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Can Windows 7 Catch up to KDE? - page 2

Marketing Hype, Actual Features

  • October 27, 2009
  • By Bruce Byfield

However, you can borrow administration tools from GNOME if KDE lacks them, and, in its next release in January 2010, KDE should allow you to change not only printers according to settings, but icon sets and other desktop features as well.

In other cases, Windows 7's main advantage is more in the interface than in actual features. In particular, Windows 7 has a habit of slapping a wizard on top of routine tasks, such as configuring a printer, or accessing remote desktops.

For example, Windows Easy Transfer is a wizard to assist switching from an old computer to a new one. Similarly, Windows 7 includes a Getting Started window for configuring a new computer. Other examples of this kind of repackaging include Jump Lists (separate favorite lists for applications) and Libraries (collections of links on the desktop). While these tools are trivial refinements, you might legitimately argue that KDE would benefit from more such features for first-time users.

However, many such interfaces -- especially the administrative ones -- are likely to be used occasionally at best. For most users, I suspect they matter far less than the number of features in KDE that are still not standard in Windows.

I am thinking now of features like multiple desktops and activities, or a multiple-entry clipboard for the entire desktop (MS Word has had one to itself for some time), or an external device manager. I'm thinking, too, of customization options for everything you can imagine, including three separate menu designs, and dozens of compositing effects.

While Windows 7 seems to have made some improvements in customization, such as configurable notifications, I see no signs that it has caught up to KDE. Although some of the areas in which KDE has the advantage are non-essential, I suspect they are far more important to many users than a lack of occasionally-used administrative tools.

Rival Desktops

I don't pretend that I am unbiased in this comparison. If nothing else, Windows 7's proprietary license would keep me away from it. But if that is all that you take from my comments, then you've missed the point.

The point is that, contrary to widespread belief, the free desktop is no longer struggling to equal its proprietary rivals. Instead, it is approximately equal and in some ways ahead.

Yes, you can point to a genuine Windows advantage here and there. But you can also find examples where KDE had features first, or has superior ones. Nor, where Windows 7's advertised features are ahead of KDE's, do they have such a lead that KDE could not implement equivalent features almost immediately. I suspect that the same would be more or less true of GNOME, although I judge it slightly behind KDE in features.

Of course, I might change this opinion after actually using Windows 7. However, I don't think so. The point of advertising is to put the product in the best light, and, if the hype can't make Windows 7 enticing to a KDE user, I doubt that hands-on experience would do any better.

I don't know about anyone else, but I plan to celebrate Windows 7's release day acquainting myself with some of the lesser used features of KDE. Or maybe I'll mark the day by trying a completely different window manager, in recognition of the free desktop's diversity. Either way, I suspect I'll be making better use of my time than exploring Windows 7.

Article courtesy of Datamation

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