Friday, May 17, 2013

Why Windows?

Tell me again - why Windows?  Today I was trying to do what I thought would be a basic, simple task.  Take a picture from the integrated camera.  Simple, right?  So, how do you do that in Windows?  Hmm, let's see.
  • Paint - no, doesn't have anything to take a picture.
  • I know, Start, then search for camera.  That shows the devices.
  • How about search for webcam?  Devices.  Nothing to let me take the pic.
  • My old friend Google produced this - a person who asks the same question.  Look at the answers he gets, I mean really, is it that hard to take a picture from the webcam in Windows?  One guy suggests a screen shot (snipping tool), doh!  One guy says "use the software that comes with your computer" - doh!  This is a Lenovo,  so let's go to Thinkpad Productivity Center.  Hmm, wireless, powering on and off radios, device configuration, help and support.  Nope.
  • Oh, I know, Skype uses the camera.  And?  No tools to take a pic, just take a damned picture!  Really, guys?
So, fumbling around, and I guess I have to find some software, download and install it, just to take a *$%&#$ picture.  How do I do it?
  1. Take a picture with my iPhone
  2. E-mail it, or file in my Dropbox folder that is synched to my PC
  3. Open from my PC

If that were the only thing, it would be frustrating.  But that is indicative of everything in Windows, just about.  There are a few intuitive things, but overall - klunky.  And people call this multimedia, advanced?  I have been struggling the same for years with how to scan from the scanner.  You need some special software, hopefully provided by the scanner manufacturer.  I first tried to use the scanner on Windows at home about 3-4 years ago, never did figure out how to get my wife's HP laptop to scan from the Canon WiFi all-in-one.  So, I got her a Macbook Pro.  Problem solved.

With the Mac, you don't have to think about it.  Any software, you want to make a PDF?  Just print, and on the standard Print dialog is Save as PDF.  You want to scan?  Just run the built-in Preview app and import from scanner, or most graphical software provides scan functionality.  You want to take a pic?  Any graphics app you can just import from the scanner, camera, etc.  And people say a Mac costs a lot?  I'd rather have a used, 5-year-old Mac than a brand new Windows PC.  How's that for someone who's used Macs for 3.5 years, and Windows for 25 years?


  1. If the main decision making point for determining what OS to use is whether or not you can natively take pics with a built-in webcam, well, I'd suggest you have bigger problems.

    The simple truth is that for the vast majority of Windows users who have a webcam they already have software on their machine to take snaps with it. It was provided either by A) the webcam they bought or B) the manufacturer of the PC (in the case of built-in webcams on laptops). Why should Windows duplicate that functionality unnecessarily? Even if you're the sort that restages your PC regularly (as I do) it's not like you're not going to download the webcam drivers and reinstall in at which point you're also probably installing the software needed to take pics and movies with it. Sure it's possible to install the drivers without the extra software, but why would you do that?

    Would it be nice if Windows had a native webcam software? It wouldn't hurt I suppose, but if the majority of users are going to use what came with their webcam anyway then there's lots of other places that effort could be put to better use.

    As for printing PDFs, my wife uses Office 2010 and I use Libre Office and we're both able to print to PDF files without issue. We have a Canon MP970 multifunction device which scans over the network just fine using it's TWAIN software or the one in whatever image editor we're using. It'll also save to a PDF.

    I'm not sure why you're having so much trouble with these things as I've been doing them without issue on Windows. It really is a silly argument for buying a Mac. Especially given the premium you pay for it.

  2. Les, great reply. I think you missed my point though, maybe I didn't make it well. Taking a pic with the webcam was kind of the "tip of the iceberg" - a whole laundry list of things I think Windows should do, that it doesn't, or doesn't do well. Things like file system management, security management, productivity tools to help you quickly find and launch apps and data, etc. Multimedia to me is one of the things that distinguishes modern computers from those cool toys we played with in the '80's, pre-Amiga. Heck, I think smart phones do things way better than desktop Windows, for what they are targeted at.