… as choices proliferate, people have a harder and harder time making decisions. And they end up less satisfied with the decisions they make. They are filled with regret over those that turned out well but might have been better; they develop unrealistically high expectations; and when decisions disappoint, as they almost always do because of these expectations, they blame themselves. The result is stress, unhappiness, and in extreme cases, clinical depression.
One of them is what I suspect to be a under-discussed secret to Microsoft’s (and Apple’s) success.
When it comes to computing, most of us would prefer that somebody else go through the painful process of deciding what the best way to accomplish something is.
As a conscientious computer user, always looking out to the future and competitors to my platform of the moment, I have strived to stay “up” on what else is out there. I’ve ran almost all the major platforms at one time or another. For anyone going to install (most) Linux packages know, from the beginning you are presented with choices you have no idea how to make.
Welcome to Gentoo Linux, would you like to install via stage 1, 2, or 3 tarballs? Next partition your filesystem designing your own layout and using one of three different tools. Then pick a filesystem, ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs, or jfs. Configure the kernel manually or use genkernel? Pick a bootloader, GRUB OR LILO. Pick a system logger, sysklogd, syslog-ng, or metalog. Pick a cron daemon, dcron, fcron, or vixie-cron. That’s just basic command line linux, next we’re going to force you to pick between KDE and gnome and one of countless windowmanagers. (What advice do people give when picking between KDE and Gnome? KDE is C++ and Gnome is C. Great, thanks, that helps.)
Linux users love this choice and I’m sure it has to do with personality traits, this kind of treatment leads me down the thought path of “Jesus, you guys should sit down, make the hard decisions, pick the best technology and make it the best it can be.” You can’t help but believe that if the KDE and Gnome teams worked together they’d end up with a better product than what they have now.
It seems many groups are starting to get this now. You definitely see it happening in the Java camp with IDEs. I absolutely hated having to pick a Java IDE. They all had features I liked, but none of them came close to what I expected, especially knowing what I was missing. Once you’ve made a choice, the nagging feeling like you are missing out induces unhappiness in the choice you’ve made. Microsoft on the other hand has Visual Studio. Everybody accepts that as the standard. In addition to be customizable and adaptable there are literally hundreds of add-ins, helpers, tools build around it that enhance the functionality and deliver on all those little things that are left out of the base product. Of course there are choices outside of visual studio (notepad, emacs, Borland) but its understood that those are not meant to be general purpose tools and only people who come in with twenty years emacs experience or work for Borland 😉 will use something other than VStudio.
The culture of Linux is “gee, I like this tool, but it would be better if it were written in C instead of Python” so I’ll spend my time recreated what you did but “better” in my eyes. This is where IBM needs to step up to the plate. Red Hat I suppose has tried this, but they don’t have the gorilla mass (800 pounds) to accomplish anything earth shaking.
I’d keep going, but I’ll leave it here for now.