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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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The Old New Thing is a book by Raymond Chen that offers a summary of the content that’s been on his blog. As his blog is great reading, I certainly don’t mind having some of the best content in hardcopy format.

The book claims, in a roundabout way, that it will justify some seemingly screwed-up things about Windows, and make folks realize there’s a method to the madness. I’m not sure it achieves an effect so coherent. Rather, I think it manages to indicate that the original Windows was pretty crappy, as a response to limited hardware. Unfortunately, over time a number of layers have been built around the crap, and it’s been given some window dressing. While the book does a good job of explaining why various things have been done over time, it certainly does little to convince one that it’s the best solution now.

Ah, but what makes Windows powerful is that it has an impeccable history of backwards compatibility, and what makes OS X so much more pleasant is that it gave up on that. I was thinking about this the other day, and the best example of this that was succesful was when Canon ditched the FD lens mount when they switched to autofocus, adopting the EF mount. Nikon, by comparison, refused to make a body incompatible with their old Nikkor lenses. Both companies survived, and did quite handily.

In any event, I digress. I definitely have a feeling for a lot more Windows trivia, and a greater understanding of why certain decisions have been made. Further, while I don’t claim to have any real talent at UI, I at least have a somewhat better appreciation for certain ways of thinking about UI.

But, if one wants to sum up the entire book, just keep repeating Chen’s mantra: “The reason for this is historical.” 7/10.