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Innovation

Perlow may be a dinosaur, but the kids aren't

Fellow bloggers Jason Perlow and Ed Bott have been wrangling recently over the Windows 7/Vista/XP user interfaces. While Jason takes a more traditional view (yes, I'm being diplomatic here), Ed welcomes the evolution of the GUI in Windows 7.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

Fellow bloggers Jason Perlow and Ed Bott have been wrangling recently over the Windows 7/Vista/XP user interfaces. While Jason takes a more traditional view (yes, I'm being diplomatic here), Ed welcomes the evolution of the GUI in Windows 7.

At first blush, I reacted the same way that Jason has to both Vista and Windows 7. I still don't consider Vista much of an upgrade, although I certainly acknowledge that it contains security improvements and, with SP1, is quite stable. However, these aren't discussions that our students are having. A new interface is meaningless to them. They simply adapt, just like the mammals did as the dinosaurs went extinct.

I'm not saying that I'd like Jason Perlow to go extinct, or even that I really consider him a dinosaur. What I am saying is that the people who care about this sort of thing read, write, and debate on ZDNet. Our students do not.

A prime example is my 13-year old, whose iPod Touch arrived in the mail today. He let me unbox it with him because he knows I'm a Mac-loving gadget hound and because he needed my billing information to get rolling in iTunes. For folks not familiar with the Touch or the iPhone, I think it's pretty safe to say that the user interface is revolutionary. Apple does multi-touch really, really well, and it's difficult to compare the experience to other methods of computing.

That did not, however, give my son pause. As I installed iTunes and linked it to our Apple account, he was already hooked up to the wireless and emailing his grandmother to brag about his new iPod via the built-in web browser. He naturally flipped it on its side to switch to landscape view and to use the onscreen keyboard and was off and running in no time. In fact, his only challenge was adapting to the sensitivity of the touchscreen and modulating the pressure as needed.

True, the interface is quite intuitive, especially for those of us used to some sort of multitouch on our own Mac touchpads. However, after he went to bed, I spent some time with the touch and found myself wishing for just this same sort of revolutionary upgrade to the interfaces we find on our PCs.

The kids don't wish for upgrades. They simply begin using the applications. I do think, though, that the time has come for small computing devices easily deployed to every student, with a drastically enhanced interface. Is Vista or 7 it? No. Should everyone have an iPhone or a BlackBerry Storm or an Android phone, or even that netbook that we all really want Apple to reveal with multitouch everything? We're getting there.

The kids are certainly ready, just as the mammals were when that big meteor hit the earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. Hang in there, Jason...we're in for quite a ride in the next year.

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