Worst GUI of all time

Which is the worst GUI of all time?

  • iOS 7

    Votes: 10 14.1%
  • Windows 8

    Votes: 27 38.0%
  • GNOME 3

    Votes: 4 5.6%
  • Unity

    Votes: 5 7.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 25 35.2%

  • Total voters
    71

YanniDepp

macrumors 6502
Dec 10, 2008
487
34
That's a really, really difficult choice. Some people might judge by looks, but I've gone by familiarity here: for example, does it use established metaphors that a lot of users will be familiar with, or does it try and do new things?

I don't understand why a lot of operating systems can't evolve slowly, like OS X has done. Sure, the difference between OS 9 and OS X was massive, but we needed something new for so many reasons. And OS X has evolved slowly since then.

Why do a lot of operating systems feel like they need to throw away established workflows and metaphors (e.g. the desktop) and try something new? Just evolve what we already have. These metaphors are established because they work efficiently! Doing something new for the sake of doing something new is not a good idea. Believe me, I design user interfaces for a living! If you design a user interface - whether it's for an application or a web site - and you think "wow, I have an idea that nobody's ever done before"... Yeah, there's probably a good reason nobody's ever done that before. Why do you think cars still have pedals and steering wheels? Because although it takes effort to learn, it's the best way we have of controlling a big, fast metal box.

Usually, they do it to try and bring the same interface to the desktop, tablet, phone and TV. But these devices are very different in terms of processing power, screen size, how you hold/use them, and how you interact with them.

This is why I don't like Windows 8. I'm sitting in front of a desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse. Trying to do swipe gestures on a traditional two-buttons-and-a-scrollwheel mouse doesn't work. And who the hell decided that scrolling a mouse wheel up-and-down should make Metro scroll from side to side. And where can I get some of whatever they were smoking?

OS X does gestures much better with multi-finger swipe on the trackpad or magic mouse. It's so easy to flick between the desktop and full-screen apps.

Anywhere, that's enough of a rant. Here are my thoughts:

  • iOS 7 isn't perfect. They'll get the look right eventually and it needs a better Music app. But it works in a similar way to iOS 6. So if you can use iOS 6, you'll be fine with iOS 7.
  • Windows 8 is, to put it politely, a clusterf**k. It has a completely different interface to Windows 7. Sure, you can get back to the desktop, and computer-literate people can get used to it. But it still feels like two separate, disjointed interfaces slammed together. Also, forcing a touch-first interface on people using keyboards and mice wasn't a smart usability idea.
  • I'm not a fan of Unity on the desktop, at all. We'll need to see how well it does on phones and tablets (and TVs!) later this year. But the interface is very inflexible. "You will have the dock on the left side of the screen because we say so." What if I like my dock across the bottom?
  • Towards the end, I really liked Gnome 2. I thought it evolved into something really great. It didn't really need any effort to get used to. I could use it productively for day-to-day work. But Gnome 3 made a lot of mistakes. What little customisation Gnome 2 had was ripped out of Gnome 3. And... oh, no! I've accidentally moved my mouse into the top left corner again and everything's flown off the screen. I tried using it for my day-to-day work. I did not like it.
  • I haven't used KDE since KDE 3.5. Tried KDE4, but I didn't like it. I've never really given it a chance since then, so it's unfair of me to comment on it.
 

0007776

Suspended
Jul 11, 2006
6,474
8,051
Somewhere
I think it's kind of hard to say what the worst one was, older operating systems will have a worse UI than new ones even though they were good at the time. As for a modern OS you could make an argument for Windows 8 just because it changed what people are used to, and the UI change seemed mostly like change for the sake of change. I haven't used it enough to know for myself if it's really all that bad though.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
7,984
533
Pennsylvania
iOS 7. It's impossible to use at night.

Windows 8 could be a close second, but only on the desktop. On a tablet it's a fantastic UI, and averages out to, well, average.
 

Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
2,047
2,681
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
Windows 1.0. Hands down. No overlapping windows really killed it. The WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers) interface without overlapping windows is unusable for anything but the simplest of tasks.

Of the modern GUI, Metro is the worst. Who the heck puts a phone UI on a computer?:rolleyes: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,037
2,719
Missing options...

Windows 3 and earlier?

However, I'd have to nominate virtually any GUI that ever appeared on Linux.

Here's the problem: the various *nix command-line shells (bash, csh, etc - there are many) are the most efficient and expressive user interfaces available, for a given value of "user". Nobody who knows how to reverse the letters in every filename containing an even number of vowels by simply typing '$ zod -t !$£//?!?gt | !? << fzt\y' into a terminal really going to see any point in faffing about with a mouse and icons. Asking a *nix hacker to design a GUI is like asking a vegan to fix you a bacon sandwich - whatever you ask for you're gonna get tofu. The design principles will always be:
  • Looks like a cross between NeXTStep and LCARS
  • Has transparent windows so you can see your desktop picture of the Death Star exploding through your terminal window.
  • Allows you to run 8 instances of vim and 8 bash windows side-by-side
  • Is scriptable in (insert trendy programming language De Jour)
  • Adheres religiously to some theoretical model of user interaction devised by a PhD who can't interact with anybody with an IQ of less than 140 without hyperventilating.
  • Goes away when the demo is over so the true user can switch back to 10 parallel terminal sessions and get some proper work done.
I want these people to code my operating system, but GUIs should be designed by people who would be seen dead actually using a GUI.

...or, at least, that was the case until a few years ago. Now:
Code:
s/NeXtStep/iOS/
s/vim/Angry Birds/
s/bash/Twitter/
s/less than 140/more than 50/
...and out pops Gnome 3 & Unity.

(Warning - the above may contain hyperbole)
 

talmy

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
4,703
266
Oregon
You, Sir, win! That is..... shockingly bad... beyond words actually. :eek:
Come on now! Having a system where you repeatedly enter the wrong password, the system senses you have forgotten your password, and then lets you in anyway -- not that is a stroke of user-friendly genius! :)
 

dXTC

macrumors 68020
Oct 30, 2006
2,032
49
Up, up in my studio, studio
Windows 3 and earlier?

However, I'd have to nominate virtually any GUI that ever appeared on Linux.

...The design principles will always be:
  • Looks like a cross between NeXTStep and LCARS
  • ...
The "coolness" of Okudagrams notwithstanding, your rant is pretty much spot on. (My Trek geekiness--let me show you it.)

  • ...
  • Adheres religiously to some theoretical model of user interaction devised by a PhD who can't interact with anybody with an IQ of less than 140 without hyperventilating.


Are you attempting to insinuate something?

:D

Oh, and while I've never had the displeasure of using Bob myself, I'll add to the hate pile here, if for no other reason than having spawned that diabolical anthropomorphic paper clip that infested MS Office for years afterward.
 

mojolicious

macrumors 68000
Mar 18, 2014
1,563
310
Sarf London
That's a really, really difficult choice. Some people might judge by looks, but I've gone by familiarity here: for example, does it use established metaphors that a lot of users will be familiar with, or does it try and do new things?

I don't understand why a lot of operating systems can't evolve slowly, like OS X has done. Sure, the difference between OS 9 and OS X was massive, but we needed something new for so many reasons.
I remember having to 'evaluate' the OS X Public Beta. I was practically in tears after a couple of days, and couldn't bring myself to return to OS X until 10.3.
 

penplotter

macrumors regular
Mar 23, 2014
171
0
Windows 1.0. Hands down. No overlapping windows really killed it. The WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers) interface without overlapping windows is unusable for anything but the simplest of tasks.

Of the modern GUI, Metro is the worst. Who the heck puts a phone UI on a computer?:rolleyes: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Final comment made me literally chortle out loud :D





 

Dustman

macrumors 65816
Apr 17, 2007
1,270
33
I remember having to 'evaluate' the OS X Public Beta. I was practically in tears after a couple of days, and couldn't bring myself to return to OS X until 10.3.
You missed out on 10.2. Jaguar was a good (but slow) OS.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,266
725
When Microsoft went from "Windows" to fluffy and useless bloat screens with Vista. So I'll say Vista was the worst of the MS garbage.
 

deluxeshredder

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 30, 2013
558
9
I remember having to 'evaluate' the OS X Public Beta. I was practically in tears after a couple of days, and couldn't bring myself to return to OS X until 10.3.
Why? It was extremely slow and buggy? Seemingly arbitrarily redone? Ugly? Or you were too attached to classic Mac OS?
 

mojolicious

macrumors 68000
Mar 18, 2014
1,563
310
Sarf London
I remember having to 'evaluate' the OS X Public Beta. I was practically in tears after a couple of days, and couldn't bring myself to return to OS X until 10.3.
Why? It was extremely slow and buggy? Seemingly arbitrarily redone? Ugly? Or you were too attached to classic Mac OS?
It was a very long time ago, and my memory isn't what it was!

Firstly, having no background/training in the evaluation of software, the only approach I could take was 'sit the OSXPB Mac next to a 9.0.x Mac and try and replicate various Finder / Control Panel actions'. So effectively I was trying to make OS X mimic existing workflow, which really was beyond it.

My main gripe was definitely the GUI: huuuuge icons; list view columns with fixed width; Finder windows which couldn't permanently resized; etc etc.

Looking at the Ars Technica review of the Public Beta actually makes me realise how little fundamental change there has been to the GUI metaphors throughout the history of OS X. But, at the time, after a decade playing with System 6 and upwards, it was a massive shock to the, um, system.

I'd still swap the Dock for a configurable Apple Menu in a heartbeat, though.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
Why? It was extremely slow and buggy? Seemingly arbitrarily redone? Ugly? Or you were too attached to classic Mac OS?
At least the first two versions of OS X (not counting the public beta, I never used that) were pretty bad in my opinion. The OS was sluggish, buggy, immature and lacked native apps. Panther and Tiger were the ones that began to make OS X powerful and stable.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,853
30,369
Boston
Why? It was extremely slow and buggy? Seemingly arbitrarily redone? Ugly? Or you were too attached to classic Mac OS?
OSX 1.0 was a complete new OS, with a lot of "eye candy" especially compared to OS9. It lacked a lot of the needed optimizations and being a version 1 of an OS, it had a number of bugs. Apple was good at implementing and polishing the OS, and by Tiger there was a lot of optimizations packaged in a fairly light weight OS.

With Leopard imo, apple started adding features that added a lot of bloat to the OS.
 

Septembersrain

Contributor
Dec 14, 2013
3,362
3,717
Texas
Windows 8 to me. A touchscreen interface being sold with non-touch hardware. It's a cluster.

The rumors and word on Windows 9 makes me cringe.