Mac OSX not easy to use!

Years ago I was a hardcore Mac fanatic. I was one of the creators of a long-gone early Macintosh application called Jazz. I programmed on a Lisa in 68000 assembly language. As I said, a long time ago :-)

Anyway, for years I've been a PC guy, but still with a warm spot in my heart for Mac. Recently we got an iBook in our family and so I had a chance to reaquaint myself with how the world had changed.

After hearing disparaging remarks from Mac folks about Windows XP lack of usability and elegance I was all set to be blown away by OSX. Here some first impressions.

  • Yes indeed, OSX is beautiful to look at. It wows you with some nifty and novel animations. The level of design, colors, icons, etc. is all really enjoyable to look at.
  • OSX has a little Unix heart beating inside it. This means it's nirvana for Unix folks. But to the average joe it also means something: stability. It has yet to crash on me.
  • I can't believe that it still has only a single button mouse. And it's funny because you can see how OSX gradually is inching towards giving in on this little bit of obsolete religion. If you plug a 2 button mouse into the USB port, it works like a charm. And the scroll wheel works. And some applications even put up a context menu. But because Mac is conflicted about this, this is not nearly consistent and pervasive enough.
  • Gluing the menu bar to the top of the screen an antiquated holdover from when screens were tiny and there was no multi-tasking (even the term multi-tasking sounds quaint given that everyone does it.) The result is that it's often not obvious what application you are in.
  • And while the dialog boxes are pretty, they are not necessarily well designed. One trivial example: if you are setting up your airport, and you have enabled security (like everyone does) then it is not explained anywhere that you must precede the hex password with a dollar sign to get it to work. Another trivial one: in more than one place I was 4 steps down a 'wizard' when I decided to quit out of it, except there was no Cancel button. I had to 'back-back-back' to get back to the start.

Anyway there you have it. I think with this experience I would debate the Mac user's claim that Mac is inherently easier to use than WInXP. First of all, it's more similar than different and second of all, it's not all good.
Posted on July 22, 2004 and filed under Technology.