4.1065 Windows 3.0; GUI (2/84)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 12 Jun 90 22:40:45 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0165. Tuesday, 12 Jun 1990.

(1) Date: Sun, 3 Jun 90 19:09 EST (21 lines)
Subject: Windows 3.0

(2) Date: Mon, 4 JUN 90 18:50:05 BST (73 lines)
From: CHAA006@vax.rhbnc.ac.uk
Subject: RE: 4.0157 Interfaces

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 90 19:09 EST
Subject: Windows 3.0

Clarence Brown's note is somewhat ambiguous. Should the PC/Mac debate
be relegated to history's dustbin because there's now a clear winner
or because it's a dumb question? And what exactly is included in the act
of global (de)fenestration? The baby together with the bath water?

My own opinion of Windows 3.0 (having been suckered into it by the tons
of hype that appeared in the NY Times) is that it remains a video-arcade
toy. Aside from being s l o w and taking up some 4 mb., what does it do
for _adult_ users that trusty Desqview doesn't do more swiftly and more

The question that intrigues me is how Microsoft can go on getting richer
while producing one bomb after another. Perhaps this is what Mr. Brown
had in mind, in which case I would certainly agree that mashing the
delete button is in order.

N. Miller
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------96----
Date: Mon, 4 JUN 90 18:50:05 BST
From: CHAA006@vax.rhbnc.ac.uk
Subject: RE: 4.0157 Interfaces

"Patrick W. Conner" <U47C2@WVNVM> wrote:

>Philip Taylor's logic is faulty; he asserts the following:
>>>What the Macintosh (and its predecessor, the Lisa) have undoubtedly done
>>>is to shew that there is an {\it alternative} to the `traditional'
>>>interface --- an alternative which is readily acceptable by, and
>>>accepted by, a significant proportion of potential and actual computer
>>>users; what they have {\it not} done is to shew that this alternative is
>>>so superior that it will, by a process of natural selection, become the
>>>only viable interface for the forseeable future.
>But he has already said:
>>>However, my worries concerning the quasi-religious fervour which it
>>>arouses are nothing compared to my worry that despite the continuance of
>>>the debate on countless mailing lists, both the learned journals and the
>>>computer industry seem agreed that the war is already won: the future
>>>human-computer interface will be graphically oriented.
>Does that premise not, in fact, contradict his assertion? If if the
>learned journals AND the industry have indeed agreed that the war is
>won, then someone, somewhere has shown them the value of GUI.

[Sorry about the long extract, but I can't see how to answer Patrick's
assertion without repeating his/my premises ...]

I don't think that the facts and my assertion are inconsistent. Yes,
industry and the learned journals seem agreed that GUIs rule ok (to use
a slightly dated UK idiom), but there's a hell of a lot of people ---
real users --- who seem unconvinced. There is a directly analogous
situation w.r.t. Unix; industry and the l-js seem convinced that Unix is
{\it the} operating system of the future, yet there are hundreds and
thousands (hundreds of thousands ?) of users who continue to use (and
prefer) VMS, or MS/DOS, or even `Macintosh' (what is the correct name
for the Macintosh's operating system ?). The fact that command-line
users, and VMS users, still exist in such numbers, and are prepared to
continue to argue their case (albeit on bulletin boards rather than in
academic journals) suggests to me that natural selection has not yet
occurred; it is taking place, and there is a distinct possibility that
GUIs and Unix may yet win, but I do not believe that the war is won. If
I were, I probably wouldn't have wasted my time writing my original

Perhaps as one whose motor-visual skills [and visuo-mental skills: am I
the only one in the world to whom airline safety procedures are a totally
meaningless set of pictographs ?] are very poorly developed, I never
will grow to accept the mouse as anything but a pain in the @rse
[<Br.E>, = `pain in the b@tt' <Am.E>], but I can certainly accept that
pop-up windows have a great deal to offer. Indeed, in an off-line
discussion with David Benfield <Benfield@Apollo.Montclair.Edu>, I think
we converged on agreement that the single most beneficial enhancement to
the present command-line interface would be a pop-up window, available
at any point in the command, which would allow the user to (a) see what
productions are valid at this point; (b) see what other productions
would have been valid if the command had been entered differently; (c)
investigate other topics from the `Help' system, and (d) enter another,
perhaps quite different command, while retaining the partially-entered
command in its entirety [David suggested that this could also be a
pseudo- command entry, which would allow commands to be checked for
their syntax (and perhaps for their semantics) without actually
performing the command.] Of these, (a) already exists in a remarkable
program written by Stan Rabinowitz called WHAT [and probably elsewhere
as well], and point [7] of the original desiderata was intended to
suggest some of these ideas.