Building a Better Windows



Disclaimer: This is written based on the use of Windows 95, with little to no exposure to Windows98 or Windows2000.


It started out with my pager blurting a number in the XXX area code. The phone number did not look familiar at all, and the area code escaped me. Sitting indian style on the bed of my hotel room, I was comfortable and did not want to get up. I wasn't online so I couldn't check the handy www.nampa.com or use a quick program on my regular system that dutifully spits out what city, state and time zone for a given NPA. Debating whether or not the page was worth getting up for the phone books, I figured I might be able to find the information on my laptop.

My laptop doesn't have a whole lot installed really. Windows 95, Word, Powerpoint, and a few network utilities for remote access. After a brief search of the laptop, I couldn't find this simple piece of information. Curiosity lead me to check the machine for a few things. 1,865 files taking up 144 megs in my /windows directory and 2,460 files taking 120 megs in my /program files. Over 260 megs of windows software installed on my laptop and it couldn't even spit out what city had the XXX area code. So what does Windows have in the way of information? Gliding through the start menu and programs, I saw a disturbing lack of real information. When you get down to it, what does Windows do by itself?

The ever famous solitaire, a featureless text editor (Wordpad), a basic CD player, a weak image manipulator (Paintbrush), a near worthless terminal program (Hyperterminal), and a good calculator. 140 megs for that?! I had to install Word, Powerpoint, Netscape, Winamp, Winzip, Thumbsplus and SecureCRT to get close to the functionality I needed. To me, this seems incredibly wrong. For the price you pay and the space it takes, Windows should be a much more robust Operating System capable of providing more information and utilities.

Replacing The Basics

Microsoft has already demonstrated they are willing to outsource for the development of some Windows utilities. HyperTerminal by Hilgraeve is a weak and inflexible terminal dialer forced onto Windows users. So why can't they outsource more components of the Windows operating system to better companies more capable of creating usable and feature rich applications? Fortunately for Microsoft, I've come up with a suggested list of just a few I'd like to see. Feel free to forward these on to the appropriate person.


Create a Little Entertainment

Have you ever watched someone play Windows Solitaire for hours at a time? Since Windows comes with three card games and Mindsweeper, your choices for personal amusement are a tad limited. For an additional meg of disk space, you could enjoy a virtual arcade suited for the entire family.