. This has more than a few tab-related problems: there's some kind of duplication between resources and allocation (2 tabs for each overlapping concept); many of them seem to be empty anyway; there are so many that's it's actually hard to go through them all, even with the counting option, because there's so much shifting around as you click on them (making it hard to tell what you've seen already).

This UI is a small part of a worse UI issue: the Thinkpadders duplicated a bunch of OS-level stuff, often by overriding it completely, in their own custom UI. This is particularly awful in the area of networking. There's no way to scan for Wireless networks from the Microsoft dialog-- you have to figure out it's been overriden and is controlled from somewhere "new" and how to work that instead.

Why do companies so often make the mistake of trying to "brand" the hardware experience with their own custom (often poor) software experience where it's not needed? (Ok, it's still a sore spot from my TiVo era.)

2 comments :

steve said...

This is the holiday season and, as a guest, I'm often asked to help people out with their Windows problems.

For the past few years I've been telling them that buying into the Windows world they have accepted some deep design flaws. If you buy a house in an area with a high water table, you need to pay attention to the sump pumps, auxiliary power and insurance ...

I then tell them that anything I do will only burn my hours and they will still be left with other problems down the road. At this point I fish into my wallet and give them a Geek Squad card, suggesting if they can't administer the complexities of Windows themselves (I'm convinced most people can't), they need to engage the services of someone who can.

This approach has been very successful (for me and for Geek Squad). I mentioned it to a friend who happens to be a Turing Award recipient - he has adopted the same policy and reports great success.

celestialweasel said...

Ha ha. One of our dialogs has a strange waiting-room dialog before it appears, effectively asking you which tabs you want to appear in the real dialog. I have ridiculed people a great deal about this.