Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Apple keyboard mess

I am slowly discovering another reason why OSX and Apple will NEVER have more than the pathetic 0.1-0.2% of market penetration in the computers business segment - apart from the constant overpricing of rather "technically average" products another major hurdle for anybody switching will be the transition from a well organized and well optimized keyboard interface on Windows to a total "Apple keyboard mess" !!!

The problem is not a lame "oh god, another keyboard layout, we are doomed" (which might still be a scare for the typical low-level Mac user) but instead the sum of a number of problems, unfortunately some (most?) of them intentional from Apple - the root of the problem is again a series of pathetic compromises made by Apple for a "better first impression" and the rather stupid stubbornness in sticking with the wrong initial choices just to avoid admitting they were wrong :(

As with the stupid one button mouse (and the even worse one button trackpad - you can easily buy a cheaper and better mouse but practically you can not change the trackpad in a notebook), Apple is compromising long-time efficiency just for a less intimidating first-time look - the problem starts with the number of keys - the usual notebook keyboard from Apple has 78 keys while even the subnotebook-size Dell X300 starts with 84 keys - it seems like a very small difference but it actually is a HUGE difference in CONTROL and CONVENIENCE - the second mouse button is a 100% increase over a single button while the extra 6 keys are also close to a 100% increase over the 4-8 control keys present in the Apple notebooks !!!

The problem is made worse by the fact that somehow the missing functions were mostly left for each program to decide - with the normal result of a total chaos ...

Also sad is that somehow this CLEAR RESULT of some very bad decisions was interpreted by the Apple "spin masters" as a sort of existing rule that validates their pathetic choices - with the obviously result of self-perpetuating this deplorable situation :(

Another part where the Windows keyboard user interface appears clearly and vastly superior is the keyboard navigation on the menus - on Windows you generally learn very easy that the ALT key will take you to the window main menu (on release by itself) and that ALT + a specific letter (usually underlined on a correct productivity-oriented configuration) will directly take you to a given submenu (like for instance ALT+F will take you to the File menu), and after that you will see underlined the keys that could be the next shortcut in your selection - with the overall result that you can very effective navigate in a way that does not require any huge memory effort (just 2 shortcut keys to a final command that you do not know in advance) - and THAT is the real memorable experience for any power user and not the Apple keyboard mess !!!

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