Countdown to a spanking


XP: Are you SURE you don’t want to restart now?

A constant thorn in my side from our use of Windows XP as our primary workstations is the Automatic Updates feature. In explaining my frustration to others, I’ve inevitably compared it to very similar behavior in Mac OS X, which for some reason does not drive me insane. I’ve been unable to put my finger on the difference until just this morning. Where OS X also presents a modal (non-closeable) dialog that requires an action, Windows floats that dialog above everything else, forcing the issue. With OS X, I can happily continue about my day, and decide to restart only when it is convenient for me. XP on the other hand, requires a ‘Restart Now’ or a ‘Restart Later’ before it gets out of my way, and choosing ‘Restart Later’ begins a Sisyphean cycle of misery until finally the computer has had enough of your sandbagging and counts down an automatic restart, like a mother counting down the time you have left before you get a spanking.


What a difference being able to click away makes.

3 Comments

David Fore
If ever there were cause to punish software makers for damage done by their misdeeds, those responsible for this restart scheme deserve it. Jail, fines, Banishment From the Guild... nothing is too severe. They somehow violated virtually every interaction design principal known to humanity, and they do so with impunity. I'm serious... what happens when Steve Ballmer comes back from lunch to discover all his open apps have crashed, without saving his data, just so an invisible patch can be added to the trash heap that is Windows code? He can go ballistic if his coffee gets cold... so then why doesn't he fire the people who did this?
Alan Cooper
Daniel, Thanks so much for writing about this travesty of bad behavior. The more negative press Microsoft gets about this the better. BTW, didn't I put that exact same dialog box in The Inmates as some kind of a BAD JOKE? thanx, Alan
Adam Korman
It's great when software is modeled after the behavior of a 3-year-old child nagging you to do something until you eventually give in. The disabled Close control quietly taunting you is a nice addition to the dialog, too. Just another subtle reminder that you are not in control.

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