Desktop user habits?

Story: Unity Clouding Up The DesktopTotal Replies: 15
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Oct 29, 2010
6:28 AM EDT
Has their been any studies of desktop user habits?

For example the home users I support really only use their computers for browsing the web, email and writing the odd document. They do some of the multimedia stuff you mentioned, but it mostly is plug in camera, sync pictures, minor editing and then share. I don't believe any of them would fit into the definition of a desktop user that is put forward by the article.

Actually thinking about it, the move towards a more unified interface would make more sense, if we take into account the iPhoneisation of users. I've noticed a trend in comments that people are making when they ask how to do something on their computers. It irks me when I hear the dreaded "why can't they make it easier to use like my iPhone?"

Simplifying the GUI of the desktop could be considered an evolution, if considered from the point of view that users might prefer not needing to constantly adapt themselves based on what device they are in front of.

I do think they need to be careful to tailor the GUI to the type of device, but still maintain standard/familiar interface across the board...

Oct 29, 2010
8:23 AM EDT
It doesn't make it easier when you make a desktop more like a mobile phone, it makes it harder. The desktop becomes more restrictive, and less capable, and that it appears is where these idiots want to take us.

Oct 29, 2010
8:50 AM EDT
@ Mahousaru

The point I was trying to make with the article is that a desktop is not a MID and that turning the desktop into one by using a MID interface is defeating the purpose of a desktop machine.

If the majority of the people today own desktop computers and they are asking for MID like devices and interfaces, the tech industry has been selling them the wrong machines for two decades. Which is why I said that maybe we need to ramp up the sales of MID devices. Think iPad, WeTab, Netbook. More appliance like machines. Turning the current desktop machine, the workhorse of the PC revolution, artificially into a MID is topsy turvy.

It's like buying a Humvee and then complaining that the thing isn't working very well in the city. If driving in the city is the intended use case, why not get a small city car? Same with desktop machines. If you want a limited function device experience and not a multipurpose machine, why not buy a tablet or some other gizmo that is made for these kinds of tasks, instead of something that could be artificially made to fit, but which wasn't designed to be limited.

The current reasoning seems to be along the lines of why not limit the desktop into a MID like appliance, since the majority already erroneously owns this type of machine. If we keep up with this thinking, we will keep on selling the wrong class of machine to the majority of the people. They shouldn't be exposed to MID-ified Desktops. They should be able to buy a fitting device in the right class right away.

Doing this protects both types of user. Users who really need a desktop computer can get one with a "real" desktop OS. Users who want an Internet device, with the capability of some light productivity work, won't be subjected to a very complex (and thus error prone) machine disguised as something simple.

In short. I don't think One Size Fits All.

Oct 29, 2010
9:24 AM EDT
Quoting:I don't think One Size Fits All.


Let a good usable desktop be the domain of people doing work and let MID's be for leisure and entertainment.

Quite sensible.

Oct 29, 2010
9:32 AM EDT
@ tracyanne:

100% agreed. And, I'd rather see MIDs look/work more like desktop machines. That as opposed to the other way around.


Oct 29, 2010
2:00 PM EDT
hmm, seems if others are making logical comments my tinfoil beanie must not have been on too tight in the other thread.

Oct 29, 2010
2:06 PM EDT
I think Canonical actually does usability testing in which they bring people in, plop them in front of machines and then ask them to do stuff and talk about it afterward.

Oct 29, 2010
2:54 PM EDT
az, if you already ate all the Halloween candy it could be a sugar overdose.

Oct 29, 2010
3:43 PM EDT
Did someone say Halloween candy!?!?


Oct 29, 2010
7:35 PM EDT
I think with the advancements of "Ubuntu on ARM", in a while it should be possible to replace Android by ARM on some (?) phones&MID's. So, for those who want it, MID's might become more like desktops.

The other way around might also serve some needs: Those people who want to use their desktop as an iPhone. I think Unity is aimed at those people, so it seems some of these needs are served.

ed: Should add, I think the biggest problem as perceived in the article, would be gone if Unity had a "Gnome" button, which would start Gnome. Or if it had a large "Consume/create" switch (with a better name of course), which would switch between Unity and Gnome.

I remember it was that way back in Win98, you were either listening or recording, and had to set the mode somewhere accordingly. People were used to it, nobody complained.

Oct 29, 2010
8:16 PM EDT
git 'way from my candy drummer boy ... back in your cage ... back I say.

Oct 30, 2010
10:48 AM EDT
Do you have trick or treaters in rural Alaska, az?

We bought our Halloween candy yesterday. Wal Mart already had it on closeout to make room for Christmas stuff. I'm not a fan of Wal Mart generally but this saved us about 50% of the cost of giving the local kids sugar overdoses.


I have a netbook. It has a desktop interface which I prefer since I use it for serious work. I think lumping netbooks in with MIDs isn't a good way to categorize the devices. A lot of people use netbooks for serious work. This probably includes majority of people who have bought in the last year or so when the hype was gone and many of the machines with Atom processors and 2GB of RAM are very functional replacements for larger systems.

Can a MID or tablet be used for serious work? As a desktop replacement, clearly not. For some quick, on the go stuff, it depends. I agree that one type of interface isn't for everyone, even on these devices.

Oct 30, 2010
12:13 PM EDT
@Azerthoth; But there is no candy in my cage..:-(

Oct 30, 2010
5:08 PM EDT
Scott, don't feel bad. My ferrets don't get candy either. It's not good for them.

[Runs and hides]

Oct 30, 2010
5:26 PM EDT
I asked Candy if she was interested.

Once she stops laughing and can catch her breath...

Nov 05, 2010
11:03 AM EDT
I am very thankful that this article was written. I have been using Gnome since RedHat 8 and now use it on the current release of Ubuntu. The idea of switching to a Unity environment on the large desktop screen sounds very restrictive to me.

When I first became aware of Unity I was curious about it as a notebook accessibility option to make the most of small notebooks and netbooks. However, trying to run it on my desktop was a bit of a nightmare. It just seemed like an inefficient use of screen space and a time waster as I tried to do a few projects on it.

So I don't know about other people and their uses, but for the work that I do, the traditional interface setup seems more effective. I don't want to have to be distracted or limited by the interface I am using.

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