I was 13 when I got my first computer, 25 years ago, and bought my second computer when I was 20. (Between 13 and 20 I either used my Apple IIc or the school’s Macintosh computers.) I bought a Mac that year (1994) but switched to Windows in early 1996. It was a Gateway desktop system, followed by a few Dell laptops and Sony desktop systems before switching back to Mac in 2007. Since then I’ve been all Mac. Outside of the original Apple IIc, I have never owned a system that didn’t use a mouse or worked via touch. In fact, I refused to use Windows until Windows 95 as Windows 3.1 was a joke.
I tell you all this for a reason: I’ve spent 25 years using computers and 18 years using mice in graphical interfaces. In that time, most of my processes for getting stuff done in this very awkward world have been baked. And frankly, I don’t want to change. My processes work.
This is why I am a little concerned about all the changes Apple and Microsoft are making to OS X and Windows. In a time when I have far more important things to do then figure out new processes within the way Apple and Microsoft want us to do things, both companies are undergoing massive changes in their operating systems.
Windows 8, of course, moves us to a hybrid model of computing, partly with the style formerly-known-as-Metro and partly with the “classic” Windows style. Apple’s new operating system OS X Mountain Lion coupled with changes made in the previous revision known as Lion, also are attempting to change us from a file structure to an app orientation. In short, to launch files, go to the app, find your file and work on it. No need to save anymore as Apple does it automatically.
I understand the benefits: it is easier for new users and matches up with a uniform computing approach across mobile and desktop systems. But it sure is hard to swallow all the changes for us old timers who have built processes based on the computing structure we have all known for 30 years. I have files everywhere and rarely launch apps. Instead, I usually find the file I want to work on and launch the app by double-clicking on it.
The rate of change is escalating. Apple’s releasing a new OS every year and my guess is Microsoft will soon do the same. I am having a hard time keeping up with all the changes. I can only imagine how hard it is for my less technical family members and friends.