Something Gnome3 and Unity could Stand to Learn from Windows 8

I’ve mentioned a few times now that I don’t understand this touch infatuation technology has developed in recent years. What ever the reason, there is no doubting this technology is going to be around for some time. In the Linux world the releases of the Gnome 3 and Unity desktops have been pushing a touch-geared interface not only to touch-screen devices, but also the large screen of your home PC! Mac’s OSX followed this line of thinking and it appears Microsoft’s Window 8 will be no different:

Windows 8 Default Interface

It is still early, but there appears to be one important detail that Microsoft is getting correct that Gnome 3, Unity, and OSX all seem to have failed at.

They are making it easy to switch to a classic desktop.

If Microsoft’s choke hold on the market still is any indication we should all know end users are very resistant to change. Up and redesigning the entire desktop experience because you think it is “for the best” is not about to win you any awards.
Sure Ubuntu 11.04 has a “classic desktop” login, but this will be removed in the 11.10 release. Sure Gnome 3 has a “fall back” mode, but you have to dig through settings to get to it and calling it “fall back” makes it sound like something is wrong with your computer if you are using it (which is half true as it is intended for use on systems that lack 3D acceleration). Not to mention this fall back mode supports far less options than Gnome 2 had, but then Gnome 2 also had less customization than Gnome 1, smell a pattern anyone?
So please, Gnome 3 and Unity developers (heck even OSX) take a hint from Windows 8 (because you sure as heck haven’t taken any hints from Enlightenment) and make a stand desktop configuration option a priority – not an after thought.
Originally Posted at Jeff Hoogland.

6 Responses to Something Gnome3 and Unity could Stand to Learn from Windows 8

  1. zen September 22, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    the classic desktop does not work the same as before which does not make it a good example of what you are trying to say

  2. Linus September 22, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    I don’t get the argument here, Unity is based on GNOME2 why would you install it if you liked the basic GNOME2 as it is.

    The option ‘switch back to default’ isn’t even reasonable for Unity since default Unity is what it is, if you don’t like it use GNOME2.

    Concerning GNOME3 you could argue the same thing, if don’t like GNOME3 as a desktop environment then don’t use it, use something you like instead.

    It’s alright comparing OSX and Windows since they are both operating systems and not desktop environments as Unity and GNOME3. Also, both of them have rather slim choices of desktop environments which is what you are discussing in your article.

    A comparison to Ubuntu is a bit more valid (since that too is an OS) but still kind of redundant since Ubuntu is Linux and Linux allows you to chose any desktop environment you like. Hence there is a very versatile ‘switch to what you like’ option right there.

    I get what you are getting at in this article but your arguments are based on comparison of two different things, Apples and Oranges really.

  3. Mr Person September 22, 2011 at 5:16 am #


  4. richthegeek September 22, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    The classic desktop *will not* be removed in 11.10. I can’t name names, but I’ve spoken with a fair number of people in Canonical and the community in relation to this – the classic desktop stays, probably until 12.10.

  5. Jeff Hoogland September 23, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    @Zen In it’s current state the Win8 desktop is not exactly like Win7. Windows 8 is also current in developer preview, so odds are this will change some.

    @Linus The problem here is piles of distros will be dropping Gnome 2 and it is no longer supported by the Gnome 2 team. This means somewhere down the line when things break you will be forced to use something else. Forcing you to do something is kind of the opposite of choice.

    I have to disagree with your fundamental point. Comparing a Linux desktop to a closed source OS makes much more sense than comparing a given Linux distro to Windows or OSX. The desktop is the GUI you are using, if you just state a distro base you could be using ANY GUI on top of it. With the closed source operating systems there is no choice of GUI, so it is fine to just say “Windows” and “OSX” here instead of “windows desktop” or “OSX interface”.

    @RichtheGeek You are going to have to manually install Gnome Panel with 11.10 Unity 2D will be the “fall back”. But again, odds are this will be the Gnome 3 panel now as 11.10 is moving to GTK3.

  6. Dmitry November 1, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    Please admit you have been lying… or were improperly informed.