Saturday, April 2, 2011

Control & Usability

Ease of use versus level of control. This is a bit of a conundrum. While I'm a believer in open source and free software, I am also concerned about how to make it easy. Make no mistake, easy to use software is seldom free. There are exceptions, of course. The Sugar interface found on the OLPC XO-1 laptop is very easy to use. However, installing it requires certain skills, namely a better than average knowledge of Linux. Perhaps this will be addressed soon. In the meantime, however, we are left using the lightweight operating systems that come on our various devices, and this makes for some strange bedfellows.

For instance, While I am not a particularly big fan of Microsoft, I will say that I like Windows CE, though the lack of true productivity applications concerns me. This operating system is the standard on most of the current batch of lightweight, inexpensive netbooks coming out of Asia, such as the one I am currently using. There is plenty of potential here.

Then there are all the Android tablets that are appearing on the market. They are exceedingly easy to use. What they lack are productivity applications; whereas Windows CE has relatively few, the Android field is almost non-existent.

Yet both operating systems are easy to use.

The alternative is always Linux, which has the trade-off of being harder to learn yet comes with plenty of applications. This could be resolved in two ways -

make Linux easier to use


create more Windows CE/Android productivity applications.

This is surely something that needs to be revisited, time and time again.

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