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Monday, 25 July 2016 12:22

What does Microsoft have against the Control Panel?


Does Microsoft have some kind of company policy that prevents it from providing easy access to the utility that allows a user at least some measure of control over the unwieldy beast that the Windows operating system has become?

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I am talking about the Control Panel.

Over the weekend, given that Microsoft plans to start milking money out of people for Windows 10 from July 30 onwards, I reluctantly upgraded the one Windows machine in my household that needs to be kept running.

Nobody expects an upgrade of this nature to go smoothly, least of all someone like me who has been using Windows right from the pre-3.0 days.

Anytime one wants to make changes to the system, the easiest way to do so has been from the Control Panel. Until Windows 7, this utility was easily accessible from the Start menu.

But on Windows 10, we have instead something called Settings. The only rationale for this useless bit of fluff as far as I can see it is that some genius at Microsoft decided that since this was an "all-new operating system", everything had to be new and shiny and polished. The Control Panel is there, but it is treated like a relative who has brought shame on the family and hidden away.

The idea of leaving tried and trusted things well alone, apparently, does not have much currency at Microsoft. So, you have go into the Settings panel and search for the Control Panel. Thanks a lot, Redmond, I thought computing was going to be faster, not more involved.

There are some things which are best left alone. Ever notice that the Mac interface has not changed in one respect right from its first models? You have that same menu File, Edit and so on on every piece of desktop hardware.

Microsoft, on the other hand, morphed from an operating system that asked you to click on Start in order to shut it down - something like asking a driver to hit the brake in order to progress forward - to one where there were tasty looking tiles on the desktop and the nearly 30-year-old Start button was missing. Steven Sinofsky walked the plank for that one after users reacted nastily.

With regards to the upgrade, I have one query: why cannot Microsoft provide at least a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024 as the default after the upgrade? Do we have to go back to 1024 to 768 and then manually adjust everything? Nobody will have machines that old to upgrade because one can only upgrade from Windows 7 and from nothing older.

The graphics card on the machine I upgraded could easily support 1680 x 1050 but I found myself looking at a strange set-up after the upgrade was done. It was all out of proportion and set at 1024 x 768. No manual upgrade of drivers was possible, so I had to swap out the graphics card in order to get a proper display.

Then, strangely, the little applet that indicates one is connected to the Internet indicated I was offline. This, despite my actually being connected. Later, this applet began behaving as it should.

My other query is, why does the upgrade take so long? I have upgraded dozens of Linux systems; not only does the operating system get upgraded but also a tonne of applications and utilities. The maximum time I have ever taken is about five hours. With Windows 10, I started the process at 5.30pm and after eight hours, the process was still incomplete.

And the next morning, I still had to sort out the screen resolution.

Anyway, it's good to have these experiences with Windows once in a while because it teaches one not to take what Linux offers for granted.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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