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GUI now too complex - Longhorn designer

Don Norman is expert in usability. He's been Apple's top man for usability design, and has also worked with Hewlett Packard. Now he's with Microsoft working on the next version of Windows (Longhorn).

The classic graphical user interface was well suited to an early Macintosh with 128kB of RAM that ran a few applications and about 50 files, "but it doesn't scale", says usability design specialist Don Norman. With those few tasks the GUI was a boon. "You didn't have to remember anything, because you could see everything. Now making everything visible doesn't work. The space gets too crowded." As a logical consequence of this, the all-purpose computer should become obsolete, he says.

Norman, who has written several books on usability, was Apple's design guru for many years and also worked for Hewlett-Packard. He is now advising Microsoft on the forthcoming Longhorn version of Windows, and agrees with its being based on a searchable database and doing away with a static file system view. The document-folder-cabinet hierarchy may be a fair simulation of the way an office works, he says, "but I just want to get my work done". Wanting to send an email with an attached document and having to look in different folders and maybe start up a word-processing program is an obstruction to the natural way of working. It clearly makes sense to store everything once. Conventional file systems tend to produce duplicate files stored in different places.

News source: Computerworld

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