Saturday, September 06, 2008

Windows: Hating every minute of it

Some time back I gave in and bought a PC - a Windows machine - as a gaming platform. This was partly because it was increasingly difficult for my MacBook Pro to serve as an office work station, a repository of all my photos and music, as well as a gaming machine. It was partly also because most games can only be played on a Windows machine.

While I wish I could say the PC is a great gaming machine, I can only say it is a great machine when it works. Using it only reminds of how my Mac "just works": in comparison, using my PC involves running through a list of arcane and semi-mystical actions in the hope of getting something to work properly.

50% of the time, I have to start the computer twice. The first time I push the power button, the lights come on, the fans start spinning, but nothing happens: the computer hangs before it even starts up, which is quite a feat. A restart is required to get the OS going.

EVERY time I start the computer, something goes wrong with the keyboard. While one could point to a lack of coordination between the peripheral maker (Razer) and Windows, the fact is that on a Mac, things just work. On my Windows machine, on the other hand, the keyboard consistently fracks up - certain keys won't work (different ones each time), the keyboard lighting goes haywire, and certain keys key registering long after they have been pressed. You can imagine the havoc this plays with the user experience - imagine not being able to wake your computer from screensaver mode because the key for one of the letters in your password is no longer working - or to be playing Warcraft, in the middle of PVP, and suddenly find a key not working, or your character inexplicably walking backwards without any control. It's galling to lose a PVP fight because your keyboard and your operating system won't see eye to eye. I've found a simple solution - the keyboard has to be unplugged and re-plugged each time - but the point is I shouldn't have to.

Most Windows users get used to this sort of routine, a secret arcane ritual of actions, restarts, unplugs, resets, digging deep into obscure directories for strange dll files, installing drivers - as the norm of the user experience. Mac users know that there is another way - a sensible alternative that is more humane to the user. We shouldn't have to be doing the software equivalent of thumping the computer on the side (though I'm guessing some PC users actually do that as well) in order to get things working properly.

The saddest thing? I still have to use Windows if I want to play my games, so I have to put up with this. Like millions of users out there, I'm going have to re-shape my notion of the "normal" user experience to accept what I can't change. My only consolation is that for work, and for my music and photos, I'll still use my good old MacBook Pro.

2 comments:

o said...

Goodness, did you buy that PC from the 80s?

Are you even using it right?

http://bp1.blogger.com/_5WSiqTwxN8s/R-iyVNtrO8I/AAAAAAAAAKs/PNRV2ja0JfU/s1600-h/macvspc.jpg

Wes & Jo said...

hey man,

sorry to hear about the pc thing. i think you basically have 2 issues there. yeah, windows can be a pain to get working, and sometimes the manufacturers either make faulty parts or parts that don't adhere to spec 100%. could be software also. that said, it's like 2 issues.

1. it sounds like a motherboard and/or powersupply thing.

2. the keyboard might need some firmware update for your particular motherboard. some of the razer mouse have this same issue.

wes